In Helsinki you will find many parks where you can spend time comfortably, for example, for day walks, picnics or just relaxing. As about a third of the area of the city of Helsinki consists of green areas, the nearest park is never faraway. In this text, we present the most popular parks and green areas in Helsinki.
The legendary Esplanade is probably the most famous park in Finland, and at the same time the green heart of Helsinki city center. The Esplanade Park is a popular place to walk, especially during the summer, and you will usually spend time in a relaxed atmosphere, for example, listening to music, watching performances or enjoying a picnic.
The location of the park was once designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, the chief architect of Helsinki.
The architecture can be seen, for example, in the form of a park that follows straight lines with both tree streets and plantations. The park is bordered on both sides by rows of lime trees that form an impressive hall-like space.
The esplanade also contains many places worth visiting and seeing. At the end of the park on the Market Square is, for example, one of the most legendary restaurants in Helsinki: Restaurant Kappeli, completed in 1867 and designed by architect Hampus Dahlström.
Opposite the chapel is the Espa stage, built in the 1930s, where live music is played from traditional May Day until the end of August. There are two pools of water on both sides of the stage and they are decorated with statues designed by Viktor Jansson (1886–1958). The first of these is called “Aallottaria,” which depicts two mermaids competing with fish. Another of the statues is known as “Hei mutta” and in this work the little boy is depicted playing with a fish.
In the middle of the park is a statue of the national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877), sculpted by sculptor Walter Runeberg (1838–1920), which was once Helsinki’s first public monument.
Helsinki Central Park is a green area about ten kilometers long, running south – north from the center of Helsinki all the way to Haltiala and the Vantaanjoki river.
The central park was born on the basis of plans made by architect Bertel Jung in 1911. Töölönlahti and its surroundings were also included in this plan, but officially Keskuspuisto starts in the Valley and continues from there to the Vantaa border and the Vantaanjoki River.
Central Park is now a very popular outdoor destination, which also serves as a peaceful commute for those who like to travel with bicycly. The nature of the area is varied, and within the Central Park you will find, for example, hexagonal forests, groves, dry meadows and fields.
Numerous conservation areas can be found in the northern parts of the park, which are, Pitkäkoski slope grove, Haltiala treasure area, Niskala tree species park, Ruutinkoski rantalehto and Vantaanjoki rapids. In addition, there is a protected Maunula walnut grove in Maunula. Two new protected areas are also coming to the area: the Haltiala grove and the Paloheinä raven.
In the vicinity of the center of the central park you will find Pirkkola sports park, where it is possible to practice many sports.
In addition, there are many well-known trails in the Central Park area that are well-suited for both small-scale hiking and jogging. The best-known trails are the 4.6-kilometer-long Haltiala route, the 3.3-kilometer-long Maunula nature trail and the 2.5-kilometer Laakso tour.
Sibelius Park is named after composer legend Jean Sibelius, whose 80th anniversary was officially named in 1945. Prior to that, the park, completed in 1940, was known as Humallahti Nature Park or Kinnekulla Park.
Sibelius Park also houses one of Helsinki’s best-known works of art; the Sibelius Monument sculpted by artist Eila Hiltunen. One of the specialties of this park is the birch, which was planted in 1983 in honor of the 60th anniversary of Mauno Koivisto. Koivikko is located at the corner of Mechelininkatu and Kesäkatu.
The Alpine Park is a park near Linnanmäki, the idea for which originated from Henrik Borgström, known as the father of Kaivopuisto, who became interested in this area of still rocky forest in the 1850s.
The decisive impetus for the park was the construction of a railway line between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna in 1958–62. Plans for a zoo and spa that had previously been visited in the area failed, but on the east side of the track, plans progressed with Borgström setting up a restaurant called Alppila (Alphyddan in Swedish), which was also called the Alpine Park.
Restaurant Alppila first burned down in 1875, but it was rebuilt at that time. The building was finally destroyed, again in a fire, on October 8, 1951, and today the restaurant is remembered only by its stone footing, which serves as a historic observation deck north of Tivolitie.
In terms of its style, the Alppipuisto is reminiscent of landscape parks in the early 1990s with duck ponds and winding walkways. In terms of scenery, the park is surrounded by cliffs about 30 meters high. It is culturally significant that the Alppipuisto is also home to one of Helsinki’s first ski jumping hills.
Covered by cliffs, the flat valley area is a very attractive place to spend time and play traditional yard games, for example. At the pond you can admire the life of wildfowl during the summer.
