Welcome to Helsinki
10th Interim meeting of the ICOM-CC Metal Working Group
5th – 9th September 2022
Ice Swimming in Helsinki
Swimming in winter? No problem!
Ice-swimming (avantouinti in Finnish) is said to have many health benefits and is practiced by Finns of all ages throughout the country. Just don’t forget your warm woolly hat!
Ice Swimming in Helsinki
Sasa Tkalcan / Helsinki Marketing
Sauna is probably the best-known Finnish word, and the sauna culture is the first Finnish element on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
It is one of the most loved activities in Finland (almost 90 percent of Finns go to a sauna once a week) and archaeologist have found remains of early forms of saunas from 1500 – 900 BC.
Julia Kivelä / Helsinki Marketing
For a long time saunas used to be the most hygienic space in the house and were used to, for example, give birth.
Saunas are also a place for deep contemplation and reflection as well as for socialising (many people take sauna drinks with them), and it is often said that important business can only be conducted while in the sauna!
Oravankolo - Traditional Sauna
Natura Viva / Helsinki Marketing
About Helsinki and Finland
Finland is a Nordic Country in the North of Europe. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a part of Scandinavia, nor is it Eastern Europe. It is located between Sweden and Russia, sharing its borders with Sweden in the West, Norway in the North and Russia in the East. Estonia lies to the South, across the Gulf of Finland. With a surface area of almost 350,000 square kilometres and a population of only 5,5 million, it is a scarcely populated country.
Most of the people live in the capital city, Helsinki, as well as the area around it (Greater Helsinki metropolitan area) and a few other major cities throughout the country.
Finnish, the native language of the Finns (although in some areas Swedish is the primary language), is among the few Finnic languages in the world.
Finland is also home to the Sámi, who are an indigenous people inhabiting northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway and the Kola peninsula in Russia. There are several Sámi languages, of which three are spoken in Finland: Northern Sámi, Skolt Sámi and Inari Sámi (the only Sámi language spoken exclusively in Finland).
Also known as The land of the thousand lakes Finland is primarily covered in forests and spotted by over 180,000 lakes, which makes it the country with the highest amount of lakes per inhabitant.
Helsinki lies on the southern shore of Finland, in a strategic location between St. Peterburg, Tallinn and Stockholm. It was founded in 1550 and became the capital city in 1812. It holds many significant buildings such as the Presidential palace, the Parliament of Finland, the National Library, the National Archive, the National Museum and the Finlandia Hall. The city centre is small enough to be enjoyed on foot, and the UNESCO World Heritage site Suomenlinna is located in its archipelago.
Autumn in Finland
Did you know that the Finnish language has a word, Ruska, for the time of the year when the colour of the leaves is changing? It is especially spectacular in Lapland, but it can easily be enjoyed also in Helsinki, due to its many parks and beautiful nature. The time of Ruska varies slightly every year, depending on the weather and temperature, but it could also happen during the conference week!
Image: Autumn Colours in Helsinki by Carmen Nguyen / Helsinki Marketing
Arrival and Transportation
Public transport in Helsinki consists of bus, tram, metro, local railway and ferry services. The system is managed by the Helsinki Region Transport (Finnish: Helsingin seudun liikenne, or HSL) and covers Helsinki (including the ferry to Suomenlinna – see below), Espoo, Kauniainen, Vantaa (where the airport is located) and the outlying Kerava, Kirkkonummi and Sipoo.
All in-person attendees, as well as the accompanying persons, will receive a 5-day (5 – 9 September, both included) public transportation ticket for the AB area, which will be provided upon arrival at the registration desks at the conference venue.
This ticket is valid for all means of public transportation within the A and B zones, which include the conference venue and the whole of Helsinki, plus some areas of the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area.
Reaching the city centre from the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport
Public transportation commutes regularly between the airport and the centre of Helsinki. Trains run aprox. between 5AM and 00:30AM, while buses run day and night. The airport belongs to zone C and the city centre to zone A so an ABC ticket is needed in order to reach the city centre. More information on different kinds of tickets can be found further below.
