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Do I Need an International Driver’s License in Finland?

If you are planning to stay in Finland for good, you should process your Finnish driving licence. But if not, then you don’t need an international driving licence issued in Finland. Though an IDP is used interchangeably with an international driving licence, your IDP is only a permit, not a license. Suppose you don’t have an IDP yet. In that case, you can apply at the International Driver’s Association’s website and comply with the international driving permit in Finland requirements online for a hassle-free application that’s within your reach.

If you are from one of the EEA countries, you can drive in Finland with just your valid driving licence. However, if you want to avoid any circumstances that might arise, you can always be prepared by having your International Driving Permit ready.

How long is an international driving license valid?

An International Driving License does not exist. The name of the right document which is used to translate your valid driver’s licence is an International Driving Permit (IDP). As mentioned, this is a document that translates your valid driver’s license into 12 of the widely spoken languages worldwide.

The commonly used International driving license/permit is valid for a year, though an IDP can be valid up to three years. However, you must consider the validity of your driver’s license to be allowed to drive in the country and whether the IDP from the provider you chose is recognized in only a few countries.

As for our IDP, it is recognized in 165+ countries worldwide which are:

  • Japan
  • Macao
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Ukraine
  • and more.

How do I get a drivers license in Finland?

If you are driving in the country through a motor vehicle from a car rental company for only less than three months, you don’t need to get a Finnish driving license as per Geneva convention on road traffic. You only need an International Driving Permit.

However, if you plan on driving in the country for more than that and aim to become a permanent resident in the country, you will need to get a Finnish driving licence aside from your IDP. To get one, you will have to enroll yourself to a driving school, and then take a driving test, medical examination, until you can get your driver’s license.

Top Destinations in Finland

Finland derived some of its cultural influence from the neighboring countries Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Travelers from all over the world plan their itineraries to maximize every destination they reach. Explore the wonders this country has to offer you, and remember: leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs and memories.

Lake Keitele, (Äänekoski)

Lake Keitele is one of the largest lakes found in the country. 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.

Way back, the shorelines of Keitele were industrial locations. Due to its enchanting surroundings, the local government embraced how the country was coping with innovation. They started advertising the area, boasting its natural hikes, great resources, and cycling trails. Now, this serene lake has captivated boaters and holiday visitors, discovering the beauty it exudes. The best time to enjoy Lake Keitele is every summer, where you can dive in its refreshing waters.

How To Get There:

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

Oulanka 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. Note that you have to plan your hike, and it’s never a good idea to leave those trails.

The best time to go to Oulanka Park is autumn foliage, where you can see its leaves in different colors. The park has so many great things to offer, such as canoeing and trekking during summer. Visitors also love snowshoeing and cross-country skiing during the winter season, then add the healing power of its majestic views and sceneries like no other.

How To Get There:

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

The Capital: Helsinki

Helsinki is considered one of the coolest cities in the country, 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.

The city has high-rise infrastructures, perfect for sightseeing tours with your family and friends. Some say that for you to experience the city thoroughly, you have to spend at least three days as there’s so much to see and do in the place. The best time to visit Helsinki is either May, early June, or September. But you can notice travelers going in and out of the country every month!

How To Get There:

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

Svedjehamn (Kvarken Archipelago)

Svedjehamn is a fishing village in the Kvarken Archipelago, one of UNESCO's world heritage sites. The archipelago is known for its islands. They are rising out of the sea by 1 centimeter each year since the last Ice Age. The place has trails in the forest where you can walk and explore around.

The Kvarken archipelago has 6,500 existing islands that fascinate first-time goers and even seasoned travelers. You will need a professional tour guide that will introduce you to different sights and spots to see in the area. Some tourists visit Kvarken during summer, where they can take advantage of slalom cruises to show you couldn’t see on your own. You should try it.

How To Get There:

  • Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  • Follow E12 to Förbindelsevägen/Yhdystie/Route 724 in Vasa.
  • Follow Route 724 and Route 7240 to Vikarskatvägen in Korsholm.

You can do Kvarken activities such as cruises and boat trips, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and even cycling around the area. But to go there by car, you will need an IDP with you. You don’t need to burden yourself with obtaining your international driver’s license for the country in offices, as you can directly apply online.

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 which offers a worthwhile swimming experience.

The best to go to Rovaniemi is definitely during winter. If you’ve never experienced Nordic winters, where you don’t actually see every day, this is the time to visit this Northern beauty in the country. You can go Northern lights hunting, snowshoeing, visit a snowmobile safari, and many more!

How To Get There:

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

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.

Visiting Savonlinna is like experiencing Finland’s culture. They say that the place is a marriage between culture and nature, you can’t just go there because of the scenery, but you will eventually take their culture as well. You should also try their amazing local food that hits just right in your stomach. The best time to go to Savonlinna is from June 4th to September 2nd, with just the right amount of heat and cold air.

How To Get There:

  • Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  • 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.
  • Follow Route 14 to Kauppatori in Nyslott.

Porvoo

Porvoo is a charming town located 48 kilometers east of Helsinki. Porvoo is the country’s second-oldest town. Porvoo’s ochre-colored houses with little red buildings that allure tourists and travelers. Their vibrant colors from afar attract curious eyes that also boasts its cathedral and Edelfelt-Vallgren Museum. These are just some attractions that Porvoo has to offer to its visitors.

