Finland is a part of the Northern Europe, one of the Nordic Countries. It's neighboring countries are Sweden, Norway and Russia, but possibly the most probable transit country on your way hitchhiking there is Estonia.
- 1 Arriving and leaving the country
- 2 About crossing borders
- 3 Where to stay?
- 4 Money
- 5 Language
- 6 Safety
- 7 Legal matters for hitchhikers
- 8 Highways
- 9 Culture
- 10 Places to see
- 11 External links
Arriving and leaving the country
About crossing borders
Nothing special about the Finnish borders. Apart from the Russian border, they just exist on the map anyway, and not in reality. Since the dawn of time has there been very liberal co-operation between the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian borders.
Finland is in the Schengen treaty, but Ahvenanmaa where the ferries to Stockholm stop supposedly isn't, so the border-control can use that as an excuse to go through your property. They won't though, but one busload of anti-EU protesters encountered this issue in 2003 when traveling from Helsinki to an EU summit held in Gothenborg.
Ferries to Stockholm go from Helsinki and Turku. The latter being closer is considerably cheaper. Both ferries also stop in Maarianhamina in Ahvenanmaa, or Mariehamn in Åland as the swedish-speaking population there tend to call it. The two companies running ferries between Finland and Sweden are Viking Line and Silja Line. Both of the companies concentrate on bringing the customers a cruise-experience, and are bound to be tacky. At least Viking Line sells simple tickets without a cabin, which would be rather useless on the daytime trips between Turku and Stockholm anyway.
Silja Line is the poshier of the two, and thus more expensive. It's still tacky, though.
It isn't to say the archipelagoes of Stockholm or Turku don't make a nice scenery. On the ferries there's a constant attempt to lure people to buy as much tax-free booze and other stupid things as much as allowed by the regulations. It really isn't much more affordable than at land especially since the regulations for importing from Estonia, which they won't tell you of course. So, do bring a book. Usually there's free Playstation or XBox games at the kids-section to spend the time, plus usually some other backpackers or other such to chat with. You can also try to spot a small islands severely damaged by great cormorants a few hours off Stockholm.
Then there's the Swedish Birka Cruises, whose product is apparently closer to a more proper cruise.
There is no land-connection between Finland and Estonia. There are several daily boats from Helsinki to Tallinn.
Where to stay?
Finland is a part of the EU and the currency used is Euro.
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. Anyhow, most of the people speak at least some English, so most of the international hitchhikers won't have big language problems in Finland.
Useful expressions for hitchhikers
- Hello = Moi
- Hitchhiking = Liftaaminen
- To Hitchhike = Liftata
- A Ride = Kyyti
- Thank You = Kiitos
Hitchhiking is quite safe in Finland indeed. 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's illegal for pedestarians to stand. Both of these make hitchhiking de facto illegal in these places.
It is illegal to hitchhike on the highways (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 know to be fined.
Hitching is illegal in Finland on the motorways and two lane expressways. On any other highway you can legally hitch. On motorways you can also legally use the on-ramps as well as the gas stations. This is the same with most countries in Europe and most states of USA.
Hitchhiking used to be popular in the 70's and 80's, and a considerable amount of the rides will tell the hitchkiker(s) they've hitched themselves back in the day. Nowadays it's quite rare among Finns, but of course there are some European backpackers, often heading to Lappi, Lapland.
Places to see
- Finnish hitchhiker's club The site is mostly in Finnish but there is an english section in the forum
- Hitchhiker's guide to Europe A Hitchhiking site by a Finn
- Liftausvinkkejä Hitchhiking tips in Finnish