If you look at Helsinki from the airplane you will see a gazillion little dots along the coastline. If you open a Wikipedia page about Helsinki, you will find out that there are about 300 of those dots – the islands of Helsinki archipelago.
Now let’s zoom in and have a look at one of them – Lauttasaari. I was thinking for a while what its shape reminds me of. Looks a lot like shamrock, doesn’t it? The island is quite off the usual tourist track because it is a residential quarter and one of the Helsinki major southern districts.
A guide-book about Helsinki will suggest visiting one of these tourist and weekend destination islands: Pihlajasaari with its sandy beaches, a far away Kaunissaari, a popular mushroom and berry picking Vartiosaari, an open air museum island of Seurasaari. By all means visit all these beautiful saari when you are in Helsinki, but don’t miss Lauttasaari.
By the way, even if you don’t speak any Finnish, you must have noticed that all the island names mentioned here suspiciously end with saari . Saari means island in Finnish and Lauttasaari means ferry island (lautta – ferry). The island got its name back in the days when the only way to get there was by ferry. A bridge was buit in 1935 to connect the city and the island and soon there will be a metro connection.
When I asked a friend, who gave up an apartment in Kamppi centre for one in Lauttasaari, what I should write about Lauttasaari, he said in a very Finnish laconic manner: “Just say that it’s awesome”.
Indeed it is. And one of the reasons is that Lauttasaari residents enjoy living very close to the city centre and at the same time in a very peaceful and green area near the sea.
I would say Lauttasaari is one of the most expensive residential areas in Helsinki and the real estate prices and rent will only continue to grow with the new metro station of Länsimetro coming in 2015.
Until the metro is there, you can get to the island by bus. It takes more than one day to explore the island and I will walk you only along a picturesque southern part of the island.
If you take bus # 65 or 66, get off at Lahnalahden puisto bus stop and walk straight till the Merikylpylän park (check Reittiopas). From there a path will take you along the southern end of the island.
The island is largely built up, but the development of areas close to the shore is limited by the city.
What you will find in the park along southern coastline are tiny summer cottages let by the city.
This part of Lauttasaari does offer some beautiful and peaceful views.
Who can go past these symbol these days? Turns out that a Finnish windsurfer Tuuli Petäjä‘s way to her silver medal in Women’s Sailboard at the London Olympics 2012 started from here.
On the southernmost point of the island are the remains of military fortifications built in 1880s. Personally I think this graffiti on the ammunition storeroom from 1885 is quite an improvement.
A sauna house available for rent is situated among the cottages of Sarkiniemi. Couldn’t belive my eyes when I saw sauna keys just hanging on the wall. However, you have to reserve sauna time in advance.
New houses are being built along the coastline and that is what they look like.
From the very tip of the island you can see the emerging artificial island Jätkäsaari and big cruise ships.
From there just follow the road along the coastline and you will end up on the main road Lauttasaarentie. From there you can catch a bus to the centre (any bus with letter T goes to Kamppi).
Oh, and one last picture. This is apparently where Finnish pirates’ headquarters is.
Have a good time walking in Lauttasaari :)