Best Helsinki Shore Excursions to Nature

Finland's coast near Helsinki in summer, in June. Peace and quiet in nature on the Finnish coast. Nature in Finland, Helsinki.

Finland is known for it’s nature, the forests and the lakes, and if you’re coming to Helsinki on a cruise, you’ll see our quite unique coast full of small islands.

What’s special about Helsinki compared to other ports are the possibilities to experience real nature on your shore excursion, and I’m not just talking about some parks in a city. I’ve backpacked through Lapland’s wilderness’, and I still think there’s amazing nature around Helsinki to experience on a day trip.

You’re not limited to the endless concrete and tourist shops of city centers. Here’s your chance to do something different on your cruise.

These are my tips for shore excursions to Finnish nature from Helsinki port.

What Kind of Nature to Experience

Nuuksio National Park in summer, in August. One of the best places in Nuuksio. Finnish nature near Helsinki, Finland.
What Finland is about: peace and quiet at a calm lake in the forest.

Let’s be real here. You’ve probably only got some hours to be on the shore for excursion, so you can’t see everything, or if you try to, it’ll just be running from one place to another.

What I recommend you do is to relax and enjoy one place. After all, being in nature in Finland is about peace and quiet. It’ll be something different to your other visits to cities around the Baltic Sea.

There are basically two kinds of nature around Helsinki: inland forest and lakes, and the coast.

Forest and Lakes in Nuuksio National Park

Nuuksio National Park in summer. Aerial photo of the lakes and forest. Nature in Finland, Espoo, Vihti, Helsinki.
Nuuksio National Park is the best place around Helsinki to experience the typical landscape of Finland’s nature, the forest and the lakes.

This is the big one, where most of the people living in and around Helsinki go to enjoy nature. There are other forests and even another national park here, but the things that pull people here are all the lakes, how well known Nuuksio National Park is and it’s infrastructure.

The other national park close to Helsinki is Sipoonkorpi National Park, which is a bit behind Nuuksio on infrastructure, but it’s getting there.

Nuuksio National Park is an excellent place to experience Finland’s nature in many ways, check out my 5 best things about Nuuksio National Park to learn what they are.

Nuuksio National Park in summer, in June. Blueberry picking in Finland. Nature in Finland, Espoo, Vihti, Helsinki.
Picking blueberries in Nuuksio National Park. Eat as much as you want!

In the summer months of June, July, August and some way into September you can go pick berries and mushrooms, and swim in the clear lakes, among other things.

May is the best month to experience spring in the forest, and October is the best month to see what the fall is like, with all it’s colors and usually the most mushrooms in the whole year.

Public transport takes about twice as long to the national park compared to a car, by which you can get there in about 35 minutes.

I recommend you to have 3 hours or more in the national park on top of the transport times to better enjoy it and to be fully immersed in nature.

Finland’s Coast in Peace and Quiet

Finland's coastline near Helsinki in summer, in July. Best of Baltic Sea summer with flowers and peace. Nature in Finland, Helsinki.
Summer on Finland’s coast in Inkoo. Warm, smooth rock to walk barefoot on, flowers blooming and peaceful sea. The days are sweet and long here.

You’ve seen the coast from the ship and now you want to walk on that lovely smooth rock, among the wildflowers, under the pine trees.

You could just go to some beach in Helsinki, like in Suomenlinna or Lauttasaari, but again for the peace and quiet, and more natural surroundings, the best experience of nature can be had by going a bit further.

My favorite places are around 45 minute drive away from the center of Helsinki. Public transport to many of these places outside of Helsinki Metropolitan Area is poor or nonexistent.

Usually the walking distances are shorter at the coast than in for example Nuuksio, so you could have a nice visit even in as little as 3 hours including the transport.

Finland's coast near Helsinki in summer, in July. Best sunset location in Porkkalanniemi. Nature in Finland, Helsinki.
Beautiful rock beaches and the best sunset location in Porkkalanniemi, Kirkkonummi.

These kinds of larger natural areas on the coast are surprisingly rare, because people want to live and have summer cottages by the sea, so there’s not much free space left for hiking.

One of the most popular places on the coast is Porkkalanniemi, which will likely become a national park sometime in future, it’s been nominated many times already.

You can find more destinations for your adventure on the coast on nationalparks.fi and uuvi.fi (in Finnish).

Best Views in Repovesi National Park

Repovesi National Park in summer, in June. Best views to nature in Southern Finland, a day trip away from Helsinki. Nature in Finland near Helsinki.
Best views to nature in Southern Finland, Repovesi National Park is a day trip away from Helsinki.

This is more of a special treat and not for everybody, but if you’ve got more than 8 hours in port, you could go to Repovesi National Park, which has the absolute best views to Southern Finland’s nature, with high cliffs over lakes and forest.

