Planning a trip to Europe and wondering if Finland is expensive? Here’s everything you need to know!
I first visited Finland almost on accident when planning a trip to northern Sweden and Norway in early 2023. My partner and I were looking at flights and noticed that it was far cheaper to fly from Dublin to Rovaniemi, Finland, than it was to fly to Sweden or Norway (at that time, anyway).
Forever cheap flight opportunists, we snagged the flight and decided to spend our first night of our trip in a rental apartment. We loved our stay in Rovaniemi so much that we decided we needed to spend a second night, just to be sure we got enough time there. We’ve since started planning our return to northern Finland.
One thing that immediately surprised us were the prices. Coming from Ireland, we were expecting everything in Finland to be very expensive. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, in fact, the prices were actually a bit lower than what we were accustomed to paying in Cork.
On a separate, warm weather trip, I visited Helsinki for about a week as part of a European workation that included Scotland, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. It’s safe to say that I fell in love with visiting Finland, especially because it’s more affordable than some other destinations in Europe.
So, Is Finland Expensive?
As a practical matter, yes, Finland is an expensive country to visit – but it might be cheaper than you think. It’s comparable to many of the other countries in western Europe and prices are similar to what you’ll find in the US. You might be surprised to learn that Finland is less expensive than Ireland, France, or Iceland – all popular places to visit in Europe.
So, compared to many popular countries that people visit in Europe, Finland is comparable or a little cheaper. I’d estimate that most things I bought while in Finland were about 10% cheaper than a comparable item in Ireland.
Budget Travel in Finland
If you ask me, I’d say it’s definitely possible to visit Finland on a budget. There are plenty of inexpensive and outdoor activities to enjoy, reasonably priced groceries, and you can even rent an affordable room that includes access to a sauna in many parts of the country.
However, even with the most careful budgeting, you probably will not be able to make your trip to Finland as inexpensive as, say, a trip to southern Spain. Travelers whose budgets are held together by scotch tape and a prayer should plan to head south in Europe to save money (can I interest you in a trip to Naples?).
How Much Does It Cost To Spend A Week In Finland?
I want to start this section by stating that one could spend an almost unlimited amount of money traveling in Finland for a week. For the average single budget traveler, however, I estimate that a week in Finland will cost approximately €1,721 ($1,890 USD).
Included in this estimate is airfare from New York during the off season, a room in a budget hotel, €50 per day for meals, and €250 for local transit, budget-friendly activities, and incidentals.
There’s definitely room in this budget to cut costs. You can save money by staying in a hostel or car camping, cooking your own meals, and choosing lots of free and cheap activities each day.
Approximate Round Trip Airfare Costs to Helsinki
Transatlantic flights can vary dramatically depending on the time of year. For example a round trip flight from New York to Helsinki can often be less than $400 during the off season, but prices soar during peak summer travel to Europe in June and July.
You may see some fluctuation in flight prices within Europe, but they tend to be less dramatic. When booking a flight far in advance, always check for deals and track flight prices for a few weeks to ensure that you get the best deal.
These prices are for informational purposes only and are based on my personal research and experience. Always look for your exact itinerary on Google Flights or another aggregator for the most up-to-date prices.
Round Trip from New York: €388 (USD: $425) in the low season; €912 ($1,000) in the high season (June & July)
Round Trip from Paris: €160 ($175)
Round Trip from Dublin: €182 ($200)
Round Trip from Rome: €205 ($225)
Round Trip from Amsterdam: €182 ($200)
Average Hotel Costs
I want to start this section with a heavy disclaimer: hotel prices can vary wildly. How far in advance you book, the length of your trip, and the overall fill rates in the region can all impact the price of a hotel due to dynamic pricing. The same is true with flights, but in my experience the impact is even greater when it comes to accommodations.
So, with that said, here are some average hotel costs for two adults to spend one week (6 nights) in Helsinki:
Hostel: €388 (USD: $427) to stay in a Eurohostel double twin room with a shared bathroom.
Budget Hotel: €733 ($806) to stay in a standard twin room at the Hotel Rantapuisto.
Mid range Hotel: €1,382 ($1,519) for a Builder King at Hotel Mestari.
Luxury Hotel: €2,074 ($2,279) for a luxurious extra-large double bed and spacious room at Hotel Kämp.
Alternatives to Hotels
Note: apartment rentals are also very popular in Finland. You can always check Booking.com, Airbnb, and VRBO for houses and apartments, in addition to hotels. Depending on availability and the makeup of your group, you could save a lot of money by booking an apartment instead of a hotel room.
I stayed in this apartment in Rovaniemi, and it’s one of my all time favorite rentals. It had heated floors, a private sauna, and the owner was so incredibly kind and accommodating.
While traveling above the Arctic Circle, I stayed in an arctic dome. For a unique experience during the winter, you might consider splurging on a night or two in a glass igloo/arctic dome outside of Rovaniemi. From inside these domes, you have a chance of seeing the northern lights while laying in your warm bed.
How much do meals cost in Finland?
Meal prices in Finland felt slightly cheaper than I was accustomed to seeing in Ireland or large US cities. A light breakfast like a bagel or pastry costs about €4 to €8 and a cappuccino costs approximately €4 from an artisan cafe.
The average lunch in Finland costs about €12 to €20, depending on the restaurant. Dinners ranged from €18 to €45, with the more expensive options being traditional Finnish restaurants.
I cooked many of my own meals, especially while spending a week in Helsinki. When buying items like yogurt, granola, milk, and fruit, I spent about €25 on staples that lasted 2-3 meals for two travelers. Note: my grocery spending is usually higher than average, so you might find that this number is exaggerated.
On the whole, I’d estimate that you’ll spend €40 to €60+ per person per day on food in Finland if you eat out for every meal.
6 Tips for Visiting Finland on a Budget
You can absolutely visit Finland on a budget! Here are some of my top tips for visiting without breaking the bank.
1. Cook your own meals
As with many other destinations, you can create some serious extra room in your budget if you cook some of your own meals. Of course, that requires that there’s a kitchen available for you to use. Hostels, apartments, VRBOs, and Airbnbs typically include kitchens.
The grocery stores that I visited while in Finland were generally easy to navigate and had plenty of fresh foods.
2. Eat in cafes and smaller restaurants
The most expensive meals I ate while in Finland – both in the north and Helsinki – were at large, traditional restaurants for dinner. I don’t regret these meals, but they definitely weren’t budget friendly. I don’t remember the exact cost, but it was at least €40 per person, including a glass of wine.
I consistently found that cafes and small restaurants, usually serving international cuisine, were cheaper than the Finnish sit down restaurants.
In fact, I had one of the most memorable meals of all of my travels for €13 at Bruket Cafe & Catering in Helsinki! The meal included a vegan/vegetarian or meat/fish main, soup, fresh bread and butter, and coffee for a set daily price.
3. Go camping (in the summer)
One of my favorite ways to save money on longer summer/warm weather trips is to bring my own gear and camp. When I go through the trouble of bringing my gear, I try to camp at least three nights so that it feels worthwhile. I’ve also rented camping gear, but again I’d try to camp for several nights in this case.
I camped when I visited Helsinki and was amazed at the quality of the facilities. The public campgrounds included firewood, picnic tables, wooden shelters, (clean!) compost toilets, and parking. There were strict restrictions about where you could camp, but once we found an available campsite the rest was very easy and felt completely secure.
4. Plan lots of free activities
The more free activities you can pack into your itinerary, the more friendly it will be for your budget. I loved hiking, walking through Helsinki, and visiting many free landmarks like the National Library of Finland.
Hiking, sightseeing, free walking tours, strolls through city parks, and free museums are all great and budget-friendly activities when traveling. I also enjoy just strolling through a grocery store or meandering through a local market to see what’s on offer.
5. Visit a Local Sauna
Saunas are an integral part of Finnish culture. In fact, saunas in Finland are so common that they outnumber cars! Many Finns first enter a sauna before they take their first step, at approximately 4.5 months of age. I’d definitely recommend including a sauna visit or two in your Finnish itinerary.
