Ponderings about Life, Love and Freedom in Helsinki.
Disclosure: This article was supported financially by MyHelsinki. As you know: I’m keepin’ it real and tell you how it is - I maintain full editorial control of the content published on Hiking in Finland. Read the Transparency Disclaimer for more information on affiliate links & blogger transparency.
In January 2002 I moved to Finland. Before I moved to this country in the North-East of Europe, I had visited the country and capital Helsinki a handful of times, and it always left me with a good feeling. The feeling that I could be who I want to be. Society didn’t care that I had long hairs, and I got the exact same treatment at the store like the young mother in her Marimekko dress and the bank clerk in a suit. I loved this feeling of being able to be me, like I wanted to be.
During my visits to Helsinki, and also living here for a bit while I was working at a sustainability startup and then in 2018 spending a wonderful summer in the capital with my kids while my wife worked at a Service Design Agency, this feeling of freedom to be and do grew. It is something I hugely appreciate: The possibility to life in the centre of the capital where I can put my trailrunning shoes on and go for a run in the city’s nature. Taking my small kids on a free boat trip to Suomenlinna and eat an ice cream (if your child sits in a pram, you can use public transportation for free in Helsinki!). Riding my bike on the extensive bike roads through the city. Walking safely to the harbour to take long exposure photos of well-known buildings in the middle of the night. All this is possible in Helsinki, without stress and in safety.
As you might know from my previous articles, in Helsinki you are never far away from nature, too. In my Outdoor Guide to Helsinki I have shown how easy it is to enjoy the outdoors in and around the city, and a small Microadventure in Sipoonkorpi National Park is just as easy as it is simply a short bus ride away. Going so easily and quickly to nature is a freedom which I really appreciate about Helsinki - if the hustle and bustle of the city gets too much it is not difficult to escape for a wee bit, so that you can breathe in nature.
But you don’t have to take a bus to Sipoo or Nuuksio to get into nature, right in the city there’s plenty of parks, public beaches and small islands which are inviting for a walk, swim or picknick. Seakayaking or paddling is a fantastic way to explore the capital, and being on the water, paddling to a small island and going for a swim are for me the definition of being free.
It is not just nature, which is easily accessible in Helsinki. I loved visiting RopeCon and meeting fellow geeks and nerds from all over Finland, and the Helsinki Pride Parade is a beautiful happening to attend and enjoy, whatever your sexual orientation. It’s one of the beauties of Helsinki and Finland, that you are free to be who you want to be: Gay, queer, non-binary, a role-playing geek or a hockey fan. Maybe that is why Finland was ranked as the happiest country in the World in 2018 and 2019, and Helsinki is the happiest city in the world?!
It could be that that is the reason. And the city does a lot of things very well: Good public transportation, amazing Museums, libraries and public beaches and Cafés and Restaurants for any taste, from local over vegan to delicious Asian food, you can find anything to suit your taste in Helsinki when you get hungry. As the leading Nation in coffee consumption on the planet you can get plenty of amazing cups of coffee at the many lovely Cafés, too ☕️
There are many more good reasons why Helsinki is a great place to life. One more I can think of is that it’s very simple to start your own business in Finland, and Helsinki has a superb Start-up scene where you can connect with like-minded people and bounce off your ideas. Equally there are also many good companies to work for in different industries. Heck, you might even be able to keep your current job and simply move to Helsinki to live the good life in Finland! So in case you now are pondering coming to live (and hike!) in Finland, have a look at these five interesting short movies which highlight some of the aspects I mentioned in this article.
As for me, I am looking forward to my next visit to Helsinki, to meet friends, stroll along the coast, drink a tasty coffee and hear the waves lap against the shore! Maybe I will meet you there?
See more of my photos from Helsinki.
If you enjoyed this article join the Patreon tribe (and get great discount codes from partners!) or buy me a coffee - I work Full-Time on Hiking in Finland to bring you inspiring trip reports, in-depth gear reviews and the latest news from the outdoors. You also could subscribe to the rarer-than-ever Newsletter and follow along on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube for more outdoorsy updates!