Suomenlinna Sea Fortress – Helsinki’s Top Attraction (Finland)

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress – Helsinki’s Top Attraction (Finland)

Though it means “Castle of Finland,” Suomenlinna’s name only hints at the complex history of culture, trade, and conflict which produced the country we know today. The UNESCO World Heritage site, which occupies a small group of islands just off the coast of Helsinki, initially defended the then Swedish territory against outside forces.

Construction on the fortress began in 1748 and it remained in Swedish possession until Russia took hold of the territory in 1808. Finland finally gained independence from the global giant in 1917, at which point the fortress and its islands gained their present name. But don’t let us give you the whole history lesson! Plan to spend a whole day at Suomenlinna, which can only be accessed by water.

A city ferry runs from Market Square (Pohjoissatama) directly to the island, while water buses stop at other points of interest before docking at the fortress. (Many note that the crossing is especially picturesque during the winter months, when the island, the city, and the harbor are all decked in snow and ice.) Feel free to sail your own boat to the islands’ guest harbor if you’re feeling adventurous.

Sadly, there is no actual castle at Suomenlinna, but between all the town’s many features – including old barracks, a defunct prison, a church, and no fewer than six museums – you’re unlikely to get bored while there. Should you feel overwhelmed, guided tours are available year-round in a number of languages. You might also consider an overnight stay at the islands’ Hostel Suomenlinna.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress Useful Info’s:

Webpage: http://www.suomenlinna.fi/en

Email: info@suomenlinna.fi

Phone number: +358 295 338 410

SUOMENLINNA SEA FORTRESS


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Nuuksio National Park – Go For a Hike Around The Finnish Forest (Finland)

Nuuksio National Park – Go For a Hike Around The Finnish Forest (Finland)

If you’d like to take a journey through time while in Helsinki, travel to nearby Nuuksio National Park. The 55-square-kilometer park has yielded a number of Stone-Age archaeological finds, effectively dating it as one of the earliest settlements in what would eventually become modern-day Finland. (Today the park encompasses several lakes and forests which border the towns of Espoo, Kirkkonummi, and Vihti.) Yet the land’s history as a park is much more recent: it was officially established in 1994, making it one of the most recent additions to the country’s roster of national parks.

At a mere 35 kilometers from Helsinki, Nuuksio constitutes a refuge from the city’s rapid sprawl. It’s separated from the city by just a half-hour’s drive, and it can also be reached by several trains and/or bus lines. A word of caution: plan ahead if you’d like to take public transportation. The journey isn’t difficult, but some routes offer infrequent service and limited park accessibility. Once there, take advantage of the park’s many hiking trails. Several different levels of difficulty are available, which offers something for casual strollers and hardcore trekkers alike.

You can also take advantage of the many bicycle trails weaving through the park, or look into arranging a horse ride if you’re part of a small group. And speaking of animals: keep an eye peeled for Siberian flying squirrels! They’re plentiful in Nuuksio – so much so, they’re emblazoned on the park’s official logo. You need not feel rushed to experience the park in one day, as it’s open to campers. So much adventure, and at so little cost: admission to the park is free.

Nuuksio National Park Useful Info’s:

Webpage: www.nationalparks.fi/nuuksionp

Address: Nuuksio National Park, 03220 Espoo, Finland

Emailnuuksio@metsa.fi

Phone number: +35840 163 6200

NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK


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Kulttuurisauna – A Calming Public Sauna in Helsinki (Finland)

Kulttuurisauna – A Calming Public Sauna in Helsinki (Finland)

The Merihaka district is something of a refuge within Helsinki. As a largely residential neighborhood, minimal automobile traffic moves through its streets, and several thoroughfares are reserved for pedestrians. The neighborhood’s water-front location adds to its peace and quiet – and, of course, makes it an ideal location for a sauna.

Established in 2013, Kulttuurisauna promises an experience as calm as the neighborhood surrounding it. You might get such a feeling when visiting the sauna’s plain-and-simple website, or when you first spot the building itself—its log pillars and single-story frame form a serene contrast with the neighborhood’s high-rise apartment buildings.

With general admission costing 17.80USD (€15) and only 11.80USD (€10) for students, Kulttuurisauna is perfect for those who seek a no-frills, relaxing sauna experience. It’s only open during the latter half of the week (Wednesday through Sunday), and you should come prepared to bathe without a towel or swimsuit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this isn’t the place for a large, rowdy gathering! Groups cannot exceed three persons, and neither alcohol nor photography is allowed on the premises. A camera shouldn’t be necessary, however, since you’ll be able to catch beautiful glimpses of the ocean through the sauna’s picture windows. And of course, finish your time in the sauna with a dip in the ocean itself.

If you’re still in the mood for sightseeing or adventures after your visit, don’t worry; Merihaka is only about a kilometer away from Helsinki’s city center.

Kulttuurisauna Useful Info’s:

Webpage: http://www.kulttuurisauna.fi/

Address: Hakaniemenranta 17, 00530, Helsinki

KULTTUURISAUNA HELSINKI

Photo credit to Fileri | CC 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Featured image photo credits to Marko Ahtisaari | CC 2.0


Helsinki in a nutshell:

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Löyly Helsinki – The Trendiest Eco-Friendly Sauna in Helsinki (Finland)

Löyly Helsinki – The Trendiest Eco-Friendly Sauna in Helsinki (Finland)

True, its name hints at what you’re in for: löyly is the Finnish word for steam made by water hitting hot wood or stone. But sauna is only a fraction of the experience at this burgeoning “urban oasis,” which is less than 2km away from Helsinki’s city center.

