European Campus


 Study in Finland
ABOUT Finland

STUDY IN FINLAND - Living in Finland


Social Scene     |    Customs and Culture    |    Transportation

Accommodation    |    Health Care    |    Emergency Contacts

Social Scene

Social Conventions: Handshaking is customary. Normal courtesies should be observed. It is customary for the guest to refrain from drinking until the host or hostess toasts their health with a ‘kippis’ or a ‘skol’. Casual dress is acceptable. Black tie will usually be specified when required. Finns appear sometimes to be rather reserved and visitors should not feel alarmed if there is a lack of small talk during the first half hour or so. Shoes must usually be removed when entering someone’s home. Tipping: A 15 per cent service charge is included in the bill in hotels. Restaurants and bars have 14 per cent service charge weekdays and 15 per cent weekends and holidays. The obligatory cloakroom or doorman fee is usually clearly indicated. Taxi drivers, washroom attendants and hairdressers are also tipped.

Special Events: For a full list of special events, contact the Finnish Tourist Board (see Contact Addresses section). The following is a selection of major festivals and events held in Finland:

  • Jan - Ice Show Fairy Tales
  • Feb - Finland Ski Marathon
  • May - Vaasa Choir Festival
  • Jun - Vaasa Rules Midsummer Festival
  • Jun - Midnight Sun Jutajasset, Rovaniemi
  • Jul - Midnight Marathon, Varpaisjärvi; Joutsa Folk Festival; Beer Festival, Kuusamo
  • Jul - Kalo Jazz and Blues Festival (Lapland Festival)
  • Jul - Savolinna Opera Festival
  • Jul - Keitelejazz, Aanekoski
  • Aug - The Karelia Games (International Athletics Meeting); Venetian Night Festival, Kokkola
  • Aug - Tampere International Theatre Festival
  • Aug - Kivi Festivals, Nurmijärvi
  • Aug-Sep - Helsinki Festival
  • Oct - Espoo Piano Festival
  • Oct-Nov - Tampere Jazz Happening
Local Customs & Culture

Food & Drink

Potatoes, meat, fish, milk, butter and rye bread are the traditional mainstays of the Finnish diet, but food in Finland has been greatly influenced both by Western (French and Swedish) and Eastern (Russian) cooking. Tourists can expect excellent fresh fish dishes on menus. Examples are pike, trout, perch, whitefish, salmon and Baltic herring. All are in abundance most of the year. Crayfish (a Finnish speciality) is available from July to August. One should also try reindeer meat, smoked or in other forms. Regional dishes include kalakukko, a kind of fish and pork pie, baked in a rye flour crust, and karjalan piirakat, a pasty of rye flour stuffed with rice pudding or potato and eaten with egg butter. Various kinds of thick soups are also popular.

In restaurants (ravintola), the menu is continental with several Finnish specialities. Restaurant prices are moderate if the set menu is chosen. Most restaurants have a special menu for children, or other half-price meals. Inexpensive lunches are served at places called kahvila and baari (the latter is not necessarily a licensed bar). Information about gourmet trails may be obtained from Finnish Tourist Board offices; two are planned – for east and west Finland. The trails have been designed so that both can be covered in 2 to 4 days. Visitors on the trails will visit a variety of eating places from large chain hotels to inns and farmhouses, with the emphasis on the smaller, more personal places. Additionally in Lapland, Lappi à la carte consists of three gourmet routes. An English route map with details is available from the Tourist Board.

Restaurants are divided into two classes: those serving all kinds of alcohol and those serving only beers and wines. Waiter service is common although there are many self-service snack bars. Bars and cafes may have table and/or counter service and all internationally known beverages are available. The Finnish berry liqueurs, mesimarja (arctic bramble), lakka (cloudberry) and polar (cranberry), as well as the Finnish vodka (usually served ice cold with meals), are well worth trying. Finnish beer (grades III and IV A) is of a high quality and mild beers are served in most coffee bars. There are strict laws against drinking and driving. In restaurants, beer is served from 0900 and other liquor from 1100. All alcohol is served until half an hour before the restaurant closes. Nightclubs are open to serve drinks until 0200 or 0400. Service begins at 1100 and continues until the restaurant closes. The age limit for drinking is 18 years, but consumers must be 20 before they can buy the stronger alcoholic beverages.

