Finland, one of the Nordic countries, is a starkly beautiful place to visit. Around nine million people visit Finland each year, which is more than the country’s population!
The country’s natural beauty is one of the main draws for potential visitors, from the Arctic landscapes of Rovaniemi to the lush Aland Archipelago in the south. It’s also home to beautiful historic sites, such as the medieval city of Turku.
We think all visitors to Finland must stop in Helsinki, which has the gorgeous Suomenlinna Fortress, world-famous markets, and a beautiful modern design culture. But while there are countless reasons to visit this storied Nordic country, is Finland safe to visit? Here’s our take.
Is Finland Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. Finland is one of the safest countries in the world to visit. It’s a peaceful destination with very little disturbing visitors besides the occasional petty crime in bigger cities, especially Helsinki. Visitors should also be careful of Finland’s extreme winters.
Finland routinely tops lists of the safest countries in the world. According to the 2023 Global Peace Index map, it is the 13th-safest country in the world. This map ranks countries by safety using many different factors, including crime, militarization, and conflict.
You can also tell that Finland is a safe place to visit by looking at different travel advisories for the country. Most countries just tell their citizens to exercise normal precautions while visiting. Canada issues a Level One travel advisory, the lowest possible rate.
The United States also echoes this warning, telling its citizens to just exercise normal precautions during a visit. The only exception is New Zealand, which advises its citizens to exercise increased caution due to the threat of terrorism and crime.
While these problems are present in Finland, they aren’t present in elevated numbers and the risk of them happening to you is very low (New Zealand’s government tends to be more cautious than other world governments when issuing advisories).
Finland does have problems, just like any other place, including:
- Bag snatching
However, the rate of all of these incidents is fairly low. Often, visitors worry too much about crime and not enough about the real problems they may face — the weather.
Finland is a Nordic state and has bitterly cold winters. If you are visiting during this season, make sure that you pack the right clothing and footwear to withstand the cold and storms, especially if you are planning on outdoor adventures.
The official website for the Finnish tourism board warns visitors that storms and blizzards are common.
Always check the weather forecast before planning any trip within Finland and postpone your plans if there is a storm, as blizzards are no joke. Always tell someone about your plans and where you are going to be so they can call for help if they don’t hear from you.
If you’re going outdoors in Finland, here are some tips from the Finnish National Parks website to keep you safe:
- Summer is bug season in Finland. Make sure that you pack bug repellent to ward off mosquitos. Wear long clothing to protect from ticks, which can carry disease.
- Stay away from wild animals. Wildlife such as moose can be very dangerous.
- In winter, there is an avalanche risk in many parts of Finland. Check the avalanche forecast ahead of time.
- Never travel alone and always tell someone where you are going.
- Always carry extra layers, food, and water if you get stuck outdoors.
- Wear bright colors to make rescue easier.
Crime in Finland
The crime rate in Finland is very low. Although crime does happen in the country, the rates of crime are minimal. The overall crime rate is just 85.54 incidents per 100,000 people, one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
Crime has consistently been declining in Finland over the past decade. The violent crime rate is even lower. The homicide rate is just 1.65 incidents per 100,000 people, which is a very low value. In 2021, there were only 94 homicide incidents in all of Finland.
According to data from Finland’s Ministry of the Interior, most homicides occur inside the home and are the result of escalating disputes between people who know each other, such as domestic violence incidents.
Most homicides in Finland are alcohol-related, and the Ministry critiques the country’s high alcoholism rate as the reason why it has a higher homicide rate than other Nordic countries (but still lower than most states in Europe).
According to the same statistics of the Ministry of the Interior, the vast majority of crimes committed are petty crimes. About 25% of Finland’s criminal incidents are traffic violations, such as driving under the influence.
Another common category of crime is petty theft. Property crimes make up just less than 50% of total crimes committed. In particular, the Ministry singles out bicycle theft as a cause for concern.
Other common forms of property crime are pickpocketing, bag snatching, fraud, and vehicle break-ins. Even with property crimes, the crime prognosis is optimistic. The property crime rate is consistently declining over the past few years, thanks to work by the Finnish police.
Crime is also not distributed evenly throughout the country. While minor thefts are fairly common in the cities, they are practically unheard of in rural areas.
All this means that Finland is a safe country to visit. While you may need to take some precautions to protect your valuables in more crowded urban areas, in most of the country, crime is not a concern. Some locals don’t even bother locking their doors!
The most common crime in Finland is petty theft. This is also the type of crime that is more likely to affect visitors. The UK government mentions that pickpockets sometimes target tourists in crowded areas, such as Helsinki’s markets.
