Do you think Espoo and Southern Finland are worth visiting only in the summer? Gather courage and experience these arctic activities just next to Helsinki to change your mind!
1. Taste of Lapland and Northern magic
You don’t need to travel all the way to north to experience Lapland.
Hop on a husky safari by Arctic Expedition for hilarious excitement and speed, or just spend time with these friendly sled dogs that love hugs. In case you want to meet and feed Santa Claus’s reindeer, visit Nuuksio Reindeer Park. It is the southernmost place in Finland where you can see reindeer.
2. Downhill skiing
There are no alpine slopes in Helsinki, but in Espoo we do have them!
After a day of downhill skiing at Serena Ski you can relax in Serena Water Park. A bit higher hills can be found in Solvalla-Swinghill, Nuuksio. Peuramaa Ski with twelve slopes waits for you in Kirkkonummi, less than half an hour ride from Espoo.
3. Winter swimming
Does it sound crazy to make a hole in the ice for swimming? Well, we do it in Finland, and it’s healthy and absolutely refreshing. It might be hard to get in there but when you experience the feeling that comes afterwards, you get the point.
There are eight ice swimming holes in Espoo, most of which in the sea. For a great sauna and winter swimming experience, we recommend Oittaa Recreation Centre by the Lake Bodom. The public saunas are warmed up four days a week there. Another extreme type of winter swimming is going into the water in rescue suits: either by having a relaxing evening in Sea & Mountain Adventures’ IceSpa or learning useful skills and having fun with Eventure.
If there’s a lot of snow, the easiest way to wander is snowshoeing.
You can rent snow shoes in the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia or in Oittaa Recreation Centre. In case you prefer participating in a guided hike, try one of these organizers: Feel The Nature, Hawkhill and Honkalintu. If you want to try out something new, wear sliding snow shoes (Altai Ski HOK) of Elämystorppa and enjoy downhills in a new way!
5. Ice fishing
In wintertime, you can catch fishes through a hole in ice. Finland’s everyman’s rights include ice fishing so you don’t need any permit to do so. Just remember to be careful on ice ‒ find out if the ice is strong enough and always carry icepicks with you!
Bicycle is a year-around vehicle. If you’re afraid of slippery roads or it feels too heavy to cycle in snow, try a fatbike! Its oversized tires make cycling more stable, and you can also cycle on soft surfaces.
You can rent a fatbike and even have a guide with you from Kuntosyke in Kirkkonummi. If you have a bike of your own, cycle small snowy roads in Northern Espoo or, in case you want more challenge, try the 110 km long Trail 2000 in capital area.
7. Ice skating
Espoo has more than 90 ice rinks, three artificial ice rinks and several ice halls. Tapiola Ice Garden, located in the heart of Tapiola, is the most attractive of them with rental skates available and a café. Check the condition of ice rinks at Outdoor exercise map service.
8. Cross-country skiing
There are more than 200 km maintained ski tracks in Espoo. Around 60 km of them are illuminated. Check the condition of tracks beforehand at Outdoor Exercise Map service. In addition come all the tracks that skiers make themselves on lakes, fields and forests.
You can start your cross-country skiing from Oittaa Recreation Centre, as they rent equipment and have artificial snow even during mild winters. Other good starting points are Leppävaara and Central Park near Puolarmetsä. Also Nuuksio-Pirttimäki track is worth visiting if you like more rural landscapes.
9. Ice climbing
Nuuksio is a rocky area with high elevation changes, which makes it ideal for climbing.
Ice climbing is allowed everywhere in Nuuksio National Park. High cliffs can be found at Romvuori, for example. Outside national park, there is a popular climbing cliff along the road Nuuksiontie, 800 meters before the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia.
Walking in nature is always a little adventure.
Go out and enjoy the ever-changing landscape of sea along Espoo Waterfront Walkway. If you prefer forest, check one of several marked trails and after a nice walk warm up around a fire in Nuuksio National Park.
+ 11. Winter surfing
Winter is perfect time to try something totally different, and wind surfing is even easier in winter than in summer time. Gliding on ice or snow is both an exciting and calming experience.
Try it out – rent equipment and order teaching from TalviSurf at Lake Bodom.
Text: Visit Espoo / Suvi Weckman
Main photo: dspmedia
Suvi Weckman is a trainee at Visit Espoo, concentrating on marketing. She is keen into winter cycling and wanders her own paths in Nuuksio all year around.