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HSL – How to travel in Helsinki with public transport?

One of the best aspects of Helsinki’s tourism is its excellent public transport, which makes it easy to move from place to place both within Helsinki and in surrounding cities and areas. In this text you will find more information about public transport in the Helsinki region.

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ABCD – HSL Public Transport Zones

Helsinki’s public transport could be described as very well functioning. The reason for this can be found in the fact that public transport in the Helsinki area includes bus, tram, metro, commuter train and even ferry traffic.

Virtually all public transport options can be used with the same ticket. During the validity of the ticket, the means of transport can therefore be changed freely on the fly. It is therefore quite common that a single trip from Helsinki to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, for example, could include up to three different means of transport, most likely metro, bus, and train.

In Helsinki and surrounding areas, public transport is divided into different zones, which pass through the letters A, B, C, and D. When purchasing tickets instead of individual areas, there are a combination of options, e.g. AB, BC, and ABC, the latter of which covers not only Helsinki but also public transport in Espoo and Vantaa. A mere ticket for the AB zone is enough to use public transport within Helsinki.

However, you should be careful with the zones because if you are going to the airport, for example, the AB Ticket Type alone will not suffice, but a ticket covering Zone C is needed. A passenger with an incorrect or insufficient ticket may receive a penalty fee of EUR 80 for their mistake.

Fortunately, you don’t have to guess or trust your luck when choosing a ticket type; the HSL Route Guide and Google Maps show you what kind of ticket you need when you plan a route.

There are many different types of tickets, from individual tickets to one-year valid tickets. Single tickets are valid for 80 minutes for AB and BC ticket types and for 120 minutes for the larger ABC ticket type. However, it is worth noting that tickets that are in progress may be completed on the same means of transport if the ticket expires during the trip. If the ticket is still valid when boarding the vehicle, you can complete the trip without worries.

For those on a short business trip or a holiday in Helsinki, we can recommend either a day ticket or a season ticket that lasts for the duration of the trip, which allows for several public transport trips with one purchase. This type of ticket can be valid for 1 to 7 days and can be purchased using the HSL application, HSL ticket machines, the HSL service point at the railway station or other points of sale, such as R-kiosks and many shops. One-day tickets, usually printed on paper and valid from the time of purchase, can usually be purchased from one-off ticket machines located at metro stations.

Different types of public transport

Let’s take a closer look at the different means of public transport that can be used to travel in Helsinki and the surrounding areas. In this section you will also find tips on which means of transport you may want to use during your visit to Helsinki.

Buses

The bus is probably the most versatile means of transport in Helsinki and its surrounding areas. There are thousands of different connections on offer, and these cover the entire metropolitan area well. On weekdays in particular, buses also run at a very fast pace, which means that, especially on the busiest routes, buses can run up to about every five minutes.

The HSL route guide mentioned earlier is a good help when planning a bus trip. Also, Google Maps usually provides fairly reliable information about the best bus connections on your planned route. Google Maps also provides real-time information on whether the next bus is scheduled or late.

Airport Bus

Bus line 615 runs between Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and the railway station. Departure to the airport is from Elielinaukio, and a ticket for the ABC zone is required to travel the entire distance. You can visit the Route Guide website for airport bus timetables.

Tram

Helsinki raitiovaunu
Tram is a nice way to view the summer landscapes of Helsinki | © Visit Finland

Helsinki’s tram traffic mainly covers the city center area. Of the tram lines, line number 2 is especially worth mentioning as it also serves as an excellent scenic route, as there are many attractions in Helsinki along that line. If you are interested in going through the scenic route, you can get back to the city center by tram 3, which you can change from either the zoo or the stops of Aurora Hospital.

If you are interested in architecture and culture, you will receive a warm recommendation for route number 4. Those interested in modern design should hop on board tram line number 6. It is a good idea to include a public transport route map to make it easier to locate stops and attractions.

