Budget Travel

How to visit Finland on a budget (the only real guide you'll ever need)

Let's face it: Finland is pricey – if you don't happen to be originating from Sweden or Norway, that is. However with some careful budgeting and clever planning, you could have an incredible trip that does not cost a fortune. The good news is that lots of the things that attract travelers to Finland in the first place are free or cost very little: From foraging walks to Northern Lights shows, chilly dips within the Baltic to lakefront saunas.

From places to stay and eat, to getting around and sightseeing, ideas give the inside scoop regarding how to see Finland having to break the financial institution.

Flying is the cheapest method of getting to Finland

Flying is overall the cheapest, simplest way to achieve Finland, and there are plenty of low-cost options, especially if you arrive in Helsinki, which has direct flights to Europe, The united states and Asia. Flights with European budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet are often a steal in the low and shoulder seasons, particularly if you aren't fussy about specific days and times. And it's also possible to snap up handles bigger airlines like Finnair, Norwegian and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). Look out for their economy deals and travel with minimal luggage. The greater flexible you're, the higher the chance you have of grabbing a bargain.

Consider flying into somewhere apart from Helsinki

Helsinki often seems the most obvious choice, however it may be worth taking into consideration flying to another airport if you are heading straight off or taking an internal flight. If Lapland is the goal, you can fly direct to Rovaniemi instead having a number of European airlines, including budget ones like Ryanair and easyJet, though often only throughout the winter months (November to March). Ryanair also operates a direct flight from London Stansted to Tampere, an opportune gateway for that great forest-rimmed lakes of Finnish Lakeland.

Travel in the shoulder season to save money

Everyone brags about July to be the best month to visit Finland, but you'll dodge the crowds and save plenty by avoiding summer break and visiting within the shoulder season instead. With everything in blossom, the rain easing off and warmer, lighter days coming, May can be glorious on the Baltic coast (try the Aland islands for white-sand beaches and cycling), within the Finnish Lakeland as well as in cities like Helsinki.

Early June – prior to the madness of midsummer hits – is a great bet too. Or are available in September for an inexpensive city break, country escape or hike in a single of Finland's nature prior to the darker, colder days of winter creep in. The flipside? Some accommodation, sights and restaurants only open during the peak summertime of July and August. But if you don't mind things quieter, shoulder seasons are great for economizing.

You can click on Lapland on a tight budget – if you do the job yourself

It's the number one must-do on every child's wishlist, but a vacation to see Santa within the frozen wonderland of Lapland can make a massive dent in your wallet – particularly if you choose an expensive package. All the fun skiing you arrived at the Arctic to try – from snowmobiling to skiing and dogsledding – have a price tag.

However, do it yourself (organizing your personal flights and transport and straightforward lodgings) also it can be doable on a tight budget. The secret is to steer clear of the Christmas rush and school holidays. Are available in November, January or March when rates dip and you'll still find lots of festive sparkle, snow, reindeer and the big jolly dude in his grotto.

Few travelers think about the Arctic in fall, but September in Lapland is beautiful for the ruska (autumn foliage). The fells really are a riot of russets and crimsons and the beech forests glow gold. If you want to glimpse the Northern Lights on a tight budget, try autumn or spring rather than winter, once the chances are actually better and accommodation is cheaper.

Stay in a hostel (and book dorms room)

If you're traveling alone, hostels are usually the very best value. Figure on paying around EUR40 ($44) for a dorm bed. What the hostels sacrifice in fashion, they create up for in comfort and facilities – most have kitchens (handy for whipping up a quick snack or meal to save on dining out), shared lounges and, if you are in luck, saunas.

The Finnish Youth Hostel Association (SRM) runs a network of around 50 hostels, with everything else from contemporary city digs to country villas on wooded lakeshores. They are associated with Hostelling International (HI), so it's worth becoming a member for any 10% discount.

Or simply sleep in the wild

In the wilder reaches of the nation, there are several excellent campgrounds. And if you don't fancy sleeping under canvas, many offer cozy little cabins as little as EUR40 ($44) an evening. If you are striking out on foot into one of the national parks within the remote north or east of the country, even better: You can stay the night time in one of Finland's free wilderness huts for any proper at-one-with-nature experience. Off grid and as basic as can be, these little log cabins would be the backcountry dream.

Jokamiehenoikeus (everyman's right) is music to the ears of outside lovers on a budget. The liberty to roam means you are able to pitch your tent pretty much wherever you fancy, while respecting the privacy of others and the landscape, naturally. If you go down the wild camping route, quick and easy rules of thumb apply: Camp high, camp remote, stay only a night or two and then leave no trace. You'll even find lake beaches which are aimed at the wild camper, with toilets, barbecue areas and swimming spots.

Rent your personal digs if you are driving a sizable group

If you're with friends or family, you might find it works out cheaper (and more fun) to book your personal room or holiday home, either through Airbnb or the Finnish network Lomarengas. The latter includes a cracking choice of cottages from coast to coast – from Lapland log chalets to lakefront cottages using their own beach, rowboat and sauna. The price stops working to become quite reasonable should there be several you.

