Planning to visit Finland?

Wondering where to live or what to eat here? Or what the Finnish culture and nature are like? Not to worry – we are here to help. Get ready to learn what Finland is all about.

About Finland

Finland is a peaceful and prosperous Nordic country that prioritizes education, citizen well-being and societal development. A parliamentary democracy, Finland is governed through a welfare state model that secures the equal rights of all its residents.

Today, Finland is a leading country by almost any indicator of prosperity, happiness, equality, cleanliness and innovation. It was not always this way though; until the 1960s Finland lagged its neighbours in economic development and living standards. Thanks to investment in education at all levels, healthcare, information technology and more, Finland has been able to build the society it has become today.

Along the way, we've learned a lot about many things of benefit to other countries too. From maternity care to early childhood education, from public administration to sustainable development – we believe there is a lot we can share with the world about societal advancement and civic responsibility in the 21st century.

 37_FinUni_photography_final_lores

Finland leads in many global measures

  • The most stable country in the world (The Fund for Peace, 2018)
  • The safest country in the world (World Economic Forum, 2018)
  • Best governance in the world (The Legatum Prosperity Index 2018: Finland)
  • Happiest country in the world (World Happiness Report, 2018)
  • Cleanest air in the world (World Health Organisation, 2018)
  • World's best country for human rights (World Justice Project, 2017-18)
  • The third most gender equal country in the world (World Economic Forum, 2017)
  • Strongest digital knowledge capital in Europe (European Commission, 2018)
  • The EU's best digital public services (European Commission, 2018)
  • #8 out of 88 countries for English proficiency (EF English Proficiency Index, 2018)

Read more about Finland's global rankings »

Facts & Figures

  • Population: 5,5 million                
  • Capital: Helsinki         
  • Languages:
    • Finnish 87.6%
    • Swedish 5.3%
    • Other 7,1%
    • English is widely spoken in education, business and everyday life
  • Currency: Euro (European Union member country since 1995)

Finland's education system

All citizens of Finland are entitled to free education from pre-primary to tertiary level. Teaching is a respected profession, and all teachers have studied to at least a Master's degree level.

The Finnish education system is built on research-based pedagogical methods developed over many decades. Teaching focuses on identifying and nurturing the individual strengths of students, rather than grading and comparing them with one another.

The relationship between teachers and students is open and non-hierarchical, with classes often taught in small groups that enable close student-teacher interaction. There is a strong emphasis on digital learning too.

Read more about Finland's education system »

95_FinUni_photography_final_lores

Work-life balance

Finland is as a country that encourages and facilitates a balance between professional duties and personal time.

Employers typically offer flexible working hours and opportunities to work remotely, as well as time off for family matters. Many companies give their employees vouchers each month that can be used at gyms and other sports facilities. 

Vacations are generous compared to many other countries, with most people taking several weeks off in the summer, a week or more over Christmas, and a week in early spring. Parents with small children are granted leave – with income support – for many months.

Students enjoy similar benefits, including flexible study schedules, short days at school, and minimal amounts of homework. All schools in Finland serve a warm lunch to students free of charge.

Climate

Like the other Nordic countries, Finland is characterized by long winters and short summers. Buildings and other infrastructure are designed and maintained to withstand the cold, with excellent insulation, free central heating and efficient snow clearing services. 

Each season has its own set of charms that are appreciated by residents and visitors alike. Winters offer plenty of opportunity for activities like cross-country skiing, and viewing the Aurora Borealis from some parts of the country. Summer is characterized by long sunny days and light nights that Finns typically spend in the countryside.

 

Finland University – Climate

  

Culture & lifestyle

In 2017, a European Union study found that the share of Finns exercising regularly is the highest in Europe. Cities and towns have excellent indoor sports facilities and affordable public pools, while it's easy to exercise outdoors too on the country's many dedicated lanes for cycling, walking or running. 

Finns have a close relationship with nature and it's common for people to spend time in the countryside, which is never far away. Bathing in the sauna is a big part of national culture too, and there are more than two million saunas around the country. 

The Finnish calendar is dotted with festivals, national days and public holidays, many of which are characterized by specific traditions and special foods.

 

72_FinUni_photography_final_1920

 

Eating & drinking 

Fish, meat and dairy play a strong role in the traditional Finnish diet, but vegetarian and vegan foods are widely available. The bread selection is excellent, often including rye, barley and other wholemeal products. Berries grow abundantly in summer, and many varieties of mushroom can be found in the forest in the autumn. 

Finnish supermarket chains offer a wide selection of fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world. Many cities also have shops dedicated to foodstuffs from Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere.

Restaurants cater to all tastes and levels of affordability, serving both Finnish and international cuisine. 

8_FinUni_photography_final_lores

Travelling to Finland

Most international flights to Finland arrive at the award-winning Helsinki Airport (HEL). From here our national airline, Finnair, flies daily to dozens of destinations in Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East. Helsinki Airport is also served by other international airlines, including Aeroflot, Air France-KLM, British Airways, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Finland’s domestic flight network is well developed, with multiple daily flights between cities around the country. Domestic flights are often expensive though, so trains and buses are a more economical way to travel within Finland. Both are comfortable means of transportation, typically offering Wi-Fi and other amenities. 

