Located in the Töölö district of the Finnish capital, the Helsinki Olympic Stadium was completed after four years of construction in 1938. Designed by local architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti, the Olympic Stadium was meant to host the 1940 Summer Olympics. The games were eventually canceled due to the tumultuous circumstances surrounding World War II but the Stadium successfully hosted the 1952 Summer Olympics, establishing itself as the largest stade in the country. A position it still holds today. The Helsinki Olympic Stadium remains one of the most significant landmarks of the city.
Visiting the famous tower reaching as far as 72 meters above ground offers splendid views of Helsinki and its surroundings. Tickets can be purchased on-site at 6,50€ and the visiting hours are limited to 9 PM on weekdays. Please note that the route to the top of the tower is unfortunately not accessible.
Once at the top, a remarkable view opens. A fantastic 360° overlooking the most spectacular activities a sunny winter’s day in Helsinki has to offer!
Looking towards the southern tip of the city, the eye will glance over a variety of wonderful locations for exercise, pure fun and enjoyment. Starting at Töölönlahti, where locals are often found roaming the 2,2 kilometer track running along the shoreline. Töölönlahti is by far the most popular walking, running and biking route for all Helsinkians alike. The circular track can be exited at any point and where better than next to the train tracks leading to Rautatientori and the Helsinki Central Railway Station.
While visiting the Olympic Stadium tower, one is simply forced to recognize the rise in the popularity of local traditional sports! Tracks made for cross-country skiing surround the stadium in a tight-knit web. While most popular skiing localities include classics such as the Central Park adjacent to the stadium, Paloheinä in the outskirts of northern Helsinki and Nuuksio National Park in Espoo, recent winters with plenty of snow have made masses reach for their skis and poles. Keen skiers can be found anywhere in the city – even on the busy streets of Kallio. Suomen Latu can be contacted for rental of cross-country gear.
Possibilities for outdoor activities in Helsinki are endless! The city offers plenty of ice rinks for ice hockey and bandy, a local sport. Brahe field in Kallio is a classic but so is Oulunkylä Sports Park. In fact, outdoor skating in Finland is so popular that during the winter months, weather allowing, small rinks can be found in nearly every nook and neighborhood. The Meilahti area adjacent to the Central Park features several and the park itself is home to many. All one needs to do is explore!
If you feel a bit chilly after your skating experience, why not warm up in a proper Finnish sauna? Helsinki offers an exquisite array of public saunas with plenty of concurring winter bathing possibilities! Establishments range from more public pool-like settings such as Allas Sea Pool next to the Market Square to more luxurious ones such as Löyly in Hernesaari and the architecturally significant Kulttuurisauna across the bridge near the Kallio district. All you need to do is bring yourself, bathing suits and towels are also rented on-site.
Looking down from the tower, if one squints ever so slightly, right behind the Helsinki Ice Hall, peeks a local pearl. Micropolis Skateboard Park, the notoriously known local skate hub designed by skater and Landscape Architect Janne Saario, is a vibrant summer spot for all skaters. According to Saari, Micropolis is a kind of collage of skatable urban spaces. “The park is a turbocharged landscape for skateboarding with details that are direct reinterpretations of existing skate spots from around the world”, says Saario. This while at the same time “manifesting for green networks and ecological corridors for animals in the urban environment.”
During the colder months of the year, local youth are often found snow skating in the Micropolis. This also delights the designer, “Great that snow offers new dimensions for park use!"
A hybrid between skateboarding and snowboarding, snow skating is primarily defined by a plethora of skateboard-style tricks performed on snow. This super fun activity is by no means limited to snowy skate parks hibernating over winter but can be practiced anywhere in the city. Just like skateboarding! The snow skate also allows for fun surfing on newly fallen, soft snow. Something that can be best done off the cliffs anywhere in Central Park, the close by Alppipuisto Park or the famous Taivaskallio, a park area in Käpylä.
As the sun climbs over the tower, making visibility evermore far-reaching, one can almost imagine seeing all the way to Lahti. The city and municipality some 100 kilometers north-east of Helsinki and home to over 100 years of skiing culture and a record-breaking seven FIS Nordic World Ski Championship events.
That is if one is really gazing afar! A sunny winter’s day could also be spent just leisurely sitting at the top of the tower overlooking the winter wonderland some 72 meters below – while sipping on hot chocolate.
This article is part of a series of designers talking about their Helsinki experience. In addition to MyHelsinki.fi, the articles are published at Helsinki Design Weekly.