Generally, trains and buses integrate well (in remoter areas they even connect with flights). Plan with care when travelling through the far north and east – where transport connections are even more scant.
Trains are operated by Finnish State Railways. Comfortable Express and InterCity trains, plus faster, tilting Pendolino trains, serve the principal cities several times a day. If you’re travelling by night train, it’s better to go for the more expensive sleeper cars if you want to get any rest, as no provision is made for sleeping in the ordinary seated carriages. Elsewhere, especially on east–west hauls through sparsely populated regions, trains are often tiny or replaced by buses on which rail passes are still valid. InterRail passes are valid on all trains. The best timetable is the Rail Pocket Guide published by VR and available from all train stations and tourist offices.
Buses cover the whole country, but are most useful in the north. Tickets can be purchased at bus stations and most travel agents; only ordinary one-way tickets can be bought on board. Check www.matkahuolto.fi, which lists all bus routes or ask for the timetable (Pikavuoroaikataulut), available at all main bus stations. The private company Express Bus sells some particularly cheap fares – often as low as €2 – though you must book at least five days in advance for the most rock-bottom fares.
Domestic flights can be comparatively cheap as well as time-saving, especially if you’re planning to visit Lapland and the far north. Finnair operates the most flights, although Norwegian also runs a few domestic routes. The cheaper tickets are generally only available if booked well in advance.
Cycling can be an enjoyable way to see the country at close quarters and the only appreciable hills are in the far north. You can take your bike along with you on an InterCity train for a €10 fee (reservations rarely necessary), and most youth hostels, campsites and some hotels and tourist offices offer bike rental from around €15 per day; there may also be a deposit of around €30.
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