Are you looking for things to do outside of Helsinki?
Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, is a charming summer city and a cosy place to while away wintery hours.
But when visiting Helsinki (or indeed living there), you may have the occasional urge to get outside this green city into more greenery! Native Helsinkians are known for their enthusiastic day-tripping outside the city.
Here are some day trip ideas that are all within a few hours (max) of Helsinki. Pretty much all are suitable for families with children and dog owners. Many require a car, though others like Porvoo are well served by public transport. Happy adventuring!
Porkkala used to be a military area, though it’s now largely de-militarised.
On the coast and a short drive from Helsinki, Porkkala is a great place for a pretty coastal walk, a picnic, or wander in the forest.
With plenty of facilities for people wanting to cook sausages over a fire, it’s a very popular day trip destination.
Lots of signposted walking routes make this a good one for family adventures.
There are also facilities like cafes and shops in the area.
This picturesque lighthouse is on an island near Porvoo and you can get to it pretty much every day thanks to a regularly running boat trip: just hop on the Söderskär boat from Kauppatori.
The trip there and back will take up most of the day: 08-16:00. As a protected bird nesting habitat, you won’t be able to get off the boat and enter the island for pretty much the whole month of July.
As well as the lighthouse, the journey itself is a nice foray into Finland’s famous archipelago. Anybody visiting the maritime city of Helsinki definitely needs to get on a boat too.
More details here: http://soderskar.fi/soderskars-lighthouse
Porvoo is probably the most popular day trip from Helsinki. A historic and picturesque wooden city, Porvoo is packed to the brim with traditional craft shops, great places to eat, and cute pubs on the river.
Porvoo is easy to get to by bus from Helsinki and is especially popular with tourists and students.
Check out the old Porvoo church while you’re there and be ready to take lots of pictures of cobbled streets and old traditional wooden houses!
More details here: https://www.visitporvoo.fi/
Nuuksio National Park
Nuuksio is a vast nature reserve. Easy to get to, Nuuksio is a great place to relax in the famously beautiful Nordic nature.
With trails suitable for all ages and abilities, Nuuksio is the perfect place to leave the dust of the city behind.
Find out more about Nuuksio here: https://www.nationalparks.fi/nuuksionp
This is a bit of a hidden gem tucked away by the side of the road near Elimäki. Full of rare tree species (especially conifers) and other horticultural delights, there are a variety of treks through the forest that you can choose from. There is a circular route to suit all abilities.
Check out their famous Rhododendron Valley when it’s in bloom.
As well as the arboretum, there is a very nice cafe and places to eat, as well as garden centre shop. This is a great destination for families and it’s only a 90 minute drive from central Helsinki (though you will struggle to get there with public transport).
Read more about visiting Mustila here: http://www.mustila.fi/en
With Estonia being so near to Finland, it is entirely possible to go to Estonia and back in the day! Just hop on one of the many boats to Tallinn and enjoy a day wandering around beautiful medieval Tallinn.
An old walled city, old Tallinn is a UNESCO world heritage site with plenty of things to see. Just walking around and soaking in the atmosphere is enough….
Or learn more about the Russian occupation in the creepy KGB museum or visit any number of the trendy restaurants: anything from vegan eateries to a famous garlic restaurant. Tallinn is also a great place for shopping. Estonians have many great skincare and fashion brands. A new and up & coming part of town worth a visit is Kalamaja.
From experience, it’s good to get one of the earliest boats in the day and then come back around 8/9 at night so that you get to experience all that Tallinn has to offer!
An old industrial village, Fiskars is packed to the brim with picturesque old wooden buildings (including the cutest wooden fire station in the world) and arts and crafts shops. Learn more about the area’s industrial past and get yourself a pair of famous orange Fiskars scissors. Stop to eat at the bookshop care or the old mill on the river.
A great place to visit with dogs, there are plenty of walking routes in the Fiskars area. The drive there also takes you through some very scenic countryside.
Visit the Fiskars Village website here.
The Home Of Jean Sibelius: Ainola (+Lake Tuusula)
As well as being naturally beautiful, the area around Lake Tuusula has many cultural destinations that every Fennophile will want to visit.
Tuusula was an important cultural centre in early twentieth-century Finland, with many artists living around Tuusula’s lake.
The most famous inhabitant is probably the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius who set up home here with his wife Aino, in a wooden villa they called Ainola. Definitely a must-see for any music lovers out there.
While in the area, you can also delve into the history of the Finnish Lotta organisation (set up during the wars so that women could contribute to the war effort through nursing etc.).
Tuusula is also home to Halosenniemi, home to Finnish artist Pekka Halonen.
- Read more about Ainola here.
- Read more about the Lotta museum here.
- Read about Halosenniemi here.
- More things to do around Lake Tuusula here.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela Home
Akseli Gallen-Kallela is one of the most famous Finnish artists. He is especially renowned for his depictions of scenes and characters from Kalevala, the Finnish national epic.
His work is all over the city and his studio museum in Tarvaspää is an interesting homage to this national hero.
Designed by the man himself to be a sort of studio/castle, Tarvaspää is full of not only art from Gallen-Kallela, but also interesting cultural artifacts and items owned by him and his family.
The place is very unique and not one you will forget in a hurry…
Learn more about the museum here: https://www.gallen-kallela.fi/en/
A nature house tucked away in the Espoo countryside, Elfvik offers the twin attractions of an Art Nouveu villa that houses the nature museum with the beautiful surroundings of the Laajalahti Nature Reserve.
With plenty of easy walking routes that are great for kids, Elfvik is also used by Espoo schools as a centre for ecological education. Definitely worth a visit when you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Glims Farmstead Museum
A favourite with children, Glims is an engaging rural museum in Espoo.
Well-preserved and full of activities to try with the kids, the old village of Karvasmäki is the ideal place to turn back the clock and imagine what it would be like to live in rural Finland, shearing sheep and churning butter.
Similar to the Helsinki destination Seurasaari, Glims is definitely worth the visit.
Pentala is a beautiful place to immerse yourself in the uniquely peaceful Finnish archipelago.
Located in the Espoonlahti bay, you can enjoy the atmosphere of this old fishing estate.
Similar to other outdoor museums such as Seurasaari in Helsinki and Glims in Espoo, this is a unique opportunity to experience coastal life in a historic setting.
And you get to hop on a boat to get there!
Boat schedule here: https://www.kulttuuriespoo.fi/en/node/17801
Villa Rullud has the double attraction of being a pretty seaside wooden villa museum, as well as offering beautiful walks in the surrounding countryside.
Learn about the owners of the house (the Kihlman family) and take a picnic that you can enjoy on this beautiful bit of Espoo peninsula. (Note, the museum itself is not open a lot so check before you go… but to be honest, the nature is more of draw here anyways!).
Details about the villa: https://www.kulttuuriespoo.fi/en/rulludd
EMMA & WeeGee House
This is a good trip one for anybody who also fancies checking out some of Espoo and learn more about suburban Finnish culture.
You can get off at Tapiola (the there metro takes about 10 minutes) and walk around Finland’s ‘Garden City’ with its unique architecture and atmosphere, before heading down the road to the cultural destination of EMMA (Espoo Museum of Modern Art) housed in the WeeGee House.
Local tip: While in central Tapiola, try the cinammon buns at Kaisan Cafe. You won’t regret it.
The exhibitions change on a regular basis and WeeGee also houses KAMU (Espoo City Museum) which has some interesting exhibits on Espoo’s history and architecture.
More about the Espoo Museum of Modern Art here: https://emmamuseum.fi/en/