The first Swedish settlers can be traced back to Porvoo’s history in the 13th century. Now, it became one of Finland’s most visited places. Porvoo is also famous for ski enthusiasts, where most of them travel around March because it’s the time fresh powder is most profound. Visit the old town, castle hill, and Porvoo cathedral if you can still insert them in your itineraries.

How To Get There:

  • Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  • Continue on Route 7/E18 to Borgå. Take exit 60 from Route 7/E18.
  • Follow Läntinen Mannerheiminväylä/Västra Mannerheim Laden and Route 170 to Fredsgatan/Rauhankatu/Route 1552.

Hameenlinna

Like some other places in Finland, Hameenlinna has a castle structure known as Tavastehus Castle, built during the 13th century. It is one of the spots in Hameenlinna that is highly visited by tourists and travelers. There are parks and museums around the vicinity that you can check out, such as the Aunkanko Nature Reserve, Sibelius Museum, and the Hameenlinna Historical Museum.

The best time to visit Hameenlinna is from June to September. You can go on a guided trip along with other travelers, or you can wander off its streets by yourself. Top places you can check in Hameenlinna are the Kukko Cafe, the wine bar Nooran Viinibaari, and a pub called Albertin Kellari.

How To Get There:

  • Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  • Follow E12 to Exit 24 in Tavastehus.
  • Merge onto Route 50/E18.
  • Take exit 39B for Route 3/E12 toward Tampere/Tammerfors/Hämeenlinna/Tavastehus.
  • Merge onto E12.
  • Take exit 24 toward Hämeenlinna/Aulanko.

Northern Lights, Lapland

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.

Who doesn’t love Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights? You get to see this beautiful phenomenon mostly in the northern territories of Lapland from October to March. The month of March is sometimes covered in cloudy nights, but nonetheless, you can see the lights from 7 PM to 2 AM.

How To Get There:

  • Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  • Follow Route 4/E75 to Ranuantie/Route 924 in Simo.
  • Continue on Ranuantie/Route 924. Take Route 923 and Route 926 to Kemintie/E75 in Rovaniemi.
  • Follow E75 to Pomokairantie in Sodankylä.
  • Drive to Pomojoentie.

Lemmenjoki National Park

If you want a more wilderness experience in Finland, then Lemmenjoki National Park is for you. Lemmenjoki Park is perfect for campers and travelers who love trekking as it offers an extensive chunk of wildland with free and open wilderness huts and with sauna and campfire places. You can easily spot a brown bear, moose, and even eagles in the vicinity with its rich forest.

Parks in Finland like Lemmenjoki Park is best visited in September, where you get the chance to see colored leaves falling from the trees. It was founded in 1956 and has expanded the space twice, making it the biggest park in Finland (1,100 sq mi) and one of Europe’s most vast. It’s a perfect place for families with kids to let experience what this park has to offer.

How To Get There:

  • Get on Route 50/E18 from Route 135.
  • Follow Route 4/E75 to Ranuantie/Route 924 in Simo.
  • Continue on Ranuantie/Route 924. Take Route 923 and Route 926 to Kemintie/E75 in Rovaniemi.
  • Follow E75 to Kuusamontie/Route 81. Take exit 56 from E75.
  • Take Ounasjoen itäpuolentie/Route 934, Route 79, Route 9552, and Route 955 to your Inari destination.

Local Food Stores

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 to 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)

Reindeer is associated 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.

Most Important Rules of Driving in Finland

Driving in another country can differ in ambiance and length of the roads, but Finland’s road rules are similar in every country, especially in European countries. You need to adhere to these rules to have a hassle-free driving experience. Here are some of the essential rules you need to keep in mind as you drive along the Finnish roads.

General Standards of Driving

You have to bring all the necessary documents such as your passport, local driving licence issued, international driving permit in Finland, credit cards, and car insurance documents. Before driving, check the status and condition of your car before hitting the road. Double-check your tires, windows, headlights, and brakes, and you can contact your car rental company if there are issues with the vehicle so they can assist you further.

You have to use your direction indicators if you need to overtake vehicles in front of you. Overtaking is prohibited if an oncoming car from the other side of the road is already approaching. Be alert if you see road signs, and make sure you’re familiar with them, not to have to guess second while your mind is on the streets.

Drink-Driving Is Prohibited in Finland

Drink-driving is discouraged not just in Finland but also in other countries. If you tell people you’re drinking and drive after, they’ll look down upon you because they don’t consider that idea. The government imposes a 0.05% alcohol limit on both locals and tourists. If you’re caught drink-drinking, you will be arrested, pay a huge fine, and possible imprisonment for violating an international road rule.

Parking Rule in Finland

Parking in Finland, especially in its cities, is pretty much expensive and has time limits. You have to park your vehicle in the direction of the traffic, not the other way around. Parking discs are located on the side of the road, so you can utilize them if you see one. You have to stop if you see pedestrian crossings, just like the rule you notice in your country of origin.

Regulate Your Speed Limit

The urban speed limit is 50 kph, the rural speed limit is 80 to 100 kph, and the motorway speed limit is 120 kph. In residential areas, speed limits are regulated due to kids crossing and running around the room. It is advisable to practice safe driving and always keep an eye on speed limit signages around.

When you’re driving in winter, it is necessary to change your standard tires into winter tires that are more suitable for winter roads. Due to bad weather conditions, the Finnish government regulates the speed limit to 50mph (80 km/h).

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