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American Express -- The Helsinki branch is at Arkadienkatu 2, 00100 Helsinki (tel. 09/613-204-00), and is open Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm and 9am to 4pm on Friday. Whenever it's closed, you can call an active 24-hour-a-day toll-free information line about lost or stolen credit cards or traveler's checks at tel. 0800/11-46-46. That number is valid only within Finland.

Area Code -- The country code for Finland is 358. In most instances, the city code for Helsinki is 09, but in some rare instances it might begin with 010 or 020. For calls to Helsinki from outside of Finland, after dialing the country code, you'll usually drop the first "0" in each of the above-noted city codes.

Babysitters -- Every hotel in Finland has a list of English-speaking employees, such as maids, who, with advance notice, can babysit your child. The rate in Helsinki is about 9€ ($14) per hour, per child, perhaps less in certain provincial towns. Although hotels are the main procurers of babysitters throughout Helsinki, there are alternatives. During daytime hours, if you're a devoted shopper, the well-respected Stockmann department store, Aleksanterinkatu 52 (tel. 09/1211), offers a free babysitting service every Monday to Friday 10am to 7pm and Saturday 9am to 6pm.

Bookstores -- The most famous bookstore in Finland -- and the best stocked, with thousands of English titles -- is Helsinki's Academic Bookstore, Keskuskatu 1 (tel. 09/121-41). Technically, it's one of the many separate departments within Helsinki's largest department store, Stockmann's.

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Business Hours -- Most banks are open Monday to Friday 9:15am to 4:15pm. Most businesses and shops are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm. Larger stores are usually open until 7pm Monday to Friday and as late as 6pm on Saturdays. With a few exceptions, nearly everyplace is closed on Sunday. Many shops in the center of Helsinki are open until 8pm on certain nights, especially Monday and Friday, and in midsummer, when daylight seems to go on, some shops remain open till as late as 9pm.

R-kiosks, which sell candy, tobacco, toiletries, cosmetics, and souvenirs are open Monday to Saturday 8am to 9pm and Sunday 9 or 10am to 9pm.

Currency Exchange -- You can exchange dollars for euros at virtually any bank and in most cases, at the reception desk of your hotel; however, you're likely to get better rates at banks. You can also exchange money at the railway station Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm, and at the airport daily 6am to 11pm.

Dentists -- Go to Oral, Erottajankatu 5A (tel. 010/400-3000). It's open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm. Outside of those hours, dial tel. 0600/97070.

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Doctors -- To summon a physician in an emergency, dial tel. 112. For private medical advice that's available 24 hours a day, dial tel. 10-023. To summon a doctor to your hotel room, contact Mehiläinen, Runeberginkatu 47A (tel. 010/414-4444 or 010/414-4266).

Drugstores -- The Yliopiston Apteekki, Mannerheimintie 96 (tel. 09/41-57-78), is open 24 hours daily.

Embassies & Consulates -- The embassy of the United States is at Itäinen Puistotie 14A (tel. 09/616-250); the embassy of Canada is at Pohjoisesplanadi 25B (tel. 09/228-530); and the embassy of the United Kingdom is at Itäinen Puistotie 17 (tel. 09/2286-5100). Citizens of Australia and New Zealand should go to the British embassy.

Emergencies -- Dial tel. 112 for medical help, an ambulance, police, or in case of fire.

Eyeglasses -- One of the best and most convenient opticians -- where you can get new glasses or contact lenses in about a day -- is the optical department at Stockmann department store, Aleksanterinkatu 52 (tel. 09/1211; tram: 3b). One floor above street level, it's open Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm and Saturday from 9am to 6pm.

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Helsinki Helpers -- Between June and mid-September, the streets in the center of Helsinki are patrolled by a corps of 20-something Helsinki Helpers, identified by their green uniforms. They're conspicuously on hand to dispense advice and information about how to cope with everyday life in Helsinki and maps.

Hospitals -- An emergency hospital for tourists is the Helsinki University Central Hospital, Meilahti Hospital (for both medical and surgical care), at Haartmaninkatu 4 (tel. 09/4711). For 24-hour information about health services, call tel. 09/10023 (within Finland only).

