Islands right outside the downtown districts

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The islands found outside the southern downtown districts of Kaivopuisto and Eira are just a short ferry or boat ride away from the mainland. The chain of rocky islands separated the open sea and Merisatama, one of Finland's biggest marinas for small boats. While getting acquainted with the Uunisaari islands, Liuskasaari, Liuskaluoto and Sirpale you can also take in Helsinki boating culture.

Even locals often speak about Uunisaari in singular form when as a matter of fact plural would be correct: there is a southern (Eteläinen Uunisaari) and a northern (Pohjoinen Uunisaari) Uunisaari. The ferry ride to these islands (comprising three hectares in total) takes about three minutes but outside the summer months visitors can just walk over the pontoon bridge. A seaside spa was found on these islands in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries but nowadays the sturdy rocks, mighty alder trees, the sea, and birds nesting on the island offer a breath of Finnish archipelago life. The islands have a kid-friendly beach, a restaurant, a cafe and saunas that can be booked. 

Uunisaaren hiekkaranta
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Liuskasaari connects with the southern Uunisaari via a walkable jetty. The island is the home of the Helsinki Sailing Society (HSS) – which is over 100 years old – with a clubhouse, a marina and a restaurant that is open to the public. There is also a direct ferry to the island in summer departing at the end of Kapteeninkatu. The trip is not long but especially on sunny days it makes sense to reserve tickets. It takes around ten minutes with waiting time included.

Liuskaluoto can be reached by walking from Liuskaluoto or by the direct ferry from the end of Kapteeninkatu. The islet has a restaurant called Skiffer which serves popular islet-shaped pizzas. Read more about the ferry ride to Uunisaari, Liuskasaari and Liuskaluoto in the summer 2022.

Sirpalesaari (2.7 hectares) is separated from the mainland by a 60-metre wide inlet. The island was an industrial zone with a dockyard until the early 20th century. Nowadays the island is used by the local sailing society Suomalainen Pursiseura but it is also open to visitors. Facilities on the island include the restaurant Saari. There is a ferry connecting the island to the mainland that takes a few minutes. The ferry runs from May until mid-November and departs next to the cafe Carusel in Merisatamanranta.

Särkkä is a tiny island near Merisatama's chain of islands. It is situated around 500 metres from the shore of Kaivopuisto but is technically a part of the Suomenlinna city district. The island is the home harbour of the sailing society Merenkävijät and on the island is also Restaurant Särkänlinna. The fortress of Särkkä originally protected the city but it was also used as a powder magazine by the Russian Empire, and as the base of the 1952 Olympic sailing matches. The slanted floor of the restaurant reminds of days gone past – cannonballs were once rolled here. The ferry to Särkkä departs from April until October from the Ursula pier of the Kaivopuisto shore. The trip takes a few minutes.

Harakan saari on suosittu virkistysalue Kaivopuiston edustalla
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Harakka (9.2 hectares) lies just a stone throw's away from Kaivopuisto. The island is home to many nesting birds and is a popular birdwatching spot during the migration season. The island is an exceptional example of archipelago nature with many bird species, rare vegetation and butterflies. The main building on the island is used as studio spaces by professional artists and artisans. It hosts open exhibitions in summer. The Luontotalo environmental centre offers activities and information on archipelago nature. The former ammunition magazine showcases underwater photographs from the Baltic Sea and visitors can admire fish typical to the Gulf of Finland. The ferry to Harakka runs from April to October and departs from the Ursula pier at the Kaivopuisto shore. The trip takes a few minutes. There is no cafe or restaurant on the island.

Valkosaari is an island right in front of the Olympia Terminal at the Helsinki South Harbour. The island is leased to the Nyländska Jachtklubben sailing society and hosts the restaurant NJK. There used to be a boatyard, a dockyard, a military hospital and a cholera quarantine centre on the island. The island also hosts a guest boat marina. The ferry operates from early May until late September and leaves from the Olympia Terminal.

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The islands found outside the southern downtown districts of Kaivopuisto and Eira are just a short ferry or boat ride away from the mainland. In winter, a pontoon bridge connects to Uunisaari. Liuskasaari and Liuskaluoto can be reached by walking from Uunisaari.