The subway of Helsinki started operations on 3 Aug 1982. It now has a total length of 21.1 km, of which 6.5 km are in tunnel, 14.6 km above ground and 2.5 km on bridges. It has 16 stations. The line starts from Ruoholahti on the western edge of the peninsula on which the city center has been built on. It takes just few minutes to travel to the Helsinki Central Railway Station, where the line veers north and continues until Sörnäinen. There the line turns east again and crosses a bay over a long bridge. On the eastern side of the bay the line continues on the surface, since it's mostly loosely built suburbs after that point.

The subway is called just Metro in Finland. Many countries have their own terms for trains travelling underground (Subway, Underground, U-Bahn, Tunnelbana). The term 'Metro' comes from French word métropolitain.

Since Helsinki's Metro is so new, it has larger tunnels than for example London's The Tube, and the train cars are more spacious as well. Passenger amounts are small on a global scale, and the trains are considered full when all the seats are in use. The underground stations have been carved in the groundrock and are quite spacious. All this adds up in a pleasant travelling experience compared to some other subway lines of the world.

The trains are bright orange, as are the plastic seats in the cars. Everything is pretty clean except the occasional obligatory boozehounds.

Etiquette for travelling on the Metro:

  • Don't talk to strangers. If it's anything less important than "Excuse me, but I believe the train is on fire" you will be considered mentally defective (i.e. not conforming to the national standard of melancholy and introvertedness).
  • On the station platform, let people exit the train before you board it. This is of course pretty much universal.
  • Buy your ticket beforehand. A single ticket will be valid for one hour. There are no gates, just occasional raids by the ticket inspectors. Being caught without a ticket costs 50 euros plus the price of the ticket. The same ticket is usable in the city's trams, buses and the ferry to Suomenlinna during the validity period.
  • Don't cause a disturbance while drinking beer or someone might call the rent-a-cops. If you act civilized, no-one will care, even though drinking alcohol is technically prohibited.
  • Mind the doors. The newer Bombardier trains give three beeps before closing them, but the older ones just say pshuf and the doors will close. Try not to leave anything between them. Larger objects are usually recognized and the doors will cycle again.
That's it! Happy travelling on the northernmost subway in Europe!