If you a feel like a quick jaunt from Helsinki or need a day of fun somewhere else, there are plenty of options. Here are some short introductions to some of the best alternatives so you can find a destination easily. There are a couple of magnificent national parks; several locations for art, culture and great atmosphere; the historic town of Porvoo; and a chocolate factory for your sweet tooth.

    Almost all of the places below are open for visits throughout the year, and it’s possible to get to most of them with public transport. Read these introductions now – there’s sure to be something you’ll like. They’re all close to Helsinki, so if you wish, you can stop by for just a hour or two.

    1

    Porvoo

    Old Porvoo town will enchant you again and again

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History

    Porvoo, 30 miles east of Helsinki, is an idyllic small town for spending a day or even the whole weekend. The most iconic sights of the city are at its historical centre, Vanha Porvoo, most of which was built in the 1700s and the 1800s. The best-known buildings of the town are the riverside granaries by Porvoonjoki River, the old Porvoo City Hall that now also operates as a museum, and the Porvoo Cathedral. Additionally, the city contains a fascinating toy and doll museum, the museum house of Finnish national poet J. L. Runeberg, countless art galleries, and a great variety of cafés, restaurants and boutique shops.

    The easiest way to get from Helsinki to Porvoo is to take the bus or drive. The bus will take you there in less than a hour, and it’s an even shorter trip with a car. In the summertime, you can also take a ship to Porvoo from Helsinki, but this requires reserving 3.5 hours for the one-way journey.

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    2

    Hvitträsk

    Fairytale-like art studio on the shores of Vitträsk Lake

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History

    Hvitträsk, a wonderful studio in the midst of the wilderness in Kirkkonummi, is sure to impress all visitors. It was originally planned by famous architects Eliel Saarinen, Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren for their own use in the early 1900s. It’s evident they took no half-measures in its design. In addition to the magnificent main building, constructed in the National-Romantic style, the location includes a small villa (“Pikku huvila”), currently serving as a café, and an enchanting, park-like yard. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale.

    Due to Hvitträsk’s remote location, the best way to reach it is to drive there. If that’s not possible, rent a bike from Helsinki, take it by train from Helsinki to Kauklahti, and pedal from Kauklahti Station to Hvitträsk. It’s a 3.7 mile trip by bicycle – not a long ride in fine weather.

    Location: Hvitträskintie 166, 02440 Kirkkonummi

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm

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    3

    Nuuksio National Park (Nuuksion kansallispuisto)

    Leave the city’s noise to enjoy the peace and quiet of a national park

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Adventure

    Nuuksio National Park (Nuuksion kansallispuisto), spreading across a wide area to the west of Helsinki, is an incredibly popular nature destination. It’s easy to get there from Helsinki by public transport. This park offers a great variety of landscapes; you can find old forests, swamps, lakes, rocky hills full of pines, and meadows. Four nature paths of varying lengths allow you to see it all, though you can also simply make your own way through the park. The large area also has many other services: nine camping areas with basic services, spots you can reserve for setting up a fire and your own tent, cabins, barbecue canopies, a smoke sauna, and even meeting rooms. You can easily find more info on the various services online.

    Depending on the weather, Nuuksio is available for visits throughout the year. You can get there from Helsinki by car or using public transport. The best alternative for the latter depends on the part of the park you are trying to reach. The eastern and northern parts can be best accessed by bus from the Espoo Railway Station, the southern parts via Leppävaara Station, and the western edge of the park with a bus from Kamppi.

    Location: Nuuksio National Park (Nuuksion kansallispuisto)

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    4

    Sipoonkorpi National Park (Sipoonkorven kansallispuisto)

    A large natural zone with great diversity, just 12 miles from the centre of Helsinki

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Adventure

    Sipoonkorpi National Park (Sipoonkorven kansallispuisto), near the more urban areas of Helsinki, offers amazing experiences in nature throughout the year. This national park has it all – forests, swamps and blindingly beautiful traditional landscapes. Some animals you can spot at the park include wood grouse, lynx and eagle owl, as well as almost every other bird that nests in Southern Finland. The landscape is dotted by giant’s kettles and large rocks. Three nature paths go through the park: the Byabäcken nature path (0.9 miles), the Kalkinpolttajanpolku path (2.8 miles) and the Tasakallio–Storträsk route (0.6 miles per direction).

    There’s so much to see here that your plans should be made well in advance, particularly if you travel there by public transport. There are many options, some taking you to completely different areas. Various local Helsinki buses can take you to the northern, southwestern and western parts of the park. You can get easily find detailed information about these options online.

    Location: Länsitie 305, 04130 Sipoo

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    5

    Fazer Experience Visitor Centre (Fazer Experience Vierailukeskus)

    Here’s a way to improve your day: visit a chocolate factory!

    Fazer Experience Visitor Centre (Fazer Experience Vierailukeskus) in Vantaa lets you witness a candy factory in operation, sample the products, participate in various events or admire the factory’s tropical indoor garden. Everyone who participates on a tour of the factory’s sights gets some sweets as a present, and more can be bought in the factory shop, where you can also buy Fazer-themed accessories.

