Finland is a bilingual country: Finnish and Swedish are used as official languages. The Finnish language is of Finno-Ugric origin: related to Estonian with distant links to Hungarian. The form of Swedish spoken in Finland is Finlandssvenska (Finland's Swedish.) In most of Finland signs and street names are both in Finnish and Swedish.
The majority of the population also speaks English, which is widely spread in the country, or German. The official language for most official events is English.
Since January, 2002 Finland is a member of the Euro currency system. The visitors can exchange money for euros at most banks and hotels; note that you're likely to get less euros at hotels than at banks. There are also currency exchanges at the railway station Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm; and at the airport daily 6am to 11pm. The shops, restaurants and hotels will most likely accept all major credit cards such as: Visa, MasterC ard, Diner's Club, American Express etc. There are also plenty of ATM machines that you can use for withdrawing cash with your credit card. However, not all of the ATM machines are meant for cash withdrawals. The ones that are suitable for credit card withdrawals are marked with the sign Otto.
Despite the visitors can use underground, buses and trams are probably the only they need when traveling within Helsinki. Public transport is the cheapest and most comfortable way to get around the city. For traveling by bus or tram one can use Helsinki region travel card or single tickets bought from ticket machines, the bus driver or train conductor on all local buses, trams, local trains and underground in the metropolitan area as well as on the Suomenlinna ferry. One-day tourist tickets can be bought on buses, local trains and from multi-ticket machines. Tourist tickets for 3 and 5 days can be purchased from multi-ticket machines situated at train and underground stations and in advance from YTV and Helsinki City Transport service points, Kamppi Travel Centre, Stockmann Department Store and main R-kiosks.
Finnish banks are open on weekdays from 9 a. m. till 4-5 p. m. All banking services are available at branches of banks such as Sampo, Nordea Bank Finland, OKO Bank Group and Alandsbanken, but the majority of banking in Finland is now done on-line through home or company computers as well as payment terminals located at branch offices.
Post offices are open 9 a. m. till 5 p. m. from Monday to Friday. There are also franchised post offices, managed by groceries and petrol service stations, for instance, open until 8 or 9 p. m.
Large shops are generally open on weekdays from 9 or 10 am till 6 pm, but some are usually open till 9-10 p. m. or even round-a-clock.
Note: Many offices and embassies close at 3 p. m. from June to August.
The electricity in Finland is 230 V (50 Hz). The socket is the same as in the continental EU countries. At least British and American participants need an adapter.
Eating and drinking
Eighty per cent of the water in Finland is classed as being exceptionally clean. Improved water protection has resulted in an improvement in the quality of the water emitted by both industry and municipalities. Bottled mineral water is available in shops and restaurants, but Finnish tap water is of the highest quality and can be consumed freely throughout the country.
The legal age for drinking beer and hard liquor throughout Finland is 18. Laws against drunken driving are rigidly enforced in Helsinki.
In case of emergency dial 112.
Information about health care available in Helsinki round the clock: tel. +358 -(0)9 10 023. Medicines are sold at pharmacies (Apteekki). Some pharmacies have late opening hours. All hospitals have doctors on duty round the clock.
Usually service is included in prices and tipping is not expected in Finland.