Petty crime increases during the summer, which is Finland’s tourism high season, when there are more crowds that provide both lucrative targets and cover for the country’s pickpockets.
The Canadian government lists sites in Helsinki where petty theft can occur in its travel advisory. These include:
- Intercity railway stations such as Helsinki station
- The Helsinki metro
- Esplanade Park
- Around Helsinki Cathedral
- The Market Hall
Any popular tourist destination or crowded area is bound to have some pickpockets. The good news is that you can deter pickpockets with basic precautions. Many tourists lose their valuables due to carelessness, such as leaving their bags unattended.
Don’t leave your items unattended, especially not in Helsinki or other big cities. Don’t let the low crime rate lull you into a false sense of security. Finland is not the type of destination where you need to pack a money belt or slip your money into your shoe.
Still, it’s a good idea to take some precautions to prevent someone from easily accessing your valuables. Try to keep your credit cards, spare cash, and original copy of your passport in your hotel safe and only take what you need for the day.
Put valuables in a secure bag or front pocket. The Australian government warns that card skimming and fraud sometimes occurs. Always use reputable ATMs and make sure to cover your PIN when withdrawing money.
When paying with a card, don’t let anyone walk away from you with your card. Always check transaction reports afterwards to catch any fraudulent charges.
Some countries, such as New Zealand, mention the risk of terrorism in their travel advisories. Terrorism is a risk in almost any European country, including Finland.
There have been deadly terrorist attacks in the country before. In 2017, there was a deadly stabbing in Turku that killed two Finnish women and injured several others, including tourists. This incident shook the nation because there hadn’t been a terrorist attack in many years.
According to the Finnish government, Finland’s current terrorism level is at two out of four. There is an elevated threat of terrorism and the government has identified potential actors motivated by Islamist terrorism and far-right, ultra-nationalist terrorism.
However, it is unlikely that there will be a terrorist attack soon. The Finnish government has also stepped up counter-terrorism operations, including intelligence working on preventing attacks, in the past few years.
Although a terrorist attack could happen, the same way that it could happen anywhere else, the actual likelihood of an attack happening is low. You should be aware of this problem and monitor the news before and during your trip, but you shouldn’t let fear of terrorism affect your trip.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Finland doesn’t have any areas that are so dangerous you can’t walk in them at all, but there are some cities that have a higher crime rate than others. The region of Päijät-Häme, specifically the city of Lahti, has the highest crime rate in Finland.
The city of Uusimaa also has an elevated crime rate and the highest theft rate in the country. Lapland is also one of the regions with an elevated crime rate.
The capital of Helsinki has a few areas that have higher crime rates. These include the nightlife districts of Kluuvi, Kamppi, and Kontula. Other neighborhoods you may want to avoid after dark include Harju, Kallio, and Pukinmäki.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for visiting Finland:
- Alcohol-related crimes are common. Finland has a high rate of alcoholism and drunken bar fights, and other crimes are common, especially around dive bars and less reputable nightlife areas. Be careful on popular bar streets late into the night. If you are going out, limit your own consumption and leave the area if you see a situation escalating.
- Drugs are highly illegal in Finland. Even possession can cause you to be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
- Driving in the winter in Finland is dangerous. Although roads are usually in good condition, winter weather conditions are hard to navigate. Avoid driving at night if you can and don’t drive yourself down rural roads.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions that people tend to ask before visiting Finland:
Is Finland safe to travel to right now?
Yes, Finland is safe to travel to right now. The extremely safe country now has even lower crime rates than it did a few years ago.
Is Finland a cheap country to visit?
Finland is only a cheap country when you compare it to some of its neighbors, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. For people coming from other parts of the world, Finland is quite expensive.
Is Helsinki safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, Helsinki is safe for solo female travelers. Many women travel to this city, thanks to its low crime rate and high rate of gender equality.
Is Helsinki safe at night?
Helsinki is generally safe at night, outside of a few more run-down areas that have higher rates of drug abuse and crime. You should also be careful around popular nightlife areas, as drunk crowds can get fairly rowdy in Finland.
Why is Finland’s crime rate so low?
Finland’s government is highly effective, including at fighting crime, thanks to low rates of corruption and high trust in institutions. Finland also doesn’t have many societal factors that cause high crime, such as high levels of income inequality.
So, Is Finland Safe to Visit?
Finland is one of the safest countries in the world to visit. It has a very low crime rate, and besides some petty theft, tourists are rarely affected. You should be careful of the Finnish wildlife, especially moose, and the difficult winters!