Trams are one of the main means of public transport in Helsinki’s city center and run from Monday to Saturday from about 5.30 am to 11.30 pm and on Sundays from 7 am to 11.30 pm.

You can also find out more about the routes and possibilities of tram traffic on the HSL Route Guide page.

Metro

Helsinki metro
Metro in Helsinki | © Susanna Lehto | Visit Finland’s image bank

The world’s northernmost metro connection runs between Espoo and Eastern Helsinki. There are a total of four lines running under the letters M1 and M2. The M1 line operates between Matinkylä in Espoo and Vuosaari in Helsinki, and the M2 line between Tapiola and Mellunmäki. Traveling through the entire line (Matinkylä-Vuosaari) takes about 39 minutes, and from Tapiola to Mellunmäki takes about 34 minutes. In the meantime, you can travel with an AB ticket.

The convenience of the metro is that, especially on longer distances, the use of a single means of transport greatly improves travel comfort and, at the same time, travel time when you don’t have to spend time at all in the traffic jams of the city center.

The metro runs from Monday to Saturday from 05:30 to 23:30 and on Sundays from 06:30 to 23:30. Metro connections are available on a really busy schedule: the Tapiola–Itäkeskus interval is about 2.5 minutes during peak hours, and at other times the interval is only about 3–5 minutes. There are a total of 25 metro stations on the entire route.

Train

Helsingin rautatieasema
Helsinki Central Railway Station | © Visit Finland’s image bank

HSL’s commuter trains run in the Helsinki region. Commuter trains leave from Helsinki Central Station and arrive at the same place. Commuter trains can be conveniently reached, for example, from Kamppi to Pasila, where the Helsinki Fair Center is located.

Commuter trains are also commonly used to travel between Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and Helsinki city center. The airport train (I/P) is the most convenient way to get between the city center and the airport. The I-train passing through Tikkurila takes about half an hour to travel to the airport, and the P-train passing through Huopalahti and Vantaa takes only a few minutes longer. It should be noted, however, that the return journey back to Helsinki is again slightly faster by P-train.

The airport train station provides direct access to the terminal. For trips between Helsinki city center and the airport, you need an ABC ticket.

Ferries and boats

Helsinki is surrounded by the Baltic Sea from three different directions: south, east, and west. In addition, there are about 330 islands in the vicinity of Helsinki, most of which are in at least some form of recreational use.

The most popular destinations are easily accessible by boat, boat, or ferry. In addition, scenic cruises are organized around the archipelago, which can, of course, also be carried out with your own boat.

The most popular ferry services run between Suomenlinna, Vallisaari, and Korkeasaari and the Market Square. Of these, Suomenlinna can be reached by ferry all year round, and between the Market Square and the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, HSL operates a ferry.

Moving on your own

In addition to public transport, self-propelled exercise is quite popular, especially during the summer. In Helsinki, it is easy to move from place to place both on foot and by city bike. In recent years, electric kickboards, which share a strong opinion, have also grown in popularity.

Cycling and Helsinki City Bikes

Helsingin kaupunkipyörät
City bikes offer you a fun way to introduce yourself with the summery Helsinki | © Aku Pöllänen | Visit Finland

The arrival of spring in Helsinki can well be predicted by the city bikes that have appeared on the street scene, which have become a really popular way to move around the summer capital. Due to the great popularity of the bikes, there are already thousands of city bikes available in the summer and a total of more than 200 bike stations, from which the bikes can be both grabbed and left after use. The city’s cycling season traditionally continues in the Helsinki metropolitan area until the end of October.

Book hotel accommodation in a good location

Due to our location, VALO is an ideal base for a holiday or business trip in Helsinki. Our hotel is located along excellent public transport connections, allowing you to move easily and quickly between Helsinki’s city center and the airport.

Book a hotel night

In addition, our hotel’s parking lot has a large number of high-quality city bikes, which we rent to hotel guests visiting us. In connection with VALO’s premises, there is also a Green Motion rental car service.