Internet Access -- Finland, by some estimates, is the most computer-friendly (and cellphone-friendly) country in the world. Consequently, almost every hotel in town offers Internet connections, wireless or hard-wired, for the use of its guests. In addition, there are lots of Internet stations available for pay on the city streets. The most prominent of these includes the Library "Kirjasto 10" within a branch office of the city's post office at Elielinaukio 2G (tel. 09/3108-5000). There are also Internet terminals offered to users without charge at the main office of the Helsinki Tourist Office, Pohjoisesplanadi 19 (tel. 09/169-3757).

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Laundry -- Laundries and dry cleaners are scattered strategically throughout the city, but two that are especially central include Rööperin pesulapalvelut, Punavuorenkatu 3 (tel. 09/622-1146), and Easywash, Topeliuksenkatu 21 (tel. 09/406-982). You can either do it yourself, or you can pay a per-kilo charge to have it done for you.

Lost Property -- The Lost Property Office is at Punanotkonkatu 2 (tel. 09/189-3180) and is open year-round, Monday to Friday 8am to 4:15pm.

Luggage Storage & Lockers -- These facilities are at the Central Station on Kaivokatu. The staff offers both lockers with keys and an employee-staffed area where you get a ticket for your luggage. The charge is 2€ to 5€ ($3.20-$8) per bag. The service operates daily from 5:30am to midnight.

Mail -- For post office information, call tel. 0800/171-00. The main post office in Helsinki is at Mannerheiminaukio 1A (tel. 0200/71000 for information). It's open Monday to Friday 7am to 9pm, Saturday to Sunday 10am to 6pm. If you don't know your address in Helsinki, have your mail sent to you at FIN-00100 Poste Restante (general delivery) in care of the main post office. At this Poste Restante, you can pick up mail (after presenting your passport) Monday to Saturday 8am to 10pm and Sunday 11am to 10pm. You can buy stamps at the railway station post office Monday to Friday 7am to 9pm, Saturday 9am to 6pm, and Sunday 11am to 9pm. Yellow stamp machines outside post offices take 1€ ($1.60) coins.

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Police -- In an emergency, dial tel. 112. Otherwise, dial tel. 100-22 for information about the precinct nearest you. Central headquarters for the Helsinki police is at Pieni Roobertinkatu 1-3 (tel. 09/1891).

Telephones & Telephone Inquiries -- For information and number inquiries, dial tel. 118 or tel. 020202 in Helsinki. If you're thinking about calling home (providing you're not calling collect) and want to know the cost, dial tel. 0800/909-99.

As mentioned previously, Finland has one of the highest cellphone-to-resident ratios of any country in the world, and Nokia, a leading manufacturer of cellphones, is, not surprisingly, based in Finland. As a result, there are very few, if any, coin-operated public phones in Helsinki, or anywhere else in Finland. (The few that remain tend to be in the city's main railway station.) Consequently, you might be wise to limit your phone needs to within your hotel room, always remembering that surcharges on long-distance calls from hotels anywhere in the world are likely to be daunting. If in doubt, it might be wise to stick to e-mails from the (often free) Internet terminals at many hotels.

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For local calls within the city of Helsinki, you don't need to dial the area code (09).

You can send faxes from most hotels. If your hotel does not have a fax machine, go to one of the larger hotels and ask someone on the staff to send your fax. You'll be billed for the transmission, and probably a surcharge, too.

Toilets -- There's a centrally located public toilet at Sofiankatu 2. Otherwise, many locals use cafe toilets (where you should at least order a cup of coffee or a soft drink) or make use of the public facilities at transit terminals.

Weather -- Summers in Helsinki are often sunny, but the weather is rarely uncomfortably hot. The best weather is in July, when the highest temperature is usually about 69°F (21°C). Midsummer nights in Helsinki are greatly extended (at this time Lapland is bathed in the midnight sun). In winter, temperatures hover between 21°F and 27°F (-6°C to -3°C).

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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.