Tag Archives: helsinki

How to Dress for Finnish winter

(c) Jussi Hellsten. 10.12.2013. The Icepark is open again right next to the main railway station. jussihellsten.com & visithelsinki.fi

(c) Jussi Hellsten

Finland has long winters, with the polar night (where the sun doesn’t rise) lasting for two months in the far north.

Helsinki however enjoys a milder climate with around five hours of sunlight a day. While emperatures can get as low as -26° celcius, many people prefer sub zero temperatures as the air is drier and more snow means more light.

It’s important to know how to dress well in winter as life very much continues and you may find you love being outdoors.

Suitable clothing is readily available in Finnish stores and staff are generally happy to help. You will find stores update their stock according to the conditions, meaning you don’t have to overspend before knowing how cold the winter will be.


A good hat is essential, especially on a windy day. Real wool is best and many hats come with a soft inner. Ears can get painfully cold, so make sure your hat comes down low enough to protect them.

Other options include hats with ear flaps, ear muffs or warm head bands.

For children, a soft balaclava or neck warmer (not scarf) is essential as Finnish daycares play outside until the temperature drops below -15°.


When it’s really cold many people wear two pairs of gloves. An inner pair made of wool is handy, especially if you can use them with a touch screen / phone.

The outer pair should be wind and waterproof and if you have gloves underneath you may find mittens easier to pull on.

(c) Melanie Dower

(c) Melanie Dower


Warm socks are essential and when it gets really cold you will probably wear two pairs, the second being wool.

Take this into account when buying shoes or boots as you will need more room to fit them in. If the winter is mild you’ll find the snow melts, only to refreeze overnight. This can create long stretches of ice which are difficult and dangerous to walk on. The City of Helsinki will lay gravel down to help stop sliding, but this is the time to invest in a pair of footwear with good grip. If the weather is really cold, the snow stays dry, as anything below zero degree freezes.


It’s good to remember that houses, stores, restaurants, public transport and workplaces in Finland are generally well insulated and heated. So you really only need to dress for getting from here to there. Layers are important and thermals are a good place to start. You can find 100% woollen underwear at reasonable prices in many department stores. Invest in a good jacket that is water and windproof and has a hood. One that comes down to cover the top of your legs is a good idea as your backside can feel quite exposed to the cold air.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to get outdoors as life carries on in Finland during winter and there are loads of activities to get involved with.

As Finnish people say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!”

Helpful websites:

How to Dress Right & Enjoy the Finnish Winter – Visit Finland

How to Dress a Child for Finnish Winter – Hey Helsinki

How to Walk on Ice without Dying – Hey Helsinki 


Cycling in Helsinki

Photo: Eltis.org

Photo: Eltis.org

Helsinki is a great city to cycle in as it is very flat and there are well maintained and clearly marked cycle paths.

You can plan your route and have the cycle paths mapped out for you at: Reittiopas

Bikes can be taken on the Metro and commuter trains, provided there is space. Bikes are not allowed on the commuter train during peak travel times.  Bikes on Public Transport 

The City of Helsinki has a cycle service centre at Narinkka Square (Narinkatori) in Kamppi. The Bicycle Centre ( Pyöräkeskus ) offers emergency repairs, bike parking and a free pumping station. Visit the Bicycle Centre for more details.

Going to the Doctor

Public health care
You are entitled to use public health services in Finland if you have a municipality of residence.
To find out if you have one, contact the Local Register Office (maistraatti).

If you do and need to see a doctor, contact your local health station (terveysasema).
Health Stations directory

Normal hours are 8 am – 4pm, Monday to Friday. You may have to wait for an appointment, unless it is urgent. The cost is generally very low or free. If you have a Kela card, take it with you.

Private Health Care

If you are not entitled to public health services, you can make an appointment at a private clinic. Private health services are more expensive than public ones.

Seeing a specialist

First book an appointment with a general practitioner. Your health centre doctor will then refer you to a specialist.


If you are unwell and unable to go to work, you may be eligible for assistance from Kela.

Kela pays a small part of the expenses of private health care if you are covered by Finnish national health insurance. Sometimes a person who is not covered by Finnish national health insurance may also be entitled to Kela reimbursements.

EU citizens

If you have a European Health Insurance Card, you are entitled to use public health care services. If you use private health care services, Kela may reimburse some of the expenses.

Maternity and pre-school care

Care for pregnant women and newborn babies is provided by Neuvola. There are various clinics around Helsinki. They provide regular child health checks and administer vaccinations in accordance with the Finnish child vaccination program. Visit the City of Helsinki website for a list of clinics.

Municipality of residence in Finland

Health Stations directory


EU Citizens