Finnish public transport etiquette

Greeting. In Helsinki region, it is rare that people greet the driver when entering or exiting the vehicle. You can even get a surprised face from the driver if you say Hello.  However, the situation changes, the further you travel away from the capital. In smaller cities, it is totally the opposite!

Stuff. We love to show our personal zone by piling our stuff to the seat next to us.

Socializing. Strangers are not talked to in Finland. This also is the case in public transport. We keep our voice to the minimum and avoid unnecessary conversations. If you are in group, it is okay to talk with mild voice.

Seating. In Finland, you only sit next to another person when all possible window places are taken and you have to start filling up the aisle seats. As a Finn, we get a slight feeling of irritation when this happens. It is very normal to ask for seat without any words. Just stand next to the seat you want and watch the pile of stuff on it. The person sitting next will immediately gather them away.

Random people. This is based on my own personal experience of traveling in local trains. The local trains are composed in such a way that one carriage is on the ground level and the other carriage is a bit higher above the ground. I find that for some reason, drunk and weird people often inhabit the ground level carriage (Haha, I just made it sound like there is a constant Walking Dead zombie group-situation in local trains.). No, really, this is rare but I just want to let you know that I tend to choose the carriage up above, just in case. As a side note I would like to add that wherever you might meet them, drunk and weird people are 99% of the times totally harmless in Finland.

Entertainment. Most long-distance busses and trains have a working wi-fi. Newspapers and magazines can be borrowed from the front of the bus. By the way, newspaper on a seat or in a seat pocket doesn’t mean that the seat is booked in Finland. It means that the newspaper has been left there for other passengers to enjoy.

Food. It is okay to eat and drink in all forms of public transportation in Finland. If you are traveling on an afternoon or evening train, be sure to visit the restaurant carriage. There you see us more relaxed.

Toilets. The toilets are decent in trains and busses. You can use them if you don’t have a phobia. metro


  1. Alicja

    “It is okay to eat and drink in all forms of public transportation in Finland.” Is it really? I’ve been living in Satakunta for the past 5 years and noticed that people barely ever eat in public here. I’m not talking about an occasional grillimakkara after a community cleaning, I’m talking a bun and coffee on the go, a quick burger while coming home from work etc..


    1. varpupoyry

      Hi Alicja! What a good remark! It is indeed true that the take-away culture in Finland is much smaller & rarer than in many other countries. That being said, it is still okay to do it and you get no eye rolling. You can see people eating in trains and busses, especially long-distance ones and in the capital area.


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