9 must see parks in Helsinki

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Being environmentally friendly in this increasingly urbanized world is a huge effort, and Helsinki always delivers. About a third of the city consists of green spaces, and the nearest park in Helsinki is always pretty close. It’s one of the greenest capitals in Europe, with dozens of parks where you can unwind, participate in events, and engage in activities. They are designed for the enjoyment and comfort of residents and tourists any time of the year.

Less than an hour from the city centre are national parks that combine forests, lakes, ravines, and countryside views with trails for hiking, riding a horse, or walking. Shallow beaches, lagoons, and lovely picnic spots are also within easy reach of the marked trails, offering plenty of outdoor recreation that you and your loved ones can enjoy.

Whether you’re new to the city or lucky enough to live here, this list of some of the best parks in Helsinki is for you. Visiting a park can be a separate trip in nature during your downtime or a part of your schedule for the day. No matter the case, you’ll greatly benefit from our luggage storage facilities in Helsinki, where you can drop off your bags or any items that might slow you down.

Old Church Park (Vanha kirkko­puisto)

The Old Church Park is one of the famous green areas in central Helsinki, though many locals still call it “Plague Park" (Ruttopuisto). This unflattering nickname became popular among young people in the 1960s due to its role centuries ago as a cemetery where the plague victims were buried. It was the former Kamppi cemetery and was gradually transformed into a park where the Old Church, completed in 1826, stands.

While its grounds have a dark history as a dreary cemetery, Old Church Park is now a beloved spot for people to enjoy themselves and chill out. Its popularity rose in 1998 when the City of Helsinki began the renovation works. They added a children’s playground, removed the unsightly asphalt in front of the main church entrance, replaced them with crushed stone paths, and cleaned the gravestones, which you’ll spot in different locations in the park. They also retained many old trees and added more vegetation and shrubs.

The Old Church Park now has a healthy lawn for picnics, benches, and flowerbeds visitors can appreciate in summer. Although a highly-visited place, it’s rarely crowded and usually quiet, giving visitors a moment of peace in the middle of the capital.

Helsinki Winter Garden (Talvipuutarha)

Many Helsinki parks and gardens may look a little bleak in winter but not Helsinki’s beautiful Winter Garden. Established in 1893, Helsinki Winter Garden is a nature oasis and a recreational meeting place you can tour for free. Here, you’ll be surrounded by plants, different trees, and flowers but also encounter interesting people who visit to have lunch, chill, take souvenir photos, and play guitar.

The Winter Garden is a historic greenhouse with over 200 plants flourishing in the Palm Room, the Western Wing, and the Cactus Room. Its plant selections were picked with houseplant enthusiasts in mind, so you can spot almost all houseplants commonly found in Finnish homes. The Winter Garden, the plant production area behind it, and the Rose Garden make up the City Garden.

The Garden is open year-round, so you can use it as a shelter in the warm summer or the freezing winter. It’s situated at the north end of Töölönlahti Bay, a stone’s throw from the Olympic Stadium.

Esplanadi Park (Esplanadin Puisto)

Close to Helsinki Central Railway Station, the beloved Esplanadi, or simply “Espa,” is the green heart of Helsinki city center and arguably the most famous park in Finland. Locals and tourists come here to stroll in summer, lounge on the grass, picnic with friends and family, listen to music and watch live performances while enjoying the pleasant surroundings. It features well-maintained lawns, tree-lined alleys with rows of linden trees on both sides that create a hall-like setting, and flowerbeds that are especially gorgeous in summer.

Parkgoer or not, you will have a wonderful time at Esplanade Park. Besides the greenery around the park, it has numerous points of interest you should check out. The statue of Johan Ludvig Runeberg, the author of Finland’s national anthem and the country’s renowned poet, stands in the middle of Esplanadi. At one end of the urban park on Market Square is the legendary Kappeli, a historic restaurant built in 1867 and designed by the Finnish architect Hampus Dahlström.

Opposite the chapel restaurant is a stage where visitors can listen to live music. Espa Stage also hosts Finland’s longest music festival each year from the beginning of May to the end of August. There are also benches, cafes, restaurants, and other exciting places to visit nearby.

Sinebrychoff Park (Sinebrychoffin puisto)

If you’re in Punavuori, a famed district in the southwestern part of downtown Helsinki, remember to stop by Sinebrychoff Park. It was a former private garden that a businessman from Russia, Nikolai Sinebrychoff, once owned. The garden had a viewing terrace, arched bridges, three ponds, large trees, floral arrangements, a gazebo, and sitting areas. Later, they added an ice cellar and a large greenhouse. It was accessible to the public during the day and flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Like many places in the world, the garden was in poor shape after World War II. The city acquired the property in 1965, but it was only renovated in 2002. It now features modern play areas, ornamental cherry and apple trees, an observation tower, and a dog park. The 1865 eight-sided redbrick tower is part of the play park.

While it’s a fantastic summer destination, we especially love visiting in winter for sledding if there’s enough snow. It’s not too crowded, and there's always room for more people when it gets flocks of visitors.

