Helsinki Life and Visitor Travel Tips
(Helsinki, Uusimaa, Southern Finland, Finland)
Famed as an international meeting point, Helsinki is an important city in terms of administration, finance and culture, around which much of city life is based. Many tall and towering buildings dominate the skyline, with grand church spires contrasting with the more modern architecture.
Tourists visiting the city should consider purchasing the money saving Helsinki Card, which provides free entry to the majority of all the city's museums, along with free use of public transport and discounted meals at various participating restaurants. However, if you really wish to make the most of the Helsinki Card, you will have to sightsee and travel in a big way to make any considerable savings, so do bear this in mind.
Useful Contact Details
Visitors arriving in Helsinki will find that the centrally located City Tourist and Convention Bureau is always a good first port of call and offers all the latest information in the way of seasonal events and sporting activities. If you have not yet found a room for the night, then pay a visit to the Huonevaraustoimisto (Hotel Booking Centre), which is located at the Helsinki Central Railway Station and will usually be able to help find you suitable, available accommodation. Those planning to venture outside of Helsinki should pay a visit to the Matkailuneuvonta (Finnish Tourist Board), in the Kaartinkaupunki area of the city, where you can learn all about Finland and the many neighbouring Finnish attractions close by.
Helsinki City Tourist and Convention Bureau
Address: Pohjoisesplanadi 19, Helsinki, FI-00099, Finland, FI
Tel: +358 09 3101 3300
Fax: +358 09 3101 3301
Open hours: May to September, Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 20:00, Saturday and Sunday - 09:00 to 18:00; October to April, Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 18:00, Saturday and Sunday - 10:00 to 16:00
Huonevaraustoimisto (Hotel Booking Centre)
Address: Asema-aukio, Helsinki, FI-00100, Finland, FI
Tel: +358 09 2288 1400
Fax: +358 09 2288 1499
Matkailuneuvonta (Finnish Tourist Board)
Address: 4 Eteläesplanadi, Töölönkatu 11, Helsinki, FI-00100, Finland, FI
Tel: +358 010 605 8000
Fax: +358 010 605 8333
Language and Dialect
The majority of people in Helsinki and throughout Finland speak the native language of Finnish, although a small proportion do speak Swedish. All signposts in Helsinki are written in Finnish, although some restaurants will also provide English versions of their menus, especially for tourists. Bring a Finnish phrase book and try to communicate with the locals in their native tongue. You may well be surprised how well it goes. Here are some simple Finnish phrases for you to practice:
- Hello - Hei
- Hi - Terve
- Good morning - Hyvää huomenta
- Good evening - Hyvää iltaa
- What is your name? - Mikä sinun nimesi on?
- My name is... - Minun nimeni on ...
- Excuse me - Anteeksi
- Can you help me? - Voitko auttaa minua?
- Can you speak more slowly? - Voitko puhua hitaanmin?
Dos and Don'ts / Tourist Traps
- Drinking Beer - there are plenty of delicious Finnish beers to sample in Helsinki, although be careful, since most are now more than 5% proof. Irish pubs are always lively and if this is more your kind of thing, then pay a visit to Molly Mallone's Irish Pub on the Kaisaniemenkatu
- Eating Out - central restaurants and cafes with outdoor tables are often a little pricey, although for many this is outweighed by the location. Check out those along the Esplanade, which are generally better value
- Exchanging Currency - rather than using a bank to obtain your Euros, instead use one of the many Otto cashpoint machines, or Forex booths where the commission is low
- Guided Tour Bus - if you consider that the tourist buses are not worth the money, use a tram to sightsee around much of Helsinki, or simply walk, since many of the main sights are fairly close to each other
- Late-Night Taxis - if you intend to party until the early hours of the morning, you will soon find that taxis at this hour are often hard to come by. The main railway station is generally the best place to head for a late-night taxi
- Public Toilets - there are very few public toilets in Helsinki and if you are lucky enough to find one, you will be expected to pay for the privilege of using it
- Souvenirs - the endless gift shops in the very heart of Helsinki are the most expensive, so look outside of this area for better value souvenirs and postcards, or head to department stores, such as the Stockmann
- VAT Refunds - non-EU residents may be able to claim back much of the VAT added to goods upon departing from Finland, so do look out for the 'Tax Free for Visitors' signs when out shopping