I was really looking forward to my trip to Finland… but I was fearful about just how much my 25-day bicycle tour through the country was going to cost. After all, I had heard from countless friends, strangers and reputable travel bloggers that the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden and Norway are some of the most expensive places on the planet to live, work and travel, but I had never been to any of these places for myself… until now!
After slowly making my way by bike through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, I took the ferry to Helsinki, Finland and began my bicycle touring adventure in a country known for its expansive forests and sauna culture.
Would my 25-day bike trip through Finland bankrupt me? Or had all the rumors about the cost of traveling in Finland been a complete and utter lie?
Ferry From Tallinn To Helsinki – €42.00 EUR
My travels in Finland began with an expensive 42 Euro ferry trip from Tallin, Estonia to Helsinki, Finland. I say the trip was expensive because in Estonia I paid less than 9 Euros for a 2-hour ferry boat ride from Heltermaa to Rohuküla. A similar 2-hour ferry boat ride from Tallinn to Helsinki cost almost five times that price! Surely this was a sign of things to come.
Internet SIM card – €21.88 EUR
As soon as I arrived in Helsinki, Finland, my first task was to purchase a SIM card for my phone so I would have Internet access throughout my time in the country. I walked into the first cellular shop I could find (Elisa) and purchased a SIM card for 21.88 Euros that would give me unlimited Internet for an entire month.
This was the most I had paid for Internet access on my phone since leaving Poland more than two months prior and passing through four different countries in that time, but let me tell you, the Internet in Finland is freaking phenomenal! No matter where I was in the country (whether I was in a big city, small city, or camping in the middle of the forest) I had Internet access on my phone. Even when I was currled up inside a bear hide on the edge of the Finland/Russia border (read about that here), I had Internet access on my phone, which kept me entertained for hours on end while I sat in quiet anticipation of a wild bear crossing my path.
Using my phone’s wireless hotspot tethering option, I was able to use the SIM card in my phone to watch HD videos on my laptop computer, download several gigabytes of podcasts and music, and continue working with ease while I was traveling about the country. The Internet in Finland is not only affordable (and far less expensive than what I pay for Internet back home in the United States), but it is fast, reliable, available almost everywhere, unrestricted and totally unlimited.
Food & Drinks – €188.34 EUR
During my 25 days in Finland, food was by far my most costly expense. Eating out (which I did a few times in the cities of Helsinki and Kajaani) was incredibly expensive. I paid $12 USD for a “Veggie Delight” SUBWAY sandwich… and more than $22 USD for a veggie burger and fries at a cafe in Kajaani.
Most of the time I was in Finland, I shopped at the local supermarkets (either the K-Supermarket or S-Market) and prepared all my own meals. Even though the food available at the supermarkets in Finland is a bit more expensive that what I was paying for the same food in other European countries, the prices on food weren’t nearly as outrageous as I thought they would be. Shopping at the supermarkets and preparing my own meals saved me a lot of money.
Lodging – €74.00 EUR
Even though I only spent three nights sleeping in formal accommodations during my time in Finland (I camped in the forests the rest of the time), the cost of lodging was considerable to my overall spending for the month. During my first two nights in Helsinki, Finland, I split the cost of an AirBNB apartment with my friend Rob, who was joining me for the first week of my bike tour in the country. Then, at the end of our time together, Rob and I once again shared the cost of a hotel room in the central Finland town of Kajaani. To be honest, Rob paid for most of these accommodations… and I only paid a fraction of what he paid for the places. I didn’t want to spend that much money on a place to sleep, but he was willing and able to shell out the extra cash for a nice clean place to lay his head for the night.
Most hotels in Finland (those outside of Helsinki, anyway) cost between 55 and 80 Euros (if you were lucky). The hotels/apartments in Helsinki and other major cities were usually much more expensive than this. If I had chosen to stay in more hotels and apartments during my time in Finland, my visit to the country certainly would have cost a whole lot more. But because of Finland’s “Freedom to Roam” regulations, I was able to save a massive amount of cash my sleeping in the woods, bathing in nearby lakes, and powering up my electronics with the use of my small solar panel and any available electrical boxes I was able to find along the way.
New Bottom Bracket – €39.00 EUR
In additional to all the things you can plan for on any type of trip (such as lodging, transportation and food), there are usually a few unexpected expenses that pop up during your travels… and my trip through Finland was no exception. During my time in Finland I had to purchase a new bottom bracket for my bicycle (a basic maintenance expense after three solid years in intense bicycle touring adventures all around the world) and a new sleeping pad after the previous pad I was using got a hole in it and began to slowly leak air as I slept on it each night.
New Sleeping Pad – €34.96 EUR
Office Supplies – €8.71 EUR
During my time in Finland I also spent a few Euros on work-related products, such as a new journal, pens, pencils, etc. Because I work and travel at the same time, these few basic office supplies are essential to my life on the road. But to a typical traveler, these few additional expenses would likely be unnecessary.
Train from Kajaani to Helsinki – €86.00 EUR
At the end of my bike tour in Finland, I decided to take the train back to Helsinki from the city of Kajaani in central Finland. This train ride took about 6.5 hours and cost a total of 86 Euros. Taking the train was a rather hefty expense for me, but it was incredibly easy to do (I purchased my ticket online and had no problems bringing my bicycle on board the train).
Bus to Helsinki Airport – €5.00 EUR
During my last day in Finland I took a bus from the outskirts of Helsinki to the airport. The cost of this 1-hour bus ride was just five Euros… and because my bicycle was packed away inside a cardboard bike box at the time, there was no additional cost for transporting my bike and other belongings.
Flight from Helsinki, Finland to Dublin, Ireland – €150.00 EUR
My final major expense during my travels in Finland involved the flight out of the country – in which I flew from Helsinki, Finland to Dublin, Ireland for the next major leg of my 2014 bicycle touring adventure. I booked this short 1-way flight with Norwegian Airlines and it set me back an even $200 USD (or approximately 150 Euros). This price included not only my ticket, but the cost for transporting both my bicycle and an extra piece of checked baggage for my camping gear, clothing and other personal items.
Total For 25-Days Of Traveling in Finland – €649.89 Euros
In the end, my 25-day trip through Finland cost me €649.89 Euros (about $864 USD). Considering the fact that I spent most nights camping in my tent, this is a considerable amount of money. I’ve rented apartments and stayed in other countries for longer lengths of time (like Croatia) for far less money than this, so the cost of travel in Finland is surely somewhat inflated. But that being said, the cost of my nearly month-long travels through one of the world’s most expensive countries was not nearly as pricey as I believed it might be.
To see more photos and read more about my travels in Finland, be sure to see the following four articles.
- Cycling 650 Kilometers Across Finland
- Upitrek Self-Guided Bicycle Tour
- Bicycle Touring & Mucking About In Central Finland
- Helsinki Bike Tours
If you have any other questions for me about bike touring in Finland, the cost of travel in this Scandinavian country, or anything else, please leave a comment below. I’d be especially interested from hearing from you if you have been to Finland for yourself and you kept track of how much money you spend while you were there.
Thanks for reading… and stay tuned for future bicycle touring updates from the Bicycle Touring Pro!