We started the day in Hernesaari, an up and coming district of south west Helsinki, formerly docklands and now home to a cruise harbour and some high end apartments. We were here to visit Löyly a new, upscale public sauna, bar and restaurant (see feature photo above). It’s designed to give the appearance of a giant rock at the water’s edge and over time the wood will mellow to a shade of grey.
Flights of wooden steps lead up to more sun terraces and these steps are cleverly designed to serve as seats taking in the breathtaking scenery on sunny days like these.
Löyly is a Finnish word describing the steam that is created on hot sauna stones when water is poured onto them so it sounds an appropriate name for this idyllic place. This is only the second public sauna in Helsinki and the first one to be a smoke sauna which seems strange when you realise that of Finland’s five million inhabitants, there are three million saunas, averaging one per household. We didn’t use the sauna here today but from what we could see it looks luxurious with its own waterfront terrace to relax on with a drink afterwards. As you can tell from my photos, Löyly was buzzing when we visited but with a large indoor bar and a smaller one on the terrace, service is fairly quick and there are plenty of seats to accommodate everyone.
We continued our walk along the coast with a visit to Eira which is an affluent suburb to the south of Helsinki. Along the waterfront you will find many foreign embassies and some fine examples of Art Nouveau / Jugend architecture with castle like buildings and beautiful large villas, many of which have now been subdivided into apartments. The district takes its name from the local hospital ‘Eir’ the Norse goddess of healing.
Moving on, we enjoyed some splendid views towards Suomenlinna Island and other small islands, the bