Helsinki: Car Rental
Local Travel Info in Helsinki
Internal flights and major international airports in Helsinki
International and domestic flights to Helsinki land at Helsinki-Vantaa airport, which sits approximately 20 kilometres to the northeast of the city centre. There is a second city airport, Malmi, but this handles mostly private aviation.
The airport is not the only way to arrive in Helsinki, however. The Central Railway station connects Helsinki to all major Finnish towns as well as Lapland, St Petersburg and Moscow. The harbour also provides an entry point for those arriving by ferry or cruise ship from Estonia, Sweden and Germany. Both the Central Railway Station and the harbour are located in the centre of Helsinki.
Getting to and from the airport in Helsinki
There are a number of options for getting to and from Helsinki airport. Private taxis take about half an hour to reach the centre of the city and cost approximately 30 to 40 euros. Shared Yellow Line or Airport minivan taxis are also commonly available, and cost approximately 20 euros (the cost varies depending on how many passengers are carried, costing less if all eight seats are filled). Both taxi types can be found at taxi ranks outside the arrivals hall of the domestic and international terminals.
Buses also go from the airport to both the centre of town and Tikkurila rail station in the centre of Vantaa. Bus stops are located in front of the terminals. If you’re heading into the centre of Helsinki, bus 615 will take you there in about 35 minutes, at a cost of about 4 euros, while bus 61 will take you to Tikkurila rail station, where frequent trains go to all north and eastbound destinations. Finnair also operates a bus service to the city centre for 5.80 euros.
Travel costs in Helsinki
Renting cars in Helsinki
It is easy to rent a car either at the airport or from concessions within Helsinki. However, it must be said that unless you intend to make excursions beyond the city centre, renting a car is not the best way of traveling around the city. For one, there is very little parking available, and all of it expensive – during the week parking in the centre of Helsinki will cost you around 3 euros an hour, although it is usually free on weekends. Underground parking is available at garages in Kamppi and Forum, but again this is costly.
The car itself will also cost around 70 euros a day to rent, depending on the size and the type of insurance you choose. Petrol will cost you between 1 -1.35 euros a litre.
If you are thinking of traveling further afield than Helsinki, it is worth noting that car rental agencies will usually only let you take a rented car to the neighbouring countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Even then you may be asked to pay an additional fee in order to do this.
To book car rental in Helsinki online, view our Car Hire section for Helsinki. We offer Ok Alpha users the latest special offers and best rates available for car hire in Helsinki. We advise you book your Helsinki hire car in advance so you can pick it up and drop it off directly at the airport.
Drivers licenses requirements in Helsinki?
To rent a car in Helsinki you must be at least 20 years old and have held your driving license for at least a year, although for certain types of vehicle, such as 4x4s you’ll need to have had your license for two years.
If your license isn’t in English or the Roman alphabet, it’s a good idea to have an international driving license. You will also need to have at least one credit card to show the car rental agency (some require two).
Rules for Driving in Helsinki
When driving in Helsinki, there are a number of rules that will be familiar as well as some peculiar to and typical of Scandinavian countries.
To begin with, Finns drive on the right hand side and you may overtake on the right when on a multi-lane road. Be careful where you’re driving as well: some traffic lanes are only for use by public transport. Seatbelts must be worn at all times by all passengers and children under the age of three must be seated in the rear of the car in a child seat. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05% and don’t even think about answering your mobile phone when driving unless you have a hands-free holder, as using a phone with your hands whilst driving is illegal. It is important to note that fines in Finland are income-based, and there are no limits, so if you earn a lot of money your fine will be correspondingly huge. Driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs can lead to a fine and up to two years in prison.
Generally, speed limits are 50 km per hour in built up areas (although signs will indicate a drop to 30 km per hour in certain areas such as around schools). On open roads the limit is generally 80km per hour in winter and 100 km per hour at all other times. On highways the limit is 120 km per hour during the majority of the year, dropping to 100km per hour in winter. These speeds are a guideline however: check signposts carefully as speeds will change according to the season and driving conditions, as well as for reasons such as driving in a residential area (walking speed where there are pedestrians, 20 km per hour at all other times). Other rules when driving in Helsinki include the use of headlights. Headlights must be on when driving at any time of the day or night and between December and February all cars are must be equipped with winter tyres.
