Seasons of Helsinki
As summer approaches the buds on the trees turn into leaves in all shades of green. In autumn these colours are transformed into brilliant red, orange and yellow foliage until the winter blizzards cover the trees under a layer of ice and snow.
The changing seasons reflect the four sides of Helsinki, each of them unique and special.
The songs of spring and ice
Have you ever heard how the ice sings? On a warm sunny day head down to the shoreline and listen to how the frozen sea pops and crackles as it melts. A great place to watch the ice retreat is the southern shore of Suomenlinna by the King’s Gate.
Around Easter time the white pussy willows appear, while the yellow coltsfoot poking through the snow are a sure sign of the coming summer. You can sense nature awakening all around you. At the Old Town Bay (Vanhankaupunginlahti) you can watch the arrival of the migratory birds in huge flocks. Can you differentiate their songs?
Take a walk through a park or head for the forests and witness how the green shoots appear through the damp soil. You may even catch a glimpse of a white rabbit still, though soon its fur will turn to brown to keep it hidden among the shadows of the trees.
“Not a day from a swallow”
According to an old Finnish adage, summer will begin as soon as the swallows return. Helsinki’s numerous parks are wonderful places to see and hear them. Take a picnic blanket with you and find your own green hiding place!
You can escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre among the rose bushes and greenhouses in Kaisaniemi Park. The Rhododendron Park too is simply stunning in June when all the flowers are in bloom.
Have you heard of wild food? The Finnish nature is full of plants and herbs in summertime that can be picked and used for cooking. Wild food can also be tasted in Helsinki’s fine restaurants, such as Chef & Sommelier and Spis.
Autumn is also harvest time. Local residents have gone wild about urban farming, and there are numerous allotment gardens throughout the city. At the Dodo urban farming centre you can try the fresh produce over brunch at the Restaurant Kääntöpöytä.
The forests produce harvests of their own. Many varieties of wild berries and mushrooms are just waiting to be picked beneath the trees in their autumn coats. At the “Edible Park” (Syötävä puisto) in Mustikkamaa visitors are allowed to taste the produce and even pick whatever they may need (within reason, of course).
In wintertime Helsinki is often covered in a magical blanket of snow, so pull on your woolly hat and head for the park to build your snowman!
Enjoy winter sports? In Helsinki you can try everything from skating and skiing to snowshoe hiking. If you are heading out on the trails, pack some hot juice and sausages to grill over the fire – there’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors!
Helsinki’s cafés are also particularly cosy when it is freezing outdoors. If you are visiting the Sibelius Monument, one of Helsinki’s most popular tourist attractions, then head down to the shoreline and order a hot coffee, tea or cocoa at the Café Regatta.
Experience Helsinki in all four seasons and discover which is your favourite!