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S. Finland road trip

Hi there! I will be renting a car for 3 days from Helsinki in early June, and had a few questions. I've already got my itinerary, which I think is very ambitious for only 3 days, but I'll have the advantage of lots of daylight.

  1. Do I need an international driver's license? I am a U.S. citizen with a state driver's license.

  2. Do hotels, restaurants and shops accept Travelers' Checks nowadays, or am I better off with Euros and a credit card?

  3. How are the roads and the drivers in Finland? I will be largely on secondary, "scenic" roads, and wonder how well-maintained the roads are and how long it takes to get places (not counting many stops for photos and places of interest). Are drivers generally considerate? [In this forum 7 years ago I was warned about the drivers in Greece, but lived despite all the horror stories).

  4. Are there frequent rest stops/picnic areas, etc. with bathroom facilities?

  5. How horribly expensive are gas and meals?

Thanks for any help! --Les

Posted by
5828 posts

Do hotels, restaurants and shops accept Travelers' Checks nowadays, or am I better off with Euros and a credit card?

Credit cards are widely accepted. No problem with my Cap One chip and signature Visa card. Finland is very advanced with technology. Euro cash for small things.

We didn't have a car. We took the train from Helsinki to Voukatti, a 6 hour train ride. Others in our group who had a rental car and drove took about the same time because speed limits are strictly enforced with radar/camera (so we were told). Watch your speed. And watch for moose.

Posted by
16893 posts

Basically nobody accepts travelers checks. Use your debit card (with Visa or MC logo) to withdraw cash from machines and credit card for larger expenses.

The International Driver's Permit does not translate into Finnish and it's not required there. Expect fuel to cost about $8 per gallon. See more tips at

Posted by
37 posts

Thanks to both for the great tips. I have a "lead foot" and a log ways to travel in 3 days, so I will need to watch the speed limits.

A couple of other questions:

  1. Has anyone flown on Finnair? I couldn't believe that on top of the totally outrageous ticket fare from the U.S. to Helsinki, they also charge separately for your seat, unless you book it at the gate on the day of travel. So I'm cutting off my nose to spite my face and not doing it until I get to teh airport, which no doubt means I'll be stuck with a middle seat and have to crawl over people all night to get to the bathroom. does anyone know whether they show free movies on U.S.--Finland flights? If Finnair charges extra for seats, and even for 1 bag on Finnish domestic flights--I wouldn't put it past them to charge for in-flight movies.

  2. Does anyone know how to get from the Helsinki airport to Central Station by bus, train or other public transportation? I refuse to pay 40-60 Euros for a cab to get to my hotel after dropping off my rental car at the airport.

Thanks again for any info. Cheers,


Posted by
37 posts

Thanks for the link, Laura! Great stuff & very informative. Wish I'd thought about this website months ago, instead of a week before my trip.

Posted by
5828 posts

...Helsinki airport to Central Station by bus, train or other public transportation....

Yes, taxi are 40 EUR or more.

Cheapest is public transit:

Public transportation at Helsinki-Vantaa airport and West Terminal

Helsinki Region Transport provides public transport services between
Helsinki Airport and the metropolitan area. In addition, many long
distance buses stop at the airport.

Tram 9 stop next to the West Terminal. Here is a map of tram line near.
the West Terminal.
Note that public transit does NOT have luggage compartments and can be crowded during commute periods. Also multiple stops between HEL and Central Station.

Train service between HEL and the central station just started.

Ring Rail Line was opened for passenger traffic on 1 July 2015. The
rail line links the Vantaankoski line and main line, providign a new
crosstown rail link in Vantaa. The line also provides a new transport
link from Helsinki city center to Helsinki Airport and the rest of the
country. The rail line is one of the most significant public transport
projects in the region's history.

I and P trains serve all stations along the line. I trains run counter
clockwise (Helsinki-Tikkurila-Airport-Myyrmäki-Helsinki) and P trains
clockwise (Helsinki-Myyrmäki-Airport-Tikkurila-Helsinki). The trains
run every ten minutes Monday to Friday and Saturdays. The journey from
the airport to the Central Railway Station via Tikkurila takes 27
minutes, via Myyrmäki 32 minutes. All trains are modern, low-floor
trains providing easy access for passenger with luggage, prams or

Finnair runs coach service between HEL and the Central Station. Finnair coaches have under seat luggage compartments.

Finnair City Bus is the fastest bus service between Helsinki city
centre and Helsinki-Vantaa airport. The fastest route is always chosen
according to traffic conditions. The trip from Helsinki Centre Eliel
square (next to the Central Railway Station) to the airport takes
about 30 minutes. On the way to the airport the bus stops only at
Hesperia park, about 3 minutes after departure. On the way to the city
the bus drives via both terminals and then stops on request at the bus
stops shown on the map. The bus drives via both terminals at the
Helsinki-Vantaa airport on its way to and from the airport.

Enjoy your ride with the free WiFi connection
Tickets can be purchased beforehand online from the Pohjolan Liikenne
online shop. The online ticket fare is 6,20 € one way or 11,40 €
return for adults.

Posted by
37 posts

Fantastic info! I can't thank you enough! All the best, Les