Earth > Europe > Northern Europe > Scandinavia > Finland
|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 and 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 the most probable transit country on your way hitchhiking there from Southern Europe is Estonia as the Via Baltica (E67) road connects Finland with Prague via the Baltic States and Poland.
It is illegal to hitchhike directly on motorways (moottoritie) and some two-land expressways roads (moottoriliikennetie) in Finland. You can recognize these from the green signs. On these roads, you can hitch from on-ramps and petrol stations. The cars cannot stop in crossing areas, and some drivers not obeying this rule and taking hitchhikers on board have been fined.
In the south, it is a good idea to avoid motorways and opt for smaller local roads. Though there is less traffic, there is more room for cars to stop. Finnish drivers will only stop where they feel it is safe, so try to thumb at bus stops.
There are no border checkpoints between Finland, Sweden and Norway. You can cross these borders without stopping.
Ferries to Stockholm go from Helsinki and Turku. The latter is considerably cheaper. Both ferries also stop in Maarianhamina (Ahvenanmaa), or Mariehamn (Åland), as its Swedish-speaking population calls it. The two companies which run ferries between Finland and Sweden are Viking Line and Silja Line. Both of the companies are focused on bringing the customers a cruise-experience, and are bound to be tacky. Viking Line sells cheaper tickets without a cabin, too, which would be rather useless on the daytime trips between Turku and Stockholm anyway. As of August 2009, a morning ferry from Stockholm to Turku costs 15 euros, and Stockholm-Helsinki - 55 euros (both without a cabin, although prices vary according to season.
Silja Line is the posher of the two, and thus more expensive. It's still tacky, though.
The Viking Line cruise ships have free tourist maps of Turku at their information desks on board. Be aware, though, that if you take a daytime cruise (which is about half the price), you will arrive in Turku at night. During the autumn, winter and early spring that means no daylight which is no help for hitchhiking. In winter nights, extremely cold temperatures might occur as well.
- Tallink & Silja Line, ferries to Estonia (only in Finnish/Swedish)
- Viking Line
- Eckerö Line
- Linda Line
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. Most people speak English too, so most of the foreign hitchhikers won't have communication 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.
Like the other Nordic countries, Finland has everyman's right (jokamiehenoikeus) meaning that it is allowed to camp on any land provided that you stay a few hundred metres from houses, do not start a fire, and do not more than one night in any given place. While everyman's right technically doesn't apply inside of towns and cities, there is usually no problem with camping in isolated areas of parks -- even if police see you, they are more concerned with gypsies than with backpackers.
In Southern Finland and the Åland Islands, the forests and grassy areas are full of ticks, so wear clothing that covers your legs and check occasionally that you haven't been bitten.
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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