You can do it by car, which takes 2,5 hours one way. Public transport takes 3,5 hours, with quite a bit more hassle, and overall takes around 2 hours more of your day.

Sensible walk in the national park to really experience it would be around 5 km or more, and take 3 hours or more.

Parks in Helsinki for Nature Walks

Nature park in Helsinki in summer, in August. Best parks for nature walks. Nature in Finland, Helsinki.
20 minutes from Helsinki Central Station by bus or bicycle and you can be in a place like this! These places are very nice for us in the city, but don’t be completely fooled, there is some background noise from roads and sky.

Personally, I really value the parks and nature reserves in Helsinki. It’s amazing how much nature we have in our capital within walking or cycling distance. But, to be truly immersed in nature, I think we have to get out of the city, to places like I’ve mentioned above.

If, however, the parks and nature reserves in Helsinki are all you want, then you should check out these places:

Helsinki Central Park starts from here. It’s cycling or tram ride distance away from the central station. It has typical Finnish forest.

Helsinki Central Park on Google Maps

Uutela, a natural park with Finnish forest and coastline. Go by metro/subway/tube to Vuosaari.

Uutela in Helsinki on Google Maps

Seurasaari, a very popular island tram ride away from city center. Coastal nature.

Seurasaari in Helsinki on Google Maps

Other than these, just open a map and see where it’s green, and go there! You’ll find useful links for independent travelers below.

Useful Links for Independent Travelers

If you want to go to Finnish nature by yourself on your shore excursion, then these links might come in handy.

Route planner for public transport in Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Tickets and fares for public transport

City bike rental in Helsinki

Grocery stores in Helsinki for snacks

Weather forecast for Helsinki

My Guided Tours for Shore Excursions

Nuuksio National Park in summer, in August. Swimming in the clear lakes. Finnish nature near Helsinki, Finland.
Swimming in the clear lakes of Nuuksio National Park with Finland’s national fish.

What I can do for you, is take care of all the hassle, and as a local, I know the best places. You can step from the ship to my air conditioned minibus and everything’s been taken care of. All you need to do is enjoy our nature and relax.

You get transport to the destination and back to your ship.

You get all the food, snacks and drinks for the day, from traditional Finnish ingredients. We can even make our lunch from the forest, if we find mushrooms.

You can borrow all outdoor clothing and other equipment we might need in whatever the weather might be. That includes things like waterproof jacket and trousers, hiking shoes, warm jacket, sweatpants, hats, gloves, socks, backpack, towel, and insect protection, if needed.

You get a relaxed schedule, you book me for a whole day. You get peace and quiet in privacy, because my tours are private for your group of up to 4 people and I can take you to places where only some locals go, and often there’s nobody else.

You get free internet! Woohoo!

And of course, you get everything I can do for you, as your guide and friend.

Nuuksio National Park in summer, in July. Wild blueberries, sweet and fresh. Finnish nature near Helsinki, Finland.
Wild blueberries straight from the nature in Nuuksio National Park.

I can take you to Nuuksio National Park.

I can take you to the coast.

I can take you to Repovesi National Park.

I can also take you to the best natural places inside Helsinki. Just contact me and ask for something that suits your schedule.

Ready to Go or Need to Ask Something?

Want to go on a shore excursion to nature without all the hassle? Let me help you. You can ask me anything in the comments, or contact me for a personal chat.

Read more about my guided tour to Nuuksio National Park and other places on the front page.

 

Book now

 

AMP story of best Helsinki shore excursions to nature

5 Best Things About Nuuksio National Park

Nuuksio National Park in fall. Sunset over the typical Finnish forest and lakes. Nature near Helsinki, Finland.

There’s a lot to like about Nuuksio National Park in Vihti and Espoo, Finland, and as a local who does guided tours, I know what the best things are. As a local I also know some things you shouldn’t expect.

Let’s start with what’s good.

Unique Location near a Developed Country’s Capital

Nuuksio National Park in summer. Aerial drone photograph with Helsinki. Finnish nature.
Nuuksio National Park is right next to Helsinki. 20 km as the bird flies, a bit over half an hour by car, and a little over an hour by public transport.

There are more awe-inspiring places in the world, there are more awe-inspiring places in Finland, why should you care about Nuuksio National Park?

It’s. Right. Next. To. Our. Capital.

Think of all the things you’d want from a city in a Western country, and on top of that we’ve also got this national park.

Yes, you can travel further away to the extremes of our planet and see wild things, but if you’re living in or visiting a country’s capital, there is no better place. Well, actually, there are other very good nature destinations near Helsinki, but that’s not the point here.

Is it then worth it only for tourists? Absolutely not. It’s the main nature attraction for around 1.3 million people in and around Helsinki, and it’s very popular, because it’s so good.

