If you're planning a trip to Finland, you know that you are going to experience days that seem like they never end if you're going in the summer, giving it the name of the Land of the Midnight Sun, or the aurora borealis, the northern lights, during the long Finnish winter nights. You'll also be in for a bounty of other wonders of nature and interesting Scandinavian culture in Helsinki, Finland's capital.
To make the most of your time in Finland, it helps to know a bit of the language, especially those words and phrases most used by travelers.
Finnish (Suomi) has regular pronunciation without many exceptions. Usually, Finnish words are pronounced just like they are spelled, and that makes communicating a bit easier than in other languages, like English, for instance. Keep these differences between Finnish and English vowels in mind when pronouncing Finnish phrases.
- A: pronounced like the "u" in "cup"
- A with umlaut: sounds close to the "a" in "hat"
- E: pronounced like "e" in "hen"
- I: sounds like "i" in "tip"
- Y: close to the "u" in the British pronunciation of "you" with tight lips
- O with umlaut: pronounced like the "u" in "fur" with tight lips
Finnish Greetings and Small Talk
It's extremely helpful to know the most basic words that you use when in a city and are interacting with strangers.
Using the language of the locals just naturally makes them more likely to help you if needed and leaves a positive impression. Here are a few of the most commonly needed words for social interaction.
- Hello: Hei
- Goodbye: Näkemiin
- Yes: Kylla (with umlaut)
- No: Ei
- Thank you: Kiitos
- You are welcome: Ei kesta (with umlaut)
- Excuse me: Anteeksi
- My name is ...: Nimeni on ...
- Nice to meet you: Hauska tavata
Finnish Travel Phrases
When you are traveling, knowing certain words really comes in handy at hotels, airports, and train stations. The agents you are dealing with might know English, but it makes communication easier if you know these basic words in Finnish.
- Hotel: Hotelli
- Room: Huone
- Reservation: Varaus
- Do you have any vacancies today?: Onko taksi illaksi viela tilaa (with umlauts)?
- I'm sorry, I don't speak Finnish: Anteeksi, en puhu suomea.
- No vacancies: Ei ole tilaa.
- Passport: Passi
- Airport: Lentokentta (with umlaut)
- Train station: Rautatieasema
- Bus station: Bussiasema
- Where is ...?: Missa (with umlaut) on ...?
- Ticket: Lippu
- One ticket to ... : Yksi lippu ...
- Train: Juna
- Bus: Bussi
- Subway: Metro
Finnish Numbers and Days
Numbers and the names of the days of the week take on great importance when you're trying to make hotel or transportation reservations. Knowing them eases this process.
- 1: yksi
- 2: kaksi
- 3: kolme
- 4: nelja (with umlaut)
- 5: viisi
- 6: kuusi
- 7: seitseman (with umlaut)
- 8: kahdeksan
- 9: yhdeksan (with umlaut)
- 10: kymmenen
Days of the Week
- Monday: maanantai
- Tuesday: tiistai
- Wednesday: keskiviikko
- Thursday: torstai
- Friday: perjantai
- Saturday: lauantai
- Sunday: sunnuntai