Finland facts & FAQ
There are some things you might be curious about before coming to Finland. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one, and we’re here to help!
When is the best time to visit Finland?
It depends on what you’d like to experience: for plenty of snow and winter activities, December to March is the best time. For springtime sun and the revival of nature after the winter, April to May is the period. For long and warm summer days and plenty of events, opt for June, July and August. For autumn leaf colour, visit in September-October.
I don’t speak any Finnish, will I manage?
If you speak English, you should not have any difficulties as most Finns speak fluent (or at least understandable) English.
Where can I see the Northern Lights?
In Lapland, the north of Finland. They’re visible from the end of August until April. Auroral activity peaks often occur at the beginning and the end of the season.
How about the Midnight Sun?
Also in Lapland. In Utsjoki, the very north of Finland, the sun stays above the horizon for more than two months between mid-May and late July. In southern parts of Lapland, the sun stays up constantly for a month in June-July. However, nights are white throughout the country for most of the summer.
What about temperatures – how cold does it get?
During the winter months, temperatures can drop as low as –35 degrees Celsius. Luckily, this is not the norm: regular winter temperatures fall somewhere between –5 and –15.
In the summer, it gets as hot as 30 degrees Celsius, sometimes even more. Normal summer temperature is a bit over 20 degrees. In Finland, it is common to have up to a 70 degree difference in temperature between January and July.
What should I wear?
If you are planning a winter visit, get a warm, padded winter jacket. Thermal underwear, a warm hat, thick socks and gloves help out a lot when temperatures drop below freezing.
If you have trouble finding winter gear where you come from, don’t worry – everything can be purchased in Finland. Warm clothing is included in guided safaris and other winter excursions.
In the autumn and spring, waterproof footwear comes in handy if you intend exploring the outdoors.
In the summer, casual wear is pretty much the same as in other parts of northern and central Europe – light trousers, shorts, tee-shirts and so on.
Is Finland safe?
Very. It’s one of the few countries in the world where lost wallets and mobile phones get returned to their rightful owner. Streets and parks are safe everywhere, day and night.
What are the Everyman´s Rights I’ve heard of?
One of the great concepts in Finland is called “Everyman’s Rights”. This gives you the right to roam freely in natural areas like forests, fells, lakes and rivers, without permission from landowners. The concept has evolved over time and started as an unwritten code created by a sparse population living in a vast, densely forested country.
Some guidelines: you can pick wild berries and mushrooms, but not someone’s apples or plums. You can go canoeing and camping, but not too close to someone’s house. In many areas, fishing requires a permit. Don’t leave litter, and leave the place the way you found it.
Simply put: Enjoy the great outdoors, but be responsible and respect nature as well as other people and their property.
What documents do I need to enter Finland?
You need a valid national passport or other equivalent official document that satisfactorily establishes your identity and nationality. If you aren’t a citizen of Finland or another European Economic Area (EEA) country, you may also need a visa. Please check with your local Finnish Embassy.
Do I need to get vaccinated before entering Finland?
Finland is one of Europe’s safest countries in terms of health and hygiene. No vaccinations or inoculations are required before arrival. Finnish pharmacies are well stocked with all the basic medicines, but note that some medicines that are available in stores and supermarkets in other countries – such as Aspirin and various ointments – are only available in pharmacies in Finland.
What should I do in case of an emergency in Finland?
Dial 112, free of charge.
Can I shop tax free in Finland?
Anyone permanently resident outside the EU and Norway can shop tax free in Finland, thus saving about 12 (max. 16) per cent on purchases of over 40 e.
Only stores with “tax free shopping” signs will provide customers with a cheque covering the VAT refund; this can be cashed upon leaving the last EU country visited.
What are the common shopping hours?
Most shops are open until 6 pm or 8 pm on weekdays and close between 3 pm and 6 pm on Saturdays. Some are open until 6 pm on Sundays, while others are closed.
Bigger supermarkets are open until 9 pm and smaller ones until 11 pm on weekdays, and 6 pm and 11 pm on weekends, respectively.
Exceptions occur on public holidays, bank holidays etc.
What credit cards are accepted in Finland?
American Express, Diner’s Club, Eurocard, Access, Master Card and Visa are accepted in hotels, restaurants, larger shops, and department stores. Visa Electron is also accepted in many shops and department stores.
How late are bars and night clubs open?
Most bars stop serving at 1.30 am and close at 2 am. Night clubs stop serving at 3.30 am and close at 4 am at the latest.
What is the legal drinking age in Finland?
The sale of alcohol to persons under 18 years of age is prohibited by law. People over 18 can buy alcoholic drinks such as wines and beers containing at most 22 per cent alcohol by volume.
A person aged 20 can buy alcoholic drinks of any kind from an Alko (state monopoly) store. Customers may be asked to show a passport, identification card or driving licence as proof of age.
Beer and cider is sold in supermarkets and other food stores until 9 pm every day. Wines, liquors and spirits are sold in Alko stores. Most Alko stores are open from Monday to Friday between 9 am and 8 pm, and 9 am to 6 pm on Saturdays.
Should I tip in Finnish bars and restaurants?
Tipping culture is almost non-existent in Finland, although it has become more common recently. Service charges are included in hotel room rates, restaurant and taxi prices, so tips are not expected, but can be given if you think the service has been especially good.
I’ve heard there are some nasty mosquitoes in Finland, is it true?
Finnish mosquitoes are a nuisance rather than a hazard, but there can be quite many at times during the summer. There are practically no mosquitoes in cities, as they mostly bother you in the countryside in the northern parts of the country. The mosquitoes are not dangerous, and repellent is available in shops, supermarkets and pharmacies.
Santa’s beard – is it fake?
What kind of a question is that? Of course not!
- Population: 5,4 million
- Capital: Helsinki (1,25 inhabitants in metropolitan area)
- Type of state: Independent republic since December 6th, 1917.
- Head of state: President of the Republic, elected every six years. Current president is Sauli Niinistö.
- Official Languages: Finnish, Swedish
- Currency: Euro
- Member of the EU: since 1995
- Lakes: 188 000
- Islands: 180 000
- National parks: 37
- Time Zone: GMT + 2 hrs
- Traffic and driving: Right-hand traffic, no road tolls. Headlights must be used at all times. Snow tires are obligatory from December to February.