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Driving Guide

Finland Driving Guide

Finland is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

2021-04-09 · 9min read
Finland Photo by Julien BRIAND

Finland is a country of happy people. The territory is a mix of primeval wildwoods and high-rise infrastructures that sparked innovation in the southern part of the region where the capital city resides. Since then, Finland has become the fastest growing country in terms of economy, good governance, top-notch education, and its contented citizens.

For travelers, the culture and way of life in Finland may surprise you at first, mostly those tourists who came from the other side of the world. But as you wander off its streets, engage with their values, and rekindle your connection with nature, you’ll find out why locals stay and why tourists keep on coming back: the comfort it instills.

How Will This Guide Help You?

If this is your first time traveling to Finland, this comprehensive guide will help you contain thorough information on what you need to know about Finland. It includes the necessary documents you need to prepare, how you can obtain an international driver’s permit, road rules, driving tips in Finland, and etiquette once you reach the region. And to make it easier for you, some of the sought-out places in Finland are compiled in one section for you to go through. It is a good idea to know what lies ahead before you travel to Finland.

General Information

Finland is a country in Northern Europe and one of the Nordic countries mostly enveloped with rich woodlands, polders, lakes, and rivers. It was considered one of Europe’s remote places, which later developed into an urban-industrial region in the 1960s. Despite being relatively late with flourishing on its own, this reserved yet the charming place has this much to offer to visitors and tourists worldwide.

Almost half of the region’s population lives in Helsinki, the capital. Finland is known for its good governance and tagged as the world’s happiest country, and it shows how the citizens live their life on a day-to-day basis. The Finnish people are drawn to nature as it is part of their culture and way of living.

Geographic Location

Finland is located along the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea. It has a coastline of 776 miles or 1,250km. With more than 60,000 lakes, no wonder the region is abundant with boreal forests, low hills, and plains. It is considered cold in Finland, especially if you head further to the northernmost part, where it can get as low as -7 degrees celsius. It’s best to prepare extra clothing on your trip if the chilly weather bothers you.

Languages Spoken

There are three major languages that Finnish people speak aside from the English language. Finnish is the most spoken language, with over 93% of the total population using this. Then Swedish, which is prominent especially for those locals who live near the southwest border. And Sami, the native language that Nordic people use, is living on the north side of the border.

Land Area

Finland is the eighth-largest country in Europe, famous for its unspoiled wilderness and saunas. The country has a land area of 338,145 km² that is home to more than 5.5 million Finnish people. Norway borders it to the north, Russia to the east, Sweden to the northwest, and Bothnia to the southwest. Surrounded by progressive nations, Finland is also a trendsetter on stability, state security, and social strength.

History

Sweden formerly ruled Finland from the 12th century to 1809. After the Russian Revolution, Finland won its independence in 1917. Since World War II, the country has continued strengthening its relationship with the bordering countries and other sovereignties as well. Finland was then admitted to the United Nations in 1955 under a U.S. Soviet Union agreement.

Today, Finland is viewed as one of the most progressive countries. Low crime rates, hospitable people with so many scenic views and outdoor activities to offer, it has everything you need without worrying about congested roads, air pollution, and crowded streets. If you’re ready, pack your bags now because you’re on some right road tripping in one of the finest places on Earth.

Government

Finland is a parliamentary democracy country. It is a division of the executive power between the elected president and the prime minister. The president, head of the state, is the one who will appoint the cabinet members, oversees the foreign policy, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Moreover, the president can appoint a prime minister but is bound to the decision among the parliamentary groups.

Tourism

Nordic countries such as Finland are a perfect mixture of nature and industrial beauty, mostly on nature. It boasts such pristine comeliness that it pulls travelers into visiting it over and over again. It never failed tourists from the Helsinki capital to Lapland’s northernmost territory as it exceeded their expectation of what you call “natural wonder.”

Tourism has been the main focus of the government since the 1980s. Agriculture is one of the primary sources of income for Finnish people as they take advantage of the rich lands and the abundance of good weather and proper irrigation. And because of this, the country adapted modernization while taking good care of the environment, trudging its way to the economy’s upward point.

International Driver’s Permit FAQs

Roaming the streets of Finland is an excellent way to immerse yourself in their culture and way of life. Commuting is one way to do it, but if you want to enjoy an effortless driving tour in Finland - then you need to get your international driver’s permit (IDP). It is a translation of your local driver’s license, so you can easily rent a car and drive anywhere in the region. Here are a few things you need to know about an international driver’s permit in Finland.

Is a Local Driver’s License Valid in Finland?

Starting in January 2018, Finland announced its new regulation that all local driver’s licenses from countries recognized by Finland are entitled to use it for driving on Finland’s mainland. The license should not be expired, or the owner has not lost the right to use it in the country it was issued. Note that the information printed on the license should be written in the Latin alphabet and accompanied by a Finnish translation.

Native driver’s licenses issued in Macau, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or any country that approved the Geneva Convention, also known as the “Contracting States,” are considered valid. They are valid as long as the license has not expired from the date it was issued. Still, these licenses need to be translated into Finnish or Swedish to adhere to the state’s driving regulations.

Does an International Driver’s License Replace a Native Driver’s License?

