About Finland (FI)
The most sparsely populated and smallest of the three Scandinavian kingdoms, Finland (FI) is an interesting mix of impeccably modern cities and unspoiled nature. With most of its population found in the comfortable, smartly designed cities in the central and southern regions, Finland’s upper half of Finland is defined by a plethora of lakes and small towns and fishing villages scattered across the landscape. Finland is primarily known for being one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, and its language and cultural traditions that make it unique among Nordic nations. The majority of international visitors will enter the southern gateway of Helinski, and head for the southwestern coastal destinations of Turku, the central provincial capital of Jyväskylä, or the up-and-coming city of Seinäjoki.
Driving in Finland is a thoroughly pleasant if not somewhat pricey experience. Its extensive network of roads offers access to major cities and pristine wilderness alike, but car hire rates — and petrol prices — are among the highest in Europe, but if you’re here by necessity or the desire for country’s uniqueness, that may not be important. Unlike its neighboring Nordic countries, Sweden and Norway, the geography of Finland is mostly flat or rolling plains, with minor mountain ranges in the extreme north.
With the high quality of roads, one does not need to be a particularly expert driver to navigate a vehicle around the country. Summertime road construction may cause a few delays, and congestion is to be expected in Helinski, but otherwise, your biggest worry will be encountering a moose on the highway. As public transport is fairly limited to urban areas, distances between attractions will make it necessary for visitors to rent a car in Finland.
Choosing your car
Rental cars in Finland are provided by the most reliable vendors in the world. Although it will be a challenge to find a truly cheap car rental, compared to the rest of Europe, you won’t be lacking for choice when it comes to vehicle type. Choose you car from Sixt, Europcar, Hertz, Budget, Enterprise, and Alamo. All the vehicle types are available: minicars, compact sedans and economy 3-door hatchbacks, standard and fullsize 4-door sedans, 7-12 seater minivans, estate wagons, and all-wheel drive SUVs, the latter of which are highly recommended for driving in winter conditions and rural areas.
Tips and advice
You’ll get a better rate on a car hire in Finland by booking for three or more days.
You may have heard that fines for speeding in Finland are based on income, not speed in excess of the limit. This only applies to Finnish citizens. Foreigners are generally hit with a modest fine and a stern warning to obey the law.
All time-sensitive road signs in Finland use military time, plus typographical shorthand for weekdays, Saturday, and Sunday. Thus, a sign prohibiting left turns on weekdays between 7:00-9:00 AM would be marked: Ei Ole Vasenta Käännöstä 7-9. For no left turns on Saturdays, 7-9 would be in parenthesis (7-9). All Sunday restrictions will be in red letters.
Some GPS are loaded with software that warns of fixed safety cameras in the vicinity, and these are completely legal in Finland. Radar detectors, on the other hand, are totally illegal and use may carry severe consequences.
Finland operates an exceptionally popular overnight car-carrier train between Helinski and Lapland, saving at least a full day’s drive one-way. These sleeper trains are a godsend for travelers on a limited schedule. Most car hire companies allow your vehicle on the train; however, your vendor may ask you to sign a waiver and pay a small fee.
Using your car horn for anything other than preventing an accident or warning of a hazard is not only against the law, but considered extremely rude.