Inspired by Visit Finland’s recent article on 17 reasons to visit Finland in 2017, we listed top reasons to visit Espoo. The city, located right next to Helsinki, is like Finland in miniature. Come and experience everything from sauna and reindeer to Angry Birds!
1. Nuuksio National Park
Nuuksio National Park is wild woods and lakes on Helsinki’s doorstep. It is an excellent place to enjoy a wilderness experience close to the Finnish capital. In Nuuksio, visitors can tend to reindeer, go snowshoe walking, enjoy canoeing, forage and prepare wild food and discover the splendours of Finland’s flora and fauna at the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia. There is a range of accommodation available to suit all tastes, from camping to a hotel. Highly recommended for StopOver visitors.
2. Island hopping
We have 165 islands – more than they have in Hawaii! A ferry service links the mainland with our delightful outdoor recreation islands in summertime. Enjoy island-hopping or spend a day in Iso Vasikkasaari, for example.
3. Home nest of Angry Birds
Did you know that the world-famous Angry Birds were born in Espoo? The gaming company Rovio is based in Keilaniemi which together with the nearby Otaniemi forms the largest technology, innovation and business hub in Northern Europe. Fans of Angry Birds can have loads of fun at Angry Birds playgrounds in Leppävaara, Suurpelto and Oittaa – for free!
4. Taste of Lapland
Espoo has a Mini-Lapland, you may say. Nuuksio Reindeer Park is the southernmost place in Finland where you can see reindeer. Husky sledge rides and Arctic swimming are available, and you can take a break by an open fire in a Lappish-style tepee. Even Santa Claus has got his summer cottage in Espoo. You can meet him in person and experience some Christmas magic.
5. Great museums
WeeGee Exhibition Centre is a superb cultural destination for all the family. Enjoy marvellous art at EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, and explore KAMU – Espoo City Museum, The Finnish Museum of Horology and Finnish Toy Museum Hevosenkenkä. Visit also Gallen-Kallela Museum, the magnificent private home and studio of Finland’s national artist, Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
6. Bunch of nature activities
Hiking, biking, canoeing, paddle boarding, swimming, climbing, winter and summer surfing, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, skating, treetop climbing, horse-back riding… just to name a few outdoors activities you can do in Espoo. And if you’d rather stay inside, have fun at our brand-new SuperPark.
Feel the groove at the April Jazz Festival, make the most of the long summer nights at the Organ Night and Aria concerts, catch the finest new cinema at the Espoo Ciné International Film Festival or enjoy pelimanni folk music at JuuriJuhla-RotFest. Tapiola Sinfonietta and The International Theatre of Finland make sure you get your dose of culture even when the festival season is off.
8. Sauna experience
Sauna is a quintessential part of the Finnish culture, and an absolute must. Try Oittaa Recreation Centre, for example, or have your blissful sauna experience in a cottage or hotel. Speaking of saunas, Espoo even has the hottest Startup Sauna in the world, nurturing future star companies.
9. Rising restaurant scene
Espoo may not be the fanciest place on the planet when it comes to wining and dining, but our café and restaurant scene is developing fast, with fresh newcomers on the seaside and shopping areas. How about having a brunch in an island restaurant or old graceful manor house, for example?
10. Student culture
Otaniemi is the buzzling student village where great innovative minds get together. Aalto University‘s 18 000 students and 4700 staff members make sure there is always something interesting happening in the area. To experience Finnish student life as its wildest, stroll around Otaniemi in the end of April when students are busy pre-celebrating the 1st of May, “vappu”.
11. West metro
The new west metro will make travelling between Espoo and Helsinki so much easier by combining southern Espoo with Helsinki. The west metro will – hopefully! – be launched during 2017. Another milestone during the Finland 100 centenary celebrations!
12. The Finnish Nature Centre Haltia
The Finnish Nature Centre Haltia brings the crown jewels of the Finnish wilderness together under a single roof. It is the gateway to all of Finland’s national parks, treating visitors to the pleasures of nature through all senses. Definitely worth visiting! Nuuksio National Park is just next door with its lakes, forests, valleys, mires and rocks that provide the perfect setting for excursions.
13. World-class architecture
Walk around iconic Alvar Aalto’s Otaniemi and get attracted by Tapiola Garden City with houses planned by renowned architects such as Aulis Blomsted, Viljo Revell and Raili and Reima Pietilä. For lovers of modern wood architecture, we recommend an excursion to the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia and a lovely lunch at the Nokkalan Majakka restaurant.
14. Cottage life
Have your relaxing Slow Finland experience in the most typical way: rent a cottage. You can stay in the middle of the forest or by the sea or lake, or both. Just enjoy the silence, go to sauna, listen to the sounds of nature and forget about all hustle and bustle.
15. A night in a tree
For a truly unforgettable experience, spend a night in a tentsile tree tent. Tentsile Eco Camp, located in Nuuksio, is an utterly fancy, ecological and climate-friendly campsite.
16. Finland’s first Ikea
You certainly know Ikea, the number one destination for interior design enthusiasts. Espoo boasts the first-ever Ikea in Finland.
17. Spirit of business and innovation
Espoo’s flourishing startup scene, scientific and research community, and large international corporations form a unique innovation ecosystem, Espoo Innovation Garden. This is why so many science and innovation tourists come here. Did you know that 50% of the Helsinki Stock Exchange turnover is based in Espoo?
Text: Laura Tahkokallio
Laura Tahkokallio works as a Project Manager at Visit Espoo and is responsible for marketing communications on leisure travel.