Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Finland? Here you will find information on working in Finland, entry visas, Finland hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Finland
- Entry Visa Requirements for Finland
- Foreigner Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Finland
- Finland Hostels
Facts About Finland
Finland’s boundaries extend well into the arctic circle so this is a prime destination if you are looking for some midnight sun. From the modern and developed south to the furthest reaches of the northern wildernesses you will find Finland a pleasant and attractive country that is largely unspoilt with notably clean and healthy air.
The beauty of Finland is that around the population centres you can have as many creature comforts and western technology as you want but there is also scope for venturing out into the untamed wilderness, perhaps to see the indigenous northern Sami people tending their reindeer herds or visit the Saimaa region famous for its crystal clear emerald lakes.
Although there is a clear influence of both Russian and Swedish culture you will find Finland has developed its own independent character. In fact, since people rarely visit anywhere other than Helsinki, Finland is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe. If you want to avoid tacky tourist crowds and experience a taste of life in a totally different environment then Finland is a very attractive choice.
- Currency: Euro ($euro) = 100 cents
- Time Zone: GMT + 2
- Language: Finnish and Swedish
- Telephone Services: Country code 358, International Access code 990
- Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services
Climate in Finland
Finland is moderate if a little on the cold side throughout the summer, this is also the time where you will be able to experience the famous midnight sun. When winter comes round however Finland is bitterly cold with the North experiencing Arctic conditions and very little daylight. In Helsinki the winter temperature can be around -15C and the north can experience temperatures as low as -30C so it is well worth preparing well for your trip and bringing appropriate clothing.
Things to do in Finland
The southern city of Helsinki is the capital of Finland in most respects, it is a centre of commerce, culture and one of the few cities which draws a significant number of tourists. Helsinki lies on a Peninsula which allows it to offer patrons ferry rides to Suomenlinna Island. This small Island is perfect for a small excursion and even boasts the Ehrensvärd fortress and museum which are well worth the effort to go and see.
Helsinki itself is a refreshing city with chiefly 19th-century architecture and a much more picturesque skyline than most European cities. A sight unique to Helsinki is the Rock Church, this church runs concerts and traditional sermons but the truly unique aspect is that it is carved out of solid rock. To indulge yourself in a little culture the Anteneum is the countries primary gallery and the National Museum’s collection of Sami artefacts is undoubtedly the finest in the world.
Turku is Finland’s oldest city and was formerly the nation’s capital. Although some travellers might be put off by the somewhat northerly position, Turku is the best entry point to Finland if you are coming through Sweden. The chief attraction is the Turku castle, built in 1820 it is easily the most famous historical building in the country and contains an extensive museum within its walls. Also of interest is the Turku Cathedral, this magnificent 13th-century building which again houses its own internal museum.
Recently added to UNESCO’s world heritage list, Rauma is an extensive and well preserved wooden town dating as far back as the 15th century. The key to this living historical town is undoubtedly its market square which is the bustling hub of day to day life in Rauma. This town is a little out of the way situated on the south-west coast but it makes a good stopover point for a more extended tour of the country.
Tours and activities in Finland
A good way to get an idea of what to do is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip the line passes for major attractions in Helsinki so that you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
Travel to Finland
If you’re flying to Finland or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Finland to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Travel within Finland
The Finnish rail network is operated by VR who maintain a fast, clean and efficient service. Connections are reliable and trains are generally on time. The country is a part of the Eurail network, which is a good choice if you plan to take multiple train journeys in a short period of time. Eurail offers both multi-country passes and One Country Passes. To decide whether you should buy individual tickets from A to B, or whether you should purchase a Eurail pass, read our Travelling Europe by Train guide.
Regular trains run from Helsinki to both Moscow and St Petersburg so it is easily possible to use Finland as a gateway to Russia. The bus service in Finland, like the train service, is fast, efficient and also somewhat more extensive than the rail network. The 30 different regional operators in Finland can all be booked through ExpressBus which offers a choice of over 200 routes including international routes to Russia and Sweden.
If you want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities, check AutoEurope or Europcar to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region. Before deciding, read more about what to expect of driving in Europe.
Small Group Adventure Travel
Though part of the fun of backpacking is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those travelling alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trip in Finland is their 13-day Baltic Adventure tour, where you will visit Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
Health care issues in Finland
Finland has an extremely good health service and anyone carrying a completed E111 and with a comprehensive travel insurance policy should have no problem getting state of the art treatment should it be required.
