Helsinki often appears on the list of most expensive cities to visit. So tourists might be up for some culture shock when it comes to comparing prices of goods — food and drinks for instance. One fact is that you’ll actually observe Finns disembarking from a ferry ride from Tallinn with boxes of beers into Helsinki. That’s the amount of effort they’ll be willing to do to enjoy beer in the Finnish capital.
However, if a tourist knows where to go and what to do, he or she can have fun in Helsinki without having to spend too much.
Tourists who have experienced visiting Helsinki have identified ways in order to save when visiting Helsinki. Ten of the most common suggestions include the following:
Walk instead of taking public transport
Public transportations in Helsinki is very accessible and efficient. However, they are can be too expensive for some travelers. Fortunately, Helsinki center is quite dense, and because of this the best way to move around the city is by foot. Moving from one side of the city to another can be done in just approximately half an hour.
Lunchtime is the best time to eat
Majority of the restaurants offer a lunch menu between 11:00 to 2:00 in the afternoon, and this menu costs less than €10. This can even be possible at luxury restaurants. Cheapest lunches are normally in Chinese restaurants, and you can take as much food as you want. Cheap pizzas and kebabs are also available for €5 to €6.
Avoid taxi rides
As mentioned, you can enjoy the city by foot, and if you wish to get around multiple attractions at a short time, take the public transport (free with a Helsinki Card). Therefore, there is little incentive to take the taxis. If you are visiting other attractions and have ample of time to get around, getting a Helsinki Card may be better.
Visit Kiasma museum of contemporary art
This museum showcases contemporary art, and it offers free admission on the first day of every month from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For music lovers, they can visit Molly Malone’s. This is an Irish bar that offers live music every night after 11 p.m. at a cost of €2.50. Most of the time, the band plays rock or pop music, but there are times when traditional Irish music is also the genre.
If you plan to visit Tallinn or Russia and imitate what locals do to save on their budget, check the local custom limits to make sure you don’t get fined or your items confiscated.
Choose a 2 or 3 star hotel
Getting a low-tier hotel accommodation elsewhere can often be an off-putting experience. Thankfully, Scandinavian hotels have better quality compared to those found in other places in Europe, for instance Southern Europe.
Cheap is a relative word and in Finland, a €25 bed is considered cheap, typically in a small room, free sauna and occasionally located in close proximity to the city center. Hostels are also popular option among larger groups or even if you are alone with high tolerance to a large group of hyperactive teenagers.
Another alternative is to go couchsurfing in a city with expensive accommodation — yes, even hostels can easily get pricey especially during summer. Couchsurfing saves you money and also a great way to gain local insight about the city. Plenty of hosts are available, but make sure you book your request well in advance to make sure you don’t miss out.
As a country with great outdoors, it’s a sacrilege if you stay indoors in your hotel instead of exploring outdoors. You can consider staying in holiday villages or wilderness cabins at national parks. They are free, and you just leave a deposit in a tourist office.
This is an island a few kilometers away from the city proper and can be accessed by bus. This island does not charge entrance fees. However, when a tourist wishes to see the museum filled with 18th century wooden buildings, a small fee will be charged.
Explore the Suomenlinna Fortress Island
This island is one of the most famous and impressive tourist attractions in Helsinki. A tourist would spend a couple of Euros for the ferry ticket to reach the island. However, the cost is worth the view and the knowledge one will gain about the history of Helsinki.
Visit Public Beaches
There are about 30 public beaches in Helsinki. Enjoy the hot sand, cool sea breeze and the bright sun. The good news is, they are all accessible at no fee at all.
Take free city tours
Free walking tours are available in Helsinki. This is a great way to learn more about the Finnish capital’s history, city attractions and gain local knowledge and insights without having to spend any money. If you don’t have an idea, kindly approach the front desk of your hotel or talk to your host about this and ask for their recommendations. Don’t forget to tip your helpful guides!
Cook if you can
There are plenty of supermarkets around Helsinki where you can buy your daily staples like bread, milk, cheese and other breakfast favorites that you can prepare yourself. Also if you can cook, fresh produce are affordable and saves you plenty of money compared to eating out. Hopefully, your savings will enable you to save enough to treat yourself and get a taste of authentic Finnish cuisine.
It is also possible to buy take away sandwiches, grab a space in the lush green space for a picnic and enjoy the majestic view and fresh air outdoors.
Drink tap water
Finland, like its neighbors, enjoy very good water quality and therefore very safe to drink. In fact, studies have shown that pure spring water is cleaner than bottled water. You can simply fill your water container with tap water available for everyone, thanks to Finnish law of Everyman’s Right.
Visit free museums
As a tourist, you’ll want to maximize your stay in Helsinki and that includes cultural immersion through its museums that don’t charge fees upon entry. This includes Helsinki City Museum, Virka Gallery and Tram Museum. There are also museums that offer free entry at certain days of the month. Check out the list here.
Even in an expensive place for tourists like Helsinki, it is still possible to stay within your low-end budget. Just do a research prior to your visit, and make practical decisions when it comes to where to go, what to eat or even decide to forgo certain things until you left the city, and enjoy instead the best things the Finnish capital has to offer.