A train ticket from Helsinki to Tampere or Turku, for example, costs around EUR 20, and a bus ticket around EUR 8. To Joensuu or Kuopio, a train ticket is around EUR 45 and a bus ticket around EUR 25. Students with a valid student card get a discount on train tickets.

Here you can find out more information on inter-city travel, as well as buy tickets online:

VR: Finland’s national rail service »
Matkahuolto: inter-city bus service »
Onnibus: inter-city bus service »

 FinUni_Kuopio_lores_006-727px

Helsinki

Finland's capital is a relaxed coastal city with excellent public transport, beautiful parks, quality shopping, and restaurants for all tastes. Museums, art galleries and other cultural attractions are a big part of life in the city, which hosts the European Union presidency in the second half of 2019. 

 

Tampere

Tampere is the largest non-coastal city in the entire Nordic region. It's also the only place in the world with a museum for the famous Moomin characters created by Finnish writer Tove Jansson. 

Tampere is defined by a few unique characteristics: it is surrounded by beautiful lakes and eskers, it has a perfect scale for walking and there’s always something new and innovative going onThe industrial structure of Tampere is versatile. Tampere is internationally known as a city of technology, often going in the forefront of development. 

Studying in Tampere »

Visit Tampere »

 

Turku

First settled in the 13th century, Turku is the oldest city in Finland. Its castle – which dates from this era too –  is the largest medieval building in Finland to survive to the present day, and is the country's most visited museum. In 1640 the first university students in Finland began their studies in Turku. Today, on the same campus, future innovations and technologies are developed.

Reasonable living costs with many housing options, full-scale public and private services, vivid cultural life and a variety of outdoor recreation possibilities by the surrounding Archipelago Sea guarantee that Turku offers the best quality of life and is a lucrative location for students as well as for skilled professionals.

Student city of Turku »

Visit Turku »

 

Kuopio

Located in the heart of Finland's lake district, the city of Kuopio is the perfect place to hope on a cruise or go hiking in the forest. Kuopio is a dynamic city surrounded by beautiful nature. Although modern and constantly evolving, it hasn't forgotten its roots. Boasting an excellent selection of services combined with a cosy atmosphere, Kuopio is an attractive place to live in. The city's numerous running paths, skiing tracks, slalom slopes and swimming station offer possibilities for a diverse selection of hobbies.

A popular attraction is the Puijo Tower, which offers incredible views of the surrounding area. Kuopio also has the world's largest smoke sauna – a unique experience overseas visitors won't want to miss! 

Student city of Kuopio »

Read more about Kuopio »

 

Joensuu

The city of Joensuu is the capital of North Karelia, a region of Finland with a distinct history and cultural traditions. Today, students account for almost one third of the city's population, so there is always something happening on campus. Visitors are drawn to Joensuu's botanical gardens, with its giant greenhouses and free-flying butterflies. 

Joensuu is a place where a peaceful environment meets a rich offering of culture and hobby opportunities. The beautiful scenery and the unspoilt lakes and rivers offer almost endless possibilities for sports and recreation. Indeed, Joensuu is home to approximately one hundred different sports clubs. The city's vivid selection of theatre and music, on the other hand, constitutes excellent food for the soul.

Student city of Joensuu »

Visit Joensuu »

 

Vaasa

Located on Finland's west coast, Vaasa is a city of almost 70,000 people in a region known for both historical sights and natural attractions. The Gulf of Bothnia, which separates Finland from Sweden, is at its narrowest point in the nearby Kvarken Archipelago – a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006.

In the Vaasa region, you won’t need to choose one or the other, as beautiful nature and urban city life can be easily combined on a single visit. Everything in the Vaasa region is close by, and moving from one sort of atmosphere and experience to another is effortless.

Student city of Vaasa »

Visit Vaasa »

 

Lapland, Santa Claus and the Northern Lights…

Some 800 kilometres north of Helsinki – and sitting right on the Arctic Circle – lies Lapland's largest town: Rovaniemi. Visitors come from far and wide to visit the Santa Claus village here, or to take a reindeer safari through the snow under the magnificence of the Northern Lights. 

 

Visitor visas

Citizens of Nordic countries or European Union member countries can travel to Finland without a visa. Citizens of other countries will need a visa – typically granted for periods of up to 90 days – unless a visa-free arrangement is in place. 

Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides specific information about your country's visa requirements and how to obtain a visa.

 

Residence permit applications

Citizens of the European Economic Area (i.e. the EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) are not required to have a Finnish residence permit to study in Finland.

Citizens of any other country need a Finnish residence permit for stay lasting longer than 90 days. 

Read more on the residence permit application process »

Visit the Finnish Immigration Service to apply for your residence permit online »