Driving in a foreign country can be both an exciting and challenging experience, especially when it comes to adhering to different traffic rules and road conditions. With its breathtaking scenery and well-maintained roads, Finland is a popular destination for travelers who want to explore its natural beauty. If you’re a foreigner planning to rent a car and drive in Finland, this guide will help you understand the essential aspects of driving in this Nordic nation.
A short guide on driving in Finland 🇫🇮
In Finland, vehicles drive on the right side of the road. This may be different from what you’re used to in countries where driving on the left is the norm. Keep this in mind when navigating traffic and making turns.
Speed limits are strictly enforced in Finland and vary depending on the type of road and weather conditions. In urban areas, the general speed limit is usually 50 km/h (31 mph) unless otherwise posted. On motorways, the speed limit can range from 80 km/h (50 mph) to 120 km/h (75 mph). It’s important to pay close attention to road signs that indicate the speed limit.
Traffic lights follow the international standard of red for stop, green for go and amber for prepare to stop. Be careful and obey these signals carefully, as running a red light can result in heavy fines and endanger road safety.
Roundabouts are common in Finland and are designed to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic. Vehicles already in the roundabout have the right of way. When approaching a roundabout, yield to those already in the roundabout and only enter when it’s safe to do so.
Priority of movement
There is a simple rule on Finnish roads: vehicles coming from the right have the right of way unless road signs indicate otherwise. Always be alert at intersections and give way to vehicles approaching from the right.
Seat belt use
It is mandatory for all occupants of a vehicle, regardless of where they are seated, to wear a seat belt. Failure to wear a seat belt may result in fines for both the driver and passengers.
Children under the age of 12 and shorter than 135 cm (4’5″) must use appropriate child safety seats. Infants must be placed in rear-facing child safety seats. Always prioritize the safety of young passengers by using the proper restraint system.
Use of headlights
Headlights must be used at all times, including daylight hours. This rule is designed to improve visibility and ensure that your vehicle is seen by other drivers, especially during Finland’s long, dark winters.
Use of a hand-held telephone while driving is strictly prohibited. If you must use your phone, pull over to a safe place. Hands-free kits are allowed, but it’s best to concentrate on driving.
Finnish law takes a strict stance on drinking and driving. The blood alcohol limit is exceptionally low at 0.05%. It’s advisable to abstain from alcohol altogether if you plan to drive.
Finland prides itself on its well-maintained roads, which are usually in good condition. However, weather conditions can change quickly and roads can become icy and slippery, especially during the winter months. Drive carefully and adjust your speed accordingly.
There are no general road tolls in Finland, except for certain tunnels and bridges, such as the tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia. Be sure to check for toll requirements before you begin your trip.
Petrol stations are readily available throughout Finland, even in remote areas. Gasoline and diesel are the most common fuels. Many stations also offer self-service options outside their regular operating hours.
When driving in Finland, you must carry a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. If your driver’s license is not in English or Finnish, it’s recommended that you also carry an International Driving Permit (IDP).
In case of emergency, dial 112, the universal emergency number in Finland. The operators are trained to deal with different situations and can send appropriate help.
Driving in Finland as a foreigner can be a memorable and enjoyable experience, provided you understand and respect the local traffic rules and conditions. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well prepared to explore the picturesque landscapes and charming cities that Finland has to offer while ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road.
FAQs on driving in Finland
Can I drive in Finland with my foreign driving license?
Yes, you can drive in Finland with a valid foreign driver’s license for a limited period of time, usually up to one year. However, if your license is not in English or Finnish, it’s advisable to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) to supplement your license.
What should I do if I have an accident in Finland?
If you’re involved in an accident, ensure the safety of all parties and call the police on 112 if there are injuries or significant damage. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s). It’s a good idea to take photos of the scene and gather witness information if possible.
Are there special requirements for winter driving in Finland?
Yes, winter driving in Finland requires special attention. From December to February, winter tires are mandatory to ensure safe traction on icy roads. In addition, keep an emergency kit in your car with essentials such as warm clothing, blankets, a flashlight and non-perishable food.
Can I park anywhere in Finland?
No, parking regulations vary from area to area. Pay attention to signs indicating parking rules and restrictions. In city centers, you may need to pay for parking using a parking meter or mobile app.
Are there wildlife hazards on Finnish roads?
Yes, especially in rural areas, you may encounter wild animals such as reindeer or moose on the road, especially at dawn and dusk. Be careful and reduce your speed, especially in areas with warning signs.
When is the best time to drive in Finland?
The summer months (June to August) offer the most pleasant driving conditions with milder weather and longer daylight hours. However, if you’re interested in experiencing Finland’s unique winter landscapes, driving during the snowy season can be a magical experience.
How do I pay for tolls, if any, in Finland?
Most tolls in Finland are electronic and can be paid either with a pre-registered toll device or through online payment systems. Some rental car companies may offer toll payment solutions, so it’s a good idea to ask when you rent your vehicle.
Can I use snow chains in Finland?
Yes, you can use snow chains in Finland if road conditions warrant it. However, keep in mind that winter tires are generally sufficient for most winter driving situations.