Helsinki is one of the greenest metropolises in the world: over one third of the city consists of parks and other green areas, and it is surrounded on three sides by the sea. There are also 42 nature reserves in the city. The surrounding sea creates a special atmosphere and offers a wide range of recreational opportunities, from fishing and swimming to skating and sledding in wintertime.
Helsinki is also one of the cleanest capital cities in the world. The noise, pollution and congestion that are often associated with capital cities are noticeably absent here. The safe and tidy streets combined with the compact size of the city make Helsinki a pleasant place to visit.
The four distinct seasons also add variety to the look and feel of the city. The city’s many parks are enjoyed by visitors and locals alike, some preferring to relax in them while others use them for sports and exercise. In wintertime they are used for skiing and in summertime for jogging and picnics. Helsinki’s expansive Central Park (Keskuspuisto) stretches to the north from the city centre.
The Kivinokka recreational area is of significant historical, as well as natural value. A paradise for birdwatchers, the headland offers exceptional and unique natural conditions among European capitals. The area includes walking trails, a swimming beach and hundreds of small cottages in well-maintained allotment gardens. Other popular bird watching areas in Helsinki include the Old Town Bay (Vanhankaupunginlahti) and Viikki.
Uutela is a splendid unspoilt recreational park in eastern Helsinki. A wide range of plants and terrain can be admired along a four-kilometre natural trail, including the granite shoreline, different types of forests and pastures. The rugged Finnish forests can also be experienced in Nuuksio National Park in neighbouring Espoo. Nuuksio is ideal for hiking, offering marked trails, cooking shelters and camping areas.
Helsinki has over 300 islands, the most popular which are Suomenlinna and Seurasaari with their museums and historic appeal, as well as Pihlajasaari and Uunisaari with their swimming beaches.