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
At 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 (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.
Vegetation 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
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
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
Over 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
Mölylä, Fastholma and Kivinokka
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
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