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Public Transport in Helsinki

On the way in Helsinki by public transport

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Tourists visiting the Finnish capital can reach many sights by public transport and on foot. The entire Helsinki metropolitan area, with the outlying cities of Vantaa to the north and Espoo to the west, is well connected by transport.

Public transport in Helsinki

The Finnish capital has a well-developed public transport network. If you are travelling in the city centre, there are numerous buses, trams, suburban trains, underground trains and ferries. The surrounding cities of Espoo and Vantaa and the islands off the coast can be easily reached by bus. The public transport system is operated by the HSL/HKT transport association. The mobility offer is supplemented by private service providers who operate water buses (ferries) and underground buses.

Means of transport in Helsinki

Trams

The yellow-green trams of the extensive tram network are a popular photo motif among Helsinki tourists. The Finnish metropolis has a total of ten tram lines. More are currently being added to connect the new Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama districts to the tram network. The special feature of tram lines such as the 2/3, 4 and 6 is that they serve the most important sights in the city centre. For example, tram 4 passes the Russian Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral, Senate Square, the Cathedral, the Kiasma Museum, Finlandia Hall and the National Museum.

If you like design, art and good food, tram line 6 is the right choice. With it you can explore parks and museums. And, of course, try out locations with Finnish specialties. If it’s your first time in Helsinki, you should take line 2 first. It also stops at important tourist highlights such as Helsinki Cathedral and Market Square.

Metro (subway)

If you want to use the orange metro, you will probably be surprised when you look at the timetable. The metro system is extremely tourist-friendly compared to that of other world cities. You only travel west or east from the city centre. And it takes just under 40 minutes from Matinkylä in Espoo to Mellunmäki or Vuosaari.

Buses

The bus network covers the entire city area. Buses can even take you to parts of the city that are not connected to railway lines. On weekends there are additional night buses during the night. You can recognize them by the N in front of the line number.

S-Bahn

The 15 S-Bahn lines run from the main station to the west, northwest and north. They are operated by the railway company VR, but can be used with HSL tickets. The I and P lines take you directly to the airport.

Ferries

If you want to visit Suomenlinna Fortress, located on six islands in the south of Helsinki, you can easily take the ferry that is part of the public transport system. You can reach the main island in 15 to 20 minutes. The ferry is anchored at the penultimate pier on the east side of the market square and operates daily all year round. During the summer months it runs at shorter intervals. The sea fortress with the Swedish name Sveaborg was built around 1748 by order of the Swedish king. He ruled over Finland at that time and had it built to protect the harbour of Helsinki. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.

Tickets and fares

The public transport network is divided into tariff zones A, B, C and D, as seen from the city centre. If you are only travelling in the city centre, AB tickets are sufficient.
If you do not buy your single ticket at a ticket machine or from the bus driver, you have to activate it at a card reader before you start your journey. This also applies to the single tickets to be bought at the ferry. By the way, these are only for crossings. Single tickets bought on the bus are generally more expensive and should ideally be paid for with suitable small change. Ticket machines accept notes, card payments and the HSL Card in addition to euro coins. You can find the nearest ticket offices on the website of the HSL Transport Association. All tickets for AB, BC and D are valid for 80 minutes, for ABC and CD 90 minutes, for BCD 100 minutes and for ABCD 110 minutes.

The day ticket, which is cheaper than single tickets, is worthwhile if you want to use all means of public transport for 24 hours. You can choose between one-day and seven-day tickets for adults and children. Before you buy your ticket, you choose the fare zone you want to use, as usual. The Helsinki Card is a discounted card for tourists. It entitles you to use all means of transport in the city centre (A, B). It also allows you to visit museums and other sights free of charge. The Helsinki Card Region is valid in the tariff zones A, B and C.

The tariff of the zone extension tickets depends on the number of tariff zones and how far they are from the city centre. The HSL Card can be topped up. Before you start your journey, you simply hold it in front of the card reader, which deducts the respective ticket fee from the credit balance. As a tourist, however, you can only use transferable (multi-user) HSL Cards.

Where can I buy tickets?

Basically, tickets are bought before using public transport. The only exceptions are the two suburban train lines to and from Helsinki Airport, where you get your ticket directly from the salesperson on the train. And the bus lines (purchase from the driver). Otherwise, you can buy tickets at various places around the city:

  • at one of the numerous ticket vending machines
  • at one of the HSL service or sales points
  • in R-kiosks
  • in certain shops

Much more convenient than buying tickets on the way is buying them via the app, which can be downloaded free of charge from the HSL website. It also offers important information about public transport in Helsinki. And a best route planner with automatic display of the required ticket.

What you should be aware of as a Helsinki tourist

Good to know: many trams in Helsinki do not stop at all stations at night. The last subway is only in service until about 23.30. Also, you should not get on a bus or subway without a ticket. This can be very expensive: Fare evasion in Helsinki costs at least 80 euros. Also take into account that not all ticket machines have the same range of tickets.