Living in Finland

Cities

Tietoa Helsingistä

Information about Helsinki

Traffic

The Metropolitan Area boasts good public transport connections. The transport network of Helsinki includes trains, buses, trams, metros and the Suomenlinna ferry.

Helsinki is part of Helsinki Region Transport, HRT (Helsingin seudun liikenne, HSL), a joint municipal authority that organises public transport in the Metropolitan Area.

You can use the Journey Planner (Reittiopas-palvelu) service to search for information on routes in the Metropolitan Area. The service provides suggestions on how to get from one place to another using public transport.

You can use cash or a travel card (matkakortti) to pay on public transport.

linkkiHelsinki Region Transport, HSL:
Journey PlannerFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian

Travel Card

It is cheaper to travel by Travel Card (matkakortti) than if you buy a single ticket with cash. Travel Card is accepted on the local service’s buses, commuter trains, the metro, trams and the Suomenlinna ferry.

There are two kinds of travel cards. A personal Travel Card (henkilökohtainen kortti) can only be used by the card’s owner. It is the cheapest way to travel. Multi-user Travel Cards (haltijakohtainen kortti) can be used by more than one person.

Before you buy a personal Travel Card, you must register as a permanent resident in one of the cities covered by the HSL regional tickets. These cities are Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen, Kirkkonummi, Kerava and Sipoo.

You can purchase a Travel Card at an HRT sales office (myyntipiste) or service point (palvelupiste). They are located in different parts of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. You can buy a personal Travel Card at a service point. If you want to buy a personal Travel Card, bring your identification. You can also buy a personal Travel Card from the HRT website if you have Finnish online banking credentials.

The Travel Card can be used after you have loaded either a season (kausi) or value (arvo) to it. A season refers to time: for example, one month. Value refers to money value. If you use public transport often, it is worth loading a season to your card.

You can load your Travel Card in any Travel Card loading point (matkakortin latauspiste). More information is available on the HRT website.

linkkiHelsinki Region Transport:
Sales point searchFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiHelsinki Region Transport, HSL:
Information and advice for passengersFinnish | Swedish | English

Cycling and walking

Helsinki features a lot of bicycles routes. If you want to reach a destination on foot or by bike, you can find a suitable route with the journey planner for pedestrians and cyclists.

Motor and air traffic

Many metro and railway stations provide the opportunity to park your car free of charge and continue on public transport.

Helsinki has good highway connections to all parts of Finland. The nearest airport is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

Read more: Traffic in Finland.

linkkiHelsinki Region Transport, HSL:
Journey Planner for Cycling and WalkingFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian

linkkiVR:
Train timetablesFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian

linkkiHelsinki Region Transport:
Feeder-traffic parkingFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiHelsinki-Vantaa:
AirportFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Chinese | Japanese

Decision-making and public engagement

Decisions regarding Helsinki are made by the City Council (kaupunginvaltuusto). Its members represent various political groups. The Council is elected every four years in a municipal election. You can watch council meetings and find more information about decision-making on the Helsinki channel or the city’s website.

The mayor and city officials organise residents’ evenings in different parts of Helsinki where residents are informed of city matters and can discuss them.

You can also influence decision-making yourself. Voting in municipal elections is an important way of influencing things. You can also take part in the city’s development through various online channels. For example, Helsinki’s website has a ready-made form, the feedback system (palautejärjestelmä). You can use it to send the city questions and suggestions or give feedback.

Your neighbourhood also has a city contact person or borough liaison (stadiluotsi), who can help you promote your suggestion. You can find the borough liaison in your local library at specific times and days of the week. For more information about borough liaisons and their contact information, please visit the City of Helsinki website.

linkkiCity of Helsinki:
City CouncilFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiHelsinki channel:
City Council meetings onlineFinnish | Swedish

linkkiCity of Helsinki:
Feedback to city departments and officesFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiCity of Helsinki:
Participate and make a differenceFinnish | Swedish | English

Religion

There are a large number of religious communities in Helsinki and the surrounding region. Helsinki boasts many shrines of different religious denominations, along with a variety of activity centres. The Religions in Finland service provides you with the opportunity to search for information according to religious community or municipality.

Read more: Cultures and religions in Finland.

linkkiUskonnot.fi:
Religious communitiesFinnish | English

Basic information

Helsinki is the capital of Finland. It is located in southern Finland on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. Helsinki is the administrative centre of the country: it is where the Parliament of Finland convenes and where the ministries are located. Helsinki is also an important hub of business and culture.

The population of Helsinki is approximately 600,000. 83 % of the residents speak Finnish as their native language, while 6 % speak Swedish. 11 % speak some other language.

linkkiCity of Helsinki:
Information about HelsinkiFinnish | Swedish | English

History of Helsinki

Gustav I of Sweden founded Helsinki on the banks of the current Vanhankaupunginkoski Rapids by ordering residents of other towns to move there on 12 June 1550. At the time, Finland belonged to Sweden.

Gustav I wanted to make Helsinki into a trade town to compete with Tallinn, which is why Dutch and German merchants, too, moved there. Soon, Sweden took Tallinn and Helsinki became a war town, whose port was used to ship soldiers first to the Baltic area and, in the 1630s, to Germany to fight in the Thirty Years’ War.

In 1640, Helsinki was moved to its current location in Vironniemi. For its first two centuries, Helsinki was a small town.

During the Great Northern War in 1710, the plague killed two-thirds of the population of Helsinki. Russia occupied Helsinki twice in the 18th century when Sweden and Russian were at war.

In 1748, the construction of the Viapori sea fortress (Sveaborg in Swedish, “The Castle of Sweden), which is currently known as Suomenlinna, began on the islands just off the coast of Helsinki. The building of the fortress brought more people to the small town and invigorated commerce.

Sweden lost the eastern part of the country to Russia in the war fought between 1808 and 1809. The Russians conquered Helsinki and Viapori in 1808, and the town burned down during the war.

Russia made the conquered area into the sovereign Grand Duchy of Finland. In 1812, Emperor Alexander I elevated Helsinki to the status of the capital of Finland. At the same time, the construction of Helsinki’s Empire style city centre commenced, and the new buildings were to hold the most important institutions of the new Grand Duchy. The university was also moved from Turku to Helsinki in 1828.

When Finland gained its independence in 1917, Helsinki became the capital of the republic. In January 1918, the Red Guard, which represented the working population, seized power in Helsinki. At the same time, the White Guard, which represented the wealthy middle class and the peasants, began to organise in Ostrobothnia, and a civil war erupted. In April, the German troops that had arrived in Finland took Helsinki for the Whites.

During World War II between 1939 and 1944, the Soviet Union bombed Helsinki, but the city sustained only minor damage thanks to good air defences.

In 1946, new areas were annexed to Helsinki, and the city area grew to nearly eight times its former size. The population of the city increased rapidly and many new suburbs were constructed in the annexed areas between the 1950s and the 1980s.

Helsinki Day is celebrated annually on the city’s founding day of 12 June. A variety of events take place on that day throughout Helsinki.

linkkiCity of Helsinki:
History of HelsinkiFinnish | Swedish | English