While you can fall back on a number of adjectives for providing an apt description of the Finnish capital city of Helsinki, “expansive” is one term that does not quite fit the bill in this regard. If you have a good knowledge of how the tramway in the city works and have a pair of good walking shoes at your disposal, you can shuffle to and fro around the city in next to no time. Here we provide all the details of the public transportation system in Helsinki, complete with information on the ferry service running to the fortress on Suomenlinna Islands.
The city of Helsinki has a dedicated network of tram lines serving its commuters. Comprising of cute little green cars, they also make for an excellent opportunity to go on a sightseeing tour of the city. For travelling within the inner-city circle, take the Helsinki trams on routes 3T and 3B while most of the other routes will help you in reaching places further afield. A tram ticket for a single journey, usually valid for one hour, costs roughly €2. The tramways network is under constant upgradation and renovation so it is best to consult the official Helsinki Transportation Authority website for further details.
For the party revellers, the SparaKOFF Bar Tram is a bright red tramways vehicle that has been converted into a pub-on-wheels. The service operates only during the summer months from Wednesday to Saturday with just one operational run an hour between 2PM to 9PM. It travels roughly parallel to the northern section of the 3T line featuring stops at Market Square, Opera House and Railway Square among others. A forty-minute-long tour it costs €7 which does not include the cost of any drinks.
Although small, the Metro system in Helsinki is extremely efficient. While the tram is the best choice for those who wish to remain in and around the city center, you are better off using the Helsinki Metro for travelling afar. The network comprises of just one line and using it is an extremely simple process. Also, based on the needs of your transportation, it can prove to be a really convenient option.
The only operational Metro service runs eastwards from the city center. Barring places such as Aurinkolahti Beach, Rastila Camping Site and the shopping center at Itakeskus, there is not much else of interest for tourists along this route. It is currently undergoing a westward expansion towards Espoo. The first extension, likely to comprise of seven new stations, is expected to commence operations in the year 2015. The Metro system in Helsinki is honored with the minor distinction of being the northernmost subway in the world with the station at Mellunmaki forming the northern limits of the system.
While the Helsinki city center is well served by the tram service, buses normally cater to the needs of commuters all over the city. Railway Square and Eliel Square, two squares adjacent to the Central Rail Station in Helsinki are the main starting points for the eastbound and northbound services. For the westbound services, head over to the underground bus station adjacent to Kamppi Metro station in the Kamppi Center area of Helsinki.
Travel on foot
Unless it is one of those bitterly cold and despairingly dark days of the winter season, exploring the city of Helsinki serves to be a real treat and is one of the best means of getting around the numerous tourist attractions that the place has to offer. Thanks to its largely compact size, Helsinki has almost all of the popular tourism sites roughly in and around the same region. So if you are visiting the place on a holiday tour, do not forget to pack a pair of comfortable shoes so that you may enjoy your walkathon tour of the Finnish capital.
Suomenlinna Ferry service
Built during the eighteenth century, the main purpose of the fortress on Suomenlinna Islands was to protect Helsinki (then under the control of Sweden) from the clutches of Russia. A UNESCO-protected site at present, there are numerous old fortifications abounding the place. Besides that, a number of museums, restaurants and cafes have come up on the island turning it into a veritable picnic spot during weekends. Owing to its location on an island, Suomenlinna can be accessed only by means of ferry service. Don’t get disheartened, the journey is far from being difficult or dangerous. The ferry service starts at six in the morning and operates late into the night. A round trip costs roughly €4.
For the tourists to the city, the best option for travelling is to purchase the Helsinki card that offers unlimited travel options on the various modes of public transportation in the city. You can also opt for guided tours that will take you around some of the most popular tourist destinations in the city if you are looking to save some time on your travels.