Local transportation and travelling in Finland
Local public transport
Public transport is well organised in Finland. The Helsinki region has buses, trams, local trains, a metro and even ferries. They are operated by Helsinki Region Transport (HSL). The Transport services are punctual. Timetables vary slightly on public holidays, weekends and during the summer. The HSL area is divided into four travel zones (A, B , C and D). Always check which zones you will be travelling through when buying a ticket. When planning your journey, the HSL journey planner helps you find the correct routes and best connections, displaying the route and zone information on a map.
Please note that you must always have a valid ticket when travelling. There are ticket checks frequently and the fine for travelling with wrong or invalid ticket can cost you €80.
HSL student discounts for degree students
As a degree student, you are entitled to a student discount. Please see the terms of the discount at HSL website. You can use the HSL app (or a travel card) with public transportation throughout the metropolitan area. Using the app is the cheapest way to travel and fastest way to pay for your journey. You can refill your HSL app or card when the season ticket or money value on it begins to run out. However, student discounts are only available on season tickets and do not apply to value, single or zone extension tickets.
To get the student discount, you need to have:
- a personal Finnish identity code,
- a municipality of residence registered by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.
To get the student discount for season tickets, Aalto recommends using the HSL app. To activate the discount on the app, you need to have Finnish online banking credentials that allow strong identification; you can get more information on this when you are opening a bank account. You can still buy single tickets on the app without strong banking credentials, but note that they are full priced.
If you don’t have the required credentials for strong authentication, i.e. can’t activate the student discount on the HSL app, you can by exception still get the student discount on a HSL travel card. However, note that in order to do this, you need a valid student card (including a digital card, such as the Frank app) or the student discount application form signed and stamped by Student Services. You need to visit an HSL service point each term to update the student discount on your travel card
More information on the student discount is on the HSL website, including instructions on how to activate student status on the HSL app and the student discount application form.
HSL student discount for exchange and double degree students
In order to purchase a personal travel card, you need to fill in the student discount ticket application form, and have it signed and stamped by Student Services. You can print the document from the HSL website or get it when visiting Student Services. Double degree students are not required to register their municipality for travel card purposes and can use the same HSL ticket application form as exchange students to get the discount.
More information on tickets is available on the HSL website.
Facilities for cycling are very good in the Helsinki metropolitan area. If you want to buy your own bike, you can check the bike shops for cheap second hand bikes.
From April until the end of October, there is also a comprehensive system of city bikes (shared-use bicycles that can be borrowed for a fee by anyone). Helsinki and Espoo share the same city-bike system, but Vantaa has its own system and one cannot mix bikes between the two systems. HSL provides the registration for city bikes.
For your safety, remember to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle! Also note that a bike must be equipped with white or light yellow front light and a red rear light when cycling during dark or at dusk or when visibility is otherwise poor. You can find more instructions and traffic rules for cycling on the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency's website.
Electric scooters are increasingly popular in Finland. There are many service providers for rental scoots such as Voi, Tier and Lime.
Please see the traffic rules for electric scooters on the Finnish Road Safety Council's website.
Long distance travelling
Finland has a nationwide network of train and bus services. The trains and buses are clean and modern. Most of the service providers offer student discounts of up to 50 %, but there are also special offers for early bookers, which can be even cheaper than the student price.
The long-distance bus network in Finland is one of the most extensive in Europe and the buses are modern and comfortable. With a valid student card, you can get a student discount for bus tickets. When purchasing and using student tickets, you must show your valid student card (the receipt of a paid student union fee is not accepted). Unfortunately, doctoral students are not entitled to the discount.
Onnibus, Matkahuolto and ExpressBus are three of the biggest long-distance bus companies in Finland. Onnibus is a cheap option for specific routes, but they don’t offer student discounts.
Finland's railway service (commonly called 'VR') grants discounts on train tickets for students who have an official student card. When purchasing and using the ticket, you must always be prepared to show your official student card (the receipt of a paid student union fee is not accepted). Unfortunately, doctoral students are not entitled to the discount.
For timetables, route information and bookings, see the VR website.
Travelling to neighbouring countries
Finland’s northern location next to Sweden, Norway and Estonia offers excellent and exciting travel opportunities. There are good flight connections to all of these neighbouring countries, and daily ferry connections to Sweden and Estonia.
Remember to check about travel visas and other possible permit requirements before travelling.
Travelling to Russia from Finland is not possible at the moment.
For information on the validity of foreign driving licences in Finland, please see Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom’s website Ajokortti-info.fi.
In Finland, you drive on the right side and overtake (pass) on the left. The main roads are in good condition throughout the year and they are free of charge (no tolls). Headlights are used even during the day. Wearing seatbelts is compulsory, both in the front and back seat.
Drinking and driving: Note that driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly forbidden. The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.05%. Breaking this law nearly always results in a penalty in the form of a fine or imprisonment.
Mobile phones and driving: If a mobile phone is used when driving, the use of a hands-free device is obligatory.
The parking areas in the Otaniemi campus can be found on this map.
How to read the parking traffic signs is explained in this leaflet from the City of Helsinki.