Southern Ostrobothnia is in Western Finland. The region is made up of 18 municipalities. South Ostrobothnia is truly a region with many attractions and things to do for visitors. The regional center of South Ostrobothnia is Seinäjoki, with nearly 60,000 inhabitants.
Distances are long and public transportation in town is limited or inexistent in some areas. If you plan to stay longer than a couple of days, having a car is a good idea if you want freedom to travel around at ease. You can also rent a bike if you stay within the town limits.
Driving in town and everywhere in the region is safe and simple, but one should take into account that downtown there are mostly one-way streets and parking spaces are restricted. Headlights are mandatory at all times, even during the day, and you need to give way to the right, unless otherwise signed. In towns the speed limit is 50 km /h and 80-100 km/h outside towns and usually 120 km/h on freeways. However, in the winter months, from around mid-October to April, speed limits on freeways are lowered to 100 km/h and most 100 km/h limits are lowered to 80 km/h. Roads are in excellent condition, but they will be icy during winter time, and can be very slippery, even in spring and fall. Always drive carefully if you have little experience in driving in harsh conditions. If you choose to drive outside the town, take note of moose warning signs, especially at dawn and dusk. The legal driving age is 18 and the maximum blood alcohol level while driving in Finland is below 0.5 ppm, so don’t have more than one beer if you need to drive. The police are allowed to measure the alcohol level of the driver on spot even if they do not suspect driving under influence.
In Southern Ostrobothnia, as all over Finland, you have to right to pick berries and mushrooms, roam freely and enjoy the peace and quiet of the forests, lakes and rivers. This concept is called 'Everyman's Rights'. Nevertheless, don't venture on somebody's property, too close to one's house and restrain your picking to wild berries and mushrooms and not one's apples. Just use your common sense and be considerate, that is don't leave any trash behind, so you can enjoy nature and all that it offers next time, as well.
Before you go shopping, check the opening hours of the place you want to visit. Most shops are open on weekdays from 9 am to 7 pm and supermarkets till 9 pm. On Saturdays, shops stay open till 3 pm , or 6 pm respectfully. On Sundays, almost everything is closed, except for supermarkets, hypermarkets and some local small shops. Be aware of the public holidays as well, as, by law, everything is closed. There are about 15 official public holidays in Finland. Just check the opening hours before you do the shopping and you will be just fine.
People over 18 can buy mild alcoholic drinks containing at most 22% alcohol by volume, such as wines and beers. You can buy alcoholic drinks of any kind from an Alko store (the national alcohol monopoly), if you are over 20. Alko stores are open on weekdays from 9 am to 6 pm, on Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm. Medium beer or long drinks are also sold in supermarkets and other stores. Customers may be asked to prove their age by showing a passport, identification card or driving license.
South Ostrobothnia Tourist Information, Valtionkatu 1, Seinäjoki (the office is located near the railway station), ☎ +358 (0) 6 420 9090. Opening hours vary according to season, generally from 9 am to 4 pm. The office hands out brochures on the main attractions in the area, travel tips, free maps of the town of Seinäjoki and may help you arrange accommodation or various trips if you need help with that.
You should take into consideration the extreme cold during the winter, especially if you plan any outdoor activities. While in the summertime the temperature rises occasionally to 30ºC, in the winter months it can drop to around -25ºC for a couple of weeks. Dressing up accordingly is a must. Also, watch out for slippery sidewalks in winter. Don’t forget the sunglasses as well, as sunlight can be very strong in spring and summer, and can be challenging to see particularly while driving.
During the summer, mosquitoes are a nuisance, especially in the countryside. Even though they present no risk to your health, they tend to be really annoying. In cities there are fewer mosquitoes, but you should still protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and trousers, especially at dusk, and using mosquito repellent. A wide variety of repellents is available in shops, and pharmacies sell cream for easing the effects of the bites.
The national emergency number is 112, for police, fire and medical care.