Of the Nordic countries, Finland is more isolated than it's neighbors to the west. It doesn't share the same Scandinavian cultural and linguistic connection as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and it's also physically separated by the Baltic Sea. Visitors often pass over the Finnish capital because it seems too far or they don't know much about it, but Helsinki has much to offer for those who make the trek.
It's easy to get from Stockholm, Sweden, to Helsinki, Finland, although travelers have limited transportation options due to the geography of the area. Flying is the most feasible option, and tickets are usually inexpensive for this one-hour flight. The ferry, however, is a more exciting way to travel between the countries, and the price includes transportation, accommodations, and a nautical tour of the Baltic Sea.
Once you cross the border from Sweden to Finland, don't forget to set your watch forward by one hour.
How to Get from Stockholm to Helsinki
- Flight: 55 minutes, from $45
- Ferry: 17 hours, 40 minutes, from $88 (for four-person cabin)
- Car & Ferry: 11 hours, 300 miles (482 kilometers)
The easiest way to travel between Stockholm and Helsinki is, without a doubt, by plane. Nonstop flights between Stockholm and Helsinki are operated by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Norwegian Air, and Finnair. The flights depart several times a day and only take an hour. Most flights depart from Stockholm's major international airport, Arlanda (ARN), but some flights also leave from the nearby regional airport, Bromma (BMA). Double-check your ticket to avoid showing up at the wrong place and missing your flight.
One-way tickets are as low as $45, so it's one of the most affordable ways to travel between the two cities. Because multiple airlines offer direct flights, even last-minute bookings shouldn't be much more expensive, with tickets rarely costing more than $80.
Pay close attention to the fine print of your flight details before booking, as the cheapest tickets usually come from low-cost airlines with strict rules and few amenities. Airlines like Norwegian Air charge extra even for flying with a carry-on bag, so add up all of your costs and fees before making your purchase.
If you have some time to spare while traveling, there's a 17-hour ferry connection between Stockholm and Helsinki leaving in the afternoon and arriving the following morning. The Viking Line and the Tallink Silja Line ferries both cover the Stockholm to Helsinki route and the Helsinki to Stockholm route, as does the once-a-week St. Peter Line. The ferries include onboard services such as bars, restaurants, different types of cabins, and duty-free shopping. You can travel as a foot passenger, but you can also bring cars, motorbikes, and bicycles on the ferries.
The Viking Line offers cheaper cruise prices but uses older ships; Tallink Siljah Line cruises are more expensive but also offer more elegance. Booking a weeknight cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki is cheapest, and there's another discount if you buy a round-trip ticket. One-way weeknight tickets for cabins start at around $88 on Viking and $120 on Tallink Siljah Line, but prices vary depending on the season and which cabin category you choose.
You can also take a ferry from Stockholm to Åbo, Finland, which takes 10.5 hours, and make your way south to Helsinki from there by bus or car.
While taking the ferry is a leisurely and fun way to travel between Stockholm and Helsinki, it's not necessarily cheaper than flying—and it's certainly a lot slower. Many travelers who choose the ferry opt to do so for the experience. However, if you're sharing a cabin and you consider that the price covers your transportation as well as a night of accommodation, the ferry may actually be the most budget-friendly option.
Though Helsinki and Stockholm are only about 250 miles apart as the crow flies, they're separated by the Baltic Sea. That means your options are to drive all around the Gulf of Bothnia—a 1,000-mile journey that takes over 20 hours of driving—or to have your vehicle ferried across the sea to Finland. The latter option takes half the amount of time, and for much of the trip, you can just relax on board the ship.
After leaving Stockholm, you'll head northeast toward the coastal town of Kapellskär and board your first ferry to the Finnish Äland Islands, a two-hour boat ride with prices starting at $16 to board with a vehicle. From there, take a scenic drive through the islands—a great place to break up your trip and spend the night—before arriving at Långnäs, where you'll board the second and final ferry to Turku, Finland. The second maritime leg takes about four and a half hours, and tickets start at $50 to board with a vehicle. Get back behind the wheel in the Turku, and drive the final two hours until you reach Helsinki.
Driving a car is for the adventurous who are looking to create an experience from the road trip. Assuming you break the trip up into two days, it's the most time-consuming and also the most expensive way to travel from Stockholm to Helsinki. However, few tourists make such an arduous trek, so you'll get to experience parts of both Sweden and Finland that few foreigners get to see.
What to See in Helsinki
Compared to it's more popular Nordic neighbors in Denmark and Sweden, Helsinki is one of Northern Europe's most underrated cities. The city itself is small enough to explore on foot, and the colorful tents of Market Square are full of vendors selling baked goods, produce, drinks, and local handicrafts. After traversing the city and visiting its myriad churches, museums, and parks, take a day trip to the islands around Helsinki to experience Finland's natural beauty. The island of Seurasaari is especially popular, especially during the summer months with its open-air museum of a recreated rural Finnish town. Of course, no visit to Finland is complete without a visit to a sauna, and thankfully Helsinki has plenty to choose from. Try the historic Sauna Arla or the modern Kulttuurisauna, both excellent options for tourists interested in trying out this cultural practice.