Even though my blog is mainly in Finnish I'll be writing about Helsinki occasionally also in English for all those who'd be interested in reading about or even visiting this hometown of mine some time soon. I highly appreciate all local tips when I travel, so may this be my way to pay back all the good advises I've got during my travels. Helsinki is not a bad choice to visit at all - I lived outside of Finland for some years and after returning here I sometimes feel like I was having a never-ending honeymoon with the town I once (well, actually twice) left behind. Especially on a day like this, when we spent a sunny, crisp Sunday afternoon with my girlfriends in snow-covered coastline of southern Helsinki. So, today I'll tell something about Uunisaari island and it's genius Sunday event .
Uunisaari is small island just next to Kaivopuisto park in the south coastal line of Helsinki, in neighborhood of Ullanlinna. In summertime it can be reached by ferry (6 euro when writing this) but during winter it is connected to mainland with a bridge and the entrance is free of charge. The island itself is worth visiting all year around and I'd recommend a combo of Kaivopuisto park, neighborhoods of Eira and Ullanlinna and Uunisaari Island for anyone that has time to visit something slightly outside of the city center. But the reason why WE went there this Sunday was not only the island itself - we took part in Saunasunnuntai, Sauna Sunday, which I reckon is a perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon in a wintry city.
During the Sauna Sunday guests can enjoy our national pride FINNISH sauna and the brave (or crazy) ones can do ice swimming in the sea. There is also a jacuzzi, but unfortunately it broke down just few days a go, so I could't test that the water was hot enough, haha... Anyway, we spent wonderful hour and a half enjoying sauna and some fresh air in between. Give it a try - the change of temperature feels so good on your skin when you first spend some time in sauna, then go out and have a little walk (bring sandals if possible!!) in the snow. I didn't do the ice swimming. I'd love to say all Finns do it but that just ain't true... I've done it once and for me it was enough, but many people fall in love with it and do it always when they can. Maybe you'll be one of them...
Some practical tips: Bring your own bathing suit, suitable shoes or some extra socks and also a towel if you want to get in a bit cheaper. A bottle of water is also a good idea always when doing sauna. In Finland, as you may know, we do sauna naked (men & women bathe separately!) and it is totally normal, but I noticed a few ladies wearing bathing suit inside the sauna and I reckon it's OK if you don't feel comfortable without...
Shampoo and soap is included in the entrance fee as well as the linen to sit on (whatwouldyoucallit??) in sauna. The afternoon was split up into three parts to avoid crowd: 12-1.30PM, 1.30PM-3PM and 3PM-4.30PM. Tickets are sold in the café Uunisaari just in the middle the island starting 11AM same day. This event is very popular, so I'd recommend you to by the ticket's as early as you can. Price's etc. you can check in their web site.
We had such a lovely time today in Uunisaari, and I would recommend it to ANYONE. Just don't be on too much of a rush, walk around the island, do your sauna and bathing and then sit down in the cafe and have some salmon soup to complete your Sunday. The event takes place every Sunday till half of April - so note this to yourself if you're visiting Helsinki this winter!
Would you think these photos were taken just a 15 minute-walk away from downtown Helsinki?