Helsinki – Visitor’s Guide

Planning to visit Helsinki on your next holiday?
Here are some useful Information you must know before your trip.

Business Hours

Normal hours of operation for Department stores, many chain stores and the large supermarkets are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Monday to Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Many stores close at 6 p.m. day before public holidays. On Finnish public holidays, almost all stores are closed, however few stores located under Helsinki Central Railways Station and the Kamppi bus terminal will keep their doors open. Open air markets begin trading at 7 a.m on weekdays and saturdays, and close at 2 p.m.

Climate

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Helsinki has four distinct seasons. The light-drenched, warm summer contrasts sharply with the dark, cold winter. The main tourist season extends from May to September. You can count on plenty of light, but the weather can vary from torrential rain to long heat waves. Be prepared for anything! In summer, the temperature is from +15 to +25 degrees, even to +30 degree Celsius. However, rain and northerly winds can cause the temperature to drop suddenly. It is usually frosty in winter, but there are often temperate days.

The proximity of the sea makes Helsinki a humid city. This should be taken into account particularly in the spring, when the sea is cold and the chilly wind can cause nasty colds.

Currency

Finland is one of the European Union countries using the Euro. You are able to exchange your currency into euros at any bank or bureau de change.

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Customs

Usually only random custom checks take place among travellers landing in Finland, particularly if your journey commenced in another European Union member state. Please note that strictly defined restrictions apply to the import of alcohol and cigarettes.

Emergency

travellers are advised to take out comprehensive travel insurance. This will allow the quickest and most appropriate treatment in private clinics, which are otherwise prohibitively expensive.

For general emergencies, phone 112. For strictly medical problems, phone 09 310 10023.

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Helsinki Card

Admission to all the main sights, free travel on public transport and much else is included in the price of this “smart card” for discerning tourists.

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Adults: 44 Euros (1 Day), 54 Euros (2 Days), 64 Euros (3 Days).

Children aged 7- 16: 22 Euros (1 Day), 27 Euros (2 Days), 32 Euros (3 Days).

Helsinki cards are sold at the Helsinki City Tourist Office, most hotels, Stockmann department store and some news paper kiosks (R-kioski) in the city center.

Internet

Finland is world leader in Internet access. Many places, including public libraries, many cafes and some university facilities allow you to surf the Net free of charge. There are also two free wireless connections, Helsinki City Open WLAN and NextMesh Wi-Fi. The safe and secure WLAN connections do not require signing-in.

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Language

English is the most commonly used language for international communication. Finland is officially a bilingual country, with 6% of the population speaking Swedish. The Finnish language is reputed to be extremely difficult. However, Finns will be pleased if you can master even just a couple of words. Have a go and make someone smile!

Pharmacies

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Apteekki is the Finnish word for pharmacy. There are more than one hundred pharmacies in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The pharmacy located at Mannerheimintie 5 is open daily from 7 a.m. to midnight. There is a 24-hour pharmacy further north at Mannerheimintie 96.

Public Toilets

You can find free restrooms at Stockmann (Aleksanterinkatu 52) and Forum shopping centre (Mannerheimintie 14-20, ground floor).

There are automatic toilets on several locations, for example, in Espalande Park and in Sibelius Park The price is EUR 0.50.

Sales Tax Refunds

In Finland, VAT is usually charged at the comparatively high rate of 24%. Upon leaving the country, tourists from countries outside the European Union can obtain a refund of 10-17% of the purchase price of goods bought in Finland. VAT refund cannot be obtained for products costing less than 40 euros. Always ask before making your purchase!Shops participating in the VAT refund scheme are marked with stickers bearing the slogan “TAX FREE FOR TOURISTS”. You will be given a special receipt. To claim your refund, you must present this receipt at the refund window at the customer post when leaving the country.

Shoe Repairs

If you have broken a heel or your shoes need new heel tips or some urgent stiching, you can get your shoes repaired at the Forum and Kamppi shopping malls or at the Helsinki Main Railways Station.

Tap Water

The quality of tap water in Finland is good, and it is safe to drink.

Taxes and Tipping

Price tags and prices displayed include all taxes. International place tickets represent the only exception: so-called airport taxes are usually added to the price of the ticket. Even the prices on restaurant menus already include service charge. Tips are not expected or required. Should you, however, wish to tip your waiter, the gesture will of course be appreciated! There is no need to tip taxi drivers, but you can naturally tip them for good service.

Telephone

Most Finns use a mobile phone. There are several GSM operators in Finland and the range of coverage is approximately the same in the Helsinki area. In practice, you can use all the European mobile phone frequencies in Helsinki. However, finding a pay phone can be difficult.

Source: Discover Helsinki

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