Your IDP is just a translation of your native driver’s license. An IDP is your ticket if you wish to rent a car and drive in its streets. So it’s not going to replace your native driver’s license and there will be no exchanging of driving licenses in Finland. You cannot use it for transactions that require a valid ID. Thus, it is highly recommended to always bring your local driver’s license and your IDP with you at all times.

If you’re processing your permanent residency, exchanging a driving license in Finland would be necessary. By the time you become a permanent resident, you have to surrender your local driver’s license in exchange for a Finnish license before the validity of your local driver’s license expires. Doing this will not be a requirement to take other driving test rules in Finland and other examinations.

Who Can Apply for an International Driver’s Permit?

Tourists who are at least 18 years old and above are eligible to apply for an IDP, given that you already have your native driver’s license. You can apply online now; just go to the International Driver’s Association’s website and be sure to provide all the necessary documents to support your application. The site also offers express shipping worldwide for travelers from neighboring continents.

But if you’re wondering how much the driving license in Finland costs, it is roughly between EUR 1,200 to EUR 3,000 depending on the driving school like in Turku or other cities you choose. The fee includes Finland’s driving test, lessons, paperwork, and overall tuition to get a Finnish license.

Who Needs an International Driver’s Permit?

If you want to explore Finland on foot, you can always ride buses and trains to feel that “traveler” spirit in you. But for those who need quick access to car rentals for long-distance trips, you need an IDP for that. Luckily, an IDP from the International Driver’s Association is accepted in 165 countries. Get yours now and revel in Finland’s logjam-free streets in the comfort of driving a car in Finland.

An IDP is a necessary document for travelers and tourists who want to drive around Finland. Your IDP’s primary use is to bridge language differences in a country that adopts a different dialect as their native tongue. In this instance, you need a Finnish translated IDP to drive anywhere in the region because driving in Finland without a license if caught can be subject to violations on roads.

How Long Is an International Driver’s Permit Valid?

Presently, the 1949 Geneva Convention and the 1968 Vienna Convention are followed in Finland. The 1949 IDP is valid for one year, while the 1968 IDP will last for three years. But the standard IDP validity in Finland is one year from the date it was issued, so you should keep tabs on the date to avoid complications while you’re still in Finland.

You can always apply for an IDP as long as you meet the requirements to acquire it. Driving in Finland as a traveler or tourist will require an IDP as a primary document, especially in car rental companies when you reach the region. You can always visit the International Driver’s Association’s website to skip all the long lines and commutes to offices for a more straightforward application.

Renting a Car in Finland

There are various options for tourists and travelers if they need to rent a car once they reach Finland. The country is known for its taiga forests and crystal-like bodies of water such as lakes and rivers. Head south, and you’ll get the capital, Helsinki, where its museums, parks, buildings, and institutions that depict Finland’s streamlined character now.

Head north, where the mountain landscapes of Lapland can be found. It is covered in thick snow; the place is famous for its log cabins, sauna, and white Christmas. It will be a 10-hour drive from Helsinki to Lapland, but there are other spots to look forward to as you drive along its streets, so you better plan things out prior to your travel day.

Car Rental Companies

Leading car rental companies such as Alamo, Sixt, Europcar, Enterprise, and Hertz are available with teeming branches across Finland. You can book a car rental before you arrive at the international airport. Local car rental companies always have a room for walk-in tourists at an affordable price.

On average, a rental car in Finland can cost $78 per day. You can calculate your car rental expense by visiting car rental companies online. It is much easier and more convenient now that it’s just a click away from your mobile devices and laptops. It saves you time, which you can allot on planning and preparing everything you need.

Documents Required

Car rental companies will require an international driver’s permit if you’re driving in Finland with foreign license in hand. What you need is, of course, your local driver’s license, your IDP, and passport in case they check it. You will also need to bring your credit card or have your local paper bills exchanged with the country’s monetary value, the euro.

Vehicle Types

You can choose from economy cars to luxury to van rentals depending on how many people you’re traveling within the vehicle. Alamo has an economy and luxury cars like Chevrolet and Cadillac DTS if you plan to roam the cities inside Finland. Avis offers General Motor (GM) vehicles, while Enterprise has car brands Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Nissan.

Car rental prices also depend if you’re renting a manual transmission or automatic vehicle. While you’re browsing companies, make sure you specify “manual” or “automatic,” so it will filter search results based on what you typed in the search tool. Automatic cars are usually 25% more than manual cars.

Car Rental Cost

Driving around Finland will be an effortless experience once you hire a private car to get to the destinations you planned initially. Car rental companies have different pricing packages, so you may want to check their websites before you book before your travel date. There will also be additional charges for extra features such as winter tyres, GPS, and child seats. To make it easier for you, here are some vehicle types and their average prices:

  • Economy: $19/day
  • Minivan: $102/day
  • Compact: $22/day
  • Luxury: $77/day
  • Intermediate: $28/day
  • Passenger van: $54/day
  • Standard: $40/day
  • Full-size station wagon: $82/day
  • SUV: $72/day
  • Standard SIV: $89/day

Age Requirements

You must be at least 18 years old to apply for a driver’s license, and you will pay a huge fine if you’re caught driving without a license in Finland. But it’s not a similar scenario when you plan to rent a car. You should be 21 years old for car rental companies to permit you, given that you already have a driver’s license for at least one year. But if you’re under 25 years old, they may require a young driver’s fee that depends on the local car rental company you chose.

