When’s the bus?
Haparanda-Tornio is a common name for the twin cities of Tornio and Haparanda on the Finnish-Swedish border, which are sometimes also called the heart of Lapland. The cities are located on both banks of the Torne river, which constitutes the border, and each of them is also in a different time zone, which makes for plenty of confusion.
Tornio is the city on the Finnish side, with Haparanda being its Swedish sister city, which of course has an Ikea shop. It is known as the northernmost Ikea and there is also a big shopping mall right on the border, as well as the main bus station called Haparanda-Tornio resecenter. Since I was only pasing through Haparanda-Tornio on my way to Rovaniemi, I did not get the chance to explore the cities, but I did cross the Finnish-Swedish border on foot and I had lunch at Ikea (because what else can you do, right?).
The Finnish-Swedish border river is right next to the main bus station and there’s a simple sign on the bridge acknowledging that you changed countries, so you can walk through it and feel important. I did, twice. Once on the way there in a blizzard and then also on the way back in normal weather, because I had too much time.
Crossing the Finnish-Swedish border
Good to know: if you are crossing the border by bus, you will need to change buses at the Haparanda-Tornio main bus station, which means you will also be changing the time zone. Booking the bus online can thus get extremely confusing, as the websites say “local time”, but they do not state which time they consider to be local. However, it is actually quite simple: all buses going to Finland are based on Finnish time, while buses going to Sweden run on Swedish time. There are even two helpful separate info screens showing the bus departure times and two clocks for each time zone. I just wish someone had told me that before I saw it in person. 🙂 Luckily I managed to book my buses correctly, but I did end up spending an hour more at the bus station than I expected, as I must have gotten confused somewhere along the booking process.