advertisement

By Public Transportation

Discount Passes -- Visitors to Helsinki can purchase the Helsinki Card, which offers unlimited travel on the city's public buses, trams, subway, and ferries; a free guided sightseeing tour by bus (conducted daily, year-round); free entry to about 50 museums and other sights in Helsinki; and free ferryboat access and entrance to the Suomenlinna Fortress. It also includes discounts on access to the airport via the Finnair airport bus transfer and discounts at selected restaurants and shops. The Helsinki Card is available for 1-, 2-, or 3-day periods. The price of the card for adults is 30€ ($48) for 1 day, 40€ ($64) for 2 days, and 50€ ($80) for 3 days. A card for children (age 7-16) costs 11€ ($18) for 1 day, 14€ ($22) for 2 days, and 17€ ($27) for 3 days. The cards can be bought at approximately 50 sales points in the Helsinki area, including the Helsinki City Tourist Office, the Hotel Booking Center, travel agencies, and hotels. For further information, check with any Finnish Tourist Board worldwide or the Helsinki City Tourist Office, Pohjoisesplanadi 19 (tel. 09/3101-3300; www.helsinkicard.fi).

You can also buy a Tourist Ticket for travel within Helsinki over a 1-, 3-, or 5-day period. This ticket lets you travel as much as you like within the city limits on all forms of public transportation except regional buses to far-flung outlying townships that include Espoo, Kauniainen, and Vantaa. A 1-day ticket costs 6€ ($9.60) for adults, 3€ ($4.80) for children 7 to 16; a 3-day ticket costs 12€ ($19) for adults, 6€ ($9.60) for children 7 to 16; and a 5-day ticket costs 18€ ($29) for adults, 9€ ($14) for children 7 to 16. Children 6 and under travel free. Tickets can be purchased at many places throughout Helsinki, including the Helsinki City Tourist Office and transportation service depots, such as the Railway Square Metro Station, open Monday to Thursday 7:30am to 6pm and Friday 7:30am to 4pm.

By Metro/Bus/Train -- The City Transport Office is at the Rautatientori metro station (tel. 09/472-24-54), open Monday to Thursday 7:30am to 7pm and Friday from 7:30am to 5pm. The transportation system operates daily from 5:30am to 1:30am. A single ticket, valid for rides on any city bus or tram, costs 2.20€ ($3.50) for adults, 1.10€ ($1.80) for children 3 to 15, and free for 2 and under. Transfers are allowable within 1 hour of your initial boarding, and the penalty for persons caught riding without a valid ticket is around 70€ ($112).

By Ferry -- Ferries depart from the eastern end of Eteläesplanadi (no terminal) heading for the offshore islands of Suomenlinna and Korkeasaari (Zoo).

By Taxi

You can find taxis at taxi stands or hail them on the street. All taxis have an illuminated yellow sign: TAKSI/TAXI. The basic fare costs 6€ ($9.60) and rises on a per-kilometer basis, as indicated on the meter. Surcharges are imposed in the evening (6-10pm) and on Saturday after 2pm. There's also a surcharge at night from 10pm to 6am and on Sunday.

A taxi from the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to the center of Helsinki costs 30€ to 35€ ($39-$46), and the ride generally takes 30 to 40 minutes. Call tel. 09/251-5330. An airport taxi shuttle service is available for individual travelers to any point in the greater Helsinki area, costing anywhere from 48€ to 58€ ($77-$93). The van is shared by a maximum of eight passengers. Call tel. 09/251-5300.

By Car

Driving around Helsinki by car is not recommended because parking is limited. Either walk or take public transportation. However, touring the environs by car is ideal.

Car Rentals -- The major car-rental companies maintain offices at the Helsinki airport (where airport surcharges apply to car pickups) and in the center of town. Most new visitors prefer to take a taxi to their hotel and then rent a car after becoming oriented. Try Avis Rent-a-Car, Hietanienenktu 6 (tel. 09/44-11-55), Budget Rent-a-Car, Malminkatu 24 (tel. 09/686-65-00), or Hertz, Mannerheimintie 44 (tel. 0800/11-22-33).

Parking -- Helsinki has several multistory parking garages, including two centrally located facilities that almost always have an available space: City-Paikoitus, Keskuskatu (no numbered address; tel. 09/686-9680), and Parking Eliel, adjacent to the railway station (tel. 09/686-9680).

By Bicycle

You can rent a bicycle (and simultaneously contribute to the ecological health of the environment) by contacting Greenbike, Bulevardi 32, entrance via the Albertinkatu (tel. 050/404-0900), at rates that range from 11€ to 15€ ($18-$24) per day. A worthy competitor, charging roughly the same rates, are the bike rental facilities within the Nordic Fitness Sports Park, Mäntymäentie 1 (tel. 09/4776-9760). With the rentals comes a booklet, issued by the Helsinki Tourist Office, showing three distinctly different routes through and around the city. These routes include the orange (city center), the blue (seafront), and the green (city parks) routes, ranging in length from 17km to 37km (11-23 miles) and that require between 2 1/2 and 4 12 hours each, respectively. The Helsinki Tourist office can also put you in contact with reputable tour operators who specialize in 2-night/3-day packages that focus exclusively on bicycle tours through the vast terrains of rural Finland.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.