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What to Do
Helsinki offers great opportunities for enjoying a diverse range of activities in every season of the year.
Summer is the time for swimming. The City of Helsinki has a long coast line and also many beaches. The most famous beach in Helsinki is Hietaniemi Beach (Hietsu), a big beach almost in the centre of Helsinki. Just hire a bicycle and let it take you wherever you want…
Winter is the time for sledding in the parks, ice skating in seven artificial skating rinks or in 3 natural skating rinks around the town, bowling, cart driving, swimming in the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, ice swimming… Just remember to put on warm clothes.
The Central Park of Helsinki offers excellent opportunities for outdoor sports, adventures and relaxing. It is the biggest park in Helsinki. It covers a thousand hectares and is ten kilometres in length. The Park begins at the Töölönlahti Bay and ends at the northern border of Helsinki.
In Central Park there are four nature protection areas, also with untouched primeval forest. In the nesting season the forests are filled with birdsong.
Address: Hammarskjöldintie 1, 00250 HELSINKI
Eira Park is a traditional baroque-style park in Southern Helsinki in Eira. It is a place for relaxing among the trees and flower beds close to the sea.
Next to Eira Park is the Eira Hospital. The Hospital is one of the masterpieces of Art Nouveau architecture in Helsinki. It was completed 1905 and named after Eir, the Norse goddes of healing. This choice gave the district its name.
The Eira Hospital was designed by the architect Lars Sonck (1870-1956
Address: Tehtaankatu 21, 00150 HELSINKI
Esplanade Park is a living park in the heart of the city. Between two lively shopping streets, North and South Esplanades, the Park runs from Erottaja Square in the west to the Market Square in the east. It serves as a promenade for tourists and for the residents of Helsinki. The Park is lined by cafés, and the Espa Stage hosts many popular events like concerts every year.
In the centre of Esplanade Park stands the first public monument of Helsinki, the statue of Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804-1877). The sculptor of the statue was Walter Runeberg, one of the sons of Johan Ludvig Runeberg. The Statue was unveiled in 1885.
Every year the celebration of May Day in Helsinki takes off with a bang on 30 April in Esplanade Park, when the students of universities of Helsinki crown the Havis Amanda, or “Manta”, statue. This tradition was established to its current form in 1951 but Manta has been crowned in more unofficial situations since 1932.
Esplanade Park reflects the history of Helsinki.
Address: Eteläesplanadi 1, 00130 HELSINKI
Kaivopuisto, the best known park in Helsinki, is one of the oldest parks of the city. Back in the 1800s the park housed a famous spa. In 1834, Nicholas I, Czar of Russia, supported the spa project of businessman Henrik Borgström by buying shares in the company, and the Kaivopuisto Spa became a popular holiday destination among high society in St. Petersburg. In 1885 the City of Helsinki took over the park and Kaivopuisto became a city park open to everyone after the 50-year lease agreement had expired.
The nearby sea and green lawns offer many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. In the park are a children’s playground, dog park and chess playing place.
There are several cafés and restaurants along the shore and on the islands. From the middle of May to the beginning of September, comfortable vessels offer a regular service from Merisatama in Kaivopuisto to the islands nearby.
Address: Iso Puistotie 1, 00140 HELSINKI
Observatory Hill Park
Observatory Hill Park was the first municipal park in the early 1900s in Helsinki. With its excellent view to the sea, the hill had been part of the natural line of lookout points in ancient times.
The Park is known for its wide range of interesting plants. The park is exceptionally rich in plant life.
The most moving monument in Observatory Hill Park is Hands Begging for Mercy (2000) by Rafael Wardi (1928-) and Nils Haukeland (1957-). The monument is a memorial to Jewish refugees.
During the Second World War, Finland surrendered eight Jewish refugees to the Germans, including children. The refugees were taken on the s/s Hohenhörn from Helsinki to Tallinn and eventually to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Only one of them is known to have survived. In Observatory Park, the monument is near the location from where the s/s Hohenhörn sailed.
Observatory on the Hill
Finland’s first observatory was in Turku. After the great fire which devastated Turku in September 1827, the Czar of Russia Nicholas I ordered that the university be moved from Turku to Helsinki, and issued a decision to build a new observatory in Helsinki. The observatory was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel together with Professor Argelander and completed in 1834.
Helsinki Observatory opened to the public in 2012.
Address: Tähtitorninkatu 1, 00140 HELSINKI
Sinebrychoff Park is located just behind the old Sinebrychoff buildings close the Hietalahti Square. The former owner of the Sinebrychoff Brewery, the Sinebrychoff family, bought the area in the 1800s and made a park out of the part they did not need for their facilities. Sinebrychoff is one of the biggest breweries in Finland. Today it belongs to the Carslberg group, and manufacturing and brewing has moved away from Helsinki.
The park is popular for picnics and leisure during the summer. A huge part of the Park is basically on a hill so it is also good for easygoing winter activities.
Address: Bulevardi 40, 00120 HELSINKI
Tapio Wirkkala Park
Tapio Wirkkala Park in Arabianranta is an urban art park with Stonehenge-like statues and stones rotating on small poles. It is named after the Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985). The Park is a landmark of the Arabianranta district. Arabianranta is famous for its art and design, and is a popular travel destination in Helsinki.
The Park was designed by the American artist Robert Wilson and executed in cooperation with the art academy department of Aalto University.
Address: Arabiankatu 13, 00560 HELSINKI