Transportation in Helsinki

Transportation in bigger cities you’ve never been before can be a confusing experience. That could be the case especially in Helsinki. The Capital City of Finland is quite big, but not big enough to have just one simple way of transport to everywhere.

In Helsinki there are many different ways to go around and even reach the areas off the beaten path. Complicated bus lines, a tram system, metro and regional trains. So much different means of transportation. It is totally overwhelming to try and memorize them all.

But moving around Helsinki is actually easier than it looks at first. And many times you don’t need to memorize anything! There are still a few basic things that you should know about to go around as easily as possible.

A tram in Helsinki. Unsplash/Alexandr Bormotin. 

Tickets

You should choose the type of the ticket depending on how often and between which regions you travel. There are many options for tickets and many ways to buy them.

Using cash
Almost every city has this with their transport in Finland: you can get a ticket with cash when you board the vehicle. You just need to pass through the driver to get it.

Having an even sum for the ticket is useful to avoid extra fuss in the hasty environment of Helsinki’s public transport. You can of course buy tickets from the ticket machines with cash whenever you might encounter one.

Cash works in Helsinki’s public transport for the most parts, but not in the regional trains. The bottomline is that you can buy your tickets with can from buses, trams, ticket machines and R-Kioski kiosks.

Travel card
This is probably the best choice if you now you’re going to use the public transport frequently for a certain period of time. The HSL/HRT Travel Card gives you unlimited time to travel with public transport depending on the plan.

The minimum plan for a travel card is 14 days, which costs 28,70€. It might come cheaper for even a shorter period of time, as one single ticket costs 2,90€.

You can use this map to find Helsinki Regional Transit’s sales or service points where they sell the cards.

Mobile ticket
This is a handy one to have. You can buy the mobile ticket with your phone with this appWith the app you can choose which ever ticket you need and buy it with just a couple of clicks. The app is really simple to use and has a good user interface.

You need to fill in your credit card information so HSL/HRT can charge the price whenever decide to buy the ticket.

Also, the mobile ticket works in every vehicle of transport unlike some other options.

This is a handy option when you are on the go and you don't have time to stop at the ticket machine. Also, every stop or location doesn't even have ticket machines, and this app will help you a lot when that happens.
 

HSL/HRT Ticket machines
You can buy tickets from ticket machines as well, but every station does not have them. They work with both means of payment; cash and card.

The time for the ticket starts when you buy the ticket from the machine. All single tickets are valid from 60 to 80 minutes, depending on the transport. You can find more details here.

It’s cheaper to buy tickets in advance from a ticket machine than to buy them from the vehicle. You can also switch between transports during the ticket’s time of validity.

Regions

If you feel like visiting some place else besides Helsinki, you can buy a regional ticket to the neighboring cities an municipalities. With HSL/HRT regional tickets you can travel to:

  • Espoo
  • Kauniainen
  • Vantaa
  • Sipoo
  • Kirkkonummi
  • Kerava

There are three different fare zones in the Capital Area and depending on your ticket there are different rules. The three-zone ticket covers them all and with that you’ll always be covered. It’s quite possible though that you won’t travel to all of the regions in one time.

The public transport network is quite well connected, so you should always check if you’re going to another city or municipality by any chance. You can find more detailed information about the regions here.

The ticket prices vary a bit depending on the regions and where you buy the ticket. Find the detailed ticket prices here just for your preferences here.

If you present an invalid ticket or travel without a valid one in either of these zones you’ll be fined 80€.

How to know where to go?

As mentioned before, it is impossible to memorize all of the relevant connections and timetables of the public transport.

Luckily, HSL/HRT has made this handy Route Planner that you can use to find your way around Helsinki. Just put in your starting point (works with location on as well, if you’re unsure where you are) and final destination. The Route Planner will then show you the first possible way to go to your destination.

You can also find your route in advance if you put a certain time you need to travel to the Route Planner. It really is a lifesaver in Helsinki.