Helsinki is well-known for its island hopping in the summer. And although lots of the city’s archipelago is unreachable in the winter, there are a few islands that are accessible throughout the year. Whether you’re looking for a running route with gorgeous views, a stunning sculpture park, or the most delightful walking route, Helsinki’s islands offer something for everyone throughout the winter.
Visit Uunisaari for a stroll
In the winter, you can get to Uunisaari by crossing a short bridge from the west part of Kaivopuisto. The island’s restaurant has the most gorgeous views and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you’re feeling really adventurous, cross the bridge to Liuskasaari and admire some of the most beautiful views you’ll find in Helsinki.
Wander around Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
A trip to the wintery fortress is a must. The ferry to Suomenlinna runs all year round, even when the sea freezes over. The journey takes about 15 minutes from the Market Square and it’s an especially beautiful trip if you manage to catch the sun rise. Walking from the ferry terminal in Iso Mustasaari to the King’s Gate in Kustaanmiekka is well-worth doing, and you should definitely treat yourself to a coffee and warm cinnamon bun, or one of their other delicious pastries, in Cafe Silo afterwards.
Go for a run around Mustikkamaa
The prettiest way to reach Mustikkamaa is via the pedestrian bridge from Kalasatama. Mustikkamaa is a popular island in the summer, but it’s surprisingly pretty in the winter too. The views from the beach are beautiful, and the island is small enough to run the circumference of. And you can stop off in Hermanninranta's Sompasauna on your way home to warm up.
Climb Lammassaari's bird watching tower
Lammassaari can only be reached by walking across 1.2km of duckboards. The island is surrounded by sea and wet swampland, and it’s home to a bird watching tower with stunning views. Plus, if you make it all the way to Kuusiluoto, you’ll get the most wonderful view looking back over the city. Make sure you stop off in the Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, where you’ll find great bargains, before you head back into the city.
Take your dog for a walk around Rajasaari
Rajasaari is a stone’s throw away from the Sibelius monument, and half of the island is a dedicated dog park. It’s worth a visit even if you don’t have a pet of your own; the scenery is gorgeous and you’re sure to make friends with a few dogs on your walk.
Catch the sun on Seurasaari
You can access Seurasaari by a pedestrian bridge from Tamminiemi. Seurasaari is home to an open air museum, a nude swimming beach, and lots of squirrels in the summer; but in the winter it’s worth walking around the island to take in the lovely views, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy the peace and quiet. Make sure you cross the wooden bridge to Pukkisaari before you head back to the city.
Take your kids to Korkeasaari’s zoo
Korkeasaari is home to Helsinki Zoo, which is open all year round. The zoo was opened in 1889, making it one of the world’s oldest zoos, and it’s committed to reintroducing species to their natural habitats and maintaining biodiversity. Once you’re there, you can also wander to Hylkysaari. If you have kids, it makes for a wonderful day out.
Get some peace and quiet on Tervasaari
Tervasaari is popular among locals as a dog walking spot. It opened to the public in 1970 and is connected to Kruununhaka by a causeway. The island is only small, but it’s home to a playground, dog park, and old-fashioned rug-washing pier.
Spend a day walking through Kuusisaari, Lehtisaari, and Kaskisaari
The roads between Kuusisaari, Lehtisaari, and Kaskisaari connect Munkkiniemi to Lauttasaari. Kuusisaari is home to lots of impressive embassy buildings, as well as the Didrichsen Art Museum, which houses a lovely sculpture park as well as rotating exhibitions. Crossing over the bridge into Lehtisaari will take you through a lovely park, and crossing through Kaskisaari will take you to Lauttasaari. If you’re feeling active, you can even run through the islands: the Helsinki City Run, the city’s annual half marathon, will follow this route later in the year.