10 ways to enjoy maritime Helsinki

With three ducks swimming in the foreground, a woman paddles on a SUP board across Töölönlahti. The shoreline can be seen behind her, where a house stands surrounded by trees.
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Did you know that Helsinki has 300 islands? The most popular islands are accessible by boat or waterbus, while smaller islands can be reached by a rental kayak or SUP board. Spend a fun summer day by the sparkling water or stay for even longer.

Visit a historic island

Pack a towel, some sunscreen and a hat and hop aboard one of HSL waterbuses. HSL offers you to board the waterbus at the Market Square and reach your destination, Suomenlinna Sea Fortress Island, which offers its visitors both fascinating history and exciting tunnels to explore. You can easily spend the entire day on the island. The day ticket for the Market Square route is 8 / 4 euros for the entire day.

Paddle all summer long

Slide your kayak into the water and enjoy. The best waters for paddling in the city can be found in East Helsinki. The Vuosaari Paddling Center operated by Natura Viva offers tours and courses that are easy to book online. You can begin with a two-hour tour for 39 euros that is ideal for beginners, teaching you the basic skills and paddling slowly. Many other tours are also available, including overnight adventures. If you like to kayak often, you can even purchase a season card for 199 euros. You can rent kayaks from the paddling centre daily from 5am to midnight. The season card also includes a weekly group tour in Vuosaari. Even if you have not attended the course for beginners, the season card is valid from the beginning of June to the end of August. You can also purchase a season card for 249 euros that lets you also use fat bikes, SUP boards, canoes and rowing boats.
Vuosaari Paddling Center, Harbonkatu 13

Take to the water in a city boat

The sharing economy has arrived at the pier. You no longer need to own your own boat; instead you can borrow a Skipperi city boat using a mobile app whenever you feel like taking to the water and from seven different piers in Helsinki. The service offers over 170 Yamarin motorboats in Finland. The monthly fee for Fleet motorboats is 189 euros. The price includes everything you need for boating: life jackets, initial guidance and insurance. All you have to do is fill up the tank for the next user. You can also use one of ten rowing boats that are available in Töölönlahti, Vuosaari and Munkkiniemi for a season fee of just 35 euros. You can reserve a boat using the Skipperi mobile app, and season cards are valid also in other Finnish cities.

If you want to row just once, you can borrow a rowing boat from Hakuna Matata by the Töölönlahti bay for just 30 euros an hour.

Learn to sail

Have you always dreamed of sailing with the wind? Now is the time to begin. The Baltic Cruising sailing school offers courses for beginners and experienced yachtsmen alike. Courses include for example harbour maneuvering and sail handling. You can also join evening sailings to practice or simply enjoy the scenery. The cost per sailing starts from 75 euros. 

Go SUP boarding from a beach

Helsinki has 12 supervised swimming beaches where lifeguards are on duty 7.6.-15.8.2021. This summer you can rent SUP boards from many beaches in Helsinki and start practicing your body control. SUP Station at Aurinkolahti offers both boards and tours. Beginners always receive good instruction, and Aurinkolahti is an easy place to try out a SUP board for the first time. Paddling beneath the bridges is also fun. Your self-confidence will continue to build, so by the end you may even try a few yoga positions. Aurinkolahti also offers great places for adventures if you are already more experienced with a SUP board.
SUP Station, Aurinkoranta 10

Puiden väliin pingotettu makuusija, tentsile, Vallisaaressa.
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Spend a night on an island

Want to spend a night by the sea? The most popular recreational islands are served by regular ferry connections – check out the HSL Journey Planner for schedules! A favourite among local families is the island of Isosaari, which offers shallow beaches that are safe for kids. It also has a camping area for up to 50 tents. You can also spend the night aboard the M/S Isosaari ship, which has 15 cabins and 42 beds. The island of Pihlajasaari is the most popular summer island among locals and is easily recognisable by its colourful changing huts. Once the day trippers have boarded the last ferry back to the mainland, the campers can enjoy the silence. The island of Vallisaari in turn is popular among nature lovers. An exciting alternative to traditional camping is a Tentsile tree tent, inside of which you can experience the white nights in the archipelago. For something really different, try a night inside an old tower transformer on the island of Kuninkaansaari that now provides accommodation for up to four persons starting from 105 euros a night.

Check out the new watersports centre at Hietsu 

The Laguuni watersports centre from Keilaniemi in Espoo has opened a new centre at the popular Hietaranta beach (Hietsu). It is now possible to rent a SUP board or kayak and paddle all the way around the island of Seurasaari, for example. For even more excitement, you can also try wakeboarding. Instead of being pulled along by a motorboat, a cable accelerates you across the water. Experienced wakeboarders can even hit the floating ramps and do flips. If you already know how to snowboard, wakeboarding should be pretty easy to learn. Each session costs 25 euros plus 10 euros to rent a board and wetsuit. Beginners should take a course to start with. Half an hour of training plus an hour of wakeboarding costs just 50 euros, including equipment. 
Laguuni, Hietaniemen ranta

Meet up with friends at Katajanokka

The district of Katajanokka next to the Market Square is home to Helsinki’s renewed guest harbour. MarinaBay is a popular meeting place not only for boaters, but also for residents of Katajanokka and other locals. Check out the flowerpots along the waterfront that have been painted by neighbours. The area offers a wide range of entertainment with great restaurants. You can rent a boat or bicycle, swim at Allas Sea Pool or even enjoy a massage.
MarinaBay, Kanavaranta 4

Explore the island district of Lauttasaari 

The island district of Lauttasaari has been named residential district of the year in 2020 and is home to locals who love the sea. You can explore the island starting from Vattuniemi and enter the forest paths where the buildings end. Stop at the Paseo café or take a dip in the sea. Along the way you can admire the almost 500 miniature summer cottages that offer just 12 square metres of living space! Kids will love the Kasinonranta playground, while grownups can relax at the Lauttasaaren paviljonki café-restaurant. On chilly days you can even warm up around the fire. The smooth rocks at Länsiulapanniemi are another great place to take a dip. The Puhvetti summer café serves delicious home-cooked food and Italian tiramisu on weekends.
Paseo, Itälahdenkatu 1a
Lauttasaaren paviljonki, Kuikkarinne 1

Enjoy a picnic at Kallvik 

The swimming beach at Kallvikinniemi is one of the shallowest and most sheltered in Helsinki, so the water warms up quickly. You can wade out for many metres, but the water can get deep very quickly after the sandy section, so keep an eye on your kids. On summer weekends, Kallahdenniemi is transformed into a fragrant summer kitchen by families and groups of friends. The public grills are quickly taken, so many people bring their own. Music and smells blend together for the perfect summer atmosphere. The summer evenings are bright and clear. This is picnicking at its best.

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Did you know that Helsinki has 300 islands? The most popular islands are accessible by boat or waterbus, while smaller islands can be reached by a rental kayak or SUP board.