The country has different restrictions due to frequent accidents. One factor is the age range of these drivers and the lack of experience - negligence to the traffic rules and lack in practice as root causes. If you plan to rent high-class vehicles, some rental companies set the age range between 25 to 27 years old and the license holder’s tenure in driving.

Car Insurance Cost

Car insurances in Finland differ from the company you wish to purchase the insurance. Companies such as Nordea and If are just some of the institutions that offer quality insurance. They have a wide array of options to choose from. Typically, there are two primary car insurances in Finland: third-party liability and comprehensive. Remember that third-party insurance is the minimum legal requirement if you plan to drive around the region.

When you choose a car rental company, you will sign an agreement, and in that agreement, you will see all the charges you will pay as you rent the car for a specific period. You can see there the Sales Tax, Gross Receipt Taxes, Government-Mandated Charges, and for some, Mandatory Airport-Related Charges in most companies.

Car Insurance Policy

If you’re unfamiliar with Finnish roads, it’s normal to feel anxious about how you drive and the uncertainties that you might encounter along the way. Car insurances vary from one company to another. To ensure that you maximize the best out of your coverage insurance, you need to inspect the information first before contacting them.

Most standard car insurances are Personal Accident Insurance (PAI), Additional Liability Insurance (ALI) or third-party liability insurance of the car owner, Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). Optional coverage includes theft protection, but it’s in your discretion to elect or refuse any additional security if it’s necessary during your travel.

Road Rules in Finland

The driving rules in Finland are pretty much similar to other European countries. As a traveler, you need to be familiar with how these road rules work before you hit the road to mitigate unwanted events. There might be laws that are implemented in Finland but not in your country of origin, but you’ll get used to it. Following the road rules will protect not just yourself but the people around you as well. Always consider the safety of Finnish roads when driving.

Road Finland Photo by Jürgen Scheeff

Important Regulations

Travelers love to explore new places that they can drench themselves. One of the best ways to explore Finland is by car. Finland is a vast space of beauty and wonder as many are asking, “How does driving on streets in Helsinki, Finland work?” which can only be answered if you visit the city, right?

But before you think of it, there are rules and regulations implemented by the government to secure the welfare of citizens and drivers using the road. The region has a sophisticated road system, just like in other European countries. Laid out below are some of the essential rules to keep in mind at all times.

Drunk-driving

Drink-driving in Finland is considered “taboo” because Finnish will look down upon you when you say you want to drink and drive simultaneously. But if it can’t be helped, the government imposes a 0.05% drink drive limit on local and tourist drivers. It's best not to drink and drive to ensure you don't go beyond the alcohol limit. Drinking and riding a bicycle is also an offense, but the police will instruct you to walk your bike if you’re unable to operate it.

Distance measurement

Distance measurements in Finland are in kilometers, wherein 1 kilometer is equivalent to 0.6 miles. Traveling tourists are advised to take note of distance measurements so you can get used to using this conversion unit, or you can find a decent conversion calculator to help you measure distances quickly.

The use of indicator lights

Direction indicators must always be utilized. Your vehicle’s direction indicator will inform cars behind you that you’re coming to a halt, turning around the road, or moving to the other side of the road. You have to practice this all the time to jive with other Finnish drivers on the road.

Headlights are compulsory. Keeping headlights on is a legal requirement in Finland, whether it’s daytime or nighttime. So whenever you see someone on the other side of the road flashing his high beams at you, it’s either there’s an accident ahead, or you forgot to turn on your headlight.

Drugs and Driving in Finland

Driving while you’re under the influence of drugs (marijuana, cannabis, ecstasy) is strictly prohibited. Police officers are very strict when it comes to drug driving as they will conduct tests if needed. If you’re caught, you will pay an enormous fine, leading to imprisonment, or worse, you will be banned from entering Finland again.

Parking

You have to park your vehicle in the direction of the traffic. Parking in Helsinki is a bit expensive with time limits. Ensure you maintain a 5-meter distance from pedestrian crossings and intersections so you don’t cause traffic jams. You'll immediately notice these parking spaces because of the parking signs. Some places in Finland use parking discs, especially at the center of cities, to utilize them if you see one. You'll also see parking signs for this.

General Standards of Driving

It is only imperative to check the status and condition of your vehicle. If you can, write a checklist of the required items you will bring with you: your passport, local driver’s license, IDP, and insurance documents. Check the vehicle’s brakes, headlights, windows, and side mirrors if they’re in excellent condition. You also need to make sure you have winter tyres if you're traveling during the winter months.

Speed Limits

Speeding in Finland is expensive. Fines are calculated on how much income you generate every month. When you’re driving on the main roads, you can spot road cameras at the road’s side, operated by the Road Transport Authority. So it is imperative always to follow speed limits at all times or expect a ticket in the post.

There are driving ranges in Finland that need to adhere. The urban speed limit is 50 kph, the rural speed limit is 80 to 100 kph, and the freeway speed limit is 120 kph. In residential areas, the general speed limit is regulated due to kids crossing and running around the area. It is advisable to practice safe driving and always keep an eye on local speed limit signages around.

