Helsinki cathedral

Helsinki cathedral...

This page explains how to travel by train or ferry from Helsinki to other key European cities, and how to buy the cheapest tickets.  Click here to for journeys starting in another cityInformation current for 2022 COVID-19 update.

bullet pointI want to go from Helsinki to...

     

Stockholm

 

Copenhagen

 

Oslo

 

Tallinn

       
 

Moscow

 

St Petersburg

 

Vilnius

 

Riga

       
 

London, Paris, Amsterdam or anywhere in western & central Europe

 

Somewhere else in Finland: Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Rovaniemi...

bullet pointBefore you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these important tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers all the usual questions, "Do I need to book in advance or can I just buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just buy a €35 point-to-point ticket online?".  And most important, click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

bullet pointEuropean train travel FAQ...

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to Interrail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...


Train travel within Finland...

Helsinki station: See station guide...

Designed by famous Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, Helsinki's beautiful main station is a Helsinki attraction in its own right.  You'll find the usual range of services here, ticket counters, left luggage, food stores, newsagents, restaurants and cafes.  See Helsinki station information.

Helsinki station

Intercity trains...

Most Finnish Intercity trains use modern double-deck trainsets like this, with a driving cab built into one end and an electric locomotive at the other.  They have Eko (2nd) class and Ekstra (1st) class, a bistro car on the lower deck of one car, and a kids' playroom.  There are power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In Ekstra class there's complimentary tea & coffee and water.

In Eko class you can pay a small fee to keep the seat next to you free.

On the upper deck above the bistro is a seating area with tables for 4 on one side of the aisle and rotating sideways-facing seats on the other which can be used to work on a laptop, see the photos below - you can pay a small extra charge to sit here, you'll see the upgrade offered when you book.

In Eko class these trains have one private 2-seat compartment, one private 4-seat compartment and (at one end of the car with the playroom) one private 4-seat family compartment.  You can book these compartments for sole use by paying for an Eko ticket for each passenger plus a cabin fee.

VR double-deck intercity train

Intercity train at Helsinki station...

Ekstra class on a Helsinki to Turku Intercity train Eko class on a Helsinki to Turku Intercity train

Ekstra (1st) class, all on the upper deck.  Larger photo.

 

Eko (2nd) class, available on both decks.  Larger photo.

Tea & coffee station in Ekstra class Rotating seats above the restaurant on a Finnish Intercity train

Tea & coffee station in Ekstra class.  Larger photo.

 

Rotating seats above the restaurant.  Larger photo.

Restaurant on a Finnish Intercity train Playroom on a Helsinki to Turku Intercity train

Restaurant, on the lower deck.  Larger photo.

 

Playroom (upper deck).  Larger photo.

Private family compartment on a Finnish Intercity train Private 4-seat compartment on a Finnish Intercity train

There's one private family compartment.  Larger photo.

 

There's one private 4-seat compartment.  Larger photo.

Pendolino trains...

Tilting pendolino trains operate some services.  They have Eco (2nd) class and Ekstra (1st) class & a bistro car.  There are power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In Ekstra class there's a complimentary tea & coffee station.  In Eko class you can pay a similar fee to keep the seat next to you free.  At one end of the unit is a private 6-seat Ekstra class compartment which can be booked for sole use by paying for a ticket for each passenger plus a cabin fee.

VR pendolino train at Helsinki

Pendolino train at Helsinki station...

Ekstra class on a VR pendolino train Eko class on a VR pendolino train

Ekstra (1st) class.  Larger photo.

 

Eko (2nd) class.  Larger photo.

Sleeper trains to Oulu, Kemi, Rovaniemi...

There are daytime trains from Helsinki to Oulu, Kemi, Rovaniemi & Kemijärvi, or you can use one of the time-effective sleeper trains, now equipped with air-conditioned double-deck sleeping-cars.  All sleepers have cosy duvets, washbasin, soap & towels provided.  You can choose a 1 or 2 bed compartment with washbasin, or a 1 or 2 bed compartment with toilet & shower.  In an expensive country, a sleeper to Lapland can be very good value if you book ahead, compared to the cost of a hotel.  A single-bed sleeper with washbasin starts from as little as €69.  You can buy tickets at the Finnish Railways website www.vr.fi & print your own ticket.

Sleeper train to Lapland boarding at Helsinki   2-bed sleeper on a train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi

A double-deck sleeper train to Lapland, at Helsinki.  Photos courtesy of Sunil S Mehta.