In 1950, the Children’s Foundation established an Linnanmäki amusement park in the area, which cut more than 7.5 hectares of the park’s area. Since its establishment, Linnanmäki has been by far the most popular place to visit in the Alpine Park. Vesilinnanmäki, located in the middle of the Alpine Park, housed the summer theater of the Finnish Workers’ Theater, which was founded in 1945, and a very popular dance stage called Alppilava during the 1940s and 1950s. There have been many requests for the dance floor to return.
At the top of Helsinginniemi is Kaivopuisto, one of Helsinki’s most famous and beloved parks. Kaivopuisto, also known as Kaivari, also is a district of Helsinki with about 500 inhabitants. In addition to the park, the area includes a traditional villa area by the sea. Another special feature of the area is that there are embassies in many countries, and this makes Kaivopuisto a diplomatic district of Helsinki.
Like the Alppipuisto Park, the Kaivopuisto area was still a rocky forest in its natural state at the beginning of the 19th century, where some marshy areas were also found. In the 1830s, a spa with parks was built in the area, designed mainly for fine use. The park area was suitably far from the center of Helsinki, and it quickly became a popular meeting place for social circles.
Today, Kaivopuisto is known as an outdoor park for the residents of the surrounding area, but also as a common destination for picnics and events in the entire Helsinki metropolitan area. Kaivari’s biggest annual event is a traditional May Day picnic, when tens of thousands gather in the park to spend time, whatever the weather.
There are many spa villas left in the Kaivopuisto area, the most famous of which are Villa Kleineh, Kalliolinna and the villa of Cygnaeus. One of the villas was also served by the Finnish Marshal C.G. Mannerheim’s residence from 1924 to 1951. Today, the villa in question serves as a Mannerheim Museum.
Sinebrychoff Park is located in Punavuori, Helsinki, at the western end of the Boulevard. Originally, the private garden was founded by Russian-born businessman Nikolai Sinebrychoff (1786–1848), who raised significant assets in Finland through his business. The name Sinebrychoff is still quite familiar, especially in the brewing industry. Hence the more familiar name of Sinebrychoff; Koff Park.
Sinebrychoff once chose distant Hietalahti as the location for his distillery and brewery, which was first surrounded by a handsome house and surrounded by a garden that continued in the British style in the direction of Punavuorenkatu.
From the very beginning, the park was decorated with ponds, an observation deck, picturesque flower groups and seating areas. Later, greenhouses and, for example, an ice cellar were built there for the needs of the brewery.
The park’s splendor dates back to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, but as the 20th century progressed, it deteriorated badly. The area was sometimes coveted as a plot of land, but the inhabitants of the area crammed this idea.
The area was finally saved in the 1980s, when it became the property of the City of Helsinki and became an official zoning park. At the same time, the state also bought itself a Sinebrychoff house.
The ceiling of a car tunnel built under Mallaskatu was covered with grass at this time, which greatly increased the comfort of the area. Nowadays, the area is so well decorated that it is hard to imagine that there is also a lot of car traffic under the park.
In active use, the ruined park received a facelift at the beginning of this millennium. The children’s activity areas in the park got a more cohesive look and a free public toilet was also brought into the park. The pride of Sinebrychoff Park is the abundance of lilac plantations, which are not only spectacular but also quite exceptional plant choices. In connection with the renovation, part of the older trees in the area had to be removed. These have since been replaced by apple and cherry trees.
The symbol of Sinebrychoff Park is the red-brick tower, which is now used by Hauka. Another specialty is the park’s own royal tree, a magnificent old larch tree that has seen all the stages of the park since its inception. Only a few elderly comrades have survived to this day.
One of the newest parks in Helsinki is Töölönlahti Park, which was officially completed in 2016. Due to its official status, it is a temporary park, but despite this, a fairly high-quality green area of about 9.5 hectares has been built in the area, with the appearance of extensive grassy areas, a sports playground and a series of pocket gardens near the built-up area. In the northern part of the park, an extensive meadow area and a small sandy beach with a pier designed for residence have also been planned.
Although the actual park lasted until the 2010s, despite many preliminary plans, the park area has a fairly long and rich history > .
As late as the 19th century, there was only a shallow bay on the site of the park, called Kluuvinlahti. However, with the construction of the railway and the growth of the city, the bay was filled and a separate yard was also built in the area, which served in active use until the late 1980s.The last to leave the area was the loading dock for high-speed trains, the demolition of which was completed in 2012. This was the last impetus for the park itself to emerge.
