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Travel Guide > Europe > Finland

Finland Money & Shopping

  
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Currency

The Finnish mark (FIM) is now obsolete. Finland does not use the 1 and 2 cent coins; instead all sums are rounded to the nearest 5 cents. The coins are, however, still legal tender and there are even small quantities of Finnish 1c and 2c coins, highly valued by collectors. It is common to omit cents and the euro sign from prices, and use the comma as a decimal separator: "5,50" thus means five euros and fifty cents.

Getting or exchanging money is rarely a problem, as ATMs ("Otto") are common and they can be operated with international credit and debit cards (Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Maestro). Currencies other than the euro are generally not accepted, although the Swedish krona may be accepted in Åland and northern border towns like Tornio. Pre-2002 Finnish mark notes may be accepted on an ad-hoc basis and can be exchanged into euros at Bank of Finland branches until 2012. Money changers are common in the bigger cities (the Forex chain is ubiquitous) and typically have better rates, longer opening hours and faster service than banks. Credit cards are widely accepted, but you will be asked for identification if you purchase more than €50 (and may be asked to show it even for smaller purchases).

As a rule, tipping is never necessary in Finland and restaurant bills already include service charges. That said, taxi fares and other bills paid by cash are often rounded up to the next convenient number. Cloakrooms (narikka) in nightclubs and better restaurants often have non-negotiable fees (usually clearly signposted, €2 is standard) and hotel porters will expect around the same per bag.

Costs

Declared the world's most expensive country in 1990, prices have since abated somewhat but are still steep by most standards. Rock-bottom traveling if staying in hostel dorms and self-catering costs at least €25/day and it's well worth doubling that amount. The cheapest hotels cost about € 50 per night and more regular hotels closer to € 100. Instead of hotels or hostels, look for holiday cottages, especially when travelling in a group and off-season, you can find a full-equipped cottage for €10-15 per person a night. Camp-sites typically cost between € 10 and € 20 per tent.

Museums and tourist attractions have an entrance fee in the range of € 5-25. Using public transport costs a few euros per day and depends on the city. One-way travel between major cities by train or by bus costs between €20 and €100, depending on the distance.

Note that a VAT of 23% is charged for nearly everything, but by law this must be included in the displayed price. Non-EU residents can get a tax refund for purchases above €40 at participating outlets, just look for the Tax-Free Shopping logo.

Shopping

As you might expect given the general price level, souvenir shopping in Finland isn't exactly cheap. Traditional buys include Finnish puukko knives, handwoven ryijy rugs and every conceivable part of a reindeer. For any Lappish handicrafts, look for the "Sámi Duodji" label that certifies it as authentic.

Popular brands for modern (or timeless) Finnish design include Marimekko clothing, Iittala glass, Arabia ceramics, Kalevala Koru jewelry, Pentik interior design and, if you don't mind the shipping costs, Artek furniture by renowned architect and designer Alvar Aalto. Kids and not a few adults love Moomin characters, which fill up souvenir store shelves throughout the country.

Beware of limited Finnish shopping hours. For smaller shops, normal weekday opening hours are 9 AM to 6 PM, but most shops close early on Saturday and are closed entirely on Sundays. Larger shops and department stores are generally open until 9 PM on weekdays and 6 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Stores are allowed to stay open until 6 PM on Sundays (9 PM around Christmas). Smaller stores have no limitations. During national holidays, almost all stores are closed.

Convenience stores like the ubiquitous R-Kioski keep somewhat longer hours, but still tend to be closed when you most need them. If in desperate need of basic supplies, gas station convenience stores are usually open on weekends and until late at night (some of the gas station convenience stores are open 24/7). Supermarkets in Helsinki's Asematunneli, underneath the Central Railway Station), are open until 10 PM every day of the year, except on Christmas Day (December 25th).

Shops & Stores in Finland

Market Helsinki Markets
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Mid Range, in Helsinki
Department Store Stockmann
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Top End, in Helsinki
 
Shopping Mall Kamppi Keskus
Kamppi Keskus, occupying the one-time howling wilderness that used to be the old bus station, is the largest mall in central Helsinki and a big transport hub, containing a regional and national bus station on the lower flo... more
Mid Range, in Helsinki
 




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