Every year in Helsinki there are many big running events with lots of international runners. After a long running competition, it’s a good idea for the exhausted runner to take a small break from running and enjoy the other opportunities Helsinki has to offer. Here we give you six tips on what to do in Helsinki on the days after your running event.
1. Sit down on a park bench and observe the Finnish way of life
If your muscles are tense and sore, it might be best to take it easy the first days after the run. But when in a new city, don’t spend your days in a hotel room! If the weather is good, Helsinki offers numerous parks and beaches where you can sit on a park bench and observe the Finnish way of life. In the Esplanade Park and the Southern part of the Helsinki peninsula, you can find both comfortable benches and lovely city and sea scenery. Take a breather and recover from your run in peace and quiet – it is extremely unlikely that a stranger would ever disturb your reverie by talking to you, although it is alleged to have occurred once or twice in the past.
2. Take a sauna bath in a public sauna with naked Finns
Finland is known for its saunas – there are over 2 million of them! Most of the saunas are in private homes, but some of the public saunas are still in use. Taking a sauna bath after a running event feels wonderfully relaxing and also speeds up the recovery process. Time magazine included Helsinki’s Löyly public sauna in its 2018 list of the World’s 100 Greatest Places. In the neighbourhood of Kallio there are the saunas Kotiharju and Arla that are well-known for their good steams. The Swimming Stadium, built for the Olympic Games, is also known for its good saunas. Remember, though, that in most public saunas you bathe naked – but women and men separately, of course.
3. Drink coffee like a Finn!
The Finns love their coffee – much that Finland tops the world’s coffee consumption list. Every Finn drinks an average of 4-5 cups of coffee every day. The Finnish light roast coffee is slightly different from the Southern European dark roast, but the cafés offer a wide selection of different kinds of coffees for each taste. It’s easy to drink coffee in Helsinki, as there are cafés all around the city!
4. Go for an adventure on the Helsinki Metro!
The Helsinki Metro network offers you a huge adventure, that cannot be compared to any other in the whole world. In particular, the tension intensifies when travelling towards the east, as the track divides into two at the Itäkeskus. Our quick tip: You really should get to know the metro map in advance. Don’t get lost in the Helsinki metro now — it would be slightly embarrassing!
5. Take a selfie at the statue of Paavo Nurmi
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a photo together with the greatest runner of all, the multiple Olympic Champion, Paavo Nurmi! The statue of this famous running legend is located next to the Olympic Stadium on the road Paavo Nurmen tie. Capture yourself in the same picture with Paavo Nurmi, and send it to your friends! ”Without a selfie with Paavo Nurmi you have not truly visited Helsinki as a runner!”
6. Do as the tourists do
It’s much easier to run, say, a marathon, than to go sightseeing all day long. But when you have recovered well enough from the run, you can get to know the biggest sights in Helsinki, such as Helsinki Central Library Oodi, Amos Rex, the Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki Cathedral, Kamppi Chapel, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Korkeasaari Zoo, Linnanmäki Amusement Park, the Market Square, the National Museum of Finland, Old Market Hall, the Senate Square, Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, Suomenlinna Fortress, and Temppeliaukio Rock Church. It’s easiest to find information about the sights and events in Helsinki by visiting the website of Visit Helsinki.
Jarmo Koskela, Editor-in-Chief, Run in Finland
PS. You can find information about running events organised in Helsinki on the events page of Run in Finland.
The author of the article after finishing the Helsinki City Marathon