Finland’s capital city, Helsinki, is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists annually. These visitors flock to the city due to its stunning natural beauty, cultural attractions, and commitment to sustainability. If you’re planning a family trip to this picturesque city, you’ll be delighted to discover that Helsinki offers a wide range of kid-friendly eco-tours and nature excursions. These activities not only provide valuable outdoor experiences but also instill a love for the environment in your children while making a positive impact on our planet (and their health).
From lovely national parks to picking mushrooms to forest bathing, it’s not hard to find something to do with kids here that’s both fun and ecologically responsible. You should plan to rely on public transportation and walking to get around Helsinki to minimize your carbon footprint. And with all the exploring you’re bound to be doing, it’s a good idea to have a plan for your bags. Drop them off with a Bounce luggage storage service in Helsinki and get to wandering.
Nuuksio National Park: A wilderness adventure
A world-class wilderness escape is a mere 40-minute drive from the city center. Nuuksio National Park is home to tranquil lakes, lush forests, and diverse wildlife, so the kids definitely won’t get bored here.
To add a little structure to your visit, Nuuksio offers various eco-tours and activities designed for children, such as guided forest walks, wildlife spotting, and even wilderness camping experiences.
While exploring Nuuksio, your children can learn about the local ecosystem and the importance of preserving it. The park’s emphasis on sustainable practices, such as waste reduction and recycling, sets an excellent example for young environmentalists.
Finnish Nature Centre Haltia
On the doorstep of Nuuksio National Park, you’ll find the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, which will provide the whole family with information about Finland’s National Parks. With a focus on experiencing nature using all five senses, this centre also hosts events and workshops regularly.
Learn about the various flora and fauna of the park and the wider region, as well as talks about moving in nature, outdoor adventure skills, and even join a guided tour of the adjacent park.
One of the most striking features of the nature centre is the building itself. Built entirely of wood (except for the windows, obviously), the rounded walls, glass-edged terrace, and well-maintained landscaping are enough to draw you in.
But it gets even better than that from an eco-tourism perspective. The building was designed to require minimal lighting, cooling, and heating. They achieved this by paying close attention to window placement, the building’s orientation, and the structure’s shape. Additionally, to keep the carbon footprint low, Haltia uses solar energy from panels and geothermal energy from the soil to cool and heat the building.
Lammassaari Island, situated in northeastern Helsinki, is a haven for bird-watching enthusiasts and families who appreciate unspoiled nature. The island is only reachable over a 1.2 km-long trail made of wooden duckboards that travel over the marshes. Here, you and the kids can get to know the local bird population from the various bird-watching platforms, hides, and viewpoints. Spring and fall are the best times to view the collection of migrating birds.
Lammassaari promotes a “leave no trace” philosophy, so it’s a good lesson about protecting the local wildlife and vegetation.
The name translates to Sheep Island, although don’t get the kids’ hopes up as this island doesn’t have any sheep. You’ll have to travel to nearby Kuusiluoto Island to see them, and even then, it’s only in the summer.
Linnanmäki Amusement Park
We know, an amusement park doesn’t exactly scream eco-friendly and sustainable. But this one is different. Linnanmäki Amusement Park demonstrates a real commitment to the environment in a few ways. First, they have vegan items on the menus of every snack stand and restaurant in the park. Second, in 2023, the rides were powered exclusively using wind energy. And lastly, the park’s indoor locations use renewable district heating to keep things toasty warm.
Now for the fun part: the rides. Linnanmäki has over 50 rides alone, which should please kids of most ages. As for the games, there are more than 15 different varieties. And to combat waste, if you win a prize and don’t want to take it home with you, you can exchange it for an edible treat instead.
Another way that this amusement park is different is that The Children’s Day Foundation manages and maintains it. Through the money raised at the amusement park, this organization has pledged about €120 million to child welfare.
The park is open during the summer and periodically throughout the year, so check if it’s open before you arrive.
For a unique and eco-friendly experience, consider a visit to Sompasauna. This community sauna near the city center is heated by wood and fueled by community contributions. Kids and adults are expected to help keep the saunas clean, get water, or even saw wood. Since the community runs it, there is no fee for a session, and it’s always open. If you have young children, you may need to give this one a pass, though. Some experts recommend saunas only for kids aged six or older.
Saunas are a way of life in Helsinki, and this is a perfect place to relax while appreciating Helsinki’s strong sauna culture. Surrounding the sauna, you’ll find a relaxed outdoor area with a DIY spirit, including art installations and a communal garden. It’s an excellent place for families to connect with locals and learn about sustainable, community-driven projects.
Helsinki’s commitment to sustainability and preserving its natural beauty make it an ideal destination for families looking to impart eco-conscious values to their children. By exploring Helsinki’s green areas, eco-friendly businesses, and even a sauna or two, your children can learn to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and understand the importance of protecting it for future generations.