By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Helsinki?

Do you need a car in Helsinki > Should you rent a car in Helsinki Finland > Helsinki ( HEL )
Do you need a car in 3? Is it worth hiring a car in 3? Should you rent a car in 3? Should you rent a car in 3?

Helsinki Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all factors, including driving roads, hire and fuel costs, road safety etc. [Full notes - drive rating]


Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Helsinki but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 151 - of which 49 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Helsinki public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.



  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.



  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Helsinki good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Helsinki



Take to the waters!

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Helsinki


Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Helsinki", "is it worth hiring a car in Helsinki", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Helsinki?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Helsinki?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Helsinki?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Do you need a car in Helsinki? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Helsinki?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Helsinki? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Helsinki as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Helsinki?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

James says - a few trip notes:

I visited Helsinki briefly in 2009 as I was spending a week travelling around various cities in Scandinavia. I would love to return and do it more justice, but there is still plenty that I would want to see outside the city without needing a car.

Why should you rent a car in Helsinki?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring 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

What is public transport like in Helsinki? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 3?

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.


  • 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.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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.

Would you hire a car in Helsinki?

Have you driven in Helsinki? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Helsinki}?

Do you need a car in Helsinki? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *