European route E18, as Russian route M10, goes from St. Petersburg via Vyborg to Vaalimaa/Torfyanovka border station near Hamina. From there, E18 continues as Finnish national highway 7 to Helsinki, and from there, along the coast as highway 1 to Turku. In Vaalimaa, trucks will have to wait in a persistent truck queue. This queue does not directly affect other vehicles. There are border control and customs checks in Vaalimaa and passports and Schengen visas if applicable will be needed.
From south to north, other border crossings can be found at Nuijamaa/Brusnichnoye Lappeenranta, Vaalimaa/Torfyanovka, Imatra/Svetogorsk, Niirala Tohmajärvi, Vartius Kuhmo Kelloselkä Salla and Raja-Jooseppi Sodankylä. All except the first are very remote.
Both Silja and Viking offer overnight cruises from Helsinki and overnight as well as daytime cruises from Turku to Stockholm, usually stopping in the Åland islands along the way. These are some of the largest and most luxurious passenger ferries in the world, with as many as 14 floors and a whole slew of restaurants, bars, discos, pool and spa facilities, etc. The cheaper cabin classes below the car decks are rather spartan, but the higher sea view cabins can be very nice indeed.
Note that, due to crowds of rowdy youngsters aiming to get thoroughly hammered on cheap tax-free booze, both Silja and Viking do not allow unaccompanied youth under 23 to cruise on Fridays or Saturdays. The age limit is 20 on other nights, and only 18 for travellers not on same-day-return cruise packages. In addition, Silja does not offer deck class on its overnight services, while Viking does.
Note also that with Viking Line it often is cheaper to book a cruise instead of "route traffic". The cruise includes both ways with one day in between. If you want to stay longer you simply do not go back - it might still be cheaper than booking a one-way "route traffic" ticket. This accounts especially to last minute tickets you could, e.g., get from Stockholm to Turku for around €10 overnight - "route traffic" would be over €30 for a cabin with lower quality.
In addition to the big two, FinnLink offers the cheapest car ferry connection of all from Naantali to Kapellskär from €60 for a car with driver.
Car ferries usually stop for a few minutes at Mariehamn in the Åland Islands, which are outside the EU tax area and thus allow the ferries to operate duty-free sales.
As mentioned above, one of the easiest ways to get by car from Sweden to Finland is a car ferry. The European Route E12 Finnish national highway 3 includes a ferry line between Umeå and Vaasa. Another route that includes a car ferry is E18, from Stockholm to Turku.
There are also land border crossings up in Lapland at Tornio, Ylitornio, Pello, Kolari, Muonio and Kaaresuvanto.
Finland is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty - the European Union except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs checks but no immigration checks travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country or you may have to clear immigration but not customs travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country.
Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information about how the scheme works and what entry requirements are.
Buses are the cheapest but also the slowest and least comfortable way of travelling between Russia and Finland.
Regular scheduled buses run between St. Petersburg, Vyborg and major southern Finnish towns like Helsinki, Lappeenranta, Jyväskylä and all the way west to Turku, check Matkahuolto for schedules. Helsinki-St. Petersburg is served three times daily, costs €38 and takes 9 hours during the day, 8 hours at night.
Various direct minibuses run between St. Petersburg's Oktyabrskaya Hotel opp Moskovsky train station and Helsinki's Tennispalatsi Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8, one block away from Kamppi. At €15 one-way, this is the cheapest option, but the minibuses leave only when full. Departures from Helsinki are most frequent in the morning around 10:00, while departures from St. Petersburg usually overnight around 22:00.
You can also use a bus from Sweden or Norway to Finland.
Haparanda in Norrbotnia area of Sweden has bus connections to Tornio, Kemi and Oulu. See more from Matkahuolto.
Eskelisen Lapinlinjat offers bus connections from northern parts of Norway, for example Tromsø. See more from Eskelisen Lapinlinjat.
Finland's main international hub is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport near Helsinki. Finnair, and Flybe Nordic are based there. Around 30 foreign airlines fly to Helsinki-Vantaa.
