Helsinki Sights: Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti
Entering Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti area is just like Pauliina Toivanen described in our book's Villiyrtit - hyvinvointia kotikulmilta introduction. Gazing at the forest spreading out beneath us in Herttoniemi in East Helsinki, we could still see the city center further away and hear the festival sounds faintly in the background. Helsinki is an exceptional capital city with its many easily accessible green areas.
In case you want to escape to a nordic jungle-like atmosphere just a short bike, metro or bus ride away from the city center of Helsinki, look no further. Get to know the conservation area of Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti.
The area is easily accessible by bike following the bike routes from the center of Helsinki towards Herttoniemi or Arabianranta, depending on from which direction you want to approach the area. The route follows the beach line and goes around the whole bay area. Most of the paths in the area are accessible with baby carriage and wheelchair.
Nature in Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti is abundant.
One can spot several domestic wood species, but also foreign species planted in the area. The lush impression is created by the grove and verdant undergrowth. Try closing your eyes and let your ears be filled with beautiful bird song.
By the community garden, you can stop at a little pond and watch if you can spot some birds there. We had the chance to follow a wagtail catching insects on the water surface to its chicks.
Along the route you cannot help noticing how many edible plants like to grow here.
Nettles grow deep green in the shadowy spots and along the paths waybread reaches spectacular size. Meadowsweets have occupied the space closer to the water. This is a good area to learn to recognise many edible plants in Finland.
As the forest and vegetation is left to its natural state, you can also see the different phases a forest undergoes as it ages; old trees have fallen down and create homes for different species as when they were still growing. An aging forest is an important carbon sink as it keeps storing the carbon the forest absorbed while growing.
Despite the vast forest areas in Finland, the percentage of old untouched forests is shockingly small.
Here you can easily spend the whole day, breathing in fresh air and indulging in the green atmosphere to fill your energy levels for the busier city life. Areas like Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti are a good reminder that exotic and exciting nature destinations are surprisingly close to us. We can be tourists in our own country and even in our home city. Traveling closer is a more carbon friendly option to flying for a weekend get-away and it saves your energy, money and nature too.
Few observations to keep in mind:
Foraging in conservation areas is usually subject to license.
There are no trash bins in the area, so please take your rubbish with you.
Stay on the paths and leave untouched nature for bird and animals. In this way, also the vegetation is left in better condition and won't worn out because of the many visitors.
There are few restrictions in terms of moving in the open water area when the birds are nesting. Please take these into consideration.
Keep your pets in the leash.
We can be tourists in our own country and even in our home city. Traveling closer is a more carbon friendly option to flying for a weekend get-away and it saves your energy, money and nature too.
More information about the area:
Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti conservation area:
Text and photos: Aino Huotari