BATHING: Beach Life
Helsinki is one of those rare metropolises that boast beautiful beaches right in the heart of the city. Although the beach is not as much of a natural habitat for Helsinkians as it is to the Cariocas of Rio de Janeiro, it is dear on the endless and sunny summer days. Nothing beats a beautiful summer day on the beaches of Helsinki, as the waters glisten beneath a mild summer breeze.
The Helsinki Swimming Stadium was built for the 1952 Olympic Games and it represented the latest Finnish design. The bold and white Functionalist structure has been a favourite among the inhabitants of the city ever since it was built. They love their lido deeply and the summer does not start until you have had a swim and sunbathed at the stadium. Lidos have their charm and everyday things for Helsinkians can be strangely festive, yet unassuming. Join in on the fun and see how wonderfully small-scaled the Olympics used to be in the olden days.
NEW WAVE SWIMMING
Public saunas have made a comeback in Helsinki and they are better than ever. Allas is the new seawater spa right in the heart of the city, just across the harbour from the Presidential Palace. It offers both freshwater and seawater pools, as well as different saunas, and in the meantime you can spend time in the café or the restaurant. Allas has quickly become a popular spot both among the inhabitants and visitors. Meanwhile, Allas tells a story of a changing Helsinki. The solemn centre belongs to all, it is part of a changing city after all. Yet another reason to love Helsinki.
More steam! Preferably in Löyly, the new public sauna that is celebrated by everyone in Helsinki as well as international architecture publications. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is top wooden architecture – an urban, public version of the Finnish Summer dream by a lake or the sea. Whether you enjoy a sauna bath or not, it is easy to enjoy yourself here. Right next to Löyly is also Helsinki’s tiniest beach, Eiranranta – worth a visit, too!
OH HAPPY DAY
Every Helsinkian has wonderful childhood memories of Pihlajasaari and more are made every summer. A short ferry trip and an ice cream on the wharf trigger the right mood. People picnic on the island and they take it seriously. Helsinkians pack a boxed lunch together with other tidbits and various beach paraphernalia to keep themselves entertained all day long. After a swim in the sea it is time to take a walk in the woods on the island. Pihlajasaari is small so it is OK to get a little lost and the sea is always nearby.
One beach in Helsinki is above all others, nothing can top it. The Hietaniemi beach is swarming with life day and night in the summer. During the day people go there to be seen, to swim and sunbathe, meet friends, play volleyball, lift weights, flirt and mince about. On hot summer days the long and wide beach is packed with life and especially joy of life. At night, the young meet there before and after clubbing. What could be more fun during the white nights?
KINGS OF SUBURBIA
To the bravest we recommend a quick trip outside the centre, either west or east. To the west is Lauttasaari. Hop on a bus, which nearly takes you to the Vattuniemi (officially Veijarivuori) beach. A short walk through a woods and you are in the most beautiful archipelago scenery in Helsinki. The cottages in the woods are not inhabited by elves or faeries, they are highly coveted private beach houses. Another Helsinki speciality.
To the east lies Vuosaari. The metro takes you there. Aurinkolahti is something out of a post-modern dream. White and beautiful, an airy new housing estate by the sea with a promenade running between the buildings and the beach. Oh, would the sun always shine so beautifully as it does here!