The best things about Kulosaari are the valuable architecture and the sunsets. My favorite pastime is photographing the sun setting over the rapids and painting the sky fire-red, while listening to the evening serenade of seabirds and waves. The beautiful environment is perfect for walking all around the Mustikkamaa island, and over across the Grandfather's Bridge as far as the city center — unless you decide to stay for a swim or pop into Korkeasaari Zoo! Kulosaari is stylish, international, peaceful, and safe. People here look each other in the eye and say hello when they pass.
Even though it is only a two-minute metro ride away from Kalasatama, the trip to Kulosaari feels like traveling to the distant past. Next door to the suburb of the future is an island where the spirit of Helsinki in the early 1900s is still alive.
Kulosaari was built on the land of a large estate in the early years of the 20th century, when the company in charge of developing the region tried to make the island a miniature city of lavish country houses. The plans were drawn up by architect Lars Sonck, who prized a small lagoon-esque bay called Gloet at the southern end of the island. Sonck also designed the impressive Wihuri castle nearby, which was finished as a hotel in 1917. It is now the headquarters of the Finnish trade conglomerate Wihuri Group, whence it gets its modern name.
Most of the apartment buildings in Kulosaari were built in the 1960s. In the decades prior there was only a single tenement building in the area; elegant villas and continental townhouses were all the rage. The street names reference many architects who had a say in the area's look, as well as many Finnish presidents. Kulosaari has been an important political stage, as the embassies of numerous countries are located there. Important diplomatic meetings were also held in the Kulosaari Casino, with windows onto the sea.
Visitors can remove from these villa vistas across a bridge over onto Mustikkamaa, one of Helsinki's best loved outdoor recreational areas thanks to the many opportunities for fun: quality food, summertime theater, sports and exercise, fishing, dancing — or just sitting around in meditation. The most famous building in Mustikkamaa is the restaurant from 1921, a fine example of the era's wooden architecture.
In Mustikkamaa it feels like you're far away from everything, and yet only a stone's throw from the surrounding city. From Mustikkamaa you can make your way into the center, Kulosaari, Kalasatama, or the zoo at Korkeasaari.
The name of the island means "land of blueberries", and visitors would be forgiven for thinking there would be lots of berry bushes around. However, the name actually refers to the blue color of the island's granite. In the early 1900s it was lyrically and a little misleadingly known as Sinivuorenmaa, "land of the blue mountain".