A Walk in the Park
The heat is on, even in Helsinki and you simply have to find respite in some place green and shady, preferably close to water. Here are a few suggestions.
Hietaniemi Beach, Helsinki’s toned down version of Venice Beach where the bold and beautiful strut their stuff, flex their muscles and brown their bodies. The biggest beach on the mainland, there’s a restaurant and a chance to join in on a volley ball or basketball game. Nice and shallow, perfect for kids. Hiekkarannantie 11
A jogging/cycle track and a lovely green park surround Töölö Bay, a stone’s throw from the heart of the city. A beach is located at the southern end but don’t miss out on the wooden villas one of which houses a summer café (Sinisen huvilan kahvila: Linnunlauluntie 11). Take a sip of coffee and drink in the view.
The Olympic Stadium Swimming Pool has grass lawns, a paddling pool for the little ‘uns, several diving boards and of course a pool for lane swimming. Needless to say, since we’re in Finland, there’s also a sauna. The modest entrance fee covers it all. Hammarskjöldintie 5
Somewhat further east, a walk from the Vuosaari metro station, is Aurinkolahti Beach, a full 700 metres long, great for bathing and picknicking.
Kaivopuisto Park with the Ursa Observatory on the crest of the hill, is the most well-known and popular for picnics and fun. There’s a play park for the kids and plenty of lawn space to organise your own football game. Further along the seaside promenade you’ll find a cluster of primary rock where the locals spread themselves out like lizards to catch the sun and take a dip in the Baltic. Kaivopuisto
Closer to the centre, there’s Sinebrychoff Park, with a vibe of excitement since there always seems to be something happening. Whether it be capoeira, African drumming or merely playing with the outdoor games equipment freely supplied by Restaurant Fanny, observe, participate and smile. Bulevardi 40
Don’t let the graveyard put you off at Ruttopuisto aka Plague Park where some of the victims of this disease were buried in the 18th century. Join the many locals who take a break during the day or attend a free concert in the cool church on Tuesdays at noon. Bulevardi
Katajanokka, the peninsula that juts out from the city, provides petanque players, strollers, picnickers and swimmers with lots of beautifully manicured lawns and bushes to play hide and seek in. The swimming spot is the carpet washing pontoon which has a ladder to ease your ascent. Katajanokanranta 20
Observatory Park affords a great view over the Baltic and the traffic that plies its waters. The garden is well kept and beautifully trimmed, a good place to go to grab a bite which you’ve purchased from the Market Hall at the foot of the hill.
Tähtitorninvuoren puisto, Ullanlinna.
Munkkiniemi Beach at the end of tram 4, takes you away from the hustle and bustle to a truly peaceful spot. Here you’ll find a children’s playground, weight lifting and volley ball. Munkkiniemenranta 44
Kumpula Swimming Pool was built for the Olympics of 1952. It’s just been given a facelift and the facilities are looking a lot better. In addition to the main pool, there’s a children’s pool, a wading pool and a diving one. A small entrance fee applies. Allastie 5
Seurasaari Beach is on the other side of this beautiful museum island. Strip off your kit and soak up the sun in the altogether and don’t be alarmed, the women are separated from the men. Seurasaari
The islands in the Helsinki archipelago can easily be reached by ferry and all of them have beaches to boast about. Take your pick from Pihjalasaari, Uunisaari, Lonna or Mustikkamaa.