The Finnish TV series Metsien kätkemä (“Concealed by Forests”) recently visited five nature destinations in Helsinki. It’s easy for anyone to follow in the footsteps of the film crew and discover all these wonderful places and trails. And once you have tried all five, remember that Helsinki still has dozens and dozens of other fascinating nature attractions!
Keskuspuisto – Helsinki’s Central Park
Helsinki’s Central Park is the most popular forest in Finland and full of places that are worth seeing. The TV series set off from the Central Railway Station, crossed through Kaisaniemi Park and the Linnunlaulu “Birdsong” district, and then continued onwards via Laakso to the deepest forests in Central Park. Here you can admire the allotment gardens and enjoy the shade of the spruce trees. The route continues past the pet cemetery in Metsälä to the Paloheinä recreational area and ends in Haltiala.
Niskala arboretum and Haltiala primeval forest
There are three points of interest in Niskala. The wildest and most surprising, considering its location within the metropolitan area, is the Haltiala primeval forest, where you can experience the eerie atmosphere among the ancient trees and hike across duckboards. A more exotic forest can be found at the Niskala arboretum, which features tree species collected from all over the world. Lastly, you can enjoy the traditional Finnish countryside at Haltiala Farm, where you will find not only farm animals and fields but also a nice café.
Vantaanjoki – Vantaa River
The Vantaa River is central to Helsinki and its history, yet surprisingly few have experienced it from the water. The river is in fact perfect for kayaking and canoeing, even for beginners. As you paddle along the river admiring its shores, it’s hard to imagine that you are so close to some of the busiest transportation corridors in Finland. A nice quiet place to enjoy a picnic is by the Tapaninvainio swimming beach. The rapids at the mouth of the river cannot be paddled, but you can get right up to the start of the rapids before climbing out, as we did.
Lammassaari – Sheep Island
This jewel of an island in the Old Town Bay is one of the most Instagrammed places in Helsinki. The duckboards leading to the island were replaced by new wider ones and the observation platform made fully accessible in 2018, taking this urban nature destination to a completely new level. If one had to name the most beautiful trails in Finland, this would have to be one of them. Sheep Island is especially recommended for families with children, as it's easy to get to and explore, it’s not too big, and it’s very exciting. It’s also perfect for birdwatchers!
Vallisaari – Rampart Island
The TV series culminated at this former military island, which is full of unbelievable stories and beautiful nature. Accounts of the enormous ammunition explosion in 1906 are truly hair raising, just as the tree-lined alleys are truly beautiful. The observation platform at Kustaanmiekka (opposite the King’s Gate at Suomenlinna) is particularly worth visiting, as it affords a stunning view to the sea and the fortress. The observation platform at the Alexander Battery is equally impressive and shows how incredibly close the Finnish capital is to the surrounding nature. Helsinki truly is a nature capital! A waterbus connection to Vallisaari is available in summer from the Market Square.