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What You Need To Know

Helsinki, Finland’s southern capital, sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its central artery, Mannerheimintie, is flanked by institutions including the National Museum, tracing Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present, imposing Parliament House and Kiasma contemporary art museum. On busy Senate Square, the neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral stands in contrast with Uspenski Cathedral and its cupolas.
Area: 184.5 km²
Population: 620,715 (2014)

Currency

  • The Euro is the currency in helsinki
  • Payment with a credit or debit card is commonplace. Money can be withdrawn from cash dispensers using an EC card without any problem. Exchange bureaus can be found in airports, stations and in major cities. As all prices in Finland are rounded off to the nearest 5 cents, there are no 1 or 2 cent coins in circulation. Should you come across such Finnish coins, hang on to them – these rare coins are much sought after.

Language

Finnish is the first language spoken by 93{b6ef69ea259270ec4a18305426fea28f28d333c3fb1e49baca8d63a07d8bc67e} of the country’s 5 million inhabitants. The other official language, Swedish, is spoken by around 6{b6ef69ea259270ec4a18305426fea28f28d333c3fb1e49baca8d63a07d8bc67e} of the population, most of whom live in the south west and are also speakers of Finnish. Sámi is a minority language in the Nordic countries that is spoken by around 2,000 people living in the north of Finland, which is 0.03{b6ef69ea259270ec4a18305426fea28f28d333c3fb1e49baca8d63a07d8bc67e} of the Finnish population.

Weather

Finland’s climate is affected by the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift, which bring warmth to the region. July is the warmest month, with temperatures averaging 17.8°C and maximum temperatures reaching as high as 33°C. January and February are generally the coldest months, when temperatures are around -4°C, with record lows dropping to below -30°C.
There can be snow as early as November and as late as April, but the majority of Helsinki’s snowfall occurs from December to March. In January and February, expats moving to Helsinki can expect to see over 20 cm of snowfall each month.
Helsinki’s northern latitude means that it has extremes of daylight hours, with days as short as 5.5 hours in the winter, and with up to 18.5 hours of daylight in the summer.

Health and security

Medical care in Finland is of a very high standard even in areas some way from larger towns. Check with your insurance company before departure as to how payment is to be handled in Finland and make sure you take a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you.
Helsinki is a very safe city, but you should keep an eye on your possessions and luggage at all times, just like in any other big city nowadays. This is especially true during the summer in crowded trams (3T/3B are the sightseeing trams) and crowded places.

Kaisaniemi Park near the train station should be avoided during nighttime as there have been some disturbances. Also at night the drunks and vagrants hanging around the train station may be a bit intimidating, but just keep a hold of your handbags and mobile phones and you´ll be fine.
There are plenty of people walking around the center of town during the night, and it is very safe to do so, also for women.

DON’T

  • Smoking is strictly prohibited at Helsinki Airport, the same as other European airports but still special smoking zones are available near the gates of the airport. There is a new law that forbids smoking in public areas like shops, offices, buses etc.
  • Normally tipping is not expected in Finland and a service charge is added in hotels and restaurants. Finnish people do tip only if they wish to appreciate good service or delicious food. It is not obligatory to give a tip to the taxi drivers.

DO

  • Crossing streets in Helsinki can be a bit of a hazard if you aren’t paying attention carefully. Each individual crossing has it’s own walk/don’t walk light, and some streets have 3-4 of these, which don’t always have the same sign on.
    In Helsinki though, you might be crossing a street that is split into sections; where cars are coming from the left, and then there are some tram tracks, and then cars are coming from the right. Each one of these crossings has a different light and sometimes you will only be able to cross one section and then have to wait on an “island” a little bit before making it all the way across the street.
    Basically, if you just see a “walk” sign at the far end of the street you may be mislead to believe it is safe to go when, in fact, a closer light may indicate “don’t walk” for the part that you are about to cross. So just pay attention and use some common sense – make sure you look both ways before you step out into potential traffic.