Restaurant classification: Prices for alcohol vary according to the restaurants classification:

E: Elite price category
G: General price category
S: Self-service price category
A: Fully licensed
B: Licensed for beer and wine


Finnish handicrafts, jewellery, handwoven ryijy rugs, furniture, glassware, porcelain, ceramics, furs and textiles are amongst the many Finnish specialities. Excellent supermarkets and self-service shops can be found all over the country. Helsinki railway station has the first underground shopping centre in the country, where the shops are open 0800-2200 (Sun and public holidays 1200-2200). At the Katajanokka boat harbour, there is a shop selling glass, china, wooden articles and textiles.

Duty free: Anyone permanently resident outside the EU can claim back purchase tax at the time of departure. Repayment can be made (on presentation of a special cheque provided by the retailer) at the following gateways: Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Mariehamn, Vaasa and Rovaniemi airports; on board ferries and ships operated by Silja Line, Viking Line, Vaasaferries and Polferries; and at the main checkpoints on the land borders with Sweden, Norway and the Russian Federation. Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat 0900-1500. Shops are generally open on Sunday from June to August. Many shops are also open 0900-2100 during the week and Sat 0900-1800.



Traffic on the inland waterways is serviced by regular water buses and ferries. There is a wide choice of routes and distances. Popular routes are the ‘Silver Line’ between Hämeenlinna and Tampere and the ‘Poet’s Way’ between Tampere and Virrat. Saimaa Ferries operate lake routes from Lieksa, Koli and Joensuu. There are also regular services on Lake Päijänne and Lake Inari. Lake Päijänne Cruises run services from Lahti, Heinola and Jyväskylä and Roll Cruises operate from Kuopio and Savonlinna. On Lake Pielinen, there are regular services, also by car ferry. Overnight accommodation in small cabins and meals and refreshments are available on lake cruises. For more detailed information on schedules and routes, contact the Finnish Tourist Board.


There are 6000km (3700 miles) of rail network with modern rolling stock. VR Ltd (website: operates an extensive rail service around Finland. The ‘Pendolino’ fast train runs at a maximum speed of 220km (132 miles) per hour and is designed to operate on all main routes by the end of 2006. Current lines include Helsinki–Turku, Helsinki–Tampere–Jyväskylä, and Jyväskylä–Kuopio and Helsinki–Seinäjoki–Oulu. Other trains include express trains (for which seats must be booked in advance), night and car-carrier trains, regional trains and InterCity trains (InterCity2 trains have double-decker cars). Rail travel is cheap and efficient. Children under 6 years of age travel free of charge, children aged 6 to 16 pay half price.

Cheap fares

Special tickets offering discounts are available including: Group tickets (minimum of three people), giving 20 per cent discount, valid for 1 month; Finnrail pass, giving unlimited travel for 3, 5 or 10 days within a period of 1 month, first- or second-class; Finnish Senior Citizens Rail Card for persons over 65 years of age, entitling the holder to a 50 per cent discount (passport has to be shown); Student Rail Discounts, entitling the student to 50 per cent discounts with a valid student card; Scanrail Pass, valid for 21 days for travel in the Scandinavian countries with reductions of 25-50 per cent for young people according to age; Inter-Rail Ticket, valid in Finland as well as the rest of Europe; Eurail Passes and Euro Domino passes are also accepted.

For further details and reservations, contact the Finnish Tourist Board or Finnish Railways, PO Box 488, 00101 Helsinki (tel: 3072 0902; fax: 3072 0111; e-mail:; website:


There are 77,000km (47,000 miles) of road. The main roads are passable at all times and are surfaced with asphalt or oil and sand. There are weight restrictions on traffic from April to May in southern Finland, and from May to early June in northern Finland. Traffic drives on the right. Horn-blowing is frowned upon. In some areas, warnings of elk, deer and reindeer crossing will be posted. Drivers involved in an elk or reindeer collision should report the event to the Police immediately. Bus: This is an excellent means of transport. Coach services are run by ExpressBus (a consortium of 30 bus companies) and there are more than 300 services daily from Helsinki and connections can be made to the most remote and isolated parts of the country. In Lapland, buses are the major means of surface travel.

