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My Escapes Finland Helsinki Cold Helsinki Business Trip Helsinki Transportation is Terrible!

Helsinki Transportation is Terrible!

March 9, 2014
October 5, 2014

The transportation in Helsinki is terrible. No matter how modern the city is, no matter how high life standards in Finland are, I was very disappointed about this aspect.

At first, Helsinki seemed rather small. On the map... in the statistics...

"Only about half a million people", right?

In fact it's rather 600,000 and the metropolitan area has 1,3 million.
City proper has 715.49 sqkm - that's larger than the size of Budapest or Vienna!
Quite a big city... But it doesn't feel like it when you're in the Kamppi and the Railway Station's area... unless you start walking a bit further from attraction to attraction. Then, you discover how vast Helsinki is by foot.

If you want to explore Helsinki in 1-2 days, relying mainly on walking, then you're going to wear your feet down and will certainly miss much of it!

I reckon 2 days minimum stay is a "must".

Helsinki tram

A tram in Helsinki. These circulate soooo rarely!

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What's So Terrible About the Transportation in Helsinki?

First of all: the subway network is small, trams don't circulate both ways everywhere and they are quite often late. And "late" in Helsinki means anywhere up to 1 hour late or longer!

The metro only covered 17 stations on 2 lines at the time of my visit, insufficiently covering the city's main areas. Plus: I had to walk for long long minutes to find the nearest station.

There were some trams (quite OK, but many were shaky!). Several were selling tickets inside, others not and it wasn't clear where to get the tickets.

Punctuality was a major issue almost everywhere except the metro (which was the only one on time)!

Buses didn't perform better either... The airport bus simply didn't come! After having wasted an hour or so - trying to find the place where the buses depart from.

I can recall the punctuality of Japanese buses and urban trains. They were spot-on, most of the time precise on the second!
Back then I was perplexed how vary rarely the bus, train or metro was at most late by 2-3 seconds!
But that was Japan...

Helsinki buses

The spot where I waited for my airport bus in vein. Wasted more than an hour.

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So, I had to take a taxi to the airport (which took a bunch out of my wallet, because the car was a fat gasoline-drinking Mercedes, driven by a very relaxed female driver).

Bottom line is: the Helsinki transportation system is unreliable and the traveler needs to pay extra attention to this issue. Taxis are very expensive, by the way!

In Helsinkig you must have a "B plan" and perhaps even a "C plan". Airport transfer firms can help, because you just can't rely on buses - as explained.

Apart from the transportation system, the roads, pavements looked and felt worse than in other "Western European" countries.
Helsinki's roads and pedestrian walking areas are wrecked.
Huge chunks missing from the pavement, many filled with water... Pieces of rock (like the components of cobbled roads) lay scattered here and there.

Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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