The Wikitravel page on Helsinki is highly recommended for all visitors, providing practical tips for various things (accommodation, eating out, sightseeing, shopping, night-life, public transport, etc). Most attractions, shops, and restaurants are conveniently located in the centre of Helsinki, near the conference venue.
Finland is part of the Schengen agreement, and there are mutual agreements with other countries on waived visas. Citizens of some countries may still need to apply for a visa. Please check the official travel document and visa requirements. In case you need an invitation letter for your visa application for attending SAT 2013, we can provide you one after we have successfully received your registration to the conference. More information will be available at the registration page.
You will arrive at the Helsinki–Vantaa Airport, airport code "HEL". The airport is well-connected with major hubs all over Europe. From the US, especially convenient are the daily direct flights from JFK. Helsinki–Vantaa also offers the fastest direct connections to many major destinations in Asia using Finnair. For your convenience, the airport offers free wireless Internet access.From the airport to the centre of Helsinki
There are two frequent bus connections between the Helsinki-Vantaa airport and downtown Helsinki, both buses are good options:
Bus 615 (or any variant of the theme, such as 615T or 615V, or the night bus 620N), together providing almost 24 h service every day. The final stop of 615 is at the main railway station right in the middle of Helsinki, a couple of blocks from the conference venue and the hotels close-by. Travel time is typically around 35-45 minutes. A single ticket from the airport to downtown Helsinki costs 4.50 EUR. You can buy a ticket from the driver; just say "Helsinki" and you will get the right kind of ticket. You do not need to have correct change; 5-euro, 10-euro, and 20-euro bills should be fine. This bus is operated by Helsinki Region Transport, and it uses the same ticket system as all public transportation in the Helsinki region. Your bus ticket is a "single regional ticket", valid for 80 minutes of unlimited travel in buses, trams, metro, and local trains within the municipalities of Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa.
Finnair City Bus. A single ticket from the airport to downtown Helsinki costs 6.20 EUR. The final stop of the bus is also at the main railway station in Helsinki, although on the other side of the station. Again, you can buy your ticket from the driver, and you do not need to have correct change. This is a private bus service operated by Finnair. The bus tickets are not valid for transfer, and you cannot use any other kind of tickets on this bus.)
On your way back, note that bus 615 departs on the eastern side of the railway station ("Rautatientori" = Railway Square), while Finnair city bus departs on the western side of the railway station ("Elielinaukio" = Eliel Square). At the airport, the buses stop first at terminal T1 and right after that at terminal T2. These two stops are usually announced, but do not worry if you miss the T1 stop: you can simply leave at T2, enter the airport building, and follow the signs for T1. The two terminals are just two ends of the same building, connected by a corridor.
Taxis are reliable but expensive; you are unlikely to need one unless you arrive very late. Expected cost from the airport to downtown Helsinki is around 50 euro. The taxi rates are kilometer based, and highly regulated by the government: all taxis charge the same rates. The rate depends on the number of passangers and time of day. There is an extra "airport" charge of a couple of euros. Taxis come in all shapes and colours, and are recognized from the yellow "Taxi" or "Taksi" signs on the roof of the cars. A sign with the light on means that the taxi is available. You may signal a taxi on the fly, or call the taxi center. See here for detailed information on ordering a taxi. All major credit cards are accepted. In case you are not directly provided a receipt, just ask for one.
By boat or train
There are fast and frequent ferry connections between Helsinki and Tallinn. You can also travel by boat from Stockholm to Helsinki, or you can take a ferry from Stockholm to Turku and then a train from Turku to Helsinki.
There is a train connection between St. Petersburg and Helsinki.
(When browsing timetables, note that Helsinki = Helsingfors, Turku = Åbo, Tallinn = Tallinna, and St. Petersburg = Pietari.)
- July is the warmest month in the year, average highs around 22 degrees celsius, average lows around 14 degrees. All-time high around 33 degrees. Length-of-day around 19 hours.
- 5-day local weather forecast for Helsinki
- Almost real-time rain and temperature animation (Helsinki Testbed)
Finding Your Way: Maps and Guides
- A printable map of the Helsinki city centre, with some of the main attractions and some restaurants marked.
- Various brochures offered by Visit Helsinki
- Journey planner: all public transportation in Helsinki region, with a route planner, route maps, timetables, etc.