For us locals, it’s the best and most beautiful place here to go for an adventure in a forest.

Peace and Quiet

Nuuksio National Park in fall, in October. Calm, clear lake after sunset. Finnish nature near Helsinki, Finland.
Peaceful evening by a calm, clear lake in October.

The classic Finnish reason for going to the forest: to get a bit of peace and quiet.

To add even more credibility to the classic reason: you’re incredibly annoyed by the whole world and everything you can think of, so the obvious cure for that is to go for a walk in the forest. That should fix it, and it usually does.

There have been many studies about the health benefits of spending time in nature, and personally, I’m a strong believer in it. I love it and it makes me feel better about everything. It usually puts things into perspective.

The health benefits don’t only come from some specific actions that you should do in nature, it’s usually mostly about leaving the hustle and bustle behind. So I’m prescribing peace and quiet in nature for you.

Nuuksio National Park can be the place where you’ll find your own peace and quiet. As a local, I know the peaceful trails and can take you there, but if you’re happy with the main hiking trails, you can find them here on the official site.

I can find my peaceful places, but as you’ll read later on, it’s not guaranteed for everybody.

All the Lakes

Nuuksio National Park in summer, in July. Standing in a crystal clear lake when the waters are warm. Finnish nature near Helsinki, Finland.
This is what the summers are made of: being in a clear lake when the waters are warm.

There are over 80 lakes and ponds in the national park. That should be enough, right? Luckily there are a few more outside the parks borders as well. 😉

What all those lakes and ponds do, is make hiking really interesting, because you’re constantly coming up to new bodies of water. I never get bored of walking on trails at lake shores, seeing the light dancing on the bottom, the Finland’s national fishes, and going for a swim.

There’s also always something very special about the moment you walk from the forest to a lake and the landscape opens before your eyes.

Many people probably wonder this: can you drink water from the lakes? Read on and find out in the next section.

Clean Nature, Fresh Air

Nuuksio National Park in fall. We get spectacular fall colours here in Southern Finland as well! Nature near Helsinki, Finland.
Fresh air to breath, clean berries and mushrooms to eat and clean water. Nuuksio National Park is an oasis of all good in nature for the Helsinki metropolitan area people.

In the grand scale of things, we have pretty clean and unpolluted nature here in Finland. Could we do even better? Of course, but as it is now, we can enjoy our nature with a peace of mind.

In Nuuksio National Park you can eat berries and mushrooms knowing that they are clean. Just keep a bit of distance from bigger roads.

The lakes are clean, you can swim everywhere. There are small lakes in many different kinds of places, and the waters are not publicly tested, so nobody is going to publicly say that you can take drinking water from the lakes. I’ve taken drinking water from some lakes for years, and have them tested, but I’m not going to tell those lakes to you here, because I can’t guarantee that they are always suitable for drinking.

You can get free drinking water from the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, usually from Haukkalampi guide hut, or you can boil water from any lake for drinking. Remember to boil the water for five minutes.

One aspect of keeping the nature clean is the principle of trash free hiking. That means that everything you carry into the nature, you bring back. Don’t leave any trashes behind. Please, be this kind of person, that way it’s clean for everybody.

The air is generally very clean in Nuuksio. It feels good to breath. You can sense different scents of nature in it, things that are impossible to notice if there are smells of civilization in the air.

Sense of Finnish Forests in One Area

Nuuksio National Park in winter. Stunning winter view over Nuuksio National Park from a drone. Finnish nature near Helsinki, Finland.
It might look like just a forest, but there are many different kinds of forests in Finland, and all of them have their own special atmosphere’s.

At this point you’ve probably seen photos of a Finnish forest, right? Well, you’ve seen photos of some forests. In reality, there are several types of forests throughout Finland.

Different trees and other smaller plants like different kinds of grounds to grow on. Some like dry, some like wet. What Nuuksio National Park is nice for, is that it has a varied terrain that makes it possible to have many types of forests in a relatively small area.

You might be in a deep and dark valley, under massive fir trees, with soft mossy ground, and as you follow the trail for 100 meters to a higher ground, you come to a completely different atmosphere, with more open air around you and blue sky above, pine trees here and there, and a solid rocky ground under your feet.

The lakes also have their own atmospheres, some being deep in valleys that make their waters dark, and others being amazingly clear, because they are higher up on a rocky ground.

All these different kinds of forests and lakes are found throughout Finland. Nuuksio National Park has many of them and you can see them in one day.

We also have all the Finnish seasons here in Nuuksio National Park, from deep winter with snow to warm summer with fresh berries.

Also, for those of you with even bigger hunger for information, the Finnish Nature Centre is located in Nuuksio.