Driving Directions

Finland is a vast country and driving from one place to another would take hours except if you’re only traveling within the city proper. You will notice roundabouts and intersections so you have to be attentive and look at the oncoming vehicles in front of you. When approaching these routes, it’s best to slow down, stop, and give to the vehicles at the right side of the intersection.

Traffic Road Signs

Finland’s road rules coincide with the enforced traffic signs posted anywhere in the region. When driving in Finland as a tourist, you have to note the traffic road signages you see or encounter now and then because they opt to give you warnings, prohibitions, mandates, and information about the road you’re taking.

Traffic road signs are well-maintained in Finland’s major cities, which are easy to follow because some of these signages are commonly used in other countries. But as you venture into the rural roads, you’ll find new and unfamiliar road signs. Here’s a list of signages that you have to familiarize yourself with before you head on to your plotted destination/s.

Warning signs in Finland are usually in the shape of a triangle with a yellow, red, or yellow color scheme. Warning signs include:

  • Traffic light ahead
  • Rail crossing without barriers ahead
  • Steep ascent ahead
  • Roads bend right then left
  • Falling rocks on the road - area warning
  • Warning for rail vehicle - trams
  • Give way to all traffic
  • Warning for reindeer on the road
  • Speed bumps in road
  • Roundabout ahead

Information road signs tell drivers what to do and what are found in any type of roads in Finland, which gives valuable information about the road you’re using or what lies ahead. Information signs include:

  • Pedestrian crossing - people can cross
  • Begin of a tunnel
  • Begin of a built-up area
  • Parking permitted
  • End of the zone for pedestrians
  • One-way traffic
  • End of expressway
  • End of a lane
  • Begin of a residential area
  • Road ahead is a dead-end
  • Recommended speed

Mandated/mandatory road signs are road signs that need to adhere when you see them at the side of the road. They are usually circle-shaped signs with blue backgrounds. Mandatory signs include:

  • Turning left or right mandatory
  • Cyclists must use mandatory path
  • Pass on right only
  • Turning right compulsory
  • Pedestrians must use mandatory path
  • Mandatory path for equestrians
  • Mandatory path for snowmobiles
  • Ahead only
  • Passing left or right mandatory
  • Direction of traffic on roundabout

Prohibitory signs are widely used in the streets of Finland. These signs prohibit or restrict certain vehicles from entering or other regulations imposed on the road you’re using. Prohibitory signs include:

  • No entry
  • Cyclists not permitted
  • Height restriction ahead
  • Lorries - trucks prohibited
  • No parking
  • Buses prohibited
  • Speed limit ends
  • Turning left prohibited
  • Begin of a zone with speed limit
  • Overtaking prohibited for trucks

You have priority road signs that tell drivers who have a priority at the junction or the road ahead. Priority signs include:

  • Priority road ahead
  • Crossroad ahead, side roads to right and left
  • Roads bend ahead
  • Uncontrolled crossroad ahead
  • Priority over oncoming traffic, road narrows
  • Priority road ends

Right of Way

In Finland, the right of way is encountered in junctions and intersections with 3 or 4 roads. To prevent road disputes from drivers, you should always give way to vehicles on the other side of the junction and even intersections. If you yield for the other car to pass, you are lowering the chances of collisions. You should always maintain a safe speed limit and a minimum driving range and alert once you reach connecting roads and crossroads.

The driving age in Finland should be at least 18 years old. But as mentioned, most car rental companies in the region only permit 21 years old and above to rent a car. Even though Finland’s roads are fully cemented, some routes in the southern part of Finland are impassable due to the presence of rivers and lakes. This route might be challenging for young drivers.

You don’t need to panic if you want to apply for a Finnish driver’s license. There is a driving school in Turku, Finland, and the neighboring cities. Just submit the essential requirements, be attentive to the discussions, pass the test, and you’re good to go.

Laws on Overtaking

The streets in Finland are free from traffic jams because of their sparse population, and driving is a privilege that can be learned through time and practice. The road rule in overtaking is simple: don’t attempt to overtake if an oncoming vehicle is already approaching.

Overtaking is permitted if there are at least two sides of the road. Drivers who are traveling at a slower speed can permit vehicles behind them to overtake. Do not attempt to overtake if the car behind you has started to maneuver and pick up a faster. Do not flash your direction indicators if the vehicles from the other side of the road need to move over. And do not overtake if you cannot return to the flow of traffic without cutting. Be respectful of your fellow drivers who are following the standard driving rules in Finland.

Driving Side

You should always drive on the right side of the road unless you’re taking a one-way route. You are not permitted to overtake if you see a continuous white or yellow line between the lanes. On the sides of the street, take the outermost lane if you’re traveling at a slower pace as other vehicles use the inner side for possible overtaking or turning left if there is a connecting road ahead.

That is why the Finnish government is strict with enforcing road rules. A driving license in Finland is as essential as knowing how to navigate its main and secluded roads. Driving theory tests in Finland equip driving students with the fundamental knowledge they need to keep in mind by physically going on their own.

Driving Etiquette in Finland

Driving in another country can be overwhelming to some people. Aside from the road rules, there are other circumstances that you might encounter. It is best to learn ahead if you get stuck in a situation you have no control over. We’ve laid out some unavoidable conditions and how you deal with it while not getting into some serious trouble.

