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Helsinki

Europe > Finland > Helsinki

See: Why rent a car in Helsinki ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Helsinki ?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Helsinki ?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Helsinki car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Helsinki with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Helsinki ? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Helsinki , but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Helsinki is in car rental price band: 6/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Helsinki ? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly more expensive than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Helsinki between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 6/10

Non car score:8/10

Balance: 3

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

Why? Visiting Helsinki using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Helsinki ?


  • Lakes and landscapes. As the main gateway to Finland, Helsinki affords plenty of opportunities to explore this beautiful country. The best way to access this landscape is by car.
  • Flexibility – as with anywhere, a car means flexibility to explore at your own pace. Although there are some good reasons below to get around without a hire car in Helsinki, these are all based on accepting the schedule of the transport provider you are going with.
  • Limited rail network. Outside the Helsinki urban area, public transport is limited to major roads and a small number of trunk railway services.

Why not? Visiting Helsinki without a car

Why don't you need a car in Helsinki ?


Around Helsinki without a car

  • City of architecture and design — never underestimate what Helsinki has to offer in its own right! The centre in particular has many fine examples of great architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Central Station — the Central Station in Helsinki, designed by Eliel Saarinen, is one of the major architectural landmarks of the city. You might as well start your Architour here and continue onwards on foot or by using public transport.
  • Walk and bike — Helsinki is an excellent city to travel around on foot or by bike, and it is well worth getting out beyond the centre to enjoy some of the lovely coastal areas which are so easily accessible either by hiring a bike in the city centre and riding there, or by taking one of the suburban trains out of the city centre.
  • Helsinki pass — as with other Scandinavian cities, you can buy a Helsinki travel pass which will give you discounted access to main museums as well as free unlimited travel by bus, underground and tram.
  • Boat trips — there are numerous options for taking boat trips around Helsinki, including taking a boat in one direction and then returning to the city by bus or train.
  • Tapiola— many architects have rated the Helsinki district of Tapiola as having the highest standard of human settlement anywhere in the world. If you have any interest at all in urban design or simply in looking at better ways of living, then taking a trip out to Tapiola is an absolute must. Here you will see a seamless blend of human habitation within a stunning natural environment of pine forests, criss-crossed with trails and exposed stone.To get there from Helsinki city centre, allow around half an hour by bus, although the Metro should be coming out to Tapiola by 2013.

Beyond Helsinki

  • Train excursions — trains in Finland are more than and efficient, giving plenty of options for heading out in various directions from Helsinki. Any of the train lines to and beyond Joensuu are rated as particularly scenic, as is the route to Oulu if you take the central option via Pieksamaki.
  • Cost — unsurprisingly, hiring a car in Helsinki doesn’t come particularly cheap, even if car hire rates here are generally a little lower than they are in Norway or Sweden. That doesn’t mean to say that the longer distance trains are particularly cheap either, but for one or two people they can often work out better value.

International

  • Stockholm and Tallinn— Helsinki might look quite isolated up in the north-eastern corner of the European Union, but you can easily combine a visit to Finland with Sweden, by taking the overnight ferry between Stockholm and Helsinki. In a hire car, doing this kind of journey would be impractical as you would have to travel in a loop and return at least to the country where you picked the car up, whereas travelling on ferries is a foot passenger gives you the flexibility to travel in just one direction and then fly back from a different city. A much closer option is the Estonian capital Tallinn, which is just two hours away from Helsinki by ferry.

Ratings: How does Helsinki compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Helsinki ? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Helsinki , and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Helsinki ? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Helsinki (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Helsinki ? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Helsinki airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Helsinki car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 3

2019 - 4

2021 - 3

Average score - 3

Notes:

 

Conclusion — if your main priority is to drive around the Finnish landscapes, then picking up a hire car at Helsinki airport is probably the best option, although we firmly believe that Helsinki is massively underrated as a city in its own right. Once you start allowing time to enjoy Helsinki and its surrounding area, then the car becomes a lot less useful, especially as the standard of scenic railways in Finland is very high.

Do you need a car in Helsinki? No! For all the reasons above, we advise at least looking at other options before automatically getting a hire car.

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Helsinki ?

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