Ryanair's Finland hubs are Tampere in central Finland and Lappeenranta in the east near the Russian border, while Wizz Air is decreasing its hub at Turku in the southwest. Other airlines have limited regional services to other cities, mostly just to Sweden, and, in the winter high season, occasional direct charters especially in December and seasonal scheduled flights Dec-Mar to Lapland.
Air Baltic connects many provincial Finnish towns conveniently to Europe via Riga. It may also be worth your while to get a cheap flight to Tallinn and follow the boat instructions below to get to Finland.
Starting in early 2011, Norwegian Air Shuttle established Helsinki as one of its bases, and now offers both domestic and international flights.
One of the best ways to travel to and from Finland is by sea. The boats to Estonia and Sweden, in particular, are giant, multi-story floating palaces and department stores, with cheap prices subsidized by sales of tax-free booze: a return trip to Tallinn including a cabin for up to four people can go as low as €50. If travelling by Inter Rail, you can get 50% off deck fares. The best way to arrive in Helsinki is standing on the outside deck with a view ahead.
Helsinki and Tallinn are only 80km apart. Viking line, Eckerö line and Tallink Silja operate full-service car ferries all year round. Depending on the ferry type travel times are from slightly over two hours Viking Line and Tallink Silja's Star, Superstar and Superfasts to three and a half hours Eckerö and Tallink Silja's biggest cruise ships. Some services travel overnight and park outside the harbor until morning. Linda Line offers fast services that complete the trip in 1.5 hours, but charge quite a bit more, have comparatively little to entertain you on board and suspend services in bad weather and during the winter. If the weather is looking dodgy and you're prone to sea sickness, it's best to opt for the big slow boats.
There are no scheduled services to Latvia or Lithuania, but some of the operators above offer semi-regular cruises in the summer, with Riga being the most popular destination.
Finnlines (http://www.finnlines.com/...) operates from Helsinki to Travemünde near Lübeck and Hamburg and from Helsinki to Rostock. Helsinki-Travemünde trip takes about 27 hours while Helsinki-Rostock takes about 34 hours. The Travemünde line is run by fast and large Star-class ships while a single, significantly smaller Hansa-class ship operates in the Rostock line. The latter is considered to be more luxurious and comfortable even though the trip takes much longer.
VR (http://www.vr.fi) and Russian Railways jointly operate services between Saint Petersburg and Helsinki, stopping at Vyborg, Kouvola and Lahti along the way. The line was upgraded in 2010 and the slick new Allegro-branded trains glide between the two cities in three and a half hours at up to 220km/h. Currently the route is served four times per day, returning to two daily from November 2011. This is certainly the most expensive method of getting to Helsinki from Saint Petersburg, with prices of €92 during summer and €84 rest of the year for a one-way ticket. However, tickets for the first train in the morning, which departures at 6:12 am, can be bought for a price as low as €39 in the summer months. There is also a traditional slow overnight sleeper from Moscow, which takes around 15 hours.
There are no direct trains between Sweden or Norway and Finland the rail gauge is different, but the bus over the gap from Boden/Luleå Sweden to Kemi Finland is free with an Eurail/Inter Rail pass, and you can also get a 50% discount from most ferries with these passes.
Finland has a comprehensive road network that connects and runs through all of the major cities. Driving through Finland during anytime of the year is a treat with winding roads and gentle hills framed by pine and birch forests with agricultural farm lands here and there. Summertime evening drives with the midnight sun providing gentle light are particularly scenic and enjoyable. During summer months road repairs are in full swing so some minor delays may be experienced. Road patrol cameras are utilized extensively to monitor traffic and enforce speed limits.
As mentioned above, there is a car ferry between Tallinn and Helsinki. It forms a part of European route E67 Via Baltica that runs from the Estonian capital Tallinn, crosses Riga in Latvia and Kaunas in Lithuania to the Polish capital Warsaw. The distance from Tallinn to Warsaw is about 970km, not including any detours.