Helsinki boasts an excellent public transportation network consisting of buses, metro, trams, ferry and local trains. In the summertime there are even city bikes available. The Helsinki metropolitan area covers the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. Normally you will only need to travel inside the boundary of Helsinki but sometimes you may need to go further in the metropolitan area, for example to the airport.
A guide to the metropolitan area public transport system for tourists also provides some useful information.
Tickets and Travel Card
ESN Helga tutors will help you to get the HSL travel card that you will need to be able to use public transport in the city. Without the travel card you will need to buy single tickets, which are more expensive. The travel card is an electronic card that can be loaded with a number of days (minimum 14, maximum 365) that allow you to travel around the Helsinki area. The travel card can also be loaded with money / value, with which you can pay for single tickets and supplementary fares. The card can be reloaded at any time at machines in metro stations, HSL service points and R-Kiosks.
If you want to receive student priced travel (50% discount from Helsinki area adult prices) you will need to fill in a special HSL “Travel card application for foreign exchange students” –form. You will find this form in the Welcome Envelope which will be given to you upon your arrival in Finland. ESN Helga tutors will take you to the HSL office during your first orientation day.
Always make sure you have a valid ticket, because the penalty fee for not having one is 80 € plus the price of a single ticket! If you don’t have cash, you can also pay for your trip with a mobile ticket. This ticket is valid on trams, metro, VR local trains and on the Suomenlinna ferry. The mobile ticket is available with the connections of Sonera, Elisa, Saunalahti, Tele Finland and DNA. The price for a ticket is approximately 2€. You have to have received the ticket before you enter the train, tram, metro or ferry otherwise it is not valid.
For more details about the travel card, check HSL website.
Planning your journey
There is a good internet based travel planner which helps you to plan your journey using the Metropolitan area public transport network. This Journey Planner can be found on HSL website or through the following link: http://www.reittiopas.fi/en/
HSL, Helsinki Region Transport (Helsingin Seudun Liikenne), publishes a timetable booklet twice a year. The booklet can be obtained, free of charge, from the HSL service points. From this booklet you can also find the timetables for local trains. The HSL service point is located at the Central Railway Station’s (Rautatientori) metro station. It accepts credit cards and is open Mon-Thu 7.30-19.00, Fri 7.30-17.00 and on Sat 10-15. More information can be found at HSL webpages. On this site you’ll also find updated information on public transport in general. You will also find all possible changes made to the timetables and routes.