Finland. Home of reindeer and saunas, Angry Birds and Santa. It’s also home to the fastest data speeds we’ve seen in any country, both on 3G and LTE.
Not only that, but free Wi-Fi covers anywhere you’d want to go in Helsinki, with download speeds reaching as high as 25 Mbps.
You don’t need to buy a SIM card if you’re going to be limiting yourself to the capital city, but if you’re going elsewhere in the country or just want to grab one anyway, here’s what you need to know.
There are three cell providers in Finland: Sonera, Elisa, and DNA. All three offer LTE to prepaid customers.
If you’re going to be traveling to very rural parts of the country, go for Elisa, but otherwise there’s little difference between the three providers. I’d originally planned to use Elisa, but ultimately went with DNA as I struggled to find any prepaid Elisa SIM cards.
How to Buy a Prepaid SIM in Finland
After arriving in Helsinki, I headed straight to an Elisa store. They didn’t sell prepaid cards there, they told me, and recommended I visit an R-Kioski — the 7-Eleven of Finland. You’ll find one on practically every street, as well as at the airport if you’re arriving by plane.
After stopping in a few and finding that Elisa prepaid cards were out of stock, I went with DNA instead. Because I was buying from a busy convenience store rather than a mobile store, I was handed a packet and was left to my own devices to figure out how to get it working. I didn’t have to show ID to buy it.
Inside the packet, was a SIM card with mini, micro, and nano cutouts. I popped in the nano SIM, entered in the pin code when prompted, and typed in the APN details below:
No username or password
And I was good to go. Lightning-fast data speeds, here I come!
Prefer to spend your vacation sightseeing instead of buying SIM cards? Grab one in advance to stay connected in Finland and across Europe.
This Orange SIM includes 20GB of data, 1000 international texts, and two hours of international calls. The price includes US delivery, and it's valid for two weeks in 30 European countries. Use the code SIMOFF20 at checkout to get 20% off!
Other options are available if you're traveling for longer, need a portable hotspot, or want a different mix of calls, texts, and data. You can also get affordable eSIMs for recent iPhones and other supported devices. No matter how you do it, you'll be connected with a minimum of fuss before you've left the airport.
Prepaid SIM Costs
You’ll typically pay €4 or €5 for the SIM card, loaded with €5 of credit. The DNA Rajaton Prepaid plan costs a flat €0.89/day for unlimited domestic and EU calls and texts, and domestic LTE data. Roaming data within the EU is charged at 0.56 euro cents/MB (€5.60/GB).
An unlimited LTE data-only plan is also available, at €24.90 valid for a month. Again, it only includes data use within Finland.
You can find out more about these and other options here.
You can buy top-ups from R-Kiosk stores all over Finland, as well as from post offices, and Otto ATMs.
Coverage and Data Speeds
The data speeds I got from my SIM card were incredible. I was regularly getting close to 100 Mbps downloads with LTE, no matter where I was in Helsinki. With HSPA+, I managed to hit between 15 and 20Mbps download speeds all over the city.
Finland is part of the European Union, so EU roaming regulations apply. These “roam like at home” rules ended roaming charges across much of Europe in 2017, letting you use a SIM card from any EU country across all the others at no extra charge.
When it comes to roaming elsewhere in the EU with a Finnish SIM, though, beware. The low price of cell service in Finland allows providers to restrict the amount of roaming data they provide for free, or opt out from the roaming regulations entirely (as with the DNA plans mentioned above). Be sure to double-check the exact details at time of purchase.
Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.
Good to hear the networks were worth their reputation.
Both Sonera and Elisa have secondary brands, Sonera network is as Tele Finland and Elisa network as Saunalahti. In fact nowadays pretty much all Elisa consumer services have been branded as Saunalahti. I was just at the R-kioski today and noticed they had Saunalahti Prepaid packages.
Overall mobile data in Finland is typically defined by speed, not by data caps. For example when you have a postpaid subscription, you pay different amount depending if the max speed is 21, 50, 100 or 300 Mbit/s (typically set around 3G, DC-HSPA, LTE and LTE-A data rates). With Elisa/Saunalahti all the postpaid subscription include free, unlimited data at 256 kbit/s.
Around 30€/month should give you a decent, uncapped 4G data subscription through the daily limits (for example Saunalahti/Elisa Prepaid is 0.066€/MB but capped at 0.99€/day).
Can I check with you, for the DNA card you got, 16.90 Euro for unlimited data, can it be used in Estonia (Tallinn) and Tromso (Norway)?
Please see this article for more info on EU ‘Roam Like At Home’ regulations. Generally, though, you’ll be able to use your SIM and call/text/data package from one EU country in any other, but usually won’t get ‘unlimited’ data while roaming. Exactly what you do get depends on the price you paid for the package and other factors, so you always need to check details directly with the operator.
Dear Lauren Juliff,
May I ask for your expertised advice?
The situation is I will travel in Iceland and stopover in Helsinki, Furthermore, my plan after Iceland is France and Italy.
What is the suitable sim card for data concentrated?
As you has provided the details of DNA which was bought in Finland, will it be able to use in Iceland, France, Italy?
It would very nice and kind of you if you could share your experience regarding to the mentioned situation 🙂
France and Italy should work, I think. At least my plan is (it’s post-paid though). Iceland isn’t included for my plan at least. My plan is Telia (aka Sonera) and the post-paids have DEN, NOR, SWE, FIN, and Baltian countries. Prepaids may vary.
Let’s correct it, yeah Iceland is included same than with the EU. And also what I mean by that list of countries is that there are unlimited data. In EU post-paids have like 10GBs of data (with Telia) but others may vary. Sorry about the earlier one that didn’t have all the relevant info.
Dear Lauren Juliff,
To activate a SIM CARD Prepaid Elisa, do I need to call a phone, or can I do this through text messages on my smartphone? Are the data packets bought in R-Kioski as well? And can these packages also be activated directly by text on the smartphone?
Thank you for the useful article! I am heading to R Kioski to buy a DNA pre paid data card.