 

2-berth sleeper.  Larger photo.

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Helsinki to Stockholm from €21...

Option 1 is to take a direct overnight ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm.  This is the nicest and most laid-back experience.  Boarding is a relaxed affair, starting an hour and a half before sailing time.  You've the whole evening to enjoy on the ferry as she sails out of Helsinki past the fortress island of Suomenlinna and through the Finnish archipelago.  Next morning there's no need to get up early, you can have a lie-in and leisurely breakfast before a punctual mid-morning arrival in Stockholm, passing many Swedish islands on the way.  These ships have a reputation as party boats, especially at weekends, but you don't have to dance the night away if you don't want to.  Silja Line sails daily, Viking Line now only sails every two days using one ship.

Option 2 is to take a train from Helsinki to Turku and the shorter ferry crossing from Turku to Stockholm.  This route is significantly cheaper and several hours faster, with a similar late afternoon departure from Helsinki's magnificent central station, and a punctual 06:30 arrival in Stockholm.  There's also a Helsinki-Turku-Stockholm daytime service on weekdays, see option 3.  The ferry operates a daytime and overnight crossing with tight turn-rounds at each end so boarding may start as little as 15 minutes before sailing time with staff still finishing cleaning the cabins.  The ferry arrives in Stockholm early morning, you may be asked to vacate your cabin even earlier so that cleaning can start.  This route is certainly faster and cheaper, but the direct Stockholm-Helsinki ferries are definitely the more relaxed option,  Having said that, enjoying a (tax-free, affordable) beer at the outdoor but sheltered Vista Bar as the Viking Glory sails into the sunset is such a great experience.

Option 1, Helsinki to Stockholm by direct overnight ferry...

Silja Line ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm

The Silja Serenade at her berth in Helsinki.  Sister ship Silja Symphony is almost identical.  Entering service in 1990, their vast central promenade was a major innovation at the time, since copied by almost every cruise ship.

A class cabin on Silja Serenade from Stockholm to Helsinki Deluxe cabin on Silja Serenade from Stockholm to Helsinki

A class cabin on Silja SerenadeLarger photo.

 

Deluxe cabin on Silja SerenadeLarger photo.

A class cabin on Silja Serenade from Stockholm to Helsinki Central promendade on the Silja Serenade from Stockholm to Helsinki

Grande Buffet on the Silja Serenade.

 

Central promenade on Silja SerenadeLarger photo.

Good morning Helsinki!

Make sure you're on deck as the ferry sails out of Helsinki.  The ships sails through a remarkably narrow gap between the fortress of Suomenlinna and neighbouring island Vallisaari, past the King's Steps and the Finnish WW2 submarine Vesikko.

Sailing past Swedish islands

In the morning, the ferry slowly passes through the beautiful Swedish archipelago into Stockholm.

Silja Line ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm

The Silja Serenade at Värtahamnen terminal in Stockholm, taken from the walkway from the terminal towards Gärdet metro station.

Viking Line also sails overnight from Helsinki to Stockholm to a similar schedule, but now only every second day, with just one ship, the Gabriella.

Viking Line ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm

Option 2, Helsinki to Stockholm overnight 'sleeper' service - every day...

Option 3, Helsinki to Stockholm daytime service - Mondays-Fridays only...

Helsinki station

Departure is from the magnificent Helsinki station...

Intercity train from Turku to Helsinki

This is the 17:36 Intercity train from Helsinki to Turku, a with restaurant car, power outlets at all seats & free WiFi.

The train would normally go directly to Turku Port station, 100m from the Viking Line terminal, but from 2022 for a couple of years long-term construction work means a bus transfer from Kupittaa station (Turku east) to Turku Port.  However, the bus transfer is well-signed and well organised.

Ekstra class on a Helsinki to Turku Intercity train Eco class on a Helsinki to Turku Intercity train

Ekstra (1st) class.  Larger photo.

 

Eco (2nd) class.  Larger photo.

Viking Line ferry from Stockholm to Turku

The Viking Glory boarding at TurkuLaunched in 2021, she has bars, restaurants, shops & free WiFi.  The other ship on this route is the Viking Grace, launched in 2013.

A seaside cabin on Viking Glory from Stockholm to Turku A beer on the vista bar on Viking Glory from Stockholm to Turku

Seaside cabin on Viking GloryLarger photo.

 

A beer at sunset at the vista bar on Viking Glory.

Sunset from the Viking Line ferry

Good night Finland!  Sunset from the Viking Glory as she sails past the many islands out of Turku.  A beautiful way to travel...