Bus stations have restaurants and shops. Baggage left at one station is dispatched to its destination, even when bus transfers and different bus companies are involved. One child under 4 is carried free (children aged 4 to 11 years pay half fare). Seats for coaches can be reserved in advance by paying the full fare and reservation fee. Timetables are widely available. Cheap fares: Group tickets are sold for groups travelling at least 80km (50 miles) and including at least three persons (at least one of whom is aged over 12 years). There is a 50 per cent discount for students when travelling a minimum of 80km. The state post office also runs a bus service with routes that serve the rural areas. Up-to-date details of bus services may be obtained from Matkahuolto (website:


Available in every city and from airports or major hotels. Taxi drivers are not tipped. Taxis have a yellow taksi sign which is lit when the taxi is vacant. They can be booked at taxi ranks or signalled from the street. Fares are more expensive at nights (Sun-Fri 2000-0600, Sat 1600-0600).

Car hire

Cars can be rented in Helsinki and other places. Normally, the hiring party should be at least 19-25 years of age and have a minimum of 1 year’s driving experience. The rates usually include oil, maintenance, liability and insurance, but no petrol. A few caravans are for hire. Regulations: Seat belts must be worn by the driver and all passengers (front and back seat). Car headlights must be kept on at all times. Cars towing caravans may not exceed 80kph (50mph). Cars and caravans must have the same tyres. Studded tyres are allowed from 1 October to 30 April or when weather conditions are appropriate. From 1 December until 28 February, snow tyres are a legal requirement for vehicles under 3.5 tonnes. It is possible to hire tyres. Further information can be obtained from Autoliitto (Automobile and Touring Club of Finland), Hämeentie 105A, 00550 Helsinki (tel: (9) 7258 4400; fax: (9) 7258 4460; e-mail:; website: If involved in an accident, immediately contact the Finnish Motor Insurer’s Bureau (Liikennevakuutuskeskus), Bulevardi 28, 00120 Helsinki (tel: (9) 6804 0611; fax: (9) 6804 0474;e-mail: Documentation: National driving licence or International Driving Permit and insurance required.



There is usually a sauna and often a swimming pool in Finnish hotels and motels. The price level varies from district to district, being higher in Helsinki and some areas of Lapland. Many hotels and motels usually include breakfast in their rates. The service fee is usually included in the bill. This is 15 per cent of the room rate; for meals and drinks it is 14 per cent on weekdays and 15 per cent on Friday evenings, Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and the eve of holidays.

Advance reservations are advisable in the summer months. Details of hotels are listed in the brochures available from Finnish Tourist Board offices. Accommodation at reduced rates is often possible, especially for groups and during weekends. Reductions are also possible for guests participating in special schemes run by hotel chains throughout Scandinavia. Information can also be obtained from the Finnish Hotel and Restaurant Association, Merimiehenkatu 29, 00150 Helsinki (tel: (9) 622 0200; fax: (9) 6220 2090; e-mail:; website: Summer hotels: During summer (1 June to 31 August), when the universities are closed, the student accommodation becomes available to tourists. Rooms are modern and clean and become the ‘summer hotels’ of Finland. They are located around the country in major cities. The price level of ‘summer hotels’ is less than that of regular hotels.


There are approximately 100 bed & breakfast host families in Finland. Accommodation ranges from rooms in main buildings to cottages and outbuildings. Children aged under 4 years are free of charge; those aged up to 11 years pay half the price.

A list of B&Bs can be supplied by the Finnish Tourist Board. See also the brochure Finland Country Holidays – Bed & Breakfast, published by Lomarengas, who can also take bookings (tel: (9) 5766 3350; fax: (9) 5766 3355; e-mail:; website: The brochure also includes information on farm holidays.