Car Breakdown

Car breakdowns are inevitable even though car rental companies check them regularly. It can happen any time of the day, and you have to be alert because you’re in the middle of the road where it can cause traffic jams and possible collisions if vehicles behind aren’t alert themselves, and you don’t want that to happen.

If your car suddenly breaks down, don’t panic. Try to move the car as fast as you can outside the road. Use your hazard lights to warn oncoming vehicles, call the car rental company, and let them know your situation. If possible, you can contact a local towing service company to help you move your vehicle off the road.

Police Stops

A cop or police in Finland are doing their job to maintain public security and catch the bad guys away. If you’re traveling and the officer commands you to stop the vehicle, typically, they’ll just ask for your documents: your local driving license, passport, your international driver’s permit, and insurance documents provided by your car rental company.

Overspeeding earns you a ticket that you can pay at the nearest police station. If the police ticket you for a violation you’re unsure you committed, politely ask what the ticket or fine is for before reaching your pocket to pay it upfront. Finnish police are strict law enforcers but are also considerate depending on how grave the violation is. You can consult your car rental company to help you settle it with the police.

Asking Directions

The Finnish language is a bit confusing if you’re not familiar with it. Finnish people are known to be collected and relatively reserved in nature. Some misinterpret them as rude because they don’t engage in small and nonsensical talks. You can ask them for directions. Moreso, if you happen to earn a Finnish, s/he will be a loyal friend to you no matter what.

Even though the majority of the Finnish can speak English, you might need to learn some Finnish phrases as you immerse yourself in their culture. You’re aware of the driving tips in Finland, and now, let’s know some standard Finnish terms and how you can ask for directions in Finnish.

  • I am lost.

Translation: Olen eksyksissä.

  • Can you show me where it is on the map?

Translation: Voisitko näyttää kartalta missä sen on?

  • How do I get to___?

Translation: Missä päin on ___?

  • I would like to buy a___ to __[location]__, please.

Translation: Haluaisin ostaa ___ _[paikkaan]_.

  • How long to get to __[location]__?

Translation: Miten kauan kestää _[kohtee seen]_?

Checkpoints

There are checkpoints in winter when driving around Finland, and as long as you bring with you all the necessary documents prior to driving, you don’t need to worry about it. If you spot a checkpoint, slow down your driving until you reach the checkpoint. For travelers, the official police will check your documents, ask where you’re going, and if they don’t see any problem, they’ll let you drive along. The police are doing it for security purposes.

Other Tips

Knowing these driving etiquette will make it easier for you to get around the borders with ease. The Finnish drivers are careful and attentive when venturing the roads, and as a foreign driver, you should as well follow the protocol. Now, in case of accidents, here’s what you need to do.

What if I Get Involved in an Accident?

Accidents happen during unpredictable moments. If you get involved in an accident, immediately call 112 to let the authorities know about it. You must state your name and the place where the accident took place. If you can give the name of the other party, then provide it to the authorities. 112 is an emergency number in Finland where you can get urgent assistance from the police, paramedics, firefighters, and social services.

If you see an accident, you can park your car outside the road to prevent road blockage and other drivers’ inconvenience. Call the emergency number 112 to let the authorities know about it or let other local motorists see the situation to help you better with it.

Driving Conditions in Finland

Driving a car in Finland doesn’t just end there. You need to be aware of certain situations and conditions, so you will know what to do as you incorporate it into your plans to avoid future delays that will cause discontent on your stay. To learn more about these situations and conditions, check out some information below.

As of 2019, Finland is ranked #14 worldwide in overall ratings in aspects concerning excellent education, fair civil rights, and quality of life for its constituents. The ranking is based on nine categories garnering 79.9. The types include Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power, and Quality of Life.

Accident Statistics

Road accidents are one reason why Finland is strictly implementing its rules and regulations to protect its people and visitors from coming in and out of the country. Still, factors that contribute to these fatalities are overspeeding and lack of driving experience. The Finnish authorities are maximizing their efforts in regulating speed limits and breath testing on every checkpoint scattered within the region to mitigate further casualties.

Based on the data presented by Statistics Finland, in 2020, the number of deaths was one person higher than that of injured individuals in 2019. 27% of those have died, and 58% of the injured were men. Recent reports have not yet concluded, but the government’s initiatives helped decrease the chances of road accidents by enforcing laws with huge fines and imprisonment sentences.

Common Vehicles

In terms of car brands, Toyota is the leading brand for passenger cars sold in 2019. Next in line is Volkswagen, which sold 11.8 thousand units, 3.4 thousand units lower than Toyota. Furthermore, Škoda Octavia, Volvo, and Ford made it to the top 5 most units sold. These car brands are continually competing with each other as they have individual strengths and weaknesses that make them stand out from each other.

Road Situations

Finnish roads are easy to navigate as most of the central and rural streets are adequately cemented. Though a road trip in Finland means you should be alert on minimal potholes and some moose on the road, road conditions are perfectly fine from the southern capital and other parts of Finland to the region’s northern mountainscapes. You'll also find street signs on most roads.

Weather conditions, on the other hand, are a different situation. They are classified as usual, bad, or very bad. Normal conditions are what you expect every spring or summer. Bad conditions are where you can encounter slippery roads due to the cold weather and the presence of snow. Very bad conditions entail freezing rain or road blockage because of the thick layers of snow. Knowing an important bit of knowledge of weather and road conditions can prepare you.

