|Language:||Finnish, Swedish; recognised regional languages: Sami|
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|<map lat='64.8' lng='25.9' zoom='4' view='0' width='300' height='350' country='Finland'/>|
Finland is a part of the Northern Europe, one of the Nordic countries. It is a member state of the European Union as well as the Schengen Agreement. Its neighbouring countries are Sweden, Norway and Russia, but possibly the most probable transit country on your way hitchhiking there is Estonia. Most people use this way which is called "Via Baltica" - it is a road E67 between Helsinki, Finland and Prague, Czech Republic through Baltic States and Poland.
Hitchhiking seems pretty easy in the Northern part of Finland. It could be a good idea to avoid motorways and opt for smaller local roads once you get closer to Helsinki - sure, there will be less traffic, however, you will get more space for the cars to stop, and avoid a chance of getting stuck on some unlit motorway ramp in the middle of nowhere (consider the early darkness when hitchhiking in autumn/winter!)
Since Finland mostly lacks a motorway network, most of the hitchhiking happens in the "classical manner", standing thumb up on roadside. While doing this, be aware that the Finnish drivers are a lot more careful in traffic than drivers elsewhere in Europe. They will only stop if the place is super-safe. This means a bus stop or similar. Even if there is a bus-stop-sized widening in the road, it does not help if it is unpaved.. Travellers not taking this into account has caused Finland to be known among foreigners as a difficult country to hitchhike, although it isn't actually worse than other western countries if you get around the culture of requiring crazy amounts of safety.
Stands back from the keyboard in amazmenet! Thanks!
The language most people in Finland speak is Finnish which isn't a Scandinavian language. The country is officially bilingual as there is a large Swedish-speaking minority on the west coast of Finland. Anyhow, most of the people speak good English, too, so most of the foreign hitchhikers won't have big language problems in Finland.
Some older people, however, might have no English language knowledge at all, so you might as well learn some basic Finnish phrases. Note, that with a knowledge of Swedish, however, you can come pretty far (it is useful all over Scandinavia).
Useful Finnish expressions for hitchhikers:
- Hello = Terve
- Hi = Moi or Hei
- Hitchhiking = Liftaaminen
- To hitchhike = Liftata
- A ride = Kyyti
- Thank you = Kiitos
- Where are you driving to? = Minne ajat?
Hitchhiking is quite safe in Finland. As always, common sense is your friend.
Legal matters for hitchhikers
Hitchhiking is legal in Finland. Anyhow, there are some places where it is illegal for the cars to stop, and some places where it is illegal for pedestrians to stand. Both of these make hitchhiking illegal de facto in these places.
It is illegal to hitchhike on the motorways (called “moottoritie”) and some motorways (“moottoriliikennetie”) in Finland. You can recognize these from the green signs.
The cars can not stop in crossing areas, and some cars not obeying this rule and taking hitchhikers on board are known to be fined.
Hitching on the motorways and two lane expressways is prohibited. On any other motorway you can legally hitch. You can also hitchhike at the motorway on-ramps, and at the motorway petrol stations' areas. Basically, same rules as in countries in Western Europe and in most states of the USA.
Hitchhiking used to be popular in the 70's and 80's, and many drivers will tell the hitchhiker(s) they've hitched themselves back in their days. Nowadays this practice is rather rare among Finns, but there are always some, especially in summer time, when local hitchers get inspired by European backpackers heading to Lapland. Hitching in Finland is much more difficult/impossible in late autumn and winter simply because people do not stop.
- Finnish Hitchwiki
- Finnish hitchhiker's club − the site is mostly in Finnish but there is an English section.
- IRC Channel Liftari @ IRCnet
- Hitchhiker's guide to Europe − a hitchhiking site by a Finn
- Liftausvinkkejä − hitchhiking tips in Finnish
- Lonely Planet − Finland eBook (2003) preview
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