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 city.  Train information updated for 2020.  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

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...

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.

Helsinki railway station   Inside Helsinki station

Helsinki station.  Courtesy of Jeremy Nicholls.

 

Main hall.  Courtesy of Michael Banbrook

Helsinki station platforms

Helsinki station platforms.  That's a Finnish double-deck Intercity train on the left and the Russian sleeper train Tolstoi arrived from Moscow on the right.  Courtesy of Jeremy Nicholls.

The night trains to Lapland...

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.

Back to top


Helsinki to Stockholm from €21...

Direct ferry, or via Turku?  Viking Line or Tallink Silja?

The direct overnight ferries from Helsinki to Stockholm provide the nicest experience, with an evening to enjoy on the ferry and a leisurely breakfast on board as the ferry approaches Stockholm through the various islands.  They 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.  The advantage of taking the 'boat train' from Helsinki to Turku then the shorter crossing from Turku to Stockholm is that it's significantly cheaper and the night service is significantly faster, with an early morning rather than late morning arrival in Stockholm that might be better for onward connections.  On Mondays to Fridays there's also the option of a daytime service.  It's your call!  There are two competing ferry companies on each route, both are excellent with little to choose between them.

Option 1, Helsinki to Stockholm daytime service - Mondays-Fridays only...

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

The connecting train from Turku to Helsinki   2-berth cabin with shower on board the ferry   Viking Line ferry from Stockholm to Turku in Finland

The InterCity boat train from Helsinki to Turku Harbour is a double-deck InterCity train. Note the children's play area!

 

2-berth cabin on the cruise ferry to Finland...

 

The Viking Line ferry from Turku to Stockholm.  Silja line operate a competing ferry.  These 3 photos courtesy of Matthew Philips

Silja Line ferry Turku-Stockholm

The Silja Line ferry:  Competing with Viking Line with almost identical timings and the same train connection to Helsinki, Silja's Galaxy sails out of Stockholm bound for Turku.  Courtesy Jeremy Nicholls.

Option 3, direct Helsinki-Stockholm overnight cruise ferry...

Silja Line ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki   Silja Line ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki

The Stockholm-Helsinki overnight ferry...  A floating hotel from Helsinki to Stockholm.  Above, the massive Silja Symphony towers over the Silja Line terminal in Helsinki.  Courtesy of Discoverbyrail.com.

Silja Line ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm

Nearing midnight, the eastbound Silja Serenade from Stockholm to Helsinki sails past the Åland islands.  Courtesy Jeremy Nicholls.

Viking Line ferry Helsinki to Stockholm

Viking Line's Gabriela sails out of Stockholm en route to Helsinki.  Courtesy Jeremy Nicholls.

Back to top


Helsinki to Copenhagen...

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

125 mph tilting 'SJ2000' from Copenhagen to Stockholm, at Copenhagen station SJ2000 2nd class seats

A Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train boarding at Copenhagen main station...

 

2nd class seats on an X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm.

SJ2000 train   SJ2000 buffet car seating area   SJ2000 self-service buffet car.

X2000 bistro car...

 

X2000 bistro car seating area...

 

Bistro self-service...

Winter scenery fro a Copenhagen-Stockholm train

Snowy scenery from a winter train between Copenhagen & Stockholm. Courtesy of Radoslav Sharapanov

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...

Back to top


Helsinki to Oslo & Norway...

Back to top


Helsinki to St Petersburg & Moscow...

Back to top


Helsinki to Tallinn...

Back to top


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...

Back to top


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...

Back to top


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...

Back to top


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...

Back to top


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 - 10% discount with code seat61.

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

  Australian flag New Zealand flag  Irish flag    If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  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.

 


Back to home page