Traveling by ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm is cheap and convenient, with the added bonus of a mini Baltic sea cruise experience. Here are my tips for a smooth sailing!
Every day dozens of luxury ferries crisscross the Baltic. Something of a local institution, the ferries are equal parts cruise ship and nightclub, kind of like the offspring of Carnival Cruise Lines and your favorite European disco. Love 'em or loathe 'em, taking the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm - and back again! - is a cheap and convenient way to get to your destination with the added bonus of a mini Baltic Sea cruise experience!
What to Expect
Whether leaving from Helsinki or Stockholm, you sail in the early evening (around 5 pm) and arrive in the morning (around 9 am). You must check in 30 minutes before departure. There is no self check-in, so be sure to allow 30 min - 45 min. for the line. Also note that the Silja Line port in Stockholm isn't very central, so plan for an additional 20 minutes on the metro to get to/from downtown.
Among some of the biggest cruiseferries in the world, the ships that sail between Helsinki and Stockholm hold almost 3,000 passengers and 450 cars. They are huge! In addition to cabins, they have an assortment of restaurants and bars, several stores (including a large duty-free store), a children's play area, an entertainment lounge, a nightclub, a pool, and - of course - saunas.
There are a wide-range of cabin types, depending on your taste and budget. You pay one ticket price and that covers all those in your cabin. The cheapest cabins are clean but super tiny and located on the lower decks.
After sailing on the ferries, you'll probably think that "one if by land, two if by sea" was actually referring to alcohol consumption. While there are plenty of families and young children on board, the cheaper alcohol means the ships attract a large party crowd and can have quite the boozy feel.
Good to Know
The views of Helsinki when you set sail are gorgeous! After checking in, head up to the top deck and watch the cathedral slowly disappear. Make sure you stay put until the ship squeezes past Suomenlinna.
When sailing from Helsinki to Stockholm, it's worth it to splurge on the buffet breakfast. Go early to avoid a line and get a window seat. You'll get to enjoy your morning coffee while you watch the beautiful Swedish archipelago go by.
When sailing from Stockholm to Helsinki, head up to the bow bar right away so you can grab a window seat and something bubbly. You'll have a perfect view as the sun sets behind an archipelago speckled with summer cottages.
Between engine noise and parties, the lower cabins are loud. Bring earplugs so you sleep more soundly.
Alcohol is cheaper on board than in Helsinki or Stockholm, so make sure you have room to spare in your suitcase. Or, you could be very Finnish and buy a little rolly cart from the duty-free shop and bring cases and cases of beer home with you.
If you've ever taken the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm, what did you think of the experience? Any tips or advice you'd like to add?