More than 500 farmhouses take guests on a bed & breakfast and full- or half-board basis. They are in rural settings and almost always close to water. The guest rooms may be without modern conveniences, but are clean and there is usually a bathroom in the house. Some farms also have individual cottages for full-board guests, or apartments with kitchen, fridge and electric stove for those wishing to cater for themselves. The guests can join the farm family for meals, take a sauna twice a week, row, fish, walk in the forests or join in the work of the farm. Full-board rates include two hot meals, coffee twice a day and a sauna twice a week (children 50-75 per cent reduction). The majority of farms are in central and eastern Finland, some on the coast and in the Åland Islands. Grading: Farmhouses are graded on a scale from 1 to 5 stars.


There are over 200 Holiday Villages in Finland, many in the luxury class with all modern conveniences. These villages consist of self-contained first-class bungalows by a lake and offer varied leisure activities, such as fishing, rowing, hiking and swimming. The best villages are open all year round and can be used as a base for winter holidays and skiing. Some of the villages also have hotels and restaurants. Those in the top-price bracket have several rooms, TV and all modern conveniences.

There are also approximately 5000 individually-owned holiday cottages for hire, ranging from the humblest fishing hut on the coast or in the archipelago to the luxury villas of the inland lakes. They are all furnished and have cooking utensils, crockery and bed linen as well as fuel for heating, cooking and lighting and in many cases a sauna and a boat. Most cottages inland are near a farm where the tourist can buy food. Reductions are available out of season. Enquire at tourist offices for details. Grading: Classification is from 1 to 5 stars.


There are about 100 youth hostels in Finland. Many of them are only open in the summer from 10 June to 15 August, and about 50 of them are also open in winter. Some of the hostels are in empty educational establishments, with accommodation and fairly large rooms, but a lot of them also offer ‘family rooms’. The hostels do not in general provide food, but coffee and refreshments are available at most and some have self-service kitchens. There are no age restrictions and motorists may use the hostels. Sheets can be hired. For more information, contact The Finnish Youth Hostel Association, Yrjönkatu 38B-15, 00100 Helsinki (tel: (9) 565 7150; fax: (9) 565 71510; e-mail:; website: Grading: Youth hostels are classified into four categories according to their facilities.


There are about 350 campsites in Finland. The majority have cooking facilities, kiosks and canteens where food, cigarettes and sweets can be bought. Campsites are generally along waterways, within easy reach of the main roads and towns. Camping outside official campsites is allowed providing not causing damage to crops or other items, and at least 150m from human habitations. The camping season starts in late May or early June and ends in late August or early September. In southern Finland, it is possible to sleep under canvas for about 3 months and in the north for about 2 months. Most campsites have indoor accommodation, camping cottages, and holiday cottages suitable for family accommodation. Prices depend on the classification of the campsite and are charged for a family, ie two adults, children, car, tent and trailer. The charge includes basic facilities, such as cooking, washing, etc. If a camper has an international camping card (FICC), a national camping card is not required. Further details can be obtained from: the Finnish Tourist Board; or from Camping in Finland (website:

Grading: Sites are classified into five grades.

Health Care

There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK. For UK nationals on a temporary visit, an E111 form is not required. Production of a British passport is sufficient to obtain medical treatment. Other EU nationals generally need to present an E111 form. There are charges for visits to the doctor, hospital and dental treatment, and prescribed medicines. Some of these charges may, however, be partially refunded by the Finnish Sickness Insurance Department (Kansaneläkelaitoksen Paikallistoimisto – KELA; tel: (20) 434 5058; website: On production of the required documents, visitors seeking treatment will generally be charged approximately €8 for a visit to a doctor at a municipal health centre, €17 for a visit to a hospital outpatient clinic and €21 per day for hospitalisation (charges may vary depending on the municipality). Those receiving private treatment should keep the receipt and submit it to the local KELA office as they may be entitled to a partial refund.

For emergency dental treatment, visitors should contact the dentist on duty at the municipal health centre. A standard fee will be charged. Prescribed drugs may be obtained from any pharmacy and are charged at the full amount, though costs may be partially claimed back from the local KELA. For most prescribed medicines, a 50 per cent refund is available on amounts exceeding around €8.

For emergencies, dial 112. For general information about health care and doctors who make house calls, dial 10023 (24-hour helpline; obtainable in Finland only). The pharmacy at Mannerheimintie 96, Helsinki (tel: 0203 20200 or 4178 0317) is open 24 hours.

Emergency Contacts
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