The green guide to visiting Helsinki

For the fifth yr in a row, Finns have been formally ranked because the happiest individuals on the planet.

For city dwellers, the capital’s abundance of nature, house and quiet is definitely a lift – from the parks and allotments that add to its 40 per cent inexperienced house, to the near-unrivalled air and water high quality and unerring presence of the ocean. For Helsinki is, the truth is, a peninsula – embraced on three sides by a mosaic of 300 islands, 130km of shoreline and 25 public seashores (with winter swimming extremely inspired) – the place each resident lives inside 10km of the water.

Helsinki has lengthy stood on the frontier of environmental accountability and innovation

Maybe born of this distinctive pure setting, Helsinki has lengthy stood on the frontier of environmental accountability and innovation. The town has pledged carbon neutrality by 2035, and is steadily transferring in direction of its purpose. However for all the massive figures, the capital is most keenly a spot of grassroots, experimental inexperienced considering, from conscientious meals sourcing to low-impact design.

The Helsinki “Suppose Sustainably” platform helps to direct locals and guests alike to the town’s most sustainable options and actions, with blogs together with “Suggestions for excellent respiratory spots” and “City adventures by way of public transport”. Certainly, guests could also be shocked to find the extent to which local weather accountability informs the town’s day-to-day life: one solely has to languish in an eco-designed sauna, settle right into a zero-waste dinner, or roam amongst its “preloved” boutiques to find the enjoyment, heat and inspiration that may stem from environmentalism.

Right here’s how one can benefit from a visit to this future-facing metropolis with a deal with relishing the current.


Conventional Finnish fishing cottage meets patented off-grid expertise at MajaMaja, which grew to become an in a single day phenomenon for its eco-retreat on the internal Helsinki archipelago.

Conceived by architect Pekka Littow, the “little home” is fitted with a mezzanine bed room, solar-powered kitchenette, closed-loop water system utilizing collected rainwater, and bespoke foldable furnishings for max house effectivity.

Ten minutes by boat from Helsinki harbour, Majamaja is the right summation of the town’s radical design historical past and forward-looking environmental spirit. “Folks don’t come for simply one other resort expertise,” says CEO Tuomas Autio. “Within the morning, you may clear every part out and create this little zen house.”

Majamaja: in a single day stays from €230, sleeps one to a few visitors. 4 new homes obtainable for summer season 2022, with a sauna coming in 2023.

Spend an evening on the waterfront at Majamaja

(Louise Lengthy)

In the meantime, within the coronary heart of Helsinki’s downtown Design District, “It began from disposable bathtub slippers,” says Resort St George’s head of wellbeing Linda Ekholm. The small step of introducing sturdy, washable options (“which might not be as fairly, however last as long as 4 instances as lengthy”), set the trail of sustainability for the town’s most fashionable resort: a reimagined former printing home, full with 300-piece modern artwork assortment, glass-ceilinged Wintergarden cocktail bar, and mosaic-tiled pool.

In addition to its eco-certified renovation, day by day efforts embrace reusing leftover fruit from the bar for making snacks; collaboration with the ResQ app to minimise waste from its marvellous in-house bakery; and equipping visitors with SodaStream machines. If wherever can pull off a reusable slipper, it’s the St George.

Resort St George: rooms from £240, B&B.


Removed from being empty buzzwords, notions of seasonal, native, and no-waste cooking are deeply rooted philosophies within the Finnish capital.

“Stroll the stroll” has by no means been extra apt than at Nolla, Helsinki’s first zero-waste restaurant, led by a crew intent on business reinvention. No element has been missed: citrus zest is collected from native juice bars, kitchen waste is donated to “Lauri”, the dining-room composter (whose output is donated to the restaurant’s suppliers), and serving plates are constructed from waste clay, whereas water glasses are lower from bottles reclaimed from the Presidential Palace.

The stunning menu, in the meantime, reveals the majestic confluence of Nolla’s three founding cooks. Southern European meets fashionable Serbian, with an evolving menu which may embrace sourdough gnocchi with blue cheese and wild herb chimichurri, adopted with buckwheat milk ice cream, carrot compote and buckwheat cake. And above all, conscience right here comes with conviviality – beginning with half a pint from the in-house brewery.

Nolla is Helsinki’s first zero-waste restaurant

(Louise Lengthy)

Different eco-oriented choices within the metropolis embrace the fine-dining Ora restaurant, from chef Sasu Laukkonen, whose no-exceptions Finnish substances have generally travelled just a few miles to achieve the kitchen. After which there’s Method Bakery, an unmissable coffee-bakery-eatery spot within the up-and-coming Kallio neighbourhood, guided by native produce and sustainability.

“The whole lot needs to be completed as effectively as potential and with as little waste as potential,” says co-owner Lauri Kahkonen. Wind your manner right here for a seasonal laskiaispulla bun (baked all through the day), or a beneficiant bowl of do-it-yourself saffron tagliatelle and a glass of orange wine.


