Finland is not only the happiest country in the world; according to the World Economic Forum's 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, it's also the safest. Like most Nordic countries, this sliver of Scandinavia is notably nonthreatening and a perfect destination for wary travelers. That being said, no country is entirely crime-free. While there are no major safety issues in its capital, Helsinki, pickpocketing does happen, and there are a couple of areas that solo travelers may want to avoid at night.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, border restrictions and travel advisories have been changing frequently and as necessary to help travelers stay safe and informed during their visit. For updates on your trip to Finland, be sure to check the U.S. State Department site for up-to-date Travel Advisories, as well as any requirements dictated by the local government for when you arrive.
While they don't pose much of a danger to tourists, organized crime rings from the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries are present in Finland. Beyond this, the U.S. Department of State does not note any threats to travelers' safety.
Is Finland Dangerous?
Finland is statistically the least dangerous place on earth, based on the World Economic Forum's data on how much the country spends on crime and terrorism. It also ranks first in reliable police services in that report.
Even the big city of Helsinki is warm and friendly, with minimal risk of pickpocketing and petty crime. Even so, it's always best to watch your wallet and be aware of your surroundings at ATM machines; credit card skimming appears to be on the rise. Avoid leaving personal possessions unattended, especially in hostels, where fellow tourists pose an additional risk.
The rural areas of Finland are much safer than Helsinki. Crime rates are practically nonexistent and general safety issues are mostly related to car accidents. The biggest threat to your personal safety is a moose crossing the street (so keep your headlights on at all times). Expect to wait a little longer for emergency services if you are in a rural, remote region. It is advisable to carry water and a flashlight with you when you leave Finland's metropolitan areas.
Is Finland Safe for Solo Travelers?
Finland is perfectly safe for solo travelers. Even hiking alone in the wilderness isn't especially risky considering the long stretches of sunshine and the lack of dangerous wildlife. Threats to safety are minimal and vary by place. Outside of the city, there's the unavoidable risk of getting lost or hurt, whereas in the city, there's a small chance of criminal activity. Solo travelers should avoid Kaisaniemi Park and Central Station at night as this is where much of the crime in Helsinki takes place.
Is Finland Safe for Female Travelers?
A 2020 survey revealed that while Finnish authorities were receiving more reports of sexual violence than ever before, the uptick did not look to reflect an increased number of attacks but rather an increased willingness to report them. In fact, the 2019 Women, Peace, and Security Index ranked Finland the third-best country in the world in which to be a woman, so female travelers should feel comfortable touring the country, even if they're alone. Still, you should remain vigilant of your surroundings at all times because sexual assaults do occasionally occur.
Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers
Scandinavia is a well-known haven for liberal diversity and Finland is no exception. In addition to being optimally safe and happy, the Nordic country also happens to be one of the most gay-friendly places on the map. Homosexuality has been legal since 1971 and gay marriage has been legal since 2017, so most of the locals are accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. Helsinki Pride's 100,000-plus annual attendees are a testament to Finland's thriving queer scene. For a bit of added assurance, though, you can look for Gay Travel Finland's We Speak Gay certification granted only to demonstrated LGBTQ+-inclusive companies.
Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers
Despite being one of the most progressive countries in the world, Finland is not immune to racism. A 2020 study conducted by Uutissuomalainen found that more than half of the 1,000-some Finns surveyed said that racism was a "significant problem." That being said, discrimination is illegal in Finland and violent crimes are extremely rare. Racism normally takes the form of intolerant speech. If you have been subject to racism while in Finland, you can make a complaint to the Non-Discrimination ombudsman or to the police.
Safety Tips for Travelers
Finland is one of most harmless, hospitable destinations a tourist could possibly visit. Keep the basic principles of safety in mind while touring the Scandinavian country and you should be fine.
- If you are a victim of or witness to a crime, report it to the local police by dialing 112. Officers from the American Consulate work with crime victims and can help with the local police and medical systems, too. The U.S. State Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services will stay in touch with family members at home and can help provide U.S.-based resources for the victim when possible.
- Consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad. As part of this service, you can receive important information from the U.S. Embassy about safety conditions in your destination. It also helps to locate you in the case of an emergency, like a natural disaster, civil unrest, or a family emergency.
World Happiness Report. March 20, 2020.
World Economic Forum. "The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019." September 4, 2019.
YLE. "Survey: No rise in sexual violence in Finland despite uptick in police complaints." January 5, 2020.
Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. 2019 Women, Peace, and Security Index.
Helsinki Times. "Poll reveals that majority of Finns see racism as a significant problem in Finland." July 2, 2020.