Book expensive hotels at the weekend or perhaps in summer in order to save money

Hotels in Finland are often geared firmly towards business travelers. Contrary to what you might expect, rates actually plummet by 40% or so at weekends and during the July summer holidays, making this a lot of fun to snap up an offer in fancier places.

Get around around the bus

Punctual, inexpensive and rarely full, Finland's long-distance buses cover an even bigger network compared to trains and are a great way to circumvent if you do not seem like renting your personal wheels. They are by far and away the least expensive method to travel from city to city. Departures from major towns are frequent, but less so at weekends, so check your timing. Slower vakiovuoro (regular) services are cheaper than pikavuoro (express) buses. For routes, timetables and tickets, visit Matkahuolto.

Onnibus operates budget intercity routes in double-decker buses. Most start in Helsinki and could be a much cheaper option than standard fares if booked well ahead of time.

Or if you need a car, book ahead

If you're heading in to the epic wilderness of the north and east of the country, where all indications of civilization fizzle out and you're simply alone with the forest and lakes and reindeer, realistically you will need a car. Book ahead of time to find the best deals. Day rates could be astronomical so it calculates cheaper to hire a car for a whole weekend or week. Try a cost comparison site like Kayak. Otherwise, apps like Carpool Finland and Kyydit are great if you are prepared to rideshare.

Eat a big breakfast and lunch

Finns are big on breakfast and most hotels ( even hostels, for an additional cost) serve an ample buffet, with lots of coffee, porridge and fruits, dense rye bread, eggs and cold cuts. Fill up properly to fuel a whole morning of activities.

It's less expensive to eat out at lunchtime compared to the night in Finland. Consider cafes and restaurants serving all-you-can-eat buffets for between EUR10 ($11) and EUR15 ($16.50), where you can bunch on salads, soups and day specials. And watch that which you drink. Alcohol quickly notches on the bill, with a single beer costing around EUR6 ($6.60). Thankfully tap water here is a pleasure to drink.

If you can get a shared kitchen or camping stove, you can purchase supplies for picnics and basic meals at grocery stores, bakeries or, even better, at the kauppahalli (covered market hall). The ones in Helsinki, Tampere and Turku have been in gorgeous art nouveau buildings. Finland's markets are also great for grazing, with stalls and cafes doling out light meals and snacks from kimchi to gourmet rye-bread sandwiches.

Forage for your supper

Finland is really a forager's dream and everyman's right means you are able to pick freely providing it's for your own consumption. Come in summer and you can feast on luscious berries, from wild strawberries, lingonberries, raspberries and, up in the Arctic, the creamy-sweet, amber-hued cloudberries the Finns are extremely in love with. Mushrooms pop up from late August to October, sending the Finns diving into the woods, armed with baskets, to locate chanterelles and penny buns. Cobbling together meals with what you've found for free within the wild is really quite special.

Get out into nature

There's no need to spend a fortune in Finland because, as any local will explain, nature provides you with best wishes things free of charge. One method to see Finland with limited funds would be to set off grid and back to nature. Embrace the elements in true Finnish style on long hikes to forests and fells in one of the country's nature. Wild camp and swim in the river or sea. Cook over a campfire because the midnight sun shines or gaze up to Arctic skies in the winter months to find the best free show on earth: the Northern Lights.

Save money on sights and attractions

Saving money on the town sights involves a little bit of cunning planning. If you are up for seeing the capital, the Helsinki Card is essential. Valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours, the pass covers all of the big-hitter sights and attractions and public transport, and gets you discounts on shops and restaurants.

Helsinki's museums usually have eventually per week or month if you find reduced reely entry. The Design Museum, for example, is free around the last Tuesday from the month between 4pm and 8pm, and Kunsthalle Helsinki is free of charge on the first Wednesday from the month between 6pm and 8pm. Begin to see the MyHelsinki website for any comprehensive list. In Tampere, many museums are free on Fridays from 3pm to 6pm.

And if you wish to save on sauna entry, swing over to Sompasauna. Run with a group of volunteers, this wood-burning, self-service sauna, just east from the center, is appropriate by the sea and there's an open grill where you can cook.

One way of getting a handle on Finland's cities is to hook onto a totally free guided walking tour. Eco-friendly Green Cap Tours runs these in many locations in Finland, including Helsinki, Rovaniemi, Levi and Turku.

Daily costs

  • Dorm bed inside a hostel: EUR25-35 ($27.50-38.50)
  • Basic room for 2: EUR80-100 ($88-110)
  • Holiday cottage: EUR80-150 ($88-166)
  • Museum entry: EUR10-14 ($11-15)
  • Car hire: EUR25-50 ($28-55)
  • Public transport ticket: EUR2.80 ($3)
  • Bike hire: EUR10-20 ($11-22)
  • Kayak rental: EUR30-60 ($33-66)
  • Two-hour husky sled ride: EUR90 -140 ($99-155)
  • Coffee: EUR3-6 ($3.30-6.60)
  • Sandwich: EUR5-7 ($5.50-7.70)
  • Piece of cake: EUR6-8 ($6.60-8.80)
  • Lunch buffet: EUR10-15 ($11-16.50)
  • Main course inside a restaurant: EUR18-30
  • Dinner for 2: EUR60-100 ($66-110)
  • Beer in the bar: EUR6-9 ($6.60-9.90)

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