The Nordic nation of Finland, bordering Sweden, Norway, and Russia, is a winter wonderland known for its reindeers, saunas, Santas Claus villages, and spectacular lakes. A Scandinavian utopia, it is often deemed one of the happiest countries in the world, with a world-class education system and the cleanest air, but is Finland expensive?
From the nature to the northern lights, the minimal crime, and the fashionable cities, there are tons of reasons to visit Finland. The capital city of Helsinki dominates a Baltic peninsula, surrounded by islands, with historical sites nestled among dynamic museums and a vibrant design district. However, Finland is consistently ranked as one of Europe’s top 10 most expensive countries and the lusted Nordic lifestyle comes at a price.
Our guide looks at all the real costs of traveling to Finland in 2022 from getting there to getting around and every hidden expense in between to show you that it doesn’t have to break the bank. Let’s get into it.
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The average cost of a holiday to Finland
Finland is a varied and alluring Northern European country with thousands of years of history, enthralling cities to prove it, and vast wilderness unlike anywhere else on the continent. From the sea fortress of Suomenlinna in Helsinki to the Arctic Lapland province complete with national parks and ski resorts, there are tons of diverse experiences to be had here. But Scandinavia is notoriously expensive, so how much will a holiday to Finland really cost you.
It’s true that Finland is more experience than many Western European hotspots like Spain, Greece, and even Italy. But still, Santa Claus’s homeland might just be able to make the Scandinavian dream a reality for visitors on a budget as it is actually slightly cheaper than the nearby nations of Norway and Denmark. It’s no surprise that Finish people are among the happiest in the world, with high salaries and that quintessential Scandinavian quality of life, that all comes at a slightly lowest cost than that of its neighbors.
Finland is by no means a shoestring destination, with the average solo traveler spending around €125 ($135) a day, or €875 ($930) a week, which is around €1,400 ($1,490) for a couple, not including the cost of getting to Finland. Still, there are ways to cut corners and stick to a reasonable budget in Finland. Before we get into the breakdown of all the costs that come with visiting Finland, check out some of the daily expenses you can expect on your vacation:
|Price (EUR)||Price (USD)|
|Inexpensive Meal (restaurant)||12.00||12.90|
|Fast Food Combo Meal||8.00||8.50|
|Takeaway Cappucino (restaurant)||3.50||3.75|
|Coke Bottle (supermarket)||2.40||2.60|
|Water Bottle (supermarket)||1.50||1.60|
|Helsinki Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour||30.00||32.00|
|Icehotel and Northern Lights Tour (four days)||900.00||965.00|
Is Finland expensive to visit? Getting There
The first thing to consider before booking any holiday is how you’re going to get there, and not only how much it will cost, but how long it will take too. As the furthest northeastern country in Europe before the Russian border, getting to Finland might take some planning.
Bordering both Sweden and Norway, and located just across the Baltic Sea from Latvia and Estonia, it could seem that reaching Finland by land or sea is a way to save some cash, but flying is usually the cheapest way to get there. There are a number of ferry networks connecting Finland to Central Europe, but these services are known for being treacherous and unglamorous, and not worth the cost for the long haul.
Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL) is the main port of entry into Finland, but if you aren’t headed straight for the capital, consider checking other routes and it tends to be the most expensive destination to fly into, after Rovaniemi, in Lapland. Still, with a budget airline, you can fly into Helsinki from London or Birmingham for as little as €150 ($160) return, depending on the time of year, and less than €600 ($645) from New York in the low season.
If you’re coming from Finland’s Nordic neighbor, Sweden, the 17-hour ferry costs between 900 and 1,200 kr, which is equivalent to around €85-115 ($90-125), but the flight from capital to capital takes just one hour and costs as little as €50 ($54) return.
Once you’ve made it, you’ll need to think about how you’ll get around. Luckily, Finland has exceptional public transport, both locally within cities and towns, and nationally from region to region. You’ll pay more for private transfers and shuttles in Lapland villages and ski resorts, but the entire country is linked by a comprehensive rail and bus network and you can travel by train from Helsinki to Lapland, a journey that takes around eight hours across mesmerizing landscapes, for around €75 ($80).
Helsinki also has its own internal public transport system (HSL) comprising busses, trams, the metro, and ferries, which you can hop around, changing transport, with a single ticket. It costs between €15 (€16) and €30 ($32) for three days depending on the zones.
Like much of Scandinavia, Helsinki is also widely accessible by bicycle and this is one of the most efficient ways to get around while still seeing a lot of the city. There are around 5,000 city bikes dotted around Helsinki for easy hire via the app, costing from as little as €5 ($5.30) a day.
Accommodation Prices in Finland
Accommodation is your next big expense after you’ve booked your flights, and it comes in all shapes and sizes in Finland. This diverse nation is packed with variety and once-in-a-lifetime stays and hotels, but where you go makes all the difference.
The capital might be the most expensive place to live in Finland, but there’s arguably the biggest variety in accommodation and you can bag a stay in a hostel or budget hotel for as little as $30 a night. Midrange hotels start at $60 a night and range to around $170, averaging at $114 in Helsinki.
Head up north to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, and the budget accommodation ranges between $80 and $150 a night. However, if you’re after a stay in an ice hotel or glass dome to experience the aurora borealis in all their glory, these experiences come at a much higher cost. Glass igloos start from $300 a night in the low season but average between $700 and $1000 a night during winter and the festive period. And if you want to head out for a husky-led sledding adventure into the night with glamping and Northern Lights chasing, expect premiums of $200 per person on top of your accommodation.
