Heading North

Planning to Ride North – Some Ferry Options

Finland perhaps? Continuing to St Petersburg or Nordkap? Other Nordic countries? Need a Ferry? The following is written with a ride to Finland in mind and as such gives you a good idea of the ferries but does not cover all travel options for your Nordic adventure.

Puttgarden ferry
Puttgarden ferry

To get to Finland, you have a number of choices both on land or opting for a ferry for longer distances.

Arriving to Finland

Starting with the end in mind, the usual ports for arrival to Finland are Helsinki or Turku region. Ferries to Finland sail from Tallinn in Estonia or from Stockholm area in Sweden. A very popular choice is also a ferry from Travemunde in Germany, saving you the ride through the Baltic states or Denmark and Sweden.

New Passenger Terminal in Helsinki. Image: portofhelsinki.fi

Via Baltica is in Good Shape

If you do come by land to Tallinn and once you are through the roadworks in Poland (soon!?! over and look promising), the Via Baltica -road is mainly single lane but in reasonable condition today. Long lorry lines can be expected but on a motorbike those can usually be passed with relative ease.

There are some very nice stops in the Baltic, should you choose to spend a bit more time on the road. (Cities like Kaunas or beach resorts such as Palanga, Jurmala and Pärnu).

Ferries from Tallinn to Helsinki are frequent throughout the day.

The Western Route via Denmark – Sweden

If you take the western route through Denmark and southern Sweden, you will have one or two shorter ferry cruises. First the ferry from Puttgarden, Germany to Rødby, Denmark. From there you have options to either ride “The Bridge” between Copenhagen and Malmö (Øresund Bridge), as in the popular tv-series, or you can choose another ferry Helsingör (DK) – Helsingborg (S), slightly further north.

By Nick-D - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45290883
By Nick-D – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45290883

Again the E4 road through Sweden is quite quick to ride and mainly dual lanes all the way to Stockholm.

There is also another option, if you wish to ride the Danish mainland to Frederikshavn and cross the sea to Gothenburg in Sweden.

My Roundtrip

My recent ride took me down through Via Baltica, Poland, Austria and Italy to Lugano in Switzerland. My return ride was the western route through Germany, Denmark and Sweden over the Øresund Bridge. My choice was to use the bridge as it is magnificent, although the road from Malmö to Stockholm takes you near Helsingborg anyway.

Costs and Booking

Sea crossings are not free and the Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn is around €100 for rider and a bike one way. For the Puttgarden ferry I paid €56 and the bridge crossing set me back €29. Taking land routes you may need accommodation as well. (2017 costs).

Rødby arrival
Rødby arrival

Ferry from Stockholm has a number of operators, variations and prices. The most expensive is to sail from Stockholm to Helsinki. Cheapest often Kapellskär north from Stockholm to Naantali near Turku. Loads of options, best to google. As it was peak season and all ferries were full, my only choice was a €100 deck chair or €240 inside cabin from Stockholm to Helsinki.

If you do not fancy the long ride, a popular, sometimes slightly costly option, is to take the Finnlines ferry from Travemunde to Helsinki. This is by far the most relaxing way but then you miss the route in between… When calculating the cost, be mindful about the total costs of the land route, incl. possible accommodation. Even the higher one-off charge may be quite competitive, particularly compared with the western route.

Other Routes and Destinations

If you wish to ride north through Sweden or Norway, there are even more ferry options available from Germany or Denmark. You can also come down through Finland around the north or vice versa, down through Sweden / Norway. There is yet another ferry between Vaasa (FI) and Umeå (S) half way up the gulf of Bothnia.

Sometimes you need to hold your breath – For excitement 🙂

If your destination is St Petersburg in Russia, good options are ferry from Travemunde to Helsinki and crossing to Russia at Vaalimaa, or Via Baltica and border crossing at Narva, Estonia.

I would come to Finland though…

Costs for a Family Trip

Below my friend Pekka Niinivaara’s cost summary for some of the routes. These apply for a family of four in a car and costs vary based on your selection of cabin, etc:

Pekka Niinivaara
Pekka Niinivaara

Ferry Operators

www.eckeroline.fi, www.tallinksilja.fi, www.vikingline.fi, www.finnlines.com

www.directferries.com  – Offers several operators