The train station can easily be accessed via the passage between terminals 1 and 2 on the Arrivals level, and the bus 615 to the centre of Helsinki leaves from the platform 52 outside the arrivals area. Both I and P trains go all the way to the Central Railway Station in the city centre of Helsinki, but their routes are different and the I train takes a tad longer.
Trains and buses to and from the airport run regularly a few minutes apart round the clock. For more information, please go to https://www.hsl.fi/en
Reaching the Conference Venue
The venue is located in Suomelinna, an island Southeast of Helsinki, and it belongs to Zone A. Depending on where you are staying, you will need to buy either an AB or ABC ticket in order to reach it on the first day, after which you will be able to use the 5-day AB Area Ticket provided upon registration at the conference venue.
A ferry sails regularly between the Market Square Harbour and Suomenlinna. More information on how to reach the venue can be found here.
Under the new fare system adopted in April 2019 the region is divided onto four arch shaped zones: A, B, C and D.
Zone A covers the inner Helsinki to about five kilometres from the Helsinki Central Station.
Zone B covers the rest of Helsinki (excluding areas in the East added to Helsinki in 2003), parts of Vantaa and Espoo and the whole Kauniainen. It covers up to 14 km from the Central Station.
Zone C covers the eastmost parts of Helsinki, the rest of Espoo and Vantaa, including the airport, and small parts of Sipoo and Tuusula.
Zone D covers most of Sipoo, Tuusula, all of Kerava in the North-East, and Siuntio and Kirkkonummi in the West.
When buying a ticket, one has to buy at least two zones, with the exception of zone D, which can be bought separately. One can also buy three or four zones. If one has a pass for 2-3 zones, it is also possible to buy additional zones at a reduced price.
The transport system offers a vast number of different tickets and several ways to get them.
Single fare tickets can be bought from ticket machines, kiosks or through a mobile app (HSL app, available for free in the AppStore, GooglePlay and AppGallery). The mobile app requires a working internet connection, so we recommend buying physical tickets from ticket machines. Each metro station and ferry stop, and most railway stations, are equipped with at least one ticket machine. The cost of an AB or BC ticket for an adult in 2021 is €2.80, and for zone ABC €4.10. Drivers do not sell tickets.
Most users of the public transport have a Travel Card, an RFID card used as an electronic ticket. Users can load time periods and/or value on their cards. Time period tickets offer unlimited travel for the dates paid for. Value is used to pay for one trip, which may contain changes between different means of transportation. The price of a single trip is lower when paid with the travel card instead of buying a single fare ticket.
Single trip tickets are valid for 80–110 minutes depending on the zones purchased. AB, BC and D tickets are valid for 80 minutes, while ABCD tickets are valid for 110 minutes. One can change the means of transport freely within the time-period and the zone allocated.
On most buses, the driver checks tickets as passengers board. The metro, local trains, trams, ferries, and four bus lines classified as trunk lines use a proof-of-payment system: fare inspectors check tickets on randomly selected vehicles, and charge a fine of €80 and the price of a single ticket to those who do not have one. If a passenger has forgotten their Travel Card with valid travel period, the passenger may later visit a service point of the transport company and will not have to pay the fine.
Helsinki has two ferry lines, both operated by Suomenlinnan Liikenne Oy. One ferry connects Suomenlinna to the mainland. The ferries are the only connection to the mainland for the residents of Suomenlinna, though a tunnel for emergency vehicle access is in place. The second line connects the mainland to the Korkeasaari Zoo. The first line departs from the Market Square and the latter from Katajanokka. The ferry to the Zoo is not part of the general ticket system. There is also land access to the Zoo with bus number 16.
Internal bus routes can be found almost anywhere in Helsinki. For some parts of the city, even high-density, these buses provide the backbone of the public transportation system.Most lines are operated between 5:30 and 23:30. In daytime, outside of rush hours, the basic interval for buses is mostly either 10, 15, 20, 30 or 60 minutes depending on the length and the demand of the line. Night-time lines which operate only from 23:30 to 1:30 (and sometimes early morning) are marked with the letter N.
Helsinki’s tram network has been operated continuously with electric drive since 1900 and it is mostly of a traditional type, with all of the tramways located on the streets, on both dedicated tram lanes and in mixed traffic. The network covers the densely populated central districts and some of the adjacent areas, but it has been expanded only very modestly after the 1950s. The network is composed of 11 lines, all of which except one (line 8) run through some part of the city centre. Over 50 million trips are made with the trams each year.
