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Outer capital cities are usually a residential sprawl, but a Helsinki bike tour charts a route through a trove of vast green and conservation areas.
Helsinki is an attractive, contemporary and super stylish city; an easy-to-navigate collection of pretty architecture and fashionable outlets, broken up by parkland and a boat port which can transport you to the neighbouring islands, such as Seurasaari, in minutes.
Compact in size but not short on attractions, city wandering is a must, yet it’s easy to focus on the centre of a capital city and forget about the wider area surrounding it. In some capitals, the outer city is just a mash and sprawl of residential areas, but with 1000 kilometres of biking lanes that weave around nature-wrapped urban areas, the best way to understand the topography of Helsinki is to leave the centre and cover some ground on two wheels.
Finland’s National Heritage Services noted an unfamiliarity of urban residents with nature, especially in Helsinki, and tourists, too, gravitate towards the centre. Here’s how to see more on a Helsinki bike tour connecting forest to archipelago coastline.
- How to Start Biking in Helsinki – Finding a Bike Tour
- Helsinki Bike Tour Trail Stops
- Things To Know About Biking in Helsinki
- Travelling to Finland
How to Start Biking in Helsinki – Finding a Bike Tour
Luckily, just a few kilometres away is an outer green belt of the city, which visitors can easily access alongside the locals. Being able to cycle over 22km outside this much-loved Scandinavian capital meant embarking on a proper adventure.
It only takes a few kilometres and an active few hours to see an entirely new persona of a capital city. The trip I took with Happy Guide Helsinki, as part of my ‘Outdoors Finland’ adventure with Visit Finland, was a slight variation of the Green Trail Ride tour that they currently offer, except we finished at the Vuosaari Paddling Center to embark on some midnight kayaking, instead of returning to the city.
Helsinki Bike Tour Trail Stops
A bike tour in Helsinki covers a vast ground to places you wouldn’t, as a visitor, know about or think of. Points of interest outside larger parks and main city highlights and, instead, pristine corners, rocky coves and the most picturesque stretches of the archipelago coastline.
Helsinki Cycle Map
Visiting Halkolaituri and Merihaka
Our meeting point was Luotsikatu Street, near Kauppatori Market Square, where you’ll find the fish market and tourist boat docks. From here, we cycled around an area of Helsinki city centre that’s a little hidden and easily missed, stopping at Halkolaituri to see the longships and the ice breakers.
We then continued to an area called Merihaka, which is well-known as the spot where people wash and dry their giant rugs. This area also attracts a young and hip crowd who can be found chilling on the small wooden decks, hosting small gatherings, some of which are known for their parties!
Cycling the Kivinokka Nature Path
Not many people outside local circles know about the Kivinokka nature trail, but this tree-lined environmental haven lined with cycle paths and walkways makes you feel like you are miles away from the city.
Hilly, narrow pathways with an air of untouched mystery lead to a viewing point of the Viikki nature reserve, overlooking fields of grain and a large expanse of water. This is a must-visit spot for wildlife and bird-watching enthusiasts.
Helsinki Woodland in Herttoniemi Neighborhood
I don’t come from a country where you find a ski jumping ramp in the middle of wood swooping down into a field flanked by neighbourhoods and leisurely parkland. But this is Finland, and all outdoor activities are accessible and a normal part of the psyche.
We climbed this creaking wooden structure to test our bravery with the sheer height and peek at the adrenalin-fuelled journey down! The storm soon dashed our daredevil endeavours, and we had to get down quickly, which left us even more pumped with adrenalin! And to think I grew up thinking swings and roundabouts were outrageously fun!
Marjaniemi for Helsinki Beach
Helsinki has a beach. Really – a small, sandy one with smooth rocks to climb all over. Marjaniemi Beach is one of the tucked-away corners of Eastern Helsinki and is a great resting spot with views across the Helsinki archipelago. Go and find this scenic residential hideout.
One of the most popular spots on Hailuoto, it was the perfect place to rest, with a view of the sea. If you have more time, you can stroll. Karri from Bike Tours Helsinki even gives you biscuits to fuel up.
Vuosaari Paddling Center
The outdoors lifestyle is at the heart of the Finnish ethos, so if you think the day is done after cycling, you are not doing it right. The summertime is perfect for exploring the waterways of Helsinki, and with Natura Viva Vuosaari Paddling Center, we embarked on a night tour of the surrounding archipelago, leaving the mainland at around 10 pm.
This was a magical experience, kayaking in the moonlight, with no sounds except the pull of the paddles in the calm waters, our giggles of excitement, and whispers in the dark. With our head torches (and expert leader) guiding the way, we stopped on one of the islands to indulge in some Finnish snacks and treats, before returning to our starting point around 2 am the next morning.
Things To Know About Biking in Helsinki
Booking a Helsinki Bike Tour
- Happy Guide Helsinki run customised and private bike tours from €60 per person. The price includes the guide, bike, helmet, binoculars and a snack. The tour lasts for 4-5 hours.
- This Helsinki city return e-bike tour visits Keskuspuisto and Seurasaari parks and Meilahti and stops for a BBQ and sauna. The €69 price includes all equipment and entrance fees to paid sites.
Understanding Finland’s Relationship With Nature
- For further information on outdoor life in Finland, check out this comprehensive resource, where you will find guides to the best hiking, cycling and canoeing trails in Southern Finland. Currently, the portal covers Southern Finland, but in the future, it will expand to cover the whole of Finland. Here, you can find all published route guides and download free topographic maps of Finland to a GPS device.
- Helsinki is a great starting base for wider travel in Finland, and whether you need to prepare for the unique Finnish personality or to understand Sauna culture and other cultural nuances for your journey ahead, read this quick fix guide to Finland in ten steps, written by a local.
Travelling to Finland
Planning a trip to Finland and don’t know where to start? Read more of my Finland travel guides and get planning for some adventures, in all seasons.