Sunset from the Viking Line ferry

Stockholm is golden!  As Viking Glory arrives in Stockholm, the rising sun turns the city into gold...

Viking Line ferry from Stockholm to Turku

The Viking Glory arrived at Stockholm.  Take a taxi or the Viking Line transfer bus to Central Station.

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Helsinki to Copenhagen...

Option 1, Helsinki to Stockholm overnight, onwards to Copenhagen by daytime train...

An X2000 train at Stockholm Central

Step 1, Stockholm to Copenhagen by tilting 200km/h X2000, seen at Stockholm CentralMore about X2000 trains.

1st class seats on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train 2nd class seats on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train

1st class on an X2000.  Larger photo.

 

2nd class on an X2000.  Larger photo.

Bistro seating area on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train   Bistro seating area on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train

Bistro seating on an X2000 train. Larger photo.

 

Bistro on an X2000 train. Larger photo.

On the Oresund link!

Crossing the impressive Öresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden...

Option 2, Helsinki to Stockholm by daytime ferry, onwards to Copenhagen by sleeper train - Mondays-Fridays only...

Sleeper train to Malmo at Stockholm Central

The overnight sleeper to Malmö, about to leave Stockholm Central. Courtesy of Andrew Henry.

Sleeper train to Malmo at Stockholm   1 or 2-bed sleeper   The en suite toilet & shower

1st class sleeper with en suite shower & toilet, shown in day mode (above left) and night mode set up as a single with upper berth folded against the wall (above centre).  Courtesy of Discoverbyrail.com.  Click the images for larger photos...

6-berth couchettes on Malmo to Stockholm sleeper train   Sleeper train from Malmo to Stockholm

6-berth couchettes - the economy option.  Larger photo.

 

The sleeper at Malmo Central.  This is the sleeping-car with private 1 or 2-berth compartments with en suite shower & toilet.  Courtesy of Ivor Morgan...

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Helsinki to Oslo & Norway...
Stockholm to Oslo train at Stockholm Central

A Stockholm to Oslo train, at Stockholm Central...

2nd class seats on a Stockholm to Oslo train 1st class seats on a Stockholm to Oslo train

2nd class on a Stockholm to Oslo train.  Larger photo.

 

1st class on a Stockholm to Oslo train.  Larger photo.

Stockholm to Oslo train luggage racks Stockholm to Oslo train

Luggage racks on a Stockholm to Oslo train...

 

Photo courtesy of Dr James Benedict Brown.

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Helsinki to St Petersburg & Moscow...

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Helsinki to Tallinn...
Eckero ferry Helsinki to Tallinn

An Eckero Line ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn.

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Helsinki to Riga...

Option 1, Helsinki to Riga by overnight ferry - most comfortable & time-effective, runs every 2 days, June-September only...

Option 2, Helsinki to Tallinn by ferry, bus or train from Tallinn to Riga - daily departures all year round, cheapest...

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Helsinki to Vilnius...

Option 1, Helsinki to Riga by overnight ferry, bus or train to Vilnius  - runs June-September only, every 2 days...

Option 2, Helsinki to Tallinn by ferry, bus or train to Riga, bus or train to Vilnius - daily departures all year round, cheapest...

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Helsinki to London, Paris, Amsterdam or anywhere in western & central Europe...

Option 1, by ferry from Helsinki to Germany & onward trains - the easiest option...

Finnlines Star class ferry to Helsinki   Cabin on the Finnlines ferry to Helsinki

One of Finnlines 3 star class ferries to Helsinki.  Courtesy of Finnlines.

 

Cabin on the ferry...

Option 2, by ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm, then by train...

An X2000 train at Stockholm Central

Stockholm to Copenhagen by tilting 200km/h X2000, seen at Stockholm CentralMore about X2000 trains.

1st class seats on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train 2nd class seats on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train

1st class on an X2000.  Larger photo.

 

2nd class on an X2000.  Larger photo.

Bistro seating area on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train   Bistro seating area on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train

Bistro seating on an X2000 train. Larger photo.

 

Bistro on an X2000 train. Larger photo.

On the Oresund link!

Crossing the impressive Öresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden...

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Copenhagen station

Copenhagen to Hamburg by Intercity train seen here at Copenhagen.  More about Hamburg to Copenhagen trains.

2nd class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

2nd class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

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bullet pointHotels in Helsinki & other cities

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com.

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

  US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

A Curve card saves on foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month at time of writing.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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