The metro is essential for traffic between the East and West of central Helsinki. The system consists of two lines, M1 and M2, with a total of 25 stations. The metro is managed and operated by HKL – Helsinki City Transport.
The commuter rail system serves the areas Northeast and Northwest of the city centre. The network reaches relatively far from Helsinki with metro-like services from Helsinki to Kerava, Kirkkonummi and the Helsinki Airport. The network is managed by HSL and operated by VR. Trains not managed by HSL reach even further, to Lahti, Riihimäki and Karis.
Helsinki’s city bike system was opened in May 2016 with 50 city bike stations and 500 bikes serving the inner-city area. The system was expanded in 2017 to cover an additional 100 stations and 1000 bikes. Currently the network consists of 345 stations with 3450 bikes. The city bike season starts on the 1st April and ends on the 31st October.
More information available in their website. An extra fee (9€/one way) needs to be paid if one wants to take the bike onto the ferry to Suomenlinna – this fee is not included in the AB zone ticket.
Various taxi agencies operate between the airport and the Helsinki city centre, and other nearby towns. Please find out beforehand from which terminal your flight departs, and the taxi will drop you off right in front of the right terminal. More information here.
There are five car rental branches at Helsinki Airport. Their service desks are located in the corridor between Terminals 1 and 2. You can also hire a car beforehand on the rental company’s website or by calling them. More information here.
Nordic walking (sauvakävely in Finnish) was developed in Finland in the late 1970s as a full-body fitness version of walking.
The poles used to exercise the arms and upper body are similar to ski poles, and this form of exercise requires applying force to the poles with each stride. Like skiing without snow!
Image: Nordic Walking by the Sea
Julia Kivelä / Helsinki Marketing
There are numerous hotels in the centre of Helsinki, within an easy walking distance from the ferry to the conference venue. Hotels are usually of a very high standard, and the central hotels tend to range from a 5-star rating to a 3-star rating, with prices ranging from €80 to €400 per night. The average price for a 4-star standard hotel is €120-180 per night and commonly includes breakfast.
Public transport (discussed above) within the city is very regular, frequent, affordable and convenient, so accommodation anywhere within the city centre will be easily accessible from the conference venue.
Private apartment rentals (e.g. airbnb.com) are also very popular, conveniently located within the city, of a high standard and offering a self-catering, and more affordable option to hotels.
Image: Helsinki From Above by Kari Ylitalo / Helsinki Marketing
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the up-to-date measures and regulations adopted by the Finnish Government can be followed in the links below:
Transportation within the Greater Helsinki area has already been discussed above, but day tickets can be a specially fitting option for visiting travellers that make several journeys during one day or several days.
Registered attendees will be provided with a 5-day AB zone tickets, but unregistered accompanying persons may benefit from the use of day tickets.
Day tickets are valid for 1 to 13 days and all means of public transportation within the selected zones (including the ferry to the conference venue) can be used without limit within that purchased period of time. For example, the price for a 1 day ticket for zones AB is 8€, and for 7 days 32€.
Banking and currency
The official currency in Finland is the euro (€) and all major credit cards are widely accepted. Banknotes are issued in the following denominations: 5€, 10€, 20€, 50€, 100€ and 200€. Issuance of 500€ notes was discontinued in January 2019 but they remain legal in the euro area. The coins are issued as 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1€ and 2€. While in use in many other European countries, 1 and 2 cents coins are not in use in Finland.
ATMs can be found easily throughout Helsinki. The largest ATM network in Finland is called Otto. Another ATM network called Nosto has recently increased the number of machines in the city area and elsewhere. Note that ATMs in Finland have two separate card slots, one for cards with a magnetic stripe and the other for chip cards. These ATMs are generally easy to recognise because of their bright orange or yellow colours. English is available as one of the language options, along with Finnish and Swedish.
Paying & tipping
While cash is accepted almost everywhere everywhere (there are currently some restrictions to this due to COVID-19), it is very common to pay for even small purchases with a credit or debit card.
