Finland: the country of thousand lakes and islands
Finland, mostly associated with Santa's home, is a country with great diversity of flora and fauna that consists of more than 60 thousand islands of different sizes. Interestingly, 2/3 of the country's area constitutes forest and pristine recesses which are considered one of the most beautiful not only in Europe but also around the world.
Finland is a true paradise for the fans of nature wonders. Holidaymakers can visit scenic parks, rivers, meadows, and lakes. Despite the country's great diversity of landscapes, Finland is also full of important landmarks and typical tourist attractions. How to travel through this magnificent country? The best option will be renting a car, especially that the prices of public transport are pretty pricey.
In order to rent a vehicle in Finland, you need to be 19 (some companies may require you to be even older) and have at least one year of experience behind the wheel. In most car hire spots, individuals younger than 25 have to pay the so-called "inexperienced driver" fee.
Discover Road Trips in Finland
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Most interesting cities in Finland
When planning your trip around Finland, you can't really miss the capital - Helsinki. You'll find there plenty of highlights in the form of churches, palaces, theatres, and museums. Motorists may be initially discouraged by the large number of trams and cyclists, but don't worry - cyclists always follow the traffic regulations, and tram drivers eagerly give way to other traffic participants.
Probably not many people know that Helsinki wasn't the first capital of Finland. Until 1812, this honourable title was held by Turku situated in the south-western part of the country. It is here where you can find the oldest Finnish castle dating back to the second half of the 13th century. Approximately 100 km further, you'll find the equally interesting Rauma enchanting visitors with its perfectly preserved historic wooden housing.
And where can you find Santa's home? Of course, in Laponia, namely in Rovaniemi, which is part of the province. Each year, thousands of letters written by children living all over the world are sent to the local post office. A few kilometres away from the town, you'll find Santa's village, one of the most popular attractions in the country.
One of the most eagerly visited Finnish towns is also Lappeenranta, famous for numerous museums, a 19th-century health resort, and the remnants of a bastion from the second half of the 18th century. While sightseeing around the southern part of Finland, it's worth visiting Porvoo, which can boast an excellent Old Town with wooden housing.
Savonlinnais, in turn, is considered one of the most scenic Finnish towns - and all of that is thanks to a picturesque location among lakes. It owes its popularity to Olavinlinna Stronghold considered one of the most spectacular objects of this type in Scandinavia. A number of equally imposing buildings can be also found in Oulu, situated in the eastern part of the country.
Typical tourist towns include Kuusamo, which is the main winter resort, and Kuopio, also referred to as the Blue Pearl of the Finnish Lakeland. If you still feel the hunger for the exploration of beautiful Finnish recesses, you should definitely visit such places as Kajaani, Vaasa, Nurmes, and Pori, which also have a lot in store for the tourists.
Traffic regulations in Finland: most important information
Before hitting the road, it's worth familiarising yourself with the most important traffic regulations, especially that some traffic offences may results in high penalty payments (even up to a few thousand Euros!). High fines, and even incarceration, should be expected in case of drinking and driving. The permissible blood alcohol level is 0.05%. Finnish police is extremely sensitive when it comes to such offences so don't be surprised with the frequent road controls.
Passengers who are shorter than 135 cm should travel only in child seats or special booster seats. Talking on the phone while driving is forbidden; however, you can easily use a hands-free set. It's also worth taking into consideration that dipped beam should be turned on around the clock and in all seasons.
Driving in a car around Finland: required documents and car equipment
Each motorist must possess the following documents: an ID or a passport, registration document, vehicle technical inspection certificate, driver's licence, and liability insurance.
The obligatory car equipment includes a warning triangle and reflective vests for all passengers. It's also worth carrying a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher - despite the fact that you won't get a fine if these elements aren't in your vehicle.
Speed limits in Finland
The first important issue to consider is the fact that speed limits in Finland depend on the season. Even though there is the same speed limit to observe in built-up areas (50 km/h), rural areas and motorways are governed by changing speed limits. In the winter season, we need to reduce our speed from 100 to 80 km/h in rural areas and from 120 to 100 km/h on motorways.
Fines in Finland
Penalty payments should be expected not only when you drink and drive, but also for other offences, such as speeding, parking in unauthorised places, or travelling without fastened seatbelts - both in case of drivers and passengers. Remember that in Finland pedestrians and cyclists have absolute priority. Failing to follow this rule will result in a high fine.
Note! Finnish police isn't authorised to accept fine payments. All payments have to be paid in banks within 2 weeks from the committed traffic offence.
Finland: driving conditions and parking
The state of Finnish roads is impeccable and the traffic volume rather scarce. Thus, your driving experience will be definitely pleasant. Remember to be extra cautious when passing forests - mostly due to animals that can become a danger on the road. When planning a longer trip, it's worth taking some spare cash with you - even though there are plenty of petrol stations in Finland, some of them accept only Finnish credit cards. Motorways, bridges, and tunnels are toll free. In the event of a collision, you should call roadside assistance by dialling +35 896 182 80.
In Helsinki, you'll come across three paid parking zones: 1, 2, and 3. Parking on the pavement is forbidden, but in a situation where there aren't enough parking places, you can leave your vehicle on the right side of the road (this rule doesn't apply on one-lane roads). Of course, there are plenty of free car parks, but parking is time limited there. In such case, the motorists must purchase the so-called parking disc that is available in kiosks or at petrol stations. You should strictly follow the time indicated on the road signs - they display the allowed parking time on weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.