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An Excursion to Viikki

Viikki –Vanhankaupunginlahti bay region is an easily accessible recreation area. Bike paths and nature trails cover the area extensively. In Kivinokka and Pornaistenniemi visitors can explore the area on self-guided nature paths. Six bird observation towers and one bird hide are available for bird watchers. In Gardenia, next to the research farm, general information as well as maps of the Viikki area is available for visitors. If arriving by car, you can find car parks in Pornaistenniemi, Gardenia and Kivinokka.

Visitors at Vanhankaupunginlahti bay nature reserve should be considerate to the environment. In order to protect the nesting birds, it is not allowed to move about in the conservation area during open water season, thus visitors should stay on paths and dock boards. It is also forbidden to pick plants or damage them, and to disturb the wildlife in any way, including fish. Dogs are to be kept on a leash in all times. During winter, when the bay freezes over and ground is covered by snow, it is allowed to walk around freely.

Pornaistenniemi Peninsula and Vanhankaupunginlahti Rapids

OLD TOWN RAPIDSAt Pornaistenniemi peninsula you can explore the history of Helsinki, watch white water flow or follow a sing-posted nature path into the beautiful alder grove. King Gustaf Vasa first founded Helsinki on this site in 1550. Presently the calm waters after Vanhankaupunginlahti Rapids are the most important sites for fishing in Helsinki. In autumn whitefish, trout and salmon arrive here. During winter season you may catch a glimpse of a mink or a white-throated dipper fishing by the water.

Pornaistenniemi nature path and alder grove are easily accessible from Old Town, so are the bird observation tower and bird hide by the reed beds. Duckboards from Pornaistenniemi lead you through the reed bed to Lammassaari Island.

Lammassaari (Lamb Island)

Lammassaari Island is situated in the middle of Vanhankaupunginlahti bay between reed beds and open sea. It is only possible to access Lammassaari from Pornaistenniemi by duckboards. The wooden pathway takes you across the reed bed, where you can observe not only the beautiful scenery but interesting bird life as well. For example, various species of warblers as well as coots and bearded tits can be seen or heard on the way to Lammassaari. Many of the birds living in reed beds, however, are nocturnal singers. Therefore, the best time to walk along the duckboards is during summer nights.

REED BEDS IN VIIKKIVegetation on this fertile island is typical of the inner archipelago. Woodland grows on dry slopes, with damper alder groves taking over by the water margin. Cattle are kept at Lammassaari to restore the original shore meadows. From the bird observation tower in Lammassaari you can, therefore, watch wader birds and grazing cows co-habit a pasture.

Since 1904, Lammassaari has been leased to the labourmovement’s teetotal-association Koitto, and there are now around 100 very small summer cottages on the island.  When walking in Lammassaari, please use the paths provided, do not cross yards.

Viikki Research Farm and Fields

In the midst of all the construction work that has been going on over the years, the extensive farmlands of Viikki are still being farmed today. Viikki Latokartano research farm has been working since the 16th century, and Helsinki University’s education and research unit has continued the farming traditions in the geographical centre of Helsinki.

VIIKKI RESEARCH FARM CATTLEOver a hundred heads of cattle graze Viikki fields and sheep pasture in forests during summertime. Bird life on meadows is abundant, especially in spring. Skylark song and the zigzagging flight of lapwings colour the landscape during breading season.

You can easily explore the bird life on the fields, as there is a network of dirt roads criss-crossing the area. It is also worthwhile to walk across the research farmyard surrounded by beautiful wooden buildings. Here you can sense the authentic agricultural atmosphere. Please note, that walking on the fields is prohibited in all times except when covered by snow.

Keinumäki (Swing Hill) and Hakala

The forested Hakala is the most popular area for recreation in Viikki. This wooded hillock is situated between the fields of Viikki and the wetlands of Vanhankaupunginlahti bay and is easily accessible form the western, northern and eastern sides of the bay. The network of walking trails is excellent on this area and information boards describing the nature reserve can be found in various sites. In the summer, it is pleasantly dark in the damp alder woodlands that surround the bay.

Bird observation towers are situated in Keinumäki (near Gardenia) and in Hakala (south of Arboretum). From both of these towers you can admire a view over Vanhankaupunginlahti bay. At Hakala tower, you can also observe the plentiful bird life, mostly waders and waterfowl. Rest areas with tables and pit toilets can be found in close vicinity of both towers.

Mölylä, Fastholma and Kivinokka Peninsulas

The forested peninsulas, Mölylä, Fastholma and Kivinokka, stick into the bay in the eastern shore and   provide fine lookouts over reed beds and open waters of the bay. These areas are best accessible from Herttoniemi underground station via bike paths. Bird watching towers are situated in Fastholma and Kivinokka, but many small rock formations along the seashore serve as natural observation towers.

Old and very beautiful spruce forests still remain in Mölylä and Kivinokka. In Kivinokka you can find aged individual trees, and in Mölylä, if you are lucky, hear the rare greenish warbler or the red-breasted flycatcher call. Both Mölylä and Kivinokka woodlands are well worth to visit since they represent old forest habitat that is uncommon elsewhere in Helsinki. 

The Vanhankaupunginlahti bay region has long been important as a recreation area for the townspeople. Especially the workers’ associations have used the islands and peninsulas for leisure time activities. In Kivinokka remnants of this old workmen history still exist. Some individual plots for gardening with small wooden cottages are still in use. Therefore, in Kivinokka, you can explore a cultural environment that represents people living in harmony with the nature.

At Kivinokka, there is a bird-watching tower site suitable for the disabled, with a view over the Saunalahti Bay. There are resting places with tables and benches for outdoor lunches. A colony of great crested grebes have chosen to nest right in front of the tower. Their coupling displays are fascinating to watch in springtime. 

Arboretum (Dendrological Park)

Helsinki University founded the Viikki arboretum at the wooded north end of Vanhankaupunginlahti bay in 1969. The 20-hectare tree park has been planted with over 5000 young trees and bushes, representing some 300 species. Arboretum is served by a sign-posted nature trail that introduces visitors to the distribution, characteristics and use of the species displayed. Rest area with tables and pit toilet is situated in Keinumäki.



 Places to visit

 Map of area