Discover a neighbourhood

On the western aspect of the peninsula, and simply outdoors Helsinki’s metropolis centre, Toolo is inexperienced each in sensibility and look, from its world-famous structure to its sporting shoreline and impartial cafes. Start your outing because the solar crests the spruce curvature of Oodi library – an area based on environmental as a lot as group rules (a working example being the library’s “City Workshop” of rentable companies, from stitching machines to 3D printers).

From right here, a brief skip alongside the lakeside will land you at Finlandia Corridor, the music venue designed by idol of Finnish structure Alvar Aalto. Current ecological tweaks embrace rooftop photo voltaic panels (accounting for 25 per cent of vitality consumption in summer season), and a climate-friendly espresso providing – the results of a number of varieties being examined for minimal biowaste.

Toolo is a capsule of Finnish tradition at its finest

(Louise Lengthy)

Previous the cyclists and rushes encircling Toolonlahti Bay, proceed north to the plush rose gardens and greenhouses of the Winter Backyard in Elaintarha Park – as a lot a haven for succulents as shelter for guests searching for refuge from the Nordic local weather.

Proceed to the highest of Mantymaki hill for the most effective views of the enduring Helsinki Olympic stadium, earlier than looping again into Etu-Toolo (which means “Interior Toolo”), with a espresso cease at Latin-Nordic roastery Cafetoria, devoted to equitable partnerships with its natural small-scale suppliers. Lunch might be gathered from the bountiful counter at Toolo Village Store, or from Cafe Regatta – additionally the launch pad for a kayak journey on Taka-Toolo’s western shore, or a swim on Hietaranta seashore.

Wind up the day with a rummage at class-above-the-rest second-hand troves Relove Way of life and Arkadia Worldwide Bookshop, earlier than settling into the tranquil backyard of Korjaamo Tradition Manufacturing facility. One of many nation’s most expansive cultural centres, Korjaamo is lauded as a lot for its summer season barbecue nights as for its various, topical programme: none extra so than the IHME Up to date Artwork Competition, which promotes environmental schooling by means of artwork commissioning.

With its unassuming method, sluggish tempo and stunning edge, Toolo is a capsule of Finnish tradition at its finest.


Deserving of a class all of its personal, the custom of public sauna is one which completes a go to to the town, and is quickly on the rise once more, with a coterie of latest areas. Architect-artist duo Tuomas Toivonen and Nene Tsuboi’s ecologically designed Kulttuurisauna shortly grew to become a neighborhood favorite when it opened in 2017, with operatic chants serenading these within the sunrise-facing sauna rooms, whereas a easy Japanese-Finnish menu is served.

Loyly combines a traditional Finnish smoke sauna with two wood-heated saunas

(Louise Lengthy)

On the southern tip of the town, the putting geometry of Loyly combines a traditional Finnish smoke sauna with two wood-heated saunas, whereas their expansive rooftop terrace descends into the ocean – for the compulsory sauna-to-sea ritual.

And to take in the town’s distinctive archipelago setting, hop throughout to jewel-sized Lonna island, solely 10 minutes by boat from Helsinki’s harbour market. With views over the Baltic Sea, a chic wood-fuelled sauna and deckchaired terrace awaits – primed for sipping cans of traditional Finnish lonkero, a refreshing gin-grapefruit combine. Whereas on the island, don’t miss Lonna’s restaurant, particularly its in-house “archipelago” bread (Saaristolaisleipa), an irresistible rye-molasses loaf, paired with smoked fish.


Between the boutiques of the Design District, the second-hand trend shops of Kallio, and the myriad stalls of Hietalahti flea market (identified amongst locals as Hietsu), the town brims with accountable purchasing choices.

Glasshouse Helsinki assembles its bold artwork, trend and way of life idea in a former historic division retailer, with a altering programme of latest exhibitions, vibrant impartial journal stacks, and moral model collaborations, all curated with sustainability in thoughts.

Glasshouse assembles artwork, trend and way of life items

(Louise Lengthy)

For foodie souvenirs, make a beeline to Anton&Anton deli for its hand-picked choice of natural, native produce. Or, for the most effective of the museum’s retailers, carve out time after a prescribed go to to the spectacular Amos Rex for inspiration from new arts titles, hand-cast coconut candles, or irresistible patchwork objects from Jouten clothes, constructed from 100 per cent recycled textiles, corresponding to repurposed resort towels and mattress linen.

Journey necessities

Getting there

Attempting to fly much less?

Travellers can attain Helsinki from London by catching a Eurostar to Paris and an onward prepare to Hamburg, adopted by a prepare to Stockholm. From there, a daily ferry service runs to Helsinki.

Advantageous with flying?

Norwegian, Finnair and Ryanair all fly direct from the UK to Helsinki.

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