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How to Use and Book Trains and Buses in Finland

Buses and trains offer an easy way to reach many places all around Finland. Taking the train is a fast and ecological way to travel between the bigger cities in Finland.

But what is even more impressive, is the vast bus network in Finland.You can literally travel by bus on dirt roads of the countryside.

Bus rides are especially handy in Lapland, as trains stop at Kolari, Kemijärvi and Rovaniemi but you might want to have an adventure further in the north (and you totally should!).

This local’s guide is here to explain how you can travel around Finland without a car.

I hope to give you helpful detailed advice so that you feel comfortable planning your trip! Here are some of the questions I’ll answer in this post.

  • How and where can you check timetables and buy tickets online?
  • Can you combine train and bus traveling?
  • Can you travel in Lapland without a car?
  • Why Finns are so funny on board?

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Here’s what I will be talking in this guide. I will cover topics ranging from the booking sites to our quirky local habits. If there’s anything you’d like to ask, please leave me a comment!

Trains in Finland

To check destinations, timetables or ticket booking, do this:

  • Type date, your starting point (e.g., Helsinki) and end destination (e.g., Rovaniemi) and get a suggestion of connections.
  • There are many ways to purhase the ticket. You can buy it at the station, ticket vending machine or any R-kioski shop across Finland. R-kioski is a Finnish chain of kiosks like the chain ‘7-Eleven’.
  • You can also buy the ticket online, print or take a print screen of your ticket. Or use the VR app.

Taking the Train at Helsinki Airport

If you want to travel directly from Helsinki Airport to another city like Turku, Tampere, Jyväskylä, Lahti, Oulu, etc. you can buy the tickets at the airport once you arrive.
You can buy the tickets through the vending machine which is on the train platform in the basement floor. Another option is to buy the tickets at “R-kioski” shop. There are several of them at the airport.
If you buy tickets at R-kioski, the price is one euro more per ticket but then you are able to have service which is nice. I have a helpful and detailed post about Helsinki airport and logistics which you can see here.
buses and trains in Helsinki

Long-Distance Buses in Finland

To check destinations, timetables or ticket booking, do this:

  • Type date, starting point, and end destination. You get a suggestion of connections.
  • Buy the tickets when you enter the bus. You can also book a ticket online. Print the ticket or save a print screen of the ticket.

Onni Bus in Finland: Budget Travel Option

Onni bus is a Finnish bus company which sells super cheap bus tickets online. Notice that for Onni bus you always have to buy your ticket in advance!

You can see their buses on the Matkahuolto site I mentioned above, but their site is good to know if you want to see just their connections. Also, I have noticed that sometimes the tickets are the cheapest there.

To check destinations, timetables or ticket booking, do this:

  • Type date, starting point, and end destination. You get a suggestion of connections.
  • Buy online in advance.
buses in Finland offer scenic road views like this one in Pulkkilanharju, Asiakkala.

Traveling by bus allows you to see the gorgeous Finnish nature up and close.

Book Your Bus or Train Ride Early

Public transport in Finland is comfortable and reliable. The train rides can be cheap if you book your tickets at least three weeks in advance.

I just bought train tickets three weeks early and scored 40€ tickets for 10€. So, if you can, make your arrangements in advance and you will truly have cheap logistics in Finland.

Combining Train and Bus Traveling in Finland

Combining train and bus traveling gives you more options in terms of price, timetables and destinations.

In Finnish, a railway station is “rautatieasema” and a bus station is “linja-autoasema”. In many cities, the two stations are within walking distance from each other (the distance is z. 200 m – 1 kilometer), for example in Tampere, Turku, Kuopio, Oulu, Pori, Joensuu, Rovaniemi and Helsinki.

But, what’s even cooler is that some cities have a travel center, “matkakeskus”, in Finnish. This travel hub has both the trains and buses making transfers super easy! You can find a travel center in Lahti, Jyväskylä, Mikkeli, Vaasa, Seinäjoki and Lappeenranta.

Personally, I love a transfer in these cities because I don’t have to carry my luggage and worry about finding the other station.

Lapland without a Car

First of all, getting from Helsinki to Lapland is super easy via train. You just need to book a ticket to the Lapland night train. I have a detailed post to help you with Lapland night trains.

Thus, a car in Lapland helps you see more but it’s not a must. The Lapland train takes you to Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi or Kolari. Then you’ll have to take a bus.

In terms of easiness and not spending over two hours on a bus, I’d focus on a couple of Lappish destinations.

  • From Kolari railway station, you can travel by bus to Äkäslompolo, Ylläsjärvi or Levi.
  • From Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi, you can quite easily travel to Pyhä, Luosto and Salla.

My Lapland guide is a great read for you if you’re planning a Lapland vacation!


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Entertainment in Trains and Buses in Finland

Most long-distance buses and trains have a working wi-fi. However, this may not be the case with long-distance buses in Lapland as the Lapland is a vast rural wilderness.

Newspapers and magazines can be borrowed from the front of the bus. You’ll see a pile next to the driver. By the way, newspaper on a seat or in a seat pocket doesn’t necessarily mean that the place is booked in Finland. It means that the newspaper has been left there for other passengers to enjoy.

Eating in Trains and Buses in Finland

It is okay to eat and drink in all forms of public transportation in Finland. If you are traveling on an afternoon or evening train, be sure to visit the restaurant carriage. There, you’ll see locals relaxing.

Greeting in Trains and Buses in Finland

In Helsinki region, it is rare that people greet the driver when entering or exiting the vehicle. You can even get a surprised face from the driver if you say ‘Hello’.

