Answers to frequently asked questions about Finnish culture and other things

1. Speed limit in our roads is normally 80km/h. It’s lowered to 50 or 60 when there are houses next to road or road goes through villages. It changes back to 80 after passing the village but it doesn’t show it every time. You have to know it.

Some bigger roads have 100km/h during summer and highways 120km/h. In cities speed   limit is 40 or 30 km/h.

2. There is no such thing as Finnish culture. Finnish people are not one big happy group of similar people. Finnish language is not the same in west, east, north… Of course we can understand each other but many times we can also misunderstand because others have different meaning for same words. People in north, east and west of Finland are genetically different. And don’t even get me started about food… People here in west coast don’t even know what proper Karelian pie is (and I miss it so much).

3. Nature is different. In Turku region you can find oak and maple forests that you can’t find anywhere else in Finland. If you go north from Turku, everything is flat. No hills anywhere. Eastside of Finland is called lake district and it’s very difficult not finding lakes everywhere you look.  Even further east is North-Karelia, where you can find beautiful hills (we call them vaara – danger). It’s opposite to West-Finland, all hills after hills. Lapland has its own special nature with reindeers.

4. Finnish people think yellow when they look at the sun. Children draw sun as yellow, not orange or red.

5. When someone offers you something, it’s polite to accept. It’s okay to say no for your second or fifth cup of coffee and third or seventh piece of cake but it’s not polite to say no to first one if offered. Unless you are really in a hurry and can’t stop at all. If you need a ride (let’s take a random example) from Paimio Sanatorium to Turku and Finnish person offers one, take it. It’s considered rude not to if you need a ride and someone offers to help. It’s also polite to offer something for the ride, few euros or something else. Driver will say no but they respect you if you offer. And if you want, you can insist and leave money in the car.

6. When you get a ride from someone, sit next to the driver (if he/she is alone). And talk to him/her. In some cultures, it’s polite to sit on the back seat and leave front seat empty, but not in Finland. Here it means that you think your driver as a taxi driver, person whose job is to take you anywhere you want, not a kind person who is doing you a favor.

7. Private space for Finnish people is quite big. Our guides are used to being close to people because they work with people from different cultures, but random people at the street need their space. Stay at least 1 meter away from them standing at the bus stops, shops or if you want to ask directions and so on. And don’t touch them. Say “anteeksi” (excuse me/sorry) if you need to pass close to someone even if you don’t touch them for example small aisle at the shop.

8. Words you might need:

  • Lentokenttä = airport (bus no 1 from Turku market square)
  • Satama = harbor (bus no 1 from Turku market square)
  • Sairaala = hospital
  • Parantola = sanatorium
  • Tie = road
  • Kuja = alley
  • Katu = street
  • Maanantaista perjantaihin/ ma-pe = From Monday to Friday
  • Lauantaisin/ la = on Saturdays
  • Pyhäpäivisin/ su = on Sundays and holidays
  • Paimio MH = Paimio city center (at bus timetable)
  • Tori T10 = Turku market square platform 10 (at bus timetable)