If you intend to take your next summer holiday in Helsinki, why don't you do as the Finns do? For a Finn, a relaxing holiday means spending a couple of summer days away from it all beside a lake or the sea having a sauna and a rowing boat at his disposal. All this is now possible and it has never been as easy as it is nowadays. Just visit the Helsinki Tourist Information Office at Pohjoisesplanadi 19 (Tel: 1693757) or the Finnish Tourist Board at Etelaesplanadi 4 (Tel: 41769300). Once you choose your destination, location and the type of cabin required, everything will be arranged for you.
The basic amenities of all holiday cabins include a stove, a grill, cooking utensils, cutlery and blankets. Most cabins are also equipped with a shower, a dishwasher and a microwave oven. You have to bring your own towels and bed linens though it is possible to hire these on the spot for an extra charge. The cheapest weekly rent for a cabin is about US$500, but you can get a simple hut with minimum amenities for as little as US$250. Farmhouse holidays, either on a half-board or a full-board basis are also possible. Farmhouses are usually traditional dwellings in the countryside equipped with all modern conveniences and comforts. You stay with a family eating traditional Finnish homemade cooking but at the same time having ample time to relax and enjoy your surroundings. You can take part in numerous physical activities such as swimming, fishing, berry picking, canoeing or rowing.
A number of natural conservation areas have been set up throughout Finland with the aim of protecting the forests and the lakes, some of them close enough to Helsinki as to be accessible in a couple of hours or less. There are 32 national parks scattered around Finland and eight hiking areas, the latter provided with walking trails, campsites, fishing areas and cabins for hikers.
The national park closest to Helsinki and actually on the outskirts of the capital is Nuuksio, a natural spot of area 31 square kms. From Helsinki's bus station, it can be reached by frequent bus in half an hour. A haven of birch and pine, this park is ideal for a day of walking. Provided with clearly marked paths and beautiful resting areas where you can even light a fire, this park is a paradise for those who are looking for a pollution-free environment. Liesjarvi with area 7 square kms and Torronsuo with area 25 square kms both located northwest of Helsinki are 2 other national parks that attract nature lovers for their richness of bird life and their vast stretches of spruce, birch and pine. You can pick berries or mushrooms anywhere in the parks but take care to upset the environment as little as possible.
The only hiking area that can be reached easily in about an hour from Helsinki is located southwest of the capital. Called Teijo, it has an area of 23 square kms and 40kms of marked trails. It is close to the town of Salo, a fertile region of untouched forests and clean lakes. You can move about anywhere in the area and use your own camp to stay overnight. You can hire a tent if you like or stay inside one of the comfortable huts available. Sarkisalon Lossitupa, an agency which rents out huts with full amenities is highly recommended. Teijo is a hiking paradise that caters also for the physically handicapped. With suitable paths and convenient resting places, it is ideal for those who are constrained to use a wheelchair.
Where in the world can you still enjoy the freshness, purity, and peace of mind nature offers so close to the capital? Nowhere except around Helsinki.