On the boat to Germany. We are on our way!

Tips / Friday, February 2nd, 2018

All aboard!

The van is fully packed, and we’re hoping we have all the essentials with us. We travelled to Germany by boat, Finnlines took us safely ashore.

There are plenty of options to travel to and from Finland to mainland Europe. The Baltic Sea in the middle makes the Nordic countries a bit further away and difficult to travel to, but definitely worth a visit. Basically there are three viable options for crossing the Baltic Sea and getting to Finland: 1. Driving through Denmark and Sweden and then hopping on the ferry to Finland, 2 ferry between Germany and Finland, 3. Driving through the Baltic countries on the Via Baltica and then taking the ferry between Estonia and Finland. We have tried options 1 and 3, so therefore it was time to try the ferry between Finland and Germany. Here are some thoughts on travelling between the Nordic countries and mainland Europe.

The boat between Sweden and Finland:

  • 12-18 hours on the boat depending on where you travel to
  • The roads in Sweden, Denmark and Finland may be very snowy in wintertime. Special Nordic winter tires are mandatory
  • 1000 km (12 hours) of driving before you reach Travemunde in Germany. There is plenty to see along the way, the constant light in the summer, beautiful towns and cities, nature, and in wintertime the darkness that sets way earlier than in the rest of Europe. If you are into wild camping (like we are) Scandinavia is great for it, as the countries have a law called “everymansright” or “freedom to roam”, which basically allows every person to enjoy nature regardless of who owns the land. As long as you are not causing any trouble, destroying the nature, and leaving the place spotless when you leave, you can park your van wherever you want. Avoid getting too close to someone’s house, but other than that you are free to enjoy the pristine nature wherever
  • Especially in the summer, the drive through Sweden and taking the ferry to Finland is a great option, as you get to experience the Nordic archipelago on the route between Kapellskär in Sweden and Naantali in Sweden. The Finnish Archipelago was voted as one of the 50 places to visit in 2018 by Travel + Leisure magazine
  • Price: ferry about 200 euros, depending on the season, petrol (100 euros) + bridge or ferry between Denmark and Sweden (around 60 euros)

Boat between Estonia and Helsinki:

  • 3-4hours on the boat
  • The weather and traffic in the Baltic regions may be hazardous. In wintertime proper winter tires are needed. The road culture is aggressive, an experienced driver is a plus when driving Via Baltica. Great scenery, beautiful towns along the way, and camping and food is affordable
  • If you are coming from the western/southern Europe, then the drive will be about 2000 km longer. If you are coming from the Eastern Europe then this is a good option
  • Price: Ferry (100 euro) + petrol (depending on where you are coming from but around 250 e to reach Travemunde)

Ferry between Germany and Finland:

  • Around 30 hours on the boat
  • You can leave the Nordic countries with summer tires, even in the wintertime, which is great because it saves the space of having another tire set with you. In Europe M+S tires are needed in the wintertime. If you are coming from Europe in the winter, make sure you have winter tires that are up to the Nordic standards
  • The ferry was a pleasant surprise for us, as we thought it was going to be more like a cargo ship
  • The ferry has Wifi via satellite, which allowed us to work and study along the way, this was a big plus on our side
  • • Price: The price depends on the season, prices in the wintertime were around 370 euro on sale. In the summertime prices go up and the tickets need to be booked well in advance, as ferry’s reach maximum capacity during June, July, and August

For us, as we left Finland in the winter, the ferry was the quickest way to reach mainland Europe. The other options would have included more driving and less relaxation.

The biggest deal breaker for us were the tire choice. Leaving Finland in the wintertime is a challenge, as roads may be icy and slippery. In many European countries winter tires are mandatory (M+s), but Nordic winter tires (studded tires) are not allowed. As we are heading to warmer countries Nordic friction tires would not work either, as they are slippery during wet weather and do not work in the heat of Spain and Portugal. So, we decided to purchase M+S marked European summer tires for our trip. The choice of tire is an important aspect to consider when travelling through seasons.

picture finnlines boat cabin vanlife pakuelämää

The time on the boat was relaxing and passed quite quickly. Getting everything ready for the trip was somewhat stressful, and once on the boat we were able to enjoy the scenic trip to mainland Europe. A good night’s sleep on the boat, good food, TV, the gym and Sauna made the trip a joy and we were ready to head straight to Hamburg when we arrived.

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