However, the situation changes, the further you travel away from the capital. In smaller cities, it is entirely the opposite!

Socializing on Trains and Buses in Finland

Finns rarely talk to strangers (Check out my post on small talk in Finland). This also is the case in public transport. We keep our voice to the minimum and avoid unnecessary conversations.

If you are in a group, it is okay to talk with mild voice. Also, don’t watch a video or have a skype call without a headset!

Finns Piling their Stuff in Public Transport Vehicles

We love to show our personal zone by piling our stuff to the seat next to us. This is nothing personal. Everybody does it.

Luggage on a bus or train in Finland

You can always take all your luggage (even big suitcases) to a bus or train in Finland. When you’re traveling yourself, your luggage is transported free of charge.  

Note that you have to be very independent with your luggage, because there are no trolleys or customer service available for customers with a lot of luggage.

On a long-distance bus, luggage is usually storaged in a separate compartment. You or the driver puts the luggage in the compartment before you enter the bus. 

On the long-distance trains, you take care of all your luggage by yourself. 

Funny Seating Games on Buses in Finland

In Finland, we only sit next to another person when all possible window places are taken, and you have to start filling up the aisle seats. As a Finn, we get a slight feeling of irritation when this happens. Two seats for one person is a luxury we are used to, especially on long-distance bus rides.

It is very typical to ask for a seat without any words. Just stand or slow down next to the seat you want and watch the pile of stuff on it. The person sitting next to the pile will gather them away and you can take your seat. Naturally, you can also ask! 🙂

buses in Lapland

Toilets on Board

The toilets are decent on trains and buses. In Lapland, they operate connections either with a big or small bus. The big buses usually have a toilet.

The small bus doesn’t have a toilet but just let the driver know that there’s a need for a bathroom. They will let you go to the bathroom on the stops or, if it’s an emergency, the side of the road. So you are okay to travel with kids on a bus in Lapland!

What else would you like to know about trains and buses in Finland? Let me know in the comments! Looking for more information about different traveling styles in Finland? Check these other posts:

Warm wishes from Finland, 

After this quick cultural class, you’ll know…

  • Why feeling connected with the Finnish lifestyle is easier than you think
  • The Hedgehog” template that makes it super comfortable to start a conversation
  • The one question that will confuse both you and the Finns
  • How to blend in with the Finnish culture, not that you have to fit in

Join the class and jump to Finland with me!

Hello there!

I’m Varpu. One blonde,
Finnish engineer driving this site.

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About Varpu
I’m the founder of Her Finland. I love cultural tidbits, aha moments, Finnish folklore, and cinnamon buns. My newest interest is learning bird songs. Read more about me..

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Monday 3rd of January 2022

Hi Varpu,

This is really helpful info! One question we had was about the luggage on OnniBus. We will be traveling from Rovaniemi to Saariselka area on an Onnibus and only see that the luggage says 20kg limit on their website. It's not clear what the size limit is. We will have one large suitcase that's bigger than a typical carry-on size. It's about 76cm x 50cm x 33cm

In your experience, do you know if there are any problems taking these larger suitcases on the OnniBus?


Thursday 10th of March 2022

Hi Rachel! I haven't witnessed any situations with huge luggage when I have traveled with Onnibus. My guess is that they would take it if it's below the weight. But please ask Onnibus to be certain. Thanks and have a wonderful trip!

Susana Rodriguez

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

Hi Varpu, How to go from Helsinki airport to Mikkeli?


Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Hei Susana, it's super easy, you would just take the train from the Helsinki airport to Mikkeli. There's at least one switch of trains but the instructions on the railway stations are easy to follow!

Jody Rae

Tuesday 9th of July 2019

I am traveling to Finland next month. We will be doing a lot of train travel. Is it going to be difficult to find train connections? I don't know how large the train stations are. We are traveling from Helsinki to Hanko, then Hanko to Turku and then Turku to Pori. I am worrying about missing my trains!

Varpu Pöyry

Wednesday 10th of July 2019

Hei Jody! The train stations are not large so it will be very easy to find the correct platform. The platforms are always displayed on a screen at the train station. It's very straight-forward, I promise! <3

Glynis S

Friday 28th of June 2019

Hi Varpu

I am travelling to Finland in the next couple of weeks as a young solo female traveller and will be taking the night bus to get between Helsinki - Oulu. Is there any safety precautions I should take if I'm sleeping on the bus? Or is Finland a very safe place? Also, any tips for general solo travel in Finland would be greatly appreciated! I am very much looking forward to this trip!

Thank you!

Varpu Pöyry

Sunday 30th of June 2019

Hei Glynis! I'm so excited for your trip! Finland is a fantastic destination for a solo female traveller because it's super safe. I can't think of any special safety precautions you would need. Just common sense, not leaving your wallet and mobile on show in general. Have a wonderful trip and do let me know if you have anything else! <3

Susan Lair

Friday 10th of May 2019

Hei, Varpu, We are taking a boat from Helsinki to Porvoo and staying the night there, The next day we will be going on to Elimaki. Do you know if we can get a bus from Porvoo to Elimaki, or do we have to go to Kouvola? Which bus company do you recommend? On one bus website I looked at showed a very high price compared to others or the train. There doesn't seem to be a train going that way either. Thanks for you help with this. Susan

Varpu Pöyry

Friday 10th of May 2019

Hei Susan! All the bus connections in Finland are found on the same site: Matkahuolto. More about the process on this post You are right, there isn't a train from Porvoo to Elimäki. There's only a bus connection once a day on weekdays by Savonlinja, around noon.

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