Toll Roads

There are no toll roads present in Finland. Even though bordering countries are around, the government did not install any toll roads where Norwegians, Swedish, and Russians need to slow down and stop. Furthermore, there are no recent reports of a toll in the region that the government is making.

Road Situations

Finnish roads are easy to navigate as most of the central and rural streets are adequately cemented. Though driving tour in Finland means you should be alert on minimal potholes and some moose on the road, everything is perfectly working from the southern capital to the region’s northern mountainscapes.

Weather conditions, on the other hand, are a different situation. They are classified as usual, bad, or very bad. Normal conditions are what you expect every spring or summer. Bad conditions are where you can encounter slippery roads due to the cold weather and the presence of snow. Very bad conditions entail freezing rain or road blockage because of the thick layers of snow.

Driving Culture

Finnish drivers always obey the traffic rules and regulations imposed. That is why Finland is one of the safest places to visit because they have minimal traffic issues that don’t cause trouble for locals and people driving in Finland with a foreign license. With speed cameras posted at the side of the road, rest assured that Finnish drivers will not only look after you but the vehicles using the road as well.

Other Tips

The Finnish roads may be suitable for driving, but you still have to be alert and attentive. Unwanted accidents can happen in a blink of an eye, and even if you have insurance papers, it is best not to rely so much on them and keep your best foot forward as you get behind the wheels. Here’s what you need to know about driving at night in the region.

Is It Safe to Drive at Night?

Most Finnish roads are well lit at night, so you don’t need to worry about ill-willed people taking advantage of the situation. But driving at night might be a problem if you’re traveling. Make sure to get enough sleep before hitting the road. You can also park outside the road to take small naps. If you are dozing off while driving, it will lead to serious car accidents that might even result in death. Rest and don’t force yourself to drive while your mental state isn’t hooked on the roads.

What Do I Do When Driving During Winter?

Driving in Finland during winter is as magical and scenic as what you see in movies: frozen lakes, snow-covered trees, and roofs. Almost everything you see is enveloped with layers of thick snow. It also means one thing: slippery roads. The landscape may delight our eyes, but peril is an idea that one can associate with if you don’t take winter driving seriously.

If you’re driving around Finland in winter, then you will need to bring necessary gears to combat the harsh weather, such as:

  • Complete driving documents
  • First Aid Kit
  • Flashlight
  • Spare batteries
  • An extra layer of clothing

Winter tires are a requirement when you hit the road during winter. Starting from November 1st to March 31st, changing from the regular tires to winter tires is necessary when driving in Finland during winter when the weather and road condition is in a bad state. You can choose if you prefer studded or non-studded tires, which are both acceptable to use.

Car engine heaters are not compulsory but are recommended to bring with you as you drive along. When driving in winter, the weather condition makes it hard for drivers to get better visibility of the road. If you’re uneasy with traveling in this state, you can check out other transportation modes to get where you want to be.

Things To Do in Finland

There are so many things to do in Finland. Tourists love how Finnish people value their environment and nature as their source of happiness. Visiting Finland sounds like a plan but have you considered driving working in Finland? It will mean processing your documents for residency and alterations on your license because at the back of your mind, living in Finland is an idea worth considering, right?

Drive as a Tourist

Driving as a tourist in Finland is a worthwhile experience if you have the right budget and resources to make it happen. It is not that car rentals are expensive, but if you’re in a tight spot, then there are multiple options waiting for you once you arrive in the vicinity. But once you book a car online, be sure to bring the necessary papers, an IDP for instance as you store them in your luggage as they need to be presentable once car rental companies check them. If you're driving your own car, make sure you provide proof showing the country of the vehicle registration on the car's vehicle registration form.

Work as a Driver

Before you can even start working as a driver, you have to process the necessary documents, including your seasonal work visa if you plan to work for less than three months. Still, if your work’s longevity requires you to stay for more than three months, you can apply for a seasonal work residence permit at the Finnish Immigration Services. This applies whether you're applying for private companies or personal driving jobs.

Driving work in Finland compels you to exchange your local driver’s license for a Finnish license as it is a requirement that employers will check if ever apply. For driving a passenger car or a van, you need to obtain a category B driving license in Finland. You are only allowed to work in Finland as a driver if you have taken driving lessons and pay the cost of a valid driver's license. They need to make sure you know all the rules, including what the road signs mean in Finnish.

Work as a Travel Guide

Aside from driving jobs, you can also work as a travel guide in Finland, given that you’re fully equipped with the knowledge and history of the place. You will escort tourists inside museums, aquarium parks, caves, historical buildings, and other establishments that need your assistance. A travel guide entry level can earn around EUR 20,300, and it gets higher based on your experience and level of expertise. There are several private companies hiring travel guides in Finland.

Apply for Residency

The Finnish Immigrant Services will be the one issuing your residence permit. But before they do that, you have to make sure that you really want to move to Finland. Keep in mind that the FIS people will ask you if you have a current livelihood that will sustain you in Finland. The cost of living in Finland is more expensive than in other European countries. If you’ve figured it out, then you can comply with FIS’ requirements and start from there.

