A hot summer day and a picnic are often the things we remember most about our childhood summers. So pack your backpack with picnic supplies, or buy them on your way, and head out with your kids to enjoy a lovely summer’s day in one of Helsinki’s cool and shaded parks. Here are ten top tips for finding the best family picnic spots in Helsinki including a variety of beautiful landscapes and fascinating places.
Viikki’s fields and the Arboretum
How would you like a picnic practically in the countryside surrounded by fields and grazing cows? On the other side of the Old Town Bay lies the Viikki Research Farm, where dozens of cows spend their summers. The adjacent Arboretum offers shaded picnic places, beautiful nature and the birdwatching towers. A picnic in a nature reserve by the fields – and just a short metro or bus ride from the city centre – on a hot summer’s day is an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. In what other capital city can you see grazing cows so close to the centre of town!
Viikki Research Farm, Koetilantie 5
Suomenlinna is a classic picnic destination and the kind of place where you always find something new and unexpected. Visiting the historic sea fortress with kids means exploring all the tunnels and fortifications, waving to the huge ferries as they pass close by the King’s Gate, walking around the dry docks, checking out the Vesikko submarine, sitting on the cannons dating back to the Crimean War, and enjoying a picnic on the green lawns. Suomenlinna also has a playground, a small swimming beach, a library and a charming toy museum. You can purchase your picnic supplies from the Market Square before you board the ferry, and there is a small grocery store on the main island. You can also enjoy snacks and refreshments at any one of the lovely cafés on Suomenlinna. The ferry ride from the Market Square to the UNESCO World Heritage Site takes around 15 minutes. More information about the ferries here.
Suomenlinna ferry quay, Market Square
Mustasaari is a recreational island near Seurasaari that is used by the Helsinki Parish Union as a summer retreat. Especially popular among families, the island has a swimming beach, play areas and nature paths that ensure the perfect day out for the entire family – not to mention the island’s charming café, which is famous for its fresh cinnamon buns. Hares, chickens and a cockerel also spend their summers on the island, as do five sheep that you can pet on the adjacent island of Hevossaari. A bridge connects the two islands, and sheep graze freely. The ferry to Mustasaari departs from the Taivallahti shoreline, and the crossing from the mainland takes around 15 minutes. More information about the ferries here.
Mustasaari Activity Centre, Mustasaari Pier, Hiekkarannantie 5
A picnic excursion to the nostalgic villa island of Pihlajasaari feels like taking a holiday in the South. Pihlajasaari offers a real summer paradise on hot days with its long sandy beach, splendid granite cliffs, diverse nature and services – including three cooking lean-tos that can be used freely by visitors, as well as a café-restaurant. You can even prolong your stay by camping out overnight on the eastern island (with a small fee). Information about the ferries here.
Pihlajasaari, Ruoholahti pier, Kellosaarenranta 1, Kaivopuisto ferry pier, Merisatamanranta 10
Next to the iconic Linnanmäki Amusement Park, on the rocky slopes of the Alppila district, you will find the Lenininpuisto park – the perfect place for a picnic when visiting Linnanmäki or just for fun. The park affords beautiful views over the rooftops of Pasila and Alppila, and it has lots of shaded areas for picnicking and a small stream running through the middle. There is a small play area in the park for sports and activities, and there are many other playgrounds located nearby.
The tiny island of Tervasaari between the Kruununhaka district and the zoo island of Korkeasaari is an excellent picnic spot that is within easy walking distance from the city centre and Hakaniemi. Despite its small size, it has lots of green lawns, benches with a view to the sea, a fenced play area, and a restaurant where you can buy picnic supplies if you forgot to bring them with. Tervasaari is a charming and peaceful getaway from the busy centre.
The recreational island of Seurasaari is famous for its historic buildings, unique history and tame squirrels, but it is also an excellent destination for enjoying a picnic and adventure with the kids. The rocks on the southern tip of the island offer great views to Helsinki’s archipelago, you can grill on the open barbecue close to the festival field, and you can explore the diverse archipelago nature by jumping rock to rock. Seurasaari also has three cafés and a restaurant. There is a small entrance fee to the Open-Air Museum, but otherwise the island is free of charge.
The island of Mustikkamaa – “Blueberry Land” – between Kulosaari and Korkeasaari is a forested recreational area that has a splendid rocky shoreline, a long sandy beach, and lots of great picnic spots by the sea or in the forests. You will also find the Korkee adventure park and a sports field. You should also stop by the Edible Park on the western side of the island, where you can help water the gardens, taste the harvest and pet the rabbits. To get to Mustikkamaa, take Bus 16 from Railway Square or walk across the Isoisänsilta pedestrian bridge from the Kalasatama district.
A short metro ride from the city centre, on the southern tip of Lauttasaari, you will find a unique archipelago attraction. Särkiniemi Park is a large recreational area with a scenic rocky shoreline that offers lots of sheltered picnic spots and shaded areas on hot summer days. There is also a swimming beach and a playground for kids. The views out to the archipelago are wonderful, and on clear days you can see the Harmaja Lighthouse. Cannons and fortifications from the Crimean War add historical appeal to the area. The local café-restaurant Paseo is open daily if you have forgotten to pack your picnic basket. The park is approximately one kilometre from the Lauttasaari metro station, but you can also take the local bus from outside the station.
Särkiniemi Park, Itälahdenkatu 1
Restaurant Paseo, Itälahdenkatu 1A