The notoriously expensive capital doesn’t seem quite so pricey now, right? Let’s have a look at some of the different accommodation options in Finland to suit every budget:
The Yard Hostel ($) – Trendy, get-up-and-go accommodation right in the center of Helsinki. Budget doubles start from $75 a night and dorms go for half the price.
Scandic Paasi ($$) – A four-star hotel with contemporary Nordic style, less than a mile from the center of the capital with great metro access. Twin rooms start at $140 a night with breakfast included.
Studio Turku ($$) – Private apartments close to the center of Turku with self-contained kitchens and space for four guests. Prices start from $100 a night.
Hotel Levi Panorama & Chalets ($$) – Ski-to-door access accommodation, just 550 yards from the lifts, right in the center of Levi. Prices start from $140 a night during ski season and halve outside of November to March.
Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle ($$$) – Entire glass-roofed cabins for Northern Lights hunting on the outskirts of Rovaniemi. Prices start from $300 a night in the low season.
Is Finland expensive for food and drink?
It depends on which part of the country you visit, but eating out is somewhat expensive in the touristy areas of Helsinki and Rovaniemi compared to other European capitals. Alcohol is decidedly pricier and you should expect to spend around $40 a day on meals, and $25 a day on alcoholic drinks in Finland.
The south is still more expensive than the north when it comes to general food expenses. A mid-range restaurant meal in Helsinki will cost around $40 per person, compared to $30 in Rovaniemi, $20 in Levi, and as much as $50 a head in Turku, the former coastal capital in the southwest. Helsinki is the most expensive city to drink in Finland, with domestic and imported beer costing as much as $10 a bottle in bars, compared to $8 in Turku, $5 in Rovaniemi, and $4 in Levi.
In fact, Finland has the highest prices in the EU for alcoholic beverages, despite its cheaper towns, with wine and beer in restaurants, bars, and even supermarkets costing 182 percent of the continental average. Residents report spending around $300 a month on groceries, although this varies by city and can be higher in Helsinki. With such a high cost of living, food could be a big expense on a holiday to Helsinki and the south, but northern Finland is more budget-friendly.
When is the best time to visit Finland?
The best time to visit southern Finland and its capital is between May and September when daily temperatures are the highest and the days are long. However, if you want to save money, visit in the shoulder season, avoiding the peak school holiday crowds that flock to Helsinki in July and August. Not only will it be easier to navigate, but you could nab some low-season discounts.
The northern region of Lapland is best known as a winter paradise with blankets of snow covering the Santa Claus villages and Arctic fells. Temperatures dip to 1 degree Fahrenheit at night in Levi in December, January, and February, but this makes it a great time to visit for ice hotel stays and the best skiing in Finland.
Still, unlike the south, Lapland’s high season coincides with the festive period and the European skiing season which extends to early March. This makes winter the most expensive time to visit Lapland and igloo stays can cost thousands. If you’re willing to sacrifice the Christmas magic, don’t rule out visiting Lapland in the summer, or the shoulder season after March. You can still catch some snow and skiing in late March in the north, and Rovaniemi, just below the Arctic circle, stills offers great hiking trails, waterfalls, and lakeside scenery throughout the warmer months.
The Northern Lights are best seen in the dead of winter, but summer brings its own mystery with the Midnight Sun. This natural phenomenon is often overshadowed by the aurora borealis but is equally mesmerizing. Occurring from mid-May until mid-August in the Arctic Circle, nightfall is replaced by golden light and a sun that never sets. It can be disorientating for visitors but the Finns are used to it and your accommodation will be decked out to make sure sleep is still possible. Better yet, it is cheapest to stay in Lapland at this time of year.
Finland on a Budget: Our Top 7 Money-Saving Tips
- Travel in the shoulder season – Accommodation prices, flights, and even restaurant premiums soar in summer in the south, and the festive period in the north. Cut your losses and visit in autumn or spring for the best of both worlds.
- Fly with Finnair – This airline offers the widest variety of travel options from worldwide destinations, and remember that Helsinki isn’t the only port of entry. You can find great deals on flights to the north during summer (the low season up there).
- Select the local currency when paying with a card or using ATMs – this will likely give the best exchange rate – don’t ask us why!
- Drink the tap water – Finland has some of the cleanest water in the world. Don’t waste money on plastic water bottles and fill up a reusable receptacle everywhere you go.
- Avoid taxis – With so much wilderness you might be worried about getting around Finland, but the public transport is efficient, fast, and cheap here. Skip taxis and do your research. You can get busses and trains to even the most remote villages in the north.
- Don’t tip – Tipping is not a Finnish custom because restaurant staff are paid great salaries, like most people in Finland. Keep your spare change – you’ll probably want to after forking out a fortune on your meal.
- Buy train tickets in advance – Discounted tickets for Finnish trains are sold 60 days before their departure date, and you can change the booking later for just $5 if your plans change.
Is Finland Expensive? Our Verdict
Finland is one of Europe’s most expensive countries and is up there with some of the priciest destinations in the world. Finns pay more for alcohol, meals out, and hotels than most Europeans, but high salaries and cheaper utilities make up for it, two things that you won’t be blessed with if you’re just visiting for a holiday. Still, Finland isn’t off-limits if you want to make your cash stretch. It isn’t a budget destination by any means, and backpackers should steer clear, but it is one of the cheapest destinations in Scandinavia and this vast country could well make your Nordic dream a reality if you plan ahead and follow our tips when looking for the best discounts.