- Official Tourism website of the city of Helsinki
- Helsinki travel guide in Wikitravel.
- Wikipedia on Helsinki
- Wikipedia entry on Finland.
You can use the eat.fi service to find restaurants and browse reviews. You can filter the map by restaurant type, rating, and opening hours.
Many restaurants have inexpensive lunch menus, typically Mon–Fri 11am–2pm. Here are some examples of typical restaurant prices in downtown Helsinki area (but of course you can find much cheaper fast-food places and very expensive and fancy restaurants):
- Lunch, during the usual lunch hours: 8–11 EUR (assuming you drink water). This typically includes some kind of salad buffet, a main course, and tea or coffee.
- Dinner: starters 5–15 EUR, main courses 10–30 EUR, desserts 5–10 EUR, tea or coffee 2–4 EUR, a glass of wine starting from 5 EUR.
The price on the menu is precisely the price that you will pay. There are no extra taxes, service fees, etc. that will be added to the bill. In particular, tipping is never expected.
Helsinki City Public Transport
Helsinki Regional Transport will take you around in Helsinki. (But note that the conference venue is within walking distance from most of the hotels.) A single fare on any means (bus, tram, metro, ferry) is 2.80 euros and valid for one hour from purchase. You buy the ticket from the bus or tram driver, or beforehand from a kiosk or a ticket machine. For more, see the Visitor's information.
Good to Know
- Currency: Finland is a member of the EURO zone.
- Electricity: 230V. Power sockets are similar to those used in Germany. The flat Europlug always fits.
- Emergencies: Call 112.
- Pharmacy: "Apteekki" in Finnish. Kluuvin apteekki (Yliopistonkatu 5) is near the conference venue. Yliopiston Apteekki (Mannerheimintie 5) is open from 7am to midnight.
- Tap water in Helsinki is of excellent quality. There is no need to avoid drinking tap water by buying bottled water.
- With very few exceptions, credit and debit cards are accepted in shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and taxis.
- Telephones: Do not expect to find a public phone; use your own mobile phone and buy a prepaid SIM card if needed. The country calling code for Finland is +358; if a local telephone number is 040123456, dial +35840123456.
- Taxes are always included in the prices shown. There are no "surprise" additions.
- Tipping is not expected anywhere, and infrequent among the locals. Service charges are included in the prices (and salaries of service personnel).
- ATM machines (which accept all major credit cards, Visa Electron etc.) can be recognized from an orange "Otto" sign ("Otto" meaning withdrawal in Finnish). You need to use the blue card slot, if you have an international (EMV) standard chip card. With other types of cards, use the card slot marked with yellow. The smallest amount one can withdraw using an ATM is 20 euros. Closest ATM to the conference venue is at Aleksanterinkatu 36 (Nordea bank around the corner of the UH Main building)
- One and two cent euro coins are not used in Finland. Thus, the sum of one's purchases is rounded to the nearest five cents when paying with cash (however, no rounding when paying with a card).
- Typically shops are open until 21:00 (or 18:00) on weekdays, small grocery stores can be open later (closing around 22:00 or 23:00, some open 24 h). On Saturdays, stores are typically open only until 18:00 (or earlier).
- In Helsinki city center, grocery stores can be found in department stores (Stockmann, Sokos), shopping centers (Forum, Kamppi) or underground at the central railway station (Asematunneli). In other parts of Helsinki, look for signs saying "S-Market", "Alepa", "Siwa" or "K-market" which are the most common chains around.
- Smoking is strictly forbidden in all public places, including restaurants, pubs, university buildings, etc. Cigarettes can be bought from regular grocery stores. By law, you will need to ask the cashier for your brand.
- No alcohol is sold in stores between 21:00 and 9:00. Grocery stores sell light beer and other mild alcohol beverages. Anything with over 4.7 percent alcohol content can only be bought from state owned Alko stores (open until 20:00 on weekdays, until 18:00 on Saturdays and closed on Sundays).
For some fresh air
Walk to the Market Square and follow the sea front. If you go right, you will eventually reach Kaivopuisto; there is a nice view to Suomenlinna. If you go left, you can walk around Katajanokka and see the icebreakers that are waiting for winter.
On a nice summer day, go to the Esplanad Park just one block from the conference venue. It's ok to sit on the grass, and maybe have some takeout lunch, like the locals do.