There are no known health risks present in Finland, there are no vaccinations recommended before visiting the country and the tap water can be considered safe to drink.
Entry visa requirements for Finland
A valid passport or EU identity card is required for the duration of your stay in Finland. As Finland is an EU member state holders of a USA or EU passport do not require a visa for a stay of up to 3 months. If you intend working while you are in Finland you should contact the Finnish Embassy to arrange the appropriate documentation.
Foreigner work permits and backpacker jobs in Finland
EU nationals can enter and reside in Finland for up to three months without needing a Visa and are allowed to work and live there for this time. After three months you will need a residence permit from the local police station, but do not require a work permit. Casual work can often be difficult to find but the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) runs International Trainee Exchange Programmes for work placements.
International Trainee Exchange Programmes
The CIMO runs placements in different industries, including agriculture, horticulture, tourism, teaching, and forestry. The programmes vary in length and can be anything from one month to eighteen months. Applicants must be over 18 and have completed two years or more at university or other higher education.
Work is paid at between FIM 3500 and FIM 6000 (approx. €406-696) per month, but accommodation, food, and travel etc. are not provided so workers are expected to fund these necessities themselves. The deadline for applications each year is February 15th.
Casual Work in Finland
Various jobs are available in the field of casual work in Finland but can often be difficult to come across. As with most other European countries, it is worth writing to or visiting hotels and restaurants found in guide books to ask for vacancies in the kitchen and waiting staff etc.
Some openings are also found by placing advertisements in local newspapers and on notice boards. English tuition can be quite a lucrative business if you can find willing clients, it is acceptable to charge around FIM 100 (approx. €11.60) per hour of teaching, although some people will not be prepared to pay as much as this.
Au Pairing in Finland
Avalon Au-Pairs arranges placements in Finland as well as other European countries. Au pairs live with host families for about six months looking after the children and performing basic domestic duties such as cleaning. The average weekly pocket money for au pairs is €40, and food and accommodation is included.
Au pairs recruited by Avalon for Finland need no knowledge of Finnish but should ideally have some childcare experience, be aged between 18 and 27, and are expected to pay all travel costs. Alternatively, you could find work as a homestay, similar to au pair work but focused a lot more on teaching English to your host family.
The CIMO can arrange placements as home stays for up to eighteen months. Work includes typical au pair duties as well as English tuition and you will be expected to work for five hours each day. The average monthly wage for home stays in Finland is FIM 1000 to FIM 2000 (approx. €116 to €232).
Agriculture Jobs in Finland
The Young Farmers’ Clubs International Farm Experience Programme arranges placements for those who have at least two years in the agricultural industry and want to spend between three and twelve months abroad doing this type of work. Work is paid but varies depending on where you go, but you can usually anticipate covering the costs of travel etc. Applicants must be aged between 18 and 28.
Volunteering in Finland
A vast range of volunteer opportunities are available in Finland, from farming to social work. Below are just a few organisations that arrange different types of volunteer placements in the country.
WWOOF’ing in Finland
WWOOF is a voluntary organisation placing volunteers on organic farms throughout the world. Workers are provided with board and accommodation and must pay an annual membership of €10 to WWOOF, see their website for more details.
Involvement Volunteers Association Inc. (IVI)
IVI runs various programmes in Finland. Two of their current placements are on farms near Helsinki assisting with general duties and living with the families, so food and accommodation are provided. Other placements are available at primary schools in rural areas where volunteers assist in the teaching of English, again accommodation is provided with local families.
Finland Hostels and Budget Accommodation
Finland boasts plentiful good quality hotels however they are notoriously expensive. The only real option if you want to travel on a budget is to use youth hostels.
A popular site for backpackers is HostelWorld, and for good reason. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Finland is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
Useful links for backpacking in Finland
- VR operates the Finnish rail network
- ExpressBus is a conglomerate of 30 local bus companies which together offer over 200 bus routes.
- Eurail – Rail Passes for travellers who plan on doing lots of train travel in a short period of time. Single-Country and Multi-Country passes available
- Auto Europe and Europcar – Europe’s leading rental car search engines
- Kiwi, Skyscanner, and Opodo – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Finland and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and activities. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major attractions
- G Adventures – guided small group tours, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used booking site. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers
There you have it, the ultimate Finland backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Finland.
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