As one of several building projects in Helsinki’s Hernesaari district, Löyly aims to redefine the city’s old industrial district – and the typical sauna experience – for Finland’s rapidly growing tourist population. Along those lines, Löyly represents a larger effort to make Finnish traditions more vibrant and relevant to the life of a rapidly globalizing country. You’ll notice this fusion of old and new in the building’s sleek wooden exterior, cleverly designed to maintain privacy while offering breathtaking views of the city and ocean.

The sauna’s bathing policy also lends an update to this age-old practice. People of all genders sauna together, effectively dragging this pastime out of its males-only past. (This means you’ll have to wear a bathing suit while using the facilities.) And it’s inspired the offerings you’ll find at Löyly’s self-service restaurant. Perfect after relaxing in the spa area, the restaurant mixes contemporary fusions with updates on Scandinavian classics.

Be sure to visit Löyly’s website before you plan a visit; both the sauna and the restaurant require prior reservations (except in the summertime, when you can dine without reserving a table). Whether you’d like to bring a significant other, the whole family, a large group, or just yourself, you’ll appreciate the chance to get a new lease on a time-honored experience.

Löyly Helsinki Useful Info’s:

Webpage: http://www.loylyhelsinki.fi/

Address: Hernesaarenranta 4, 10050, Helsinki

Email: +358 9 6128 6550

Phone number: info@loylyhelsinki.fi

LÖYLY HELSINKI

Photo credits to Ninara | CC 2.0


Helsinki in a nutshell:

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Sauna Arla – A Public Sauna in Helsinki (Finland)

Sauna Arla – A Public Sauna in Helsinki (Finland)

Arla Sauna continues a long-standing legacy of Finnish public sauna culture. Having served guests continually since 1929, Arla is the second-oldest sauna in Helsinki—and it’s also one of the three public saunas remaining in the city.

It’s something of a mainstay in the Kallio district, which represents a youthful, vibrant collision between the Helsinki’s historic and future-forward aspects. Accordingly, Arla has a reputation as a “down-to-earth,” “authentic” Finnish sauna.

It’s rugged cast-iron front gate announces the establishment’s look and feel right away: though clean and comfortable, it offers visitors an experience that’s more about the steam and conversation, and less about a posh atmosphere or fancy amenities. And unlike many newer saunas, Arla’s provides separate steam rooms for male and female visitors. Of course there’s plenty of sweat and swim to be had at Arla (which powers its saunas with a combination of wood and natural gas); however, you won’t want to miss out on the sauna’s other options for relaxation.

Complement your sauna time with a massage – or, if you’re in the mood for something slightly more intense, cupping therapy is also available. The sauna also offers some light refreshments. Arla also boasts artwork produced by residents of this hip neighborhood. Not a bad spread, especially when you consider Arla’s modest 14.25USD (€12) entry fee.

Arla is adjacent to a number of trendy cafes, boutiques, and bookshops, and can easily be reached via tram number 9 (which runs directly to and from the city’s central railway station).

Sauna Arla Useful Info’s:

Webpage: www.arlasauna.net

Address: Kaarlenkatu 15, 00510 Helsinki, Finland

Emailsauna@arlansauna.net

Phone number: +3589719218

Photo credits to Fraintesa.it | CC 2.0


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Sompasauna – The Most Public Sauna in Helsinki (Finland)

Sompasauna – The Most Public Sauna in Helsinki (Finland)

Celebrated internationally as a “guerilla sauna” and the “most public” establishment of its kind, this volunteer-run sauna has offered beachfront service since 2011.

Sompasauna began as a modest attempt to repurpose an abandoned water-front shed and wood-burning stove. It was initially intended to be a small outfit for a close-knit group of friends, but as more people caught wind of the project it has slowly become something of an example for Finland’s growing number of “open-door” saunas—that is, saunas that are run by local co-ops rather than the government or private entities.

Sompasauna is located at the southernmost point of the Kalasatama district, offering visitors scenic beach views, growing shopping opportunities, and convenient links to public transportation. Sompasauna is self-service; the site offers wood and a stove, but it’s up to you to keep the steam going. Don’t forget to bring your own towel, bathing suits, and beverages as well. While visiting, try to make an extra effort to leave everything as you found it! Sompasauna survives on the tireless efforts of volunteers and visitors alike.

In keeping with the sauna’s communal ethos, site users are responsible for keeping everything clean and safe for others – so don’t forget to keep things tidy and take your trash with you. Though Sompasauna’s operation grows more and more by the month, keep your fingers crossed that it continues to grow and thrive. Time will tell how Kalasatama’s rapid development will affect the livelihood of this cozy institution. Regardless, though, its founders plan to keep it going even if they have to find a new location.

NOTE: Due to the infrastructure development around the area, there’s a possibility that Sompasauna’s location won’t be the same as it is now.

Sompasauna useful infos:

Webpage: www.sompasauna.fi/

Address: Lapinlahdenpolku 8, 00180, Helsinki

Emailsompasauna@sompasauna.fi

SOMPASAUNA

Photo credits to Johan Grönvall


Helsinki in a nutshell:

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