Sibelius Park (Sibeliuksen puisto)

Known to locals as “Sibbari,” Sibelius Park is one of the top parks in Helsinki for art, peace, and nature in the middle of the Scandinavian capital. A stroll tram ride from the park will take you to Heitaniemi Beach, one of Finland’s most fashionable beaches, ideal for young people and families. The site was initially designated as a residential area but changed into a recreational space in the 1916 revised town plan. It’s a smart move, given its popularity today.  

If you love art and don’t have time to visit a gallery or want to witness contemporary masterpieces in a different setting, you should definitely add this public park to your bucket list. It houses one of the city’s best-known artworks, the Sibelius Monument, by Finnish sculptor Eila Hiltunen. For those unfamiliar with Jean Sibelius, he’s a composer from Finland and a national icon. The monument resembles organ pipes made of welded steel with more than 600 pipes and weighs 24 tons.

When not marveling at the park monuments, you’ll see visitors setting up a blanket and sitting on the lush lawns, strolling the park and tall birch trees, or soaking in the relaxing atmosphere by the pond. It’s also a nice place to take pictures and spend time with family, with a good view of the sea nearby.

Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden

Enter the magical plant world at the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden, an outdoor garden with glasshouses that offer everyone a glimpse into the plant life of tropical wetlands, humid rainforests, and torrid desserts. If you’re here in summer, head to the central garden. It’s an open space with flowers and ponds, bordered by rose bushes and glasshouses.

Visit the Palm House to spot the world’s biggest seed while the Santa Cruz water lily dominates the Waterlily Room. This water lily has survived the Second World War’s bombings and can grow to about two meters in diameter. It can be just as heavy as an adult human, too. The water lily typically withers around Christmastime, but don’t worry because there’s a new seedling planted in the pond’s bottom soil to bloom in summer.

Besides the plants, Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden also houses Hexa-Hives. It was part of the Botanic Garden exhibit in 2012, and since then, different types of hives and installations have been displayed in the garden.

The University Botanical Garden is one of the city’s oldest public green spaces, which has belonged to the University of Helsinki since 1829. The garden offers free entry throughout the year and a minimal fee to the glasshouses.

Kaivopuisto

Kaivopuisto is another popular park among Helsinki residents and tourists, situated in a quiet, wealthy neighborhood. You’ll find it at the tip of the peninsula, far enough from the chaos of the city center. The area is home to several embassies and old villas by the sea, which add to its charming, old-world atmosphere. It was a rocky destination covered in swamps and forest but became a favored meeting place and a recreational hub since a high-society spa with a refurbished park opened in the 1830s.

Today, Kaivopuisto is a preferred location for relaxation and enjoying the great outdoors. It has varied terrain and features long winding paths for running and walking. The green lawns are ideal for picnics, while the cliffs boast a spectacular view of the Baltic Sea. It is clean, well-maintained, and offers different activities, regardless of the season.

Although it’s in a central area, it’s a bit distant from the bustling downtown, making it a perfect spot to escape the city noise. It has a playground for young visitors, chess games for older adults, and shops along the walking area. You can also rent boats and go on a romantic cruise. In winter, visitors come sledding, while spring and summer bring huge crowds to attend events and celebrations.

Linnanmäki Amusement Park

If you’re up for an extraordinary adventure in the capital of Finland, head to Linnanmäki, a historic theme park that has entertained people since 1950. It’s proud to be the country’s first and most popular amusement park, with over forty rides, plenty of games, and many cafes and restaurants for all tastes and preferences. The 1951 wooden rollercoaster remains its most popular ride, but feel free to explore others, from more relaxed to heart-pumping rides for adrenaline junkies.

Although not exactly a green space, this Linnanmäki deserves a spot on our list of the must-see parks in Helsinki. Besides the rides, the amusement park is home to SEA LIFE Helsinki, an underwater aquarium that houses tropical fish, rays, sharks, and starfish. There are also children’s playgrounds that provide little ones hours of fun and entertainment, games for older visitors, and shopping places.

Helsinki Central Park (Keskuspuisto)

For those who want to spend a day in the wilderness, there’s no better natural wonder to explore near the city center than Central Park. It’s a paradise for nature lovers, cyclists, hikers, and joggers, with diverse environments. The central forest spans nearly ten kilometers and runs through the city of Helsinki. It’s an extensive outdoor recreation area with guided hiking trails, meadows, landscape fields, and woodlands.

Its paths and trails intersect, but you can always walk outside them to pick fresh berries and mushrooms. There’s also a sports park to play your favorite sport or practice and numerous conservation areas, including the Haltiala treasure area, Pitkäkoski slope grove, and Niskala tree species park.

Explore and appreciate Helsinki parks and green spaces

Whether you’re looking for a memorable nature excursion or a peaceful retreat from the city hustle, the parks in Helsinki offer endless opportunities for rest, fun, and venturing outdoors. You don’t have to travel far to the woods, as many of its gardens and green spaces are within easy reach of the capital.

There’s no limit to your adventure in this Scandinavian capital. If you find this guide useful and want to learn more, we have other guides that provide more ideas on how to maximize your trip in this magnificent Finnish city. Read about shopping in Helsinki and also about visiting Helsinki on a budget.

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