Helsinki is one of the most family oriented cities in Europe, with a dozen parks and countless playgrounds in every part of the city. Families visiting the city find Helsinki an especially pleasant and convenient vacation spot, and children love the city.
Parents will discover that many museums arrange special tours for kids, and hotels, restaurants, and even department stores are often equipped with special children's play rooms. Throughout the city, in every neighbourhood, you'll find safe, perfectly maintained, and well-equipped playgrounds suitable for kids of all ages, and there are numerous swimming halls and sports centres providing top of the line services. In addition, public transport is free for children under 7 and for anyone pushing a pram or buggy, while under 16s travel at half price.
Housed in a former school built in 1886, Annatalo is an art centre for children and young people whose aim to is to provide a favourable atmosphere and the right conditions for children and young people to experience and see art and culture in Helsinki. Annatalo provides art education, exhibitions, theatre productions and dance performances.
Harakka island is located just off the coast of Helsinki, and is reached by a connecting boat which leaves from Kaivopuisto Park, next to Café Ursula. The island opened to the public in 1989, and the buildings there are from the periods when Finnish and Russian defence forces were stationed here. Today, the Nature Centre of Helsinki Environmental Centre maintains the island and offers tours, exhibitions and events in the various historical buildings which have been renovated. There is also a nature path which winds its way around the island past gardens, old embankments, rocky fields and the seashore meadows and marshes which provide a diverse range of habitats beyond compare in the Helsinki Archipelago.
Situated centrally in Hakaneimi Square, and with trampolines, bouncy castles, a LEGO play area, games room, bouncy slide, and ball room, the Helsinki Playground is the perfect spot to bring younger children to burn off energy. Indoors and air-conditioned, parents can relax while enjoying a coffee while the young ones explore and play, no matter what the weather is like.
Situated on the Korkeasaari island close to the city centre, Helsinki Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world, and includes animal species from environments as diverse as the Arctic tundra to the tropical rainforests. There are 150 animal species and almost 1,000 plant species on show here. The zoo raises endangered species and works to protect the habitats of the animals in their original homes. Getting there is easy, there are ferries from the Market Square near the Presidential Palace, and also from Hakaneimi, or you can travel on foot through the Mustikkamaa recreation area.
Open since 1950, Linnanmäki currently operates 40 rides, including 6 rollercoasters, 2 water rides, and 10 kiddie rides for younger children. Its trademark is the special wooden rollercoaster which is over 50 years old and continues to be the most popular ride in the park, but there are also numerous arcade halls packed with the latest games, an outdoor stage for performances, along with many non-ride based attractions, including a glass maze. The oldest ride in the park is a charming carousel built in 1896. The amusement park is close to Sea Life Helsinki.
Part of the pan-European Sea Life network, Sea Life Helsinki takes visitors on a voyage of discovery from the tropical oceans to the Arctic Sea, allowing them to walk through an ocean tank via a transparent tunnel. Among the many species on show are ten shark species, fish from the tropical reefs, rays, jelly fish, sea horses and many more. Sea Life Helsinki is located off Tivolitie in the Linninmäki park.
This open-air museum is situated on an island in Meilahti, four kilometres from the centre of Helsinki, reached easily by taking the 24 bus. The museum comprises some 87 different buildings which display traditional Finnish life through the cottages, farmsteads, and manors of the last 400 years which have been relocated from all over Finland. These buildings and their interiors reflect the traditional lifestyles of crofters, peasants, farmers and gentry from the 18th to the 20th century. There is a museum shop, a restaurant, and a café in Seurasaari, where visitors can try homemade traditional Finnish pastries such as Karelian rice pastries, Åland pancakes or delicious cinnamon rolls. There are also pleasant beaches, and the island is the perfect place to enjoy a summer picnic or to have a wood-smoked barbeque.
One of the world's largest historical maritime fortresses, Suomenlinna was constructed on six islands in the 18th century and has become one of the most popular attractions in Finland. The island fortress was granted its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, and today houses museums, parks, cafés and restaurants, and an old submarine. Suomenlinna can be reached by the municipal ferry from Market Square throughout the year, and in the summer there is also a JT-Line waterbus from the same location. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes.
Located on Sturenkatu a little north of Linnanmäki, and easily accessed by tram, bus, and metro, Tropicario is an adventure world of snakes, lizards and even giant spiders. There are more giant snake species here than in any other zoo in the Nordic countries, along with the world's most venomous snakes. See giant monitors basking, water turtles swimming, or huge spiders feeding, all in spacious terrariums built to replicate their natural environments.