Kaisaniemi Park is definitely one of the most popular parks in Helsinki. One reason for this is that the park is located right next to the center of Helsinki, behind the Railway Station and the National Theater in Kaisaniemi.
Kaisaniemi Park also hosts many different events, one of the most famous of which is the World in the Village Festival. There are also a lot of open-air concerts in the area, especially during the summer.
Kaisaniemi is also the oldest of Helsinki’s parks and served as a public outdoor space and garden since the early 19th century. Today, many sports venues have been built in connection with the park to diversify activities, and today in Kaisaniemi you can play tennis, basketball, football and also the Finnish national game, ie baseball.
Among the well-known places to visit in the northern part of the park is the Helsinki Botanical Garden, which is part of the University of Helsinki. The historic Restaurant Kaisaniemi is located in the northwest corner of the park.
Kaisaniemi Park also has the oldest single monument in Helsinki; ns. Masonic tomb. In front of the National Theater is the Statue of the Curtain erected in honor of Ida Aalberg, which was unveiled in 1972. Next to the statue is a water pool, in the vicinity of which there is a statue of Fredrik Pacius and a work by Viktor Jansson called Convolvulvus.
Continuing its great history, Kaisaniemi’s reputation is gnawed at by its safety, especially at night. A considerable number of crimes take place in the park, one of the reasons for which is the poor lighting in the area. Walking through the park is not recommended in the dark.
Like Kaisaniemi, the church park in the city center is one of Helsinki’s most popular residential parks. The name Ruttopuisto, obtained from young people in the 1960s, has remained in use to this day. Nowadays, there is a lot of talk among young people about “hanging out in Ruttis”.
The history of the old church park is very varied and it is definitely worth visiting it in more detail, for example, on the Green Sylit website . The most significant role in previous centuries has been to act as a cemetery, hence the less flattering nickname of the park.
The old church park was taken over by the City of Helsinki in 1900. At that time, the corridors of the corridors still in use were introduced, in addition to which the main corridors were lined with nubile stone gutters. At the same time, a simple wooden fence was demolished and the park also received its lighting. The first park plan drawn up by the city dates from 1936.
Until decades ago, the old church park was mainly known as a transit point that did little to attract the public to spend time in the area. However, the park has since been refurbished to meet modern standards and the first playground was built in the 1980s.
Today, the old church park has risen in popularity alongside other parks in the city center. The park also hosts small-scale events, especially on Arts Night.
The Alpine Rose Park in The Hague is a gem among Helsinki’s parks. If you are either visiting yourself or hosting guests at the time of flowering, it is definitely a good idea to include Alpine Rose Park in the list of places to visit. At the same time, the park operates both as an area open to the public and as the university’s own experimental area for plant breeding, which makes its flora very interesting.
The alpine rose park consists of two different areas: the evergreen alpine roses that inhabit the southern part and the park azaleas that drop their leaves are planted at the northern end of the park, on the other side of the power line.
Flowering of both plants is at its best in early June. The flowering of azaleas starts earlier than the alpine roses and also continues longer when the alpine roses stop flowering shortly after midsummer.
The first alpine roses were planted in the park area as early as 1975. The area was expanded in the spring of 1996, when the Alpine Rose Park was extended to the north of the bike path. Thousands of new yellow alpine roses and a large number of alpine rose azaleas were planted in the new area. These azalea plantations originated from the azalea breeding program launched in 1986.
The birth of Roihuvuori Cherry Park is based on a time when Norio Tomida, a Japanese merchant living in Finland, came up with the idea that Japanese people living in Helsinki, their family members and Japanese companies operating in the area could donate cherry trees to Helsinki for a hanami party.
The collection eventually yielded 152 Prunus sargentii cherry trees. As Roihuvuori already had a Japanese-style garden, the site at the corner of Sahaajankatu and Abraham Wetterintie was chosen as the location for the trees, as proposed by park designer Kaisu Ilonen and architect Keiko Yoshizak.
Cherry trees were planted in the area during the three years 2007-2009. The first 50 trees were planted in early summer 2007, the next 50 again in a year and the last batch of 52 trees in summer 2009.
Since 2012, the Roihuvuori Society has also planted a few authentic Japanese Sato-Zakura varieties in the park in honor of the people named Roihuvuori.
The first hanami celebrations in the park were held in 2008. In 2009, an approximately 400-meter-long light traffic corridor connecting the Japanese-style garden and Roihuvuori Cherry Park was completed. Comparing the new cherry park, it is also planned to further develop it in cooperation with a Japanese-style garden.
Sources: MyHelsinki and Vihreä Syli