Public Transport in Helsinki

The public transport system in the Helsinki region is comprehensive and efficient. Boasting a diverse array of travel options, including buses, trams, ferries, metros, trains, and taxis.  By taking Helsinki’s public transport, one can easily reach almost every corner of Helsinki. The extensive coverage and reliable service aim to provide you with an enjoyable and convenient commuting experience. The price level is moderate and with the right ticket types, you can save also on the costs.

The public transport is mainly operated by Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) but also a few private companies operate some of the ferries to nearby islands. The same ticket is valid for all HSL transport modes but private operators have their ticketing systems. Especially, when heading to the popular Suomenlinna Island, make sure to check who operates the ferry before boarding and that you have the correct ticket.

HSL does not only serve the Helsinki region but also the neighbouring cities VantaaEspoo and Kauniainen. The public transport network is divided into zones so your ticket must include the necessary zones to travel legally. Travelling without a valid ticket  results to a penalty of up to 80 euros.

Buses

A bus in Helsinki
Buses in Helsinki are clean and reliable mode of transport as they are on time.

Buses in the Helsinki region play a significant role in connecting the city and its surrounding areas. With over a thousand buses in operation, Helsinki aims to provide a convenient and eco-friendly commuting experience for both locals and visitors. 

Helsinki’s bus routes are designed to cover all parts of the cities, from dense urban areas to suburbs. These buses operate frequently, with some running from early morning to late evening. In addition to regular buses, there are special night buses that cater to the needs of late-night commuters, especially on the weekends.

Most of the buses are low-floor vehicles, making them accessible to passengers with mobility challenges. Many buses in Helsinki run on natural gas or electricity so they are also eco-friendly.

Buses are named with numbers. To board a bus, you need to give a sign to the driver to show your intention to board. Otherwise, the bus may not stop. Enter the bus using the front door and show your ticket to the driver or the ticket reader. When you wish to exit, press the STOP button inside the bus and it will stop at the next bus stop. There is no ticket sale inside buses.

Trams

The tram system in Helsinki is one of the most iconic and recognizable modes of transport. The first tram line in Helsinki was opened in 1891, and since then, the system has grown into a network of more than 10 lines that cover the downtown and its surrounding areas. The trams in Helsinki are an essential part of the city’s public transport system and are widely used by commuters and visitors alike. The trams operate on a frequent and reliable schedule.

The Helsinki tram system is known for its punctuality, efficiency, and convenience, offering passengers a comfortable and enjoyable commuting experience. The trams are easily identifiable by their distinctive green colour scheme but sometimes, they are covered with ads. The tram lines also offer breathtaking views of the city’s landmarks and attractions, making it an ideal way to explore Helsinki. if you do not want to attend the arranged tours. The Helsinki tram service is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an efficient, affordable, and eco-friendly way to get around Helsinki Centre.

Trams are named with numbers. Because they do not automatically stop at every stop, you need to communicate to the driver by pressing the STOP button.  Make sure you have a valid ticket before boarding the tram because it is impossible to buy a ticket inside a tram. You do not need to show your ticket to the driver when boarding the tram. There is no need to validate your ticket to the HSL machine.

A tram in Helsinki
The trams in Helsinki are known for their green and cream colours but this pink one is an exception.

Metros

Helsinki Metro is a rapid transit system that serves Helsinki and Espoo cities.  It has been operating since 1982 and is the world’s northernmost metro system. The metro system consists only of 2 lines, and 30 stations, and has a total length of 43 km. It is the primary rail link between the eastern suburbs of Helsinki, the western suburbs of Espoo, and downtown Helsinki.

The metro is a convenient and reliable way to get from east to west, especially during rush hours. 

You will recognize metro stations from the big orange-white letter M.  A metro’s end station is visible in the front of the metro train and also on the information screens at the station. You need to buy a ticket before entering the metro platform. There is no ticket sale in metros so again ensure you have a valid ticket before boarding. Ticket inspections are common in the metro stations.

Metro sign in Helsinki
Metro stations in Helsinki are easily recognized with its big white M letter logo and orange background.
Lauttasaari metro station
Many of the Helsinki's metro stations are deep below the ground. You need to take long escalators down.

Ferries

Ferries are an essential mode of transport in the Helsinki region, connecting the city to its numerous islands.  Ferries to the UNESCO world heritage site, Suomenlinna, are operated by the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) but there are also private ferry operators  bringing visitors to Suomenlinna and other islands. Tickets between HSL Ferries and the other operator are not compatible.

The majority of the ferries depart from Helsinki Market Square and serve destinations such as Suomenlinna, Vallisaari, and Korkeasaari.

The ferries are reliable and run on a regular schedule during the summer, making it easy to plan your day trips to the islands. They are also comfortable, with indoor and outdoor seating options and amenities such as toilets. Private ferries have cafes or even bars on board. They also arrange lunch and dinner sightseeing cruises.

You will recognize the HSL ferries from the HSL logo. There is no ticket sale on the ferries so you need to buy one before boarding a ferry. 

A ferry to Suomenlina
The HSL Suomenlinna Ferry with its operator SunLines departs from Helsinki Market Square.

Commuter Trains

Commuter train at Tikkurila
Commuter trains are the fastest way of public transportation in the Helsinki area.

