On this page I've written down some information for people who have never travelled to Tampere before. The original author of the page is a foreigner who has lived in Tampere for 15 years. (But this is a Wiki so just add/correct if you know more.) If you have further questions please ask. Preferably on the Discussion page, but you can also email me at akademy2010 dash ugeuder at snkmail dot com. I intend to improve the page during the next days, so make sure to subscribe (watch this page) or check back before you leave.
Of course Google can find similar information in many places. However, I tried to add only information, which I have recently checked to be current. I expect that some of the conference attendents have to pay attention to a strict budget, so I tried to focus a bit on that.
Tampere has an international airport. There are 2 terminals. Terminal 1 is a nice building used by traditional airlines. Terminal 2 is a building that was closed down ~1997 because it was no longer considered good enough to serve as an airport. It was reopened ~2003 without any major renovation for Ryanair's use and has served since than for the majority of passengers flying to and from Tampere still without any major renovation. Guess whether it can be considered good enough to serve as an airport...
The goods news first: Both terminals offer free WLAN access.
Otherwise the services are very much limited. The is no ATM (cash machine) and there are no pay phones (the latter is actually true for all of Tampere. In Finland you are expected to own a mobile phone.)
Terminal 1 has a cafeteria, but it has limited opening hours (especially now during summer, terminal 1 is mostly used by business travelers). There are 2 vending machines, one for chocolate bars, one for coffee.
There is a courtesy phone to order taxis and courtesy phones for rental car companies. That's pretty much it. Don't expect any crowds in terminal 1.
Terminal 2 is only used by Ryanair and only open to serve their flights. There is a small sales desk where you can get soft drinks, chocolate bars, some souvenirs. I couldn't check myself because the terminal was closed when I visited it today, but according to a sign posted outside a there should be a courtesy phone to order taxis. I vaguely remember having seen at least one courtesy phone for a rental car company earlier. Don't expect any other services.
Terminal 2 is so small that is feels crowded to handle one set of Ryanair passengers (180 outbound, 180 inbound).
free as in free beer
Walking distance is ~ 20 km to Tampere city center (100% sidewalks on minor roads actually, so it's not a bad walk if you don't mind the distance...).
There is a regular local bus line 61 operating from Terminal 1 to Tampere city center. The bus company is called Paunu. Unfortunately the schedule is sparse on weekends, there are no connections for late evening flights and any correlation with flight arrivals and departures is accidental. The bus will not wait for delayed flights. A single ticket is only 4.10 EUR, depending on the trip you might get some sightseeing or at least some residential or industrial area seeing. See http://www.paunu.fi/pdf/TMP%20airport%20kesa10.pdf for full details including the exact location of the bus stop at the airport and some bus stops in the city center..
If you're heading to TOAS Student House, get off either at Tampere bus station, located 450 m from TOAS or at the next bus stop called Koskipuisto (opposite to Sokos Hotel Ilves, the tallest building in downtown Tampere). See route from Bus Station to TOAS (Google maps): http://bit.ly/d84jst or from Koskipuisto to TOAS at http://bit.ly/c8LB9Y
Still pretty budget
For each arriving Ryanair flight there is a chartered bus from Terminal 2 to the railway station in Tampere city center. The bus does not stop at any other regular bus stop. Tickets are sold at the sales desk inside terminal 2, 6.00 EUR single fare. (Officially you are only allowed to use the bus if you are Ryanair passenger. Nobody has ever checked, so if you arrive at terminal 1 and there happens to be a suitable Ryanair arrival, just go to the sales desk in Terminal 2 together with the Ryaniar crowd an buy your ticket). Details at http://www.airpro.fi/files/airpro/linja-autoaikataulut/Heinakuu_2010_Tokee.pdf
Airport Taxi is a shared ride offered by the Tampere taxi company (from the end user's perspective there is only one). It's operated with regular taxi cars, but the price is fixed 17,00 EUR per person. They serve only the city center area, see the map at http://www.taksitampere.fi/in-english/services/airport-taxi/airport-taxi-kartta-2/ (TOAS house is inside that area, as well as both Omena hotels). Official rules allow only 1 suitcase or travel bag, but you can always try should you have more equipment with you.
Airport taxis leave in the front of the regular taxi queue from both terminals. It's clearly signposted. Ask any taxi driver for airport taxi if unsure (unlike in many other locations they will not try to cheat you and sell their own ride)
Normal taxi service is metered, shared rides will not be organized by the company, but of course you can take a taxi as your own group. The rate depends a bit on the number of passengers, late evenings and week-ends are more expensive. Price is between 30 and 40 EUR to the city center. So if you are 2 or more going to the same location or even similar location it's actually cheaper to take a regular taxi than the airport taxi. You can get taxis for up to 8 persons if you are able to gather so many, then you are down to 5 EUR per person. If no big enough taxi is available just order one by asking a taxi driver or using the courtesy phone (it will take 20 minutes if it has to come from the city center) Tipping is not required. Credit cards are very widely accepted in taxis, but I'm not sure whether I would 100% rely on it.
I have never seen any illegal taxi at any Finnish airport, I don't think you need to be worried about getting cheated.
Helsinki airport is a real international airport with all the services you would expect. WLAN is free. There are 2 terminals, but all buses leave from in front of both terminals.
In order to get to Tampere you have 2 choices. Bus is cheaper, train is sometimes faster (even including the local bus to the the station and the change)
There is a direct express bus service between Helsinki Airport and Tampere bus station. Single tickets are 23,70 EUR, if you are sure that you are going back the same way a round trip is a bit cheaper, 43,70 EUR. See the schedule at http://www.paunu.fi/pdf/Vantaa%20kesa10.pdf. Unfortunately the schedule is only in Finnish, please ask questions on the discussion page if unsure. Tthe following credit cards are accepted by the driver: Visa (but not Electron), Master, Diners, and American Express. (Actually for many trips you need to change bus. But the change happens at a motorway restaurant called Keimolanportti, there is only 1 bus stop and 2 buses from the same company. So nothing can go wrong there. You pay only once for the whole trip.)
Actually you first need to take local bus 61 to the railway station called Tikkurila, which is other terminus of bus line 61. (Don't go to Helsinki unless you want to do sightseeing there, it's in the wrong direction) Tickets can be bought from the ticket machine or from the driver. The price is the same, 2,50 EUR single ride. See http://aikataulut.ytv.fi/linjat/en/v61.html for the schedule (lentoasema means airport)
A taxi ride should be a bit less than 20 EUR and maybe 10 minutes faster than the bus (it has been a couple of years when I had one myself.)
Train schedules are at http://www.vr.fi/eng/ (or http://mobile.vr.fi/ for a more lightweight version). Just enter from Tikkurila to Tampere. Prices are 21,20 EUR for commuter train, 24,80 EUR for Express train, 27,50 EUR for Intercity or Intercity2, and 32,60 EUR for Pendolino. There is no reduction for round trips. Note: Actually prices will raise by ~ 1% on July 1st.
Hints: Buy your ticket at the ticket window or a ticket machine (ticket machines are being renewed. Old grey ones read the magnetic stripe of your credit card, new green ones accept only smart cards. Reportedly ticket machines don't accept foreign credit cards, if that's true they are useless for you anyway. None of them accepts bills or coins. Don't book your ticket on the internet unless you are 100% sure you'll catch the train you booked. Refund policy is awful for electronic tickets. They are not cheaper unless booked weeks ahead. Don't buy your ticket on the train unless the ticket window is closed. Tickets are more expensive (additional fee of 3 EUR or 6 EUR) on the train if a ticket window was open at time of departure.
On Friday evening it might happen that a train is sold out from Tikkurila to Tampere (not sure about seasonal effects on July 2nd) . Buy a ticket for the next train of the same category, but if you are not faint-hearted just board the sold-out train. Most likely you can find a free seat somewhere. Tickets are always valid for earlier trains than the booked one, but not on a later one than booked you would need to pay a new supplement.
(The latter one is located on a 168 meters tall Näsinneula observation tower and rotating full 360 degrees in ~ 20-30 minutes)
Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted, also on trains and in taxis, in European discounter Lidl and for small purchases. Visa is the dominant card, but all locations accepting Visa do also accept Mastercard and Maestro (there is only one credit card clearing operator in the country so things work pretty uniformily) Maestro is not issued at all in Finland, so there might be problems in some locations, just because the cashier has never seen the card before. Visa Electron is accepted in fewer, but still in many places (e.g. not on trains) DinersClub is not accepted at many smaller places, but at most big shops and chains. American Express is limited to few typically expensive places.
ATMs (cash machines) are easy to find in the city centre. They are called "Otto". This is a near monopoly. There is a relatively new challenger called "Nosto" with orange machines. There are not many of them, but you may hit one in the popular R-kioski newspaper shops. (For most Finnish cards using the new ones is not free, but for foreign cards there should be no difference, which one you use. Check your credit card issuer's price list if in doubt.)
Google streetview is online for Finland (WLAN traffic is not online...) Images are quite current (taken spring/summer last year) and much better quality than e.g. many locations in the US, which have been taken earlier. http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=61.500158,23.758922&spn=0,0.043731&z=15&layer=c&cbll=61.500254,23.758889&panoid=8CucIcJiME2z1E6krzIkIw&cbp=12,351.47,,0,0.41 (requires Flash) is the entrance to the Demola (Finlayson) location. If you have never used it just got to http://maps.google.com and drag the little orange man to a street.
The Finnish language is not indo-european, i. e. it is not in any way related to English, German, French, Spanish etc. Don't expect to be able to guess anything. (Except some loan words like "banaani", "tomaatti", and "pankki" (bank)) The good news is that pronunciation is really 1:1 to writing. If you know how to pronounce you know how to spell and the other way round. This is how you pronounce "Tampere"
For more samples see http://www.sci.fi/~kajun/finns/
The bad news is that people just don't speak like written language, except in formal speeches. There is a spoken language, which is not in any dictionary, Google translate doesn't know about it (but it knows normal written Finnish) So if you would learn the numbers from a language class, don't expect to understand any cashier when she tells you how much to pay.
The second bad news is that there are many sounds that the foreign ear cannot distinguish (like the difference between "l" and "ll") and the foreign tongue cannot pronounce correctly (like e.g. "ll" or "äy"). Unfortunately Finnish natives are not fault-tolerant to incorrect pronunciation at all, for them the difference between e.g. "t" and "tt" is really essential. To get the idea imagine some speaker could not make the difference between "m" and "h" in English. Would you understand her/him if she/he told you something about "her/his mouse"?
As a summary don't expect that e.g. a taxi driver will understand a street name when you pronounce it. Be prepared and have important words written down on a piece of paper.
Tampere has many international students who don't speak Finnish. So don't be worried, they all survive speaking English.
Tampere has had a new city bike system for a couple of weeks. I haven't looked at the details yet. Information can be added on request.
E.T.A. Tampere offers bike tours in addition to walking tours and also rents bikes. There's a special bikerent price of EUR 12,50/day for the Akademy attendees. See more at the Akademy site Sights and Attractions.
As already mentioned above, the last public payphone in Tampere has been removed already several years ago. So telephony is basically mobile.
In short, anyone can get Finnish mobile network subscription without registration. Details follow, do not hesitate to ask from pahartik on FreeNode IRC channel #Akademy.
Prepaid phone cards
You can get cheap prepaid mobile phone cards. All of them are GSM SIM cards, so you need your own compatible mobile phone. Unlike in some other countries no activation or registration is needed. Just buy it from an R-kioski newsstand and start to use. Make sure that mobile terminal device is not operator-locked before purchasing. For example try whether someone's local SIM is accepted by device, if status is unknown.
Finland has three national mobile networks, all of them are combined GSM (900 MHz and/or 1800 MHz) and WCDMA (2100 MHz and/or 900 MHz) networks. Country is well covered by GSM, but WCDMA is usually not available at most sparsely populated areas.
Saunalahti Prepaid card costs 6.70 EUR (currently 5.90 EUR at R-kioski). Initially there is 6.00 EUR of value on the card. One minute normal domestic call (fixed or mobile) costs 0.066 EUR, billing is exact to the second. Price for a text message (<= 160 chars) is 0.066 EUR.
Packet data transfer costs up to 1.90 EUR per day, no limit on amount of data but no more than that will be charged. Alternatively one can subscribe to 7 days of packet data transfer for 6.90 EUR and subscription for month for 19.90 EUR (restricted transfer rate) or 29.90 EUR is also available.
(Calling from a Finnish fixed line phone to such a Saunalahti prepaid phone is 0,26 EUR / minute, which is significantly more than normal. However, I don't think that use case is very relevant for you.)
When the balance on card runs low, additional value to card can be charged at R-kioski. (Also at any "Otto" ATM or from online bank service, but only with credit or debit card issued in Finland or Finnish bank account. In that case try to find a friendly Finn to do it for you and pay her/him the in cash. Of course you also just buy a new one.) When recharging subscription, minimum amount is 10 EUR.
At the conference locations there will be WLAN, Demola also has twisted pair Ethernet, but if you want to hack at the beach or just remain connected anywhere, mobile network is well worth its price. Achieved data transfer rates are higher than in many countries. HSDPA/HSUPA (3.5G) terminal device is needed to get most of mobile network, but UMTS (3G) terminal device is just fine as well.
Calling abroad with such a card is ~ 5 - 10 times more expensive than domestic. Exact prices and terms are very difficult to understand. People from Europe probably don't save (much) compared to using their own SIM card, because of recent EU regulation limiting roaming prices. People from overseas might still save a bit or even quite a bit. If at all possible try to use VoIP (Skype or whatever free (as in free speech) solution you happen to have) for calling abroad. Data is really cheap. If you don't have a Skype client on your mobile or no network connection in your PC when you want to call, but you are a paying Skype customer, you can get a Finnish Skype-To-Go number for free. This is a Finnish landline number (the area doesn't really matter if you call from mobiles only, otherwise select "03 -- Häme" for the Tampere area when ordering the number). Calling this number will allow you to access your Skype account and make calls to abroad. Skype-To-Go rates are more expensive than normal Skype rates, but still a lot cheaper than international calls from your mobile)
Tele Finland Helppo, DNA Super Prepaid, and Sonera easy. I'm too tired to investigate them now. But they are definitely not drastically better than Saunalahti.
Other operators have similar prepaid deals, but Saunalahti Prepaid stands out with packet data transfers at reasonable fee.
Tampere has rather well functioning public transport, based only on bus traffic. Unfortunately now during summer there is only a reduced schedule in use. But even with the reduced schedule there is much better traffic than in many other places in the world. Single ticket fare is 2.50 EUR for adult (when paid in cash to driver), valid for one hour on any number of bus transfers.
Tourist Card for adults for one day is 6 EUR, additional days are 4 EUR each. See http://joukkoliikenne.tampere.fi/en/customer-service/where-to-buy-tourist-cards.html for sales locations. After Tourist Card has expired, it can be recharged.
In case of using stored value Travel Card, adult single ticket fare would only be 1.56 EUR including unlimited transfers during one hour of validity. Recharging of value is done in multiples of 20 EUR. Travel Card can be obtained from public transport service point for a fee of 5 EUR. The fee and relatively high minimun recharging amount make this option less suitable for short time stays. (Most locals will still have a deposit based card, but new deposit based cards are no longer issued since June this year)
Only one person at time can travel with Tourist Card, but with stored value Travel Card up to 9 persons can travel as group, including bus transfers within one hour. Both cards are proximity cards and need to be shown to card reader when getting on bus, once for each person.
Main hub for local bus traffic is the central square (Keskustori, WGS84:61.497397,23.759697).
Detailed information about everything related at site of Tampere City Public Transport. (service point is at location WGS84:61.50030,23.76033)
A trip planner is at http://reittiopas.tampere.fi/en/
Many small bus stops outside the city center don't have a schedule posted. If you happen to have a reasonably priced data connection available, use bus route schedule or bus stop timetable to get current schedule. There is no need to remember and spell long names of bus stops. Just enter the four digit number posted on the sign at every bus stop.
At downtown Tampere, there is one grocery store always open, Siwa at Puutarhakatu 14 (WGS84:61.498951,23.753525). About 500 meters from Demola.