What to do in Vaasa? How to move around? Should I open a bank account in Finland? Here you can find answers to questions about practical matters.
A yellow bike in the city

Freetime in Vaasa

Vaasa is a popular tourist centre and attracts an increasing number of tourists from far and near to the sunniest city in Finland. Vaasa especially offers a great deal of sports and outdoor activities. Discover Finland’s fantastic nature and the UNESCO world natural heritage, the Kvarken Archipelago

If you are into sports, you will be happy to find for example numerous gyms, sports centers, golf course and a swimming hall in Vaasa. You can also go downhill skiing in Gerby and Sundom or hit the numerous cross-country tracks put up all over the city in winter. Ice hockey fields are made as well, where you can play free of charge. You can also go for some curling, snowmobile riding or ice fishing on the Baltic sea. The biggest gym in Ostrobothnia, Wasa Sports Club is located right next to the University of Vaasa, so why not to go to gym between lectures?

From the Welcome office you can get maps for bike tours in and around the city and you will find tracks for running all around Vaasa. You can even go rock climbing and bouldering in the summer, ice climbing in winter or wall climbing in one of Vaasa’s oldest buildings, the Watertower.

Vaasa is a lively student city with a lot of student events. Student Union of the University of Vaasa (VYY), ESN Vaasa and other student organisations organise a lot of events for you to get to know other students and the city of Vaasa.

Did you know this about Finland?

  • In Finland, most supermarkets and stores are open on Sundays
  • Every supermarket and shop has its own opening hours 
  • Medicines are sold only at pharmacies (apteekki) 
  • Wines and spirits are sold only in Alko, the State Alcohol Company
  • The age limit for the purchase of beer and wine in Finland is 18, but stronger drinks may be purchased only if the buyer is at least 20 years old.
  • Smoking in public places is prohibited by law unless there is a very well-indicated smoking area.
  • The age limit for buying cigarettes in Finland is 18.
  • It is against the law to possess, use or deal drugs. All three are police matters and may result to serious legal consequences.

 

Bank accounts

It is recommended that international students open up a bank account in one of the Finnish banks. When having a Finnish bank account, it is easier for students to e.g. pay their rent and other possible costs related to living and studying in Finland. When you open up a bank account in Finland, you should ask for internet banking service keys which enable you to use banking services online. Also, the bank will usually give at least a Visa electron card to students opening up a bank account. You may use it for paying, checking your balance and withdrawing money from ATMs.

Major credit cards are accepted in Finland. It is even advisable to take a Visa or Master Card with you if possible. Please note that checks are not accepted in Finland. Information about banks in Finland is given on the website of Expat Finland.

 

 

Kvarken archipelago

Moving around

It is easy to move around Vaasa on foot or by bike. Many students use bikes to move around the city throughout the year. If you do not want to buy your own bike, you may enquire a possibility to rent one from a bike shop.

A good public transportation system with quite an extensive bus network is also available in Vaasa. It is recommendable to purchase a monthly or multiple trip ticket, because discount on tickets for students is not available in case of single tickets. The price of monthly ticket/card (30 days) for students is approximately 29 euros. The price of single tickets available from the driver is around 3 euros. Routes, timetable and other useful information about the local bus transportation is available at the website of Wasa Citybus.

Are you going to take your car to Vaasa?

Here are some facts about driving in Finland:

  • Headlights must be used even during the day.
  • Wearing seatbelts is compulsory both in front and back seats.
  • Snow tyres are compulsory in Finland from the beginning of November to the end of March if required by the weather conditions. However, studded tires may be used even longer if weather conditions require it.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly forbidden in Finland.

 

For more information on driving in Finland, please visit e.g. the website of the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The Finnish Road Safety Council also has instructions for driving in Finland available on their website.

 

Health care

YTHS (The Finnish Student Health Service) maintains a health centre in every city with a university and provides health and dental care for students enrolled at universities and other institutions of higher education. YTHS provides students with preventive health care, medical care, mental health care and dental health care. All Master’s degree students enrolled at the University are entitled to use the services of the YTHS, provided that they have paid the health care contribution to Kela. YTHS services are either free of charge or reasonably priced. Hospital treatment, maternity clinic or night and weekend emergency services are not included in the YTHS services.

YTHS in Vaasa is situated in the city centre. 

 

Acute illnesses

Acute illnesses requiring immediate medical care can be treated in YTHS during weekdays. You can book time for a public health nurse appointment. Remember to take your student card with you. An appointment to see the doctor can be made by the nurse, if necessary.

Should you need immediate care outside the opening hours of YTHS in Vaasa, please contact private clinics or the local public health centre, Tammikaivon terveysasema.

In case of serious illnesses or accidents and if you need care after 16.00 o'clock, please contact the Emergency Room at the Central Hospital of Vaasa.

Emergency psychiatric services are available at the Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic of Vaasa Central Hospital.

In case of accidents or when you need help urgently, please call the general emergency number 112.

Insurance

All international students coming to Finland are recommended to be covered by a valid medical insurance. For the citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, it is obligatory to take out a private health insurance covering the entire period of stay in Finland. Insurance must be arranged before the arrival in Finland and the insurance certificate is requested when applying for a residence permit.

Citizens of EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries are covered by the National Health Insurance plan administered by KELA (Finnish Social Insurance Institution). It means that anyone carrying a European Health Insurance Card is entitled to receive all the medically necessary care while in another EU/EEA country or in Switzerland. The treatment is provided subject to the legislation and regulations of each country. The citizens of EU and EEA countries will receive the medical care to which a resident of that country would be entitled. The procedure for getting the treatment and any co-payments charged will also be the same as those that apply to local residents. For more information on entitlements under European Health Insurance Card for temporary visitors in Finland please see the website of KELA.

There are also some private clinics in Vaasa, for example MehiläinenPihlajalinnaPromedi and Terveystalo. Note, however, that should you seek treatment from a private clinic not covered by the local system, you will have to pay all necessary costs yourself. Therefore it is strongly recommended that students coming from EU/EEA countries also take a private insurance since private health care is not covered by KELA and the services may be very expensive in Finland.

The following companies among others offer insurances for international students:

For further information on issues related to the health insurance of foreign students, please visit the Finnish Immigration Services' website.