Commuter trains in the Helsinki region are an integral part of the city’s public transport system, providing a reliable and convenient means of transportation for commuters travelling between the suburbs and downtown Helsinki. With over 200 trains running daily, the commuter rail network is one of the most extensive and efficient in Northern Europe. The trains are operated by the Finnish national railway company VR and offer a range of services, including comfortable seating. The trains are also wheelchair accessible, making them an inclusive mode of transportation for all.

The trains run on time, making them a popular choice for commuters who need to get to work or school on time. Additionally, the commuter trains are eco-friendly, reducing congestion on the roads and helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Commuter trains are named with letters, for example, Train A heading to Leppävaara. It is important not to accidentally board a long-distance train because the HSL tickets are only valid on commuter trains. Long-distance trains do not use letter naming.

There is no ticket sale on commuter trains so you need to buy a ticket before boarding a train. A conductor is sometimes asking to see passengers’ tickets so be sure you have the right ticket type.

A visitor to Helsinki usually meets a commuter train for the first time at Helsinki Airport. The lines P and I head from the airport to Helsinki Centre.

A commuter train in Helsinki
Helsinki Railway station is the end station for commuter trains.

Read more about Helsinki Airport Taxis on the Finnoy Travel website.

Zones and Ticket

The ticket system in Helsinki public transport is based on the zones, not on the distance travelled. That is why you need to validate your ticket only when boarding a vehicle. Validation is not necessary if you already know that your ticket is valid, for example, you have a day ticket. In buses, you need to show the ticket to the driver except on orange-coloured core bus lines.

Zones

Helsinki’s public transportation system is divided into several zones, each with its unique fare system. The zones, labelled A through D, determine the price of your ticket based on the number of zones you pass through. You must purchase a ticket for at least two zones to ride public transportation.

The downtown area is located in Zone A, while Zone B covers the rest of Helsinki and the closest parts of the neighbouring cities. If you’re travelling to the airport or other parts of Vantaa, Espoo, or Kauniainen, you’ll need to purchase a ticket including Zone C. 

Zones
Regions
Single Ticket Adult
Day Adult Ticket
AB
Helsinki and a few areas in Vantaa and Espoo
2,95 €
9,00 €
BC
Helsinki and the majority of Vantaa (incl. airport) and Espoo excluding Helsinki Centre
2,95 €
9,00 €
ABC
Helsinki, and the majority of Vantaa and Espoo (incl. airport)
4,10 €
11,00 €

We advise you to consult HSL Route Planner to know which zones must be included in your journey.  After providing the address of your destination, the app will automatically show you the required ticket type and you can buy your ticket instantly after mobile payment is set up. 

Ticket Types

HSL has different types of tickets, including single, day and season tickets. Current ticket types and their fares can easily be checked on the official HSL website.

The most practical way to buy a ticket and check the current fares is not to install the HSL App on your phone. With the app, you will see the prices quickly and buying a ticket with a payment card is fast. However, you need to have a SIM card on your phone to have an internet connection. Read more about the app on the HSL pages.

Sale Points

HSL ticket machine at Helsinki Airport
Buying tickets from a HSL ticket machine is free of the service fee.

HSL App is the easiest way to buy tickets. However, if you prefer more traditional ways, you can also buy tickets from ticket sale points like R-kiosks and from automated HSL machines.

There are R Kiosks everywhere in the Helsinki area and they sell HSL tickets but they also charge a service fee. All big stations and also a few smaller stops have ticket-selling machines that are free to use.

It is important to buy a ticket before boarding any vehicle. Do not also forget to validate the ticket if you are using it for the first time. For travellers, we recommend buying day tickets because they are practical and affordable if you travel a lot.

Transport Hubs in Helsinki

Helsinki centre is a small area. Central Railway Station is marked on the map below. Kamppi Bus Station is about 800 metres to the southeast and Pasila Railway Station is a few kilometres north where there is Mall of Tripla.

Stations

There are three important transport hubs in Helsinki.

Helsinki Central  Station

Helsinki Central Station also known as Rautatiasema in Finnish  is the most important transport hub in Helsinki. Helsinki Central Railway station is the end station for all commuter trains. It is also the main station for all commuter trains and for long-distance trains departing from Helsinki.  At Helsinki Central Station, you can connect to many bus lines and also the metro. Many tram lines pass Helsinki Central Railway Station.

Helsinki Railways Station
Helsinki Railway Station is not only a transfer hub but it is also an attraction.
Rautatientori bus station
There is a bus station called Rautatientori next to the central railway station.

Kamppi Bus Station

Kamppi Bus Station is about 1 kilometre from the central railway station. It is a big shopping mall where there is a bus station underground. Kamppi is the end station, especially for regional bus lines and also long-distance bus lines. The metro lines go through Kamppi, too. When the weather is bad, Kamppi Bus Station is one of the most pleasant places to have a bus connection.

Pasila Station

Pasila Railway Station is about 3 kilometres away from Helsinki Central Railway Station. All trains going to Helsinki  Centre call at Pasila Station.  Also,  all trains leaving to different destinations call at the  Pasila Station making it a popular connection point for passengers who need to connect from one train to another. The rebuilt Pasila Railway Station is attached to the popular Mall of Tripla which is the fourth largest shopping mall in Finland.