Helsinki by Public Transport: Bus, Tram, Rail and Metro
Helsinki has an excellent public transport system incorporating a network of buses, trams, suburban rail and underground metro trains. This is a well-integrated system, and one ticket will give you access to all forms of transport. A tourist ticket will allow you 1, 3 or 5 days of unlimited travel across the network. Travel is divided into two zones: Helsinki and regional. The Helsinki ticket is the one you’ll be most likely to use as it gives you access to the whole city, but a regional ticket will let you explore as far as the neighbouring towns of Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa.
An adult one day ticket for travel within Helsinki costs six euros, three days is 12 euros and a five day ticket is 18 euros. Regional tickets are exactly double these prices (12 euros, 24 euros and 36 euros respectively). Tickets are valid for all day and night services and can be bought from a variety of outlets. Single tickets can be bought from bus drivers and ticket machines. Tourist tickets can be bought from ticket machines, from Tourist Information (at Pohjoisesplanadi 19) or from the Helsinki City Transport service point in the Central Railway Station.
Taxis in Helsinki
Taxis are rather expensive in Helsinki, and given the efficiency of the public transport system, those on a budget needn’t rely upon them. Their high cost is not a tourist trap, however: taxi fares are regulated by the Finnish Government. Taxis are on meters, and start at 5 euros (7.70 euros as night and on Sundays), with a charge of 1.30 per km after that, although the rate increases if there’s more than one passenger. In addition, there are surcharges for large bags. The relief is that tips are not expected, although if you feel you’ve had a particularly smooth ride or received exceptional service then you can always round up the amount if you wish.
Taxis have a yellow light on their roofs which is lit when they are for hire. It is possible to hail them in the street although they are not obliged to stop for you – it’s usually better to go to the nearest taxi stand or to call one in advance.
Cycling in Helsinki
A compact and environmentally aware city, Helsinki is perfect for cycling around in any season except winter (December to February). There are great facilities for cyclists including over 1,120 kms of good cycle track, 750 kms of which are paved and meticulously maintained – which is just as well as you mustn’t cycle on the pavement. With such extensive cycle coverage, cycling in Helsinki can be one of the best ways to see the city, and to help you, a free biking map is available from Tourist Information (Pohjoisesplanadi 19). The map is available in Finnish, English and German and as well as being a map of the cycleways of Helsinki, also gives descriptions of sights along the way.
If you haven’t brought your own, bikes are easy to come by in Helsinki. If you visit during the summer months, Helsinki City Transport offers free bikes, which are yours to cycle around on for a two euro deposit, which opens the lock. The bikes are basic and don’t have any gears, but are not to be sniffed at if you’re on a budget. Bikes can be picked up at racks located throughout the city in places such as Market Square and at the Central Railway Station. You can borrow a cycle helmet from the Tourist Information.
If you want something a little fancier, bicycles can be easily hired in Helsinki from city centre companies such as Greenbike or Ecobike.
One day’s rental will cost you between 15 and 25 euros depending on the type of bike you choose. You’ll need to leave a piece of ID as a deposit as well. Greenbike asks that you phone to reserve in advance.
There are also around 20 guided bike tours of Helsinki – just ask at Tourist Information for details.
Water Transport in Helsinki
As Helsinki is surrounded by water on three sides and incorporates an archipelago of islands, it’s no surprise that you may find yourself travelling by water. Depending on where you want to go, there is a network of municipal, private and sightseeing ferries available.
Throughout the summer, island cruises depart from the Market Square. You can also visit Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari Island: entry to the zoo is included in the price of the ferry ticket.
If you wish to visit the Suomenlinna sea fortress, you can catch the municipal ferry from Market Square, which is included in a tourist transport ticket. Alternatively, the JT-Line waterbus also travels there in summer, but does not accept municipal transport tickets.
Hitch hiking in Helsinki
Although hitchhiking is not enormously common in Helsinki and Finland as a whole, it is legal except on certain signposted roads (usually parts of highways) and fairly safe. You’re more likely to be hitching to or from Helsinki rather than within the city itself. If that’s the case, then there are pretty comprehensive guides to hitchhiking to or from Helsinki available at hitchbase and hitchwiki. Always use your common sense and if you don’t feel entirely safe, don’t accept the lift.