Walking route: Southern Helsinki shores

Kissing by the sea in Helsinki
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The nicest thing about Helsinki is probably the sea. You can sense the proximity of the water everywhere, as it surrounds the city on three sides. Helsinki has 130 kilometres of shoreline and the archipelago consists of 300 islands. Many of the islands consist of recreational areas, all accessible via a short ferry ride from the mainland.

Route distance approx. 3.5 km

Allas Sea Pool is a sea spa and urban oasis right next to the Market Square. You can enjoy the views over the city and sea from the Helsinki Skywheel, even while taking a sauna! Flytour is a 4D experience that takes viewers to the most popular sights in Helsinki.

One of the most popular attractions in Helsinki, the Market Square is buzzing with life. The oldest annual event in Helsinki, the Herring Market, takes place in the autumn. 

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress (1748) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Finland. The fortress has witnessed all three periods of Finnish history: the Swedish era when it was first built, the Russian era that lasted a little over a hundred years, and the modern era of independence. With its museums, restaurants and events, Suomenlinna provides an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. It is also home to 850 year-round residents. The island of Vallisaari was left in a natural state for decades before being opened to the public in 2016. Its wild nature offers a beautiful and relaxing setting just off the coast of the city centre. The island has a café and picnic area for visitors. Lonna is a pretty little island that was once used by the navy to demagnetise ships in order to protect them from mines. The island is now open to the public as a recreational area, complete with a restaurant, waffle bar and sauna. Ferry and waterbuses to Suomenlinna depart from the waterfront along with sightseeing cruises in summertime.

Isosaari is an island that is mostly covered by forest where you can experience the diverse archipelago nature. There are two sandy beaches for swimming, as well as a restaurant and terrace. You can even take a sauna there on days when public cruises are offered to and from the island. Boat to Isosaari leaves from the Market Square, next to Suomenlinna ferry.

Helsinki Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world – and also one of the prettiest. On the island of Korkeasaari you will find animals from the tundra to the tropics. The zoo is committed to protecting endangered species. Waterbus leaves from the Market Square, next to Suomenlinna ferry.

Kauppatorilla kesällä.
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The stalls inside the Old Market Hall sell high-quality food, including lots of fish, reindeer and even bear meat. You can also sit down and eat at one of the cafés or restaurants. 

During the Middle Ages, the Observatory Hill overlooking the harbour was used to burn signal fires to warn locals of threats from the sea. The Helsinki University Observatory that now sits atop the hill was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel and serves as a museum and visitor centre.

Carpet washers on the shore of Kaivopuisto
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Kaivopuisto park “Kaivari” is one of the oldest and most popular parks in Helsinki. A spa was built in the 1830s on what was then an unpopulated peninsula, and it became a popular holiday spot for wealthy visitors from St. Petersburg. At the highest point of the park is an observatory belonging to Ursa, the oldest and largest amateur astronomy association in Finland. Popular summer café Mattolaituri gets its name from the adjacent rug washing piers, where locals still wash their rugs in summertime.

The recreational island of Uunisaari can be reached by taking a small ferry in summertime or crossing the pontoon bridge in wintertime. The historic redbrick building on the island was once a paint factory but now houses a café and restaurant. Uunisaari has a great swimming beach, as well as rocks where you can sit and look out to sea. 

Pihlajasaari is another popular recreational island that also has great beaches and smooth granite rocks to sunbathe on. There is even a separate beach for naturalists, as well as a summer restaurant. Camping is permitted on weekends, and you can catch the ferry from behind Café Carusel

Eiranranta Boulevard shoreline behind the exclusive Eira district has the prettiest boulevard in Helsinki. There is a public swimming beach, next to which you can enjoy a snack in the summer café Birgitta.

Lovely seaview from Löyly's terrace
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Löyly is a stunning example of organic architecture, as the modern wooden sauna complex blends in perfectly with the shoreline. Löyly is open year round and offers a restaurant, terraces overhanging the sea and on the roof, and three saunas.

Many international cruise ships dock at Hernesaari.   

Eira Art Nouveau District is a wonderfully cohesive Art Nouveau district where you can admire the fine century-old architecture and pastel-coloured buildings. Nearby Huvilakatu is widely considered to be the prettiest street in Helsinki, making it the perfect location for Instagram photos.

Discover the best swimming places in Helsinki!

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The nicest thing about Helsinki is probably the sea. You can sense the proximity of the water everywhere, as it surrounds the city on three sides.