Other Things to Do

Opportunities are available in Finland for you to grab and take advantage of. Some say that once you get a taste of how it feels living in Finland, the happiest country in the world, you’ll never want to leave the experience. More information on job openings can be viewed on their website. On a different note, here are some of the must-try local delicacies in Finland.

Finland doesn’t just have the right places to visit, but it also has the best traditional delicacies that every first-time goer should try. Their local cuisine’s ingredients are sourced from their lakes and forests, so they protect and preserve the environment. Here are some of the Finnish food that you need to taste for yourself while in Finland.

Korvapuusti (cinnamon bun)

While cinnamon buns are a famous pastry worldwide, Finlandits their version of Korvapuusti which means, “a slap on the ear.” No one knows where it got its name, but the Finnish say it’s because of the ear-shaped resemblance to a human ear. These buns are best served hot while you have a cup of coffee or hot milk on the table.

Merimiespata (stew)

Merimiespata is a Finnish stew delicacy prepared with beef, potatoes, onions, and beef. Traditionally, it is cooked in an oven and flavored with black pepper, thyme, bay leaves, and sugar. Others mention that merimiespata is preferred when reheated the next day, mainly because its flavors are mixed well in beef and potatoes.

Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian pie)

Karjalanpiirakka originated from the Karelian region, which is now part of Russia. It is best paired with munavoi, a spread made of chopped hard-boiled eggs and butter. Karjalanpiirakka is now a popular snack in Finland where you can buy it at a bakery section of a supermarket that can be preheated in the comfort of your homes.

Poronkäristys (sautéed reindeer)

People perceive reindeer and associate them with Christmas as Santa Claus’ helpers. But in Nordic countries such as Finland, reindeers are an excellent source of protein. Their meat has a strong flavor and has a low-fat content. One way to eat it is with mashed potatoes and lingonberries on the side.

Leipäjuusto (bread cheese)

This delicacy is more prevalent in the northern part of Finland, where the cheese makes a funny sound, and Finnish kids refer to it as a “squeaky cheese.” You can enjoy eating this food with some cloudberry jam on top. It has a sweet and sour, and tart notes taste to give you a hint, which perfectly compliments the cheese.

Top Destinations in Finland

Finland is famous for its delicate beauty preserved by the locals. It’s a place where you can reconnect with nature just by gazing at its dazzling wonder, making it worth booking that flight. With so many attractions to choose from, a 3-day trip is not enough to experience everything Finland offers. Here’s a list of the most visited places in Finland that are worth the travel and effort.

Lake Keitele, (Äänekoski) Photo by Luca Bravo

Lake Keitele, (Äänekoski)

Lake Keitele is one of the largest lakes found in Finland. It stretches at over 493 square kilometers with a 365-degree scenic view. From there, there are local villages scattered along the shores of the lake. You can fish in its pristine waters, where the fish population is abundant due to its relatively low pressure. You can also trek the lush forest and explore the length of its reach.

Driving Directions

  1. From Helsinki Airport, get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135
  2. Follow Route 4/E75 to Kalaniementie in Äänekoski.
  3. Take Havusalmentie to Nuijamiehentie.

Things to Do

Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by the lake’s serene beauty, and different outdoor activities are waiting for you there. Aside from the relaxing view and quiet ambiance, tourists and travelers can go:

  1. Swimming
    Lake Keitele is a good spot for soaking and swimming. Its cool waters help relieve the warm feeling inside and relax your nerves. Tourists go on road trips every summer, and visiting the lake is no exception. Don’t miss this spot in your itinerary!
  2. Go canoeing
    The lake is best suited for mild water activities such as canoeing. Aside from swimming which is mentally therapeutic for those who have gone a long way just to see the raw beauty of the place.
  3. Visit the music and art museum
    The Aanekoski Museum is known for the collection of Finnish artists, instruments, and art collections inside. If you’re a music lover, you have to attend at least the Sumiainen Iron Wire Shake Festival and Keitele Jazz Festival. There is also a conference center near Aanekoski for theater lovers out there.
Oulanaka National Park  Photo by Miriam Eh

Oulanaka National Park

Oulanka National Park has trail options and hanging bridges that take you to some of the region’s most impressive waterfalls. The Kiutaköngäs Falls, for instance, is a canyon known for its beautiful gushing waters and rapid currents. There are other outdoor activities that you can enjoy in the park.

Driving Directions

  1. From Helsinki Airport, get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  2. Follow Route 4/E75, Route 5, and E63 to Sallantie/Route 950 in Kuusamo.
  3. Drive to Liikasenvaarantie/Route 8693.

Things to Do

The park is best suited for group tours and nature enthusiasts. Just like the other parks located in the area, you can sit back and enjoy the view if you’re not into outdoor activities. But in case you are, you can check out:

  1. Hiking the park trails
    The Oulanka National Park offers diverse walking and hiking trails for children and adult hikers. Aside from trekking, there are rock climbs for adventure seekers and observation stations for nature enthusiasts. One famous course in the area is the Karhunkierros trail that stretches about 82 km.
  2. Birdwatching
    The park is home to different bird species, and spring would be a better time to go birdwatching. The wooded hills have adequate food for these birds and serve as a breeding ground as well. You can spot the black kite, gray wagtail, and white-tailed eagle from their migration trip.
  3. Canoeing
    Oulanka Park is a real beauty of the north so take this time to immerse yourself and relax while exploring the untouched nature by canoeing. You will see wildlife creatures such as reindeer, eagles, and, less likely, bears. There are campsites and huts available in the area that you can rent.
Helsinki Finland Photo by Alexandr Bormotin

Helsinki

Helsinki is considered one of the coolest cities in Finland, given that it’s the capital city where commerce and transactions often take place. It’s a bit expensive living in Helsinki, but there are unique places to discover, such as the Sibelius Monument, Church in the Rock, Seurasaari Island, and urban sauna visits.

