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Helsinki holidays are still a possibility for those hoping to get away this year. Finland remains on the UK’s travel corridor list. It’s easy to think that if you’ve been once there might not be much to do a second time.
However, the laid-back city of Helsinki has plenty to offer beyond the beaten path.
Express.co.uk teamed up with Finnish tourist board Visit Finland to reveal what travellers on their second break to the city can do.
Try out local saunas
Finland is brimming with saunas, and while you may have tried one of the fancy design saunas in the city centre, it’s well worth checking out the locals’ favourite traditional saunas in the district of Kallio.
Kallio is an old working-class neighbourhood turned hip and trendy with lots of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
After the sauna make sure to go for a lonkero (a Finnish-style long drink) in one of them.
Arlan sauna and Kotiharjun sauna are recommended.
Branch out for your food
During summer and early autumn weekends the best experience in Helsinki is to rent a boat and sail off to the surrounding archipelago.
The archipelago in Espoo side offers free docks, modern outdoor grilling facilities and some even running water.
All of them offer free-for-all bilberry buffet in late July/ early August.
You can rent a boat through Skipperi.com, and head out to the archipelago.
Alternatively, hand the steering wheel over and jump into the ferries that take you to the islands in Helsinki or Espoo, or even order an “uber boat.”
Gula Villan in Iso Vasikkasaari (which translates to Big Calf Island) is a restaurant which serves simple but tasty local food, with salmon soup, meatballs and more.
It offers a fabulous golden villa with an open-air patio, and usually plays great tunes ranging from Afro-beat and salsa to classic Finnish tango. They also have their own pier for visitors.
Meanwhile, Paven, situated on the island of Pentala, offers simple but tasty local style food and tasty burgers.
Pentala is an outdoor museum that showcases how life was back in the day for Finnish fishermen and their families. There’s a sweet water lake inside the island here so be sure to explore the spot, swim in the lake and sunbathe on a sandy beach.
Explore the outskirts
Since people in the cities are becoming less aware of farming, Helsinki actually owns and runs a farm on the outskirts of the city in Vantaa side of the metropolis.
Haltiala is a great place to take a nice bike ride through the central park which stretches from Helsinki city centre all the way up to Haltiala.
Arguably one of the best “munkki” (Finnish-style doughnuts) are baked and sold here in the café.
If you’re after more of the outdoors, you don’t need to go far from the city of Helsinki.
There are great places in Nuuksio and Luukki nature parks for a day out swimming, hiking and barbecuing.
Kaitalampi near Luukki is recommended. It’s only about 30 minutes drive from the city limits.
The water in Kaitalampi is really clean due to the underwater springs and rocky lake bottom.
There are grill facilities with firewood available around the small lake. Why not camp out under the stars here?
Finland is full of “secret” spots in nature so ask around the locals for their tips – they are most likely more willing to give up their secrets to foreign guests than their countrymen.
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