Many hostels and hotels include saunas for guests to use, so you may not need to pay any additional money to try a Finnish sauna. If a sauna isn’t included, or if you want to try a more traditional bathing experience, many modern saunas are only €10 to €20 to visit, typically including shower facilities.
I loved the saunas in Finland so much that I started frequenting saunas in Ireland when I got home!
6. Renting a Car? Run the Numbers First
Having been to Finland twice – once with and once without a car – it was a major part of my budget calculations. In Rovaniemi, we decided not to rent a car because our rental apartment was very central and accessible by bus from the airport. On my other trip, I rented a car in order to car camp for several nights (which definitely saved a lot of money on accommodations!).
Because renting a car is a significant expense when traveling, I recommend that you carefully compare transportation costs with and without a car.
FAQs: Is Finland Expensive?
Still wondering if Finland is expensive to visit? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions from travelers planning to visit Finland.
Is Finland cheap or expensive to visit?
On the whole, I’d consider Finland a fairly expensive place to visit. It is a country in northern Europe with a strong economy, so the prices of food, transportation, and accommodations were fairly high. However, it was more affordable than the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, and Norway.
What is the currency in Finland?
Unlike many of its neighboring countries in Europe, Finland is actually on the euro. In fact, Finland was one of the first countries to adopt the euro in 1991. If you see any references to prices in Finnish markka, you can safely assume that the information is quite out of date.
Is Finland a friendly place to visit?
Overall, I found Finland to be a friendly place to visit. After moving to Ireland, a place famous for its friendliness, I’d say that the locals in Finland are warm, kind, and considerate, but not particularly outgoing towards strangers.
This quick story illustrates the kindness I experienced from locals in Finland. When I first arrived, I needed to figure out how to park my rental car in a mall’s parking lot. Everyone had blue timers for their cars, but I wasn’t sure how they worked or where to buy them.
I tried to explain the situation to another man in the parking lot, and he spent at least 10 minutes helping me find and understand the timers, despite not really speaking any English. He even took the time to explain the situation in Finnish to a cashier, who walked me over to the timers. It was totally above and beyond what I expected from a stranger!
What food is Finland known for?
Finland is probably most known for its korvapuusti (cinnamon buns), poronkaristys (sauteed reindeer), and graavilohi (smoked salmon). You can find these traditional Finnish foods throughout the country at local bakeries, grocery stores, and markets.
As unusual as it may sound, reindeer meat is a staple on Finnish restaurant menus.
Do they speak English in Finland?
The official languages of Finland are Swedish and Finnish, but I found that most young, urban Finns spoke English very well. When I encountered people who didn’t speak English, I found that locals were overwhelmingly willing to try to communicate with me, even if we had to get by with a mix of both languages.
As long as you’re patient, kind, and a little persistent, I wouldn’t anticipate any problems traveling in Finland as an English speaker.
Is it cheaper to visit Finland or Norway?
Far and away, it’s cheaper to visit Finland. While Finland may be the 9th most expensive country in Europe, Norway is the 3rd most expensive (behind Switzerland and Iceland). I’d strongly encourage travelers who are on strict budgets to choose Finland over Norway for their vacation.
This is not to disparage Norway! It’s just a destination that comes with a hefty price tag, even for skilled budget travelers.
Conclusion: Is Finland Expensive?
I had always assumed that Finland would be one of the most expensive places in Europe to visit, so I left it off my travel bucket list. When I had the chance to visit in 2023, I was really excited – but also apprehensive about the hole it’d eat in my budget.
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Finland is more reasonably priced than many of its northern European neighbors. That’s not to say that Finland is a cheap place to visit – I wouldn’t go that far! The prices do, however, feel fair to me, comparable to many US cities and some of the more expensive countries in Europe.
I definitely plan to return to Finland as soon as I can, probably to the north to explore more of Finnish Lapland. Recently, I read Summer Fishing in Lapland and really enjoyed the mythology bits and references to the landscape. Check it out if you want to read a novel by a Finnish author!