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Pride Journey Outdoors: Finland

Finland is one of the most enchanting countries to visit in Europe. I last was in Helsinki in 2009 and since then, the country as well as its capital city, Helsinki have emerged as one of the top LGBTQ destinations in the world. Just walking around Helsinki can be a great way to see the city's culture and history while maintaining safe social distancing, but if you are looking for an adventure, head outside the city to some of these fascinating destinations:

Island hopping: Suomenlinna, Vallisaari and Lonna

The Market Square has easy access to Suomenlinna, as well as the recently opened islands of Lonna and Vallisaari. You can now visit all three islands with one ticket. 1. Have lunch at Lonna island. Lonna is a sweet little island between the Market Square and Suomenlinna, only a seven-minute ferry ride away from the mainland. The little sister of Suomenlinna was used at a time for making ships immune to sea mines. The restaurant at Lonna is highly recommendable for lunch or dinner. The menu is adjusted according to seasons and availability. A new public sauna is available on the island as well. Book in advance or try on the spot if there is room. 2. Trekking on Vallisaari. The breathtaking island Vallisaari was opened to the public in 2016. The first Helsinki Biennial will be held in the unique surroundings of Vallisaari Island 12.6.–26.9.2021. Helsinki Biennial is an international art event that will bring outstanding contemporary art to maritime Helsinki. 3. Discover history on Suomenlinna island. Suomenlinna is one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world, founded in 1748 and built by Field Marshal Count Augustin Ehrensvärd on islands off the coast of Helsinki. Suomenlinna remains as one of the most popular attractions in Finland and was included in UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991 as a unique monument to European military architecture.

Central Park - the central forest running the length of Helsinki

Central Park, Keskuspuisto, is a very popular recreational area with a diverse range of environments and also serves as a peaceful commuter cycling route. Covering a thousand hectares, the Central Park runs ten kilometres from Töölönlahti Bay in the centre to Haltiala on the northern outskirts of the city. In the city centre, it consists of urban cultural parks, its extensive central section is mainly recreational forests, while in Haltiala there are primeval forests and agricultural landscapes. There are four nature reserves in the park: the deciduous forests in Pitkäkoski and Ruutinkoski, Haltiala primeval forest and Niskala arboretum. The habitats of the Central Park are varied, consisting of numerous old, spruce-dominated forests, herb-rich forests, meadows and fields. You can reach Central Park from the Helsinki Railway Station by foot in 15 minutes. The park begins from the Töölönlahti Bay, from where the walking and cycling trails and the winding paths continue to Vantaa and Espoo.

Nuuksio National Park: perfect for hiking

Nuuksio National Park in Espoo covers around 33 kilometres of marked hiking trails, as well as lean-to shelters and camping sites. You can also fish, cycle, swim, ride horses, climb, pick berries and mushrooms and ski in the wintertime. The most popular hiking trails in the park start from the Haukkalampi nature hut. The main loops cover varied terrain and range from 2 to 7 kilometres in length. Nuuksio is also ideal for longer hikes lasting a day or two as there are lean-to-shelters, camping sites and rental huts. You can rent hiking gear from The Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, located in Nuuksio, or visit the main exhibition that provides a genuine experience of the Finnish nature.

Photos Courtesy of Julia Kivela, Jussi Hellsten and Helsinki Marketing

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