    Here’s an alternative particularly suited for those rainy autumn and winter days when your sweet tooth aches the most, though the kids, in particular, will love it, no matter the season. You can get to the Visitor Centre from Helsinki on buses going from the centre to Jakomäki and Vaarala, for example, or you can take the subway to Mellunmäki and continue by bus. More specific directions can be found on the centre’s website.

    Location: Fazerintie 6, 01230 Vantaa

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 6.30 pm, Saturday 10 am to 4.30 pm, Sunday 11 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +358 (0) 9 876 2040

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    photo by Paju~commonswiki (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Mustio Castle (Mustion linna)

    Relax and dine well in a magnificent manorial setting

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History

    Mustio Castle (Mustion linna) and the garden surrounding it showcase Finland at its most beautiful. To be specific, though, it’s not really a castle. This manor was built at the end of the 18th century by Magnus Linder, one of the powerful men of the era. In addition to the manor, the garden and the nearby lake, the enchanting nature of the place is amplified by the historical ironworks at the location. Parts of the manor currently serve as a museum. Other parts operate as a super-stylish hotel, including a restaurant. The garden can be visited free of charge.

    The fastest way from Helsinki to Mustio Castle is to drive there, but if you wish to use public transport, take a bus from Kamppi Shopping Centre to the centre of Mustio. More information about the castle is found on their website. If you haven’t visited this location before, you should get to know it now – it’s truly a sight to behold!

    Location: Hållsnäsintie 91, 10360 Raasepori

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    7

    Gallen-Kallela Museum (Gallen-Kallelan museo)

    Get to know the famous painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s enchanting, magnificent atelier home

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History

    Gallen-Kallela Museum (Gallen-Kallelan museo) at Tarvaspää, Espoo, offers a fascinating glimpse of this great painter and his art, life and influence on Finnish society. Initially, this building served as Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s atelier home. Even before it was built, however, the artist made plans for its eventual use as a museum. The main building, reflecting the ideals of the Neo-Romantic era and built with the architectural flourishes from castles and the Renaissance, was finished in 1913. The seashore property also features Villa Linudd (built in 1850), a beautiful garden and a small smoke sauna.

    If you need to grab a bite, the museum café is happy to serve you. All in all, it’s a small, extremely fascinating entity – a place where you can easily spend an hour or two. From Helsinki, the easiest way to get there is by tram to Munkkiniemi, stopping at the Munkkiniemen puistotie exit, and walking through Munkinpuisto park. Depending on the weather, one option is the city bicycle, and the nearest station for leaving your bike is at the museum parking lot.

    Location: Gallen-Kallelan tie 27, 02600 Espoo

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +358 (0) 10 4068 840

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    photo by Tuppence1 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    8

    Ainola

    See the house of composer Jean Sibelius, converted into a museum – and visit his grave

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History

    Ainola, the home of famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and his wife Aino, the namesake of the house, is a must-see location for everyone with any interest in Finnish cultural history. The house, by the shores of Lake Tuusulanjärvi, includes, among other features, the composer’s workrooms, two bedrooms, a library, a kitchen and a room for the staff. On the property you can also find the Sibelius' family sauna, a stable, a workshop and a large market garden.

    Jean Sibelius died in 1957 and his wife in 1969. Both died at Ainola, and both are buried in its garden. The interior of the house museum is just as Aino left it when she died. In addition to the museum, Ainola features Café Aulis, known for its excellent pastries. From Helsinki to Ainola, the easiest way is the R train to the Ainola stop, about half a mile from the house.

    Location: Ainolankatu, 04400 Järvenpää

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +358 (0) 9 287 322

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    photo by Tuomas Vitikainen (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Fiskars Village

    Experience an enchantingly beautiful ironworks area

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History

    Fiskars Village, or Fiskari, is a breath-taking historical ironworks area, just an hour’s drive from Helsinki. The village contains many sights, such as the historical buildings, workshops for artisans and artists, and the beautiful Fiskars River with its surroundings. There’s also an extensive selection of small boutique shops, cafés, restaurants and accommodations in the village. The local atmosphere is unhurried and relaxed, even sleepy on those hot summer days. Here’s the perfect location for clearing your mind and charging your batteries.

    Fiskari, a part of the Raasepori area, is reached most easily by car from Helsinki. If you wish to use public transport, you can take a train to Karjaa and continue via bus, taxi or bicycle. However, no matter how you get there, it’s a journey worth taking. Fiskars Village is just that enchanting.

    Location: Fiskari, 10470 Raasepori

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    10

    Raasepori

    A lovely town of many facets, to the west of Helsinki

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History
    • Adventure
    • Unusual

    The town of Raasepori, between Helsinki and the Hanko peninsula, offers an amazing number of things to see and experience – so many it’s not even humanly possible to see them all in a day. There’s the fascinating Raasepori Castle, the magnificent ironworks of Fiskars and Billnäs, the old town of Tammisaari, and numerous small villages and nature sights. The quickest way from Helsinki to Raasepori is via the town of Karjaa in the eastern part of the region. There you can find beautiful Mustio Castle, among other attractions.

    If you have the time, there are enough things to see at Raasepori for a whole week. Since it’s such a large area, it’s easiest to explore if you have a car. With a fair amount of planning, travelling by public transport is also possible. The train will take you from Helsinki to Karjaa, and there’s a bus connection to nearly all the smaller towns of the region.

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