Paying in restaurants is most often also done separately, although it is usually also possible to split the bill in other ways. Tipping is not expected in Finland and a service charge is included in hotels and restaurants. Finnish people do tip (max 10%) only if they wish to appreciate good service or delicious food.
You can connect your laptop or mobile phone to a wireless network in many places throughout the city centre e.g. in several cafés, restaurants and libraries.
For free WiFi, connect to “Helsinki City Open Wlan”. There are plenty of hotspots available in the city centre and at harbours. Also, most hotels offer their guests a free internet connection. For the international research and education community, it is also possible to use the Eduroam service while in Helsinki.
Citizens of non-European countries are eligible for tax-free returns upon leaving EU territory. Purchases must be made in shops displaying the Tax Free Shopping sign. The minimum total sum of purchased goods must be €40.
Voltage: 220–240 Volts. Electrical sockets (outlets) in Finland are one of the two European standard electrical socket types: ”Type C” Europlug and ”Type E/F” Schuko.
The time zone in Helsinki is Eastern European Time (EET), 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2).
The General Emergency number for police, ambulance and fire department is 112.
Finland’s tap water is among the highest quality in the world and is not only completely safe but a pleasure to drink. In Finland, tap water has been found to be significantly cleaner than bottled water. You can drink tap water everywhere. You can also fill your own bottles with clean and refreshing spring water for free, as many locals do.
Finns love fleamarkets! A wide variety of fleamarkets (from charity shops to table-renting and outdoor fleamarkets) can be found throughout Finland. Some of them are specialised in a specific kind of product (for example, baby clothing), but almost any kind of object can be found thrifted. Sometimes real treasures such an antiques can even found at a fraction of their price so, if you like treasure hunting, this is the country for you!
Did you know Santa Claus is Finnish? Even though the most popular concept of Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, one of the most popular “homes” of his contemporary counterpart can be found in Finland, in the city of Rovaniemi, Lapland – feel free to visit his Village any time of the year, if you have time.
Most Finns still believe in Santa (whether they admit it or not!) and the actual Santa is believed to live in Korvatunturi, a spectacular fell on the border of Finland and Russia.
Korvatunturi translates as Ear Fell, and it is claimed that the ear-shaped structure of the fell supposedly allows Santa to hear the wishes of every child on Earth.
Santa Claus in front of Tram
Jussi Hellsten / Helsinki Marketing
And another funny fact about Santa Claus! In Finnish he is called Joulupukki, which can be translated as “Christmas buck”. The name is linked to old Finnish pagan traditions, in which a man would dress up as a buck to symbolise fertility (and was a bit scary too!).
Nowadays straw goats, also called joulupukki in Finnish, are used as Christmas decoration throughout the Nordic Countries.
Jussi Hellsten / Helsinki Marketing
Finns love nature and their summer cottages! These summer cottages (called mökki in Finnish) are usually close to a lake, and (ideally) as far away from other human beings as possible!
Many do not have electricity nor running water (freezing pipes tend to crack in winter!), but most Finns really cherish the peace and quiet of the time spend in their summer cottages.
If you have visited Helsinki on a summer weekend and wondered where everybody is, the answer is that most likely in the summer cottage!
Natura Viva / Helsinki Marketing
The Lighter Side of Finland
What is löyly? Sauna being such an old tradition, Finns have all kinds of sauna-related words that are very hard to translate to other languages, and löyly is one of them. It technically means the water vapour that is released into the sauna after water has been poured onto the stones of the sauna-stove (kiuas), but it also means the actual experiencing of this moment after the water has been poured. Thus, it is often said that certain saunas may have especially good löyly.
Fun fact? In some saunas, it is possible to add a bit of beer to the water before pouring it on the stove, which releases the delicious smell of freshly baked bread! (Please, do not try this in without permission though!)
Things you may not have known were Finnish
Did you know J.R.R. Tolkien was (in his own words) so “intoxicated” by the Finnish language that he used it as the main inspiration for Quenya aka the language of the High Elves in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and other related books? While the tower in this foggy picture closely resembles that of Orthanc, the tower of Saruman in the 2001 – 2003 movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, it is in fact a memorial to seafarers and those passed in the sea, designed by Oskari Jauhiainen and Eero Eerikäinen in 1968.