Driving Directions

  1. Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  2. Take Route 45 to Backasgatan/Mäkelänkatu in Helsinki.
  3. Continue on Backasgatan/Mäkelänkatu. Take Sturegatan/Sturenkatu to Mannerheimintie/Mannerheimvägen/E12.
  4. Use the left two lanes to turn left onto Mannerheimintie/Mannerheimvägen/E12.
  5. Continue on Simonkatu/Simonsgatan to your destination.

Things to Do

This is probably the first destination you’ll get to explore once you arrive in the country. It is a wide city, so you can roam around should you plan to stay longer in the area. And while you’re at it, try to:

  1. Visit the Design District
    Do you need to buy the stuff you like? Fret not because the Design District has got you covered. There are boutiques, antique shops, galleries, and even restaurants are there for you to try and discover.
  2. Finnish food at Savotta
    If you’re fond of trying exotic food from the countries you visit, Savotta is a perfect place for you. The restaurant focuses on traditional Finnish food that gets not just in your taste buds but also in your heart. They serve fantastic food with a relaxing atmosphere to let you savor the food better.
  3. Visit the Hakaniemi Market Hall and Central Market
    Hakaniemi Market Hall has a touristy vibe where you can buy souvenirs and other stuff you can find in major cities. The Central Market has the same function as the Market Hall, but some travelers prefer going to Hakaniemi Market Hill due to its authenticity.
Rovaniemi photo by 66 north

Rovaniemi (Arctic Circle)

Rovaniemi is situated on the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Finland. It has now become a popular tourist destination because of the iconic glass igloos. Many tourists visit Rovaniemi to visit Santa Claus Village and meet a reindeer or two in the area. You can also check out the hiking trails and the Kemijoki River that offers a worthwhile swimming experience.

Driving Directions:

  1. Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  2. Follow Route 4/E75 to Ranuantie/Route 924 in Simo.
  3. Continue on Ranuantie/Route 924. Take Route 923 and Route 926 to Kemintie/E75 in Rovaniemi.
  4. Follow E75 to Hallituskatu. Take the exit toward Keskusta Centre from E75.
  5. Drive to Rovakatu.

Things to Do

Rovaniemi is a magical place that you can visit during the Christmas season, where other tourists and travelers usually plan out their itineraries. If this is your first time, some of the best spots in the vicinity are:

  1. Ranua Zoo
    Ranua is a city south of Romanievi. If your Finland experience includes checking out polar bears, then the Ranua Zoo is one of Lapland’s leading destinations. It is open all year round, so don’t forget it once you arrive in Lapland.
  2. Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle
    A couple of hotels are built in Romanievi as it becomes hectic and flooded with hundreds and thousands of guests annually. One famous hotel accommodation is the Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle, with roofs made of glass to see the outside at night.
  3. Northern Lights
    Northern lights are one of the reasons why people love going to Lapland. You can see this natural phenomenon between September and March, where the sky is clear. But this is also a peak season for travelers, so you might want to reserve a hotel room as quickly as possible so you won’t get any disturbances once you reach the place.
Savonlinna (Saimaa Lakes) Photo by Harald Hofer

Savonlinna (Saimaa Lakes)

Savonlinna is home to 35,000 locals in Eastern Finland. The city is built entirely on islands where travelers can enjoy its popular spas and holiday resorts. Famous for the structure Olavinlinna Castle, it is a medieval stone fortress that is still standing up to this date. Lake Saimaa is considered the largest lake in Savonlinna that stretches 1,300 square kilometers.

Driving Directions:

  1. Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  2. Follow Route 4/E75 and Route 5 to Savonlinnantie/Route 14 in Juva. Take the exit toward Savonlinna/Juva/Pieksämäki/Virtasalmi from Viitostie/Route 5.
  3. Follow Route 14 to Kauppatori in Nyslott.

Things to Do

Savonlinna is a place that every traveler is looking forward to visiting. It exudes a soothing vibe and a great place to take some quality photos and enjoy mild outdoor activities. Some of them include:

  1. Steamboat Cruise
    You can ride a steamboat cruise to take it out from your itinerary finally. Tourists and travelers are advised that it only operates from June to August if you want to experience this cruise. It usually passes the Olavinlinna castle, old houses by the water, and a few small islands.
  2. Take some snaps
    Savonlinna has a nice view, so take this opportunity to bring your smartphone or DSLR and take some quality shots of the vicinity. Also, don’t forget to bring water as you might get thirsty walking around the area.
  3. Savonlinna’s Old Town
    To relish the city of Savonlinna, you can roam around the old town, where you will find colorful wooden buildings and cobblestone roads. If you have toured around, it is quite similar to other places such as Porvoo, Kokkola, and Raahe.

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