 

So, those are some of the best bits. What about the other things?

Things You Shouldn’t Expect of Nuuksio National Park

See Animals

Nuuksio National Park in summer, in August. Finland's national bird, the whooper swan, with their baby. Finnish nature near Helsinki, Finland.
As an example, this is an excellent animal sighting in Nuuksio. Finland’s national bird, the whooper swan, with their baby.

Let’s get straight to it: you should not go to Nuuksio National Park expecting to see all the animals that Finland might be advertised with. Almost all of the animals in real Finnish forests are very shy and scared. They don’t wan’t to be seen and the forest is an excellent place to hide.

On every visit you will see and hear some animals. They are mostly birds creating a lovely mood for a place that otherwise is about trees humming in the wind and waves rippling on the lakes.

Just be real, don’t expect to see a moose behind every tree, or a bear, or the flying squirrel. They all require quite a lot to be seen. You might see them, but it’s probably best not to go to Nuuksio for that reason alone.

What Nuuksio is very good for, is for your own personal experience of what it’s like to be in a Finnish forest. Sit down on a beach and relax. As you’re quietly sitting there, some animals might come to you. 🙂

Absolute Peace and Quiet

Nuuksio National Park in winter. Snowshoes and a quiet forest. Finnish nature near Helsinki, Finland.
You can be all alone in the forest, but the metropolitan area is always near.

Finland has a relatively small population, but Nuuksio is next to our capital, so it gets lots of visitors, and Helsinki is the most popular destination for tourism.

The main trails that are named and shown on maps can get busy, especially during summer months and weekends. Places for campfires are usually busy.

Finnish people are taught to be quiet in nature, but as the groups and crowds get bigger, and there’s more tourism, the most popular places like Nuuksio can lose their peaceful nature. Some people shout and others play music on speakers, they forget to take into consideration other people’s nature experience. Please, don’t be these people.

Other aspects that are impossible to get away from are the roads around the metropolitan area and the airport. They cause some background noise that depends on the time of day, day of week, winds that carry the noises, and where you are in the national park.

How do I get around these irritations? I go to places that I’ve found to be peaceful, away from the most popular areas, and take you with me.

Berries and Mushrooms for Everybody, All the Time

Nuuksio National Park in fall. Handful of wild cranberries straight from nature. Nature near Helsinki, Finland.
Handful of wild cranberries straight from nature. To find them, you need to know where to look.

One of the great things about Finland is the everyman’s right, which allows everybody to pick berries and mushrooms from nature. That can also mean that somebody else has already picked them from where you are going, and as Nuuksio’s main trails are quite popular, there might be none left right next to the trails.

What I do and offer to you in my service is, again, I go to places that fewer people go.

The amount of berries and mushrooms also greatly depend on the weather. The most likely time for berries is from mid-July and August, and the most likely time for mushrooms has in recent years been in the fall, in September and October.

 

Even though Nuuksio National Park isn’t perfect wilderness, it’s still absolutely amazing place to have so close to a developed country’s capital. I’m extremely grateful that it exists. Even before doing this as a job, I went there every week.

What are you expecting of Nuuksio? Have you already been there and got some opinions? Wan’t to ask something? Go ahead and leave a comment below, or contact me personally.

 

AMP story of the best things about Nuuksio National Park

Watch Finland’s Nature on Live Video

WWF Finland Wildlive animals

Now this is a real treat for us nature lovers, WWF Finland has several live webcam videos of different wild Finnish animals!

Cameras that are online change throughout the year, so be sure to check back at different times.

You might not see these beautiful animals every time you open the video, they are wild and roam freely in their natural habitat, but even if you don’t see them this time, you can check out what the nature looks like at this time of year. Also, you can spot other animals as well in the cameras 🙂

Current and Past Videos

WWF Wildlive frontpage – Check which cameras are currently filming.

Wolverine – Quite a beast, one of Finland’s four big predators, the others are bear, wolf and lynx. Wikipedia.

Forest reindeer – A bit like reindeer, but likes to live in forest and is wild, whereas reindeer is semi-domesticated. Wikipedia.

Saimaa seal – One of the most endangered seals in the world, with total population of about 380. Wikipedia.

Siberian flying squirrel – Unbelievably cute fellow, Nuuksio National Park’s logo animal. Wikipedia.

Viper/adder snake – Finland’s only venomous snake, often hated for wrong reasons. They are not aggressive. Wikipedia.

Trout – Migrating fish that swims all the way up the rivers to spawn in small streams. Wikipedia.

Osprey – Kind of a hawk, only eats fish, doing quite well in Finland. Wikipedia.

Live audio from Finnish nature – Hear the sound of birds and leaves rustling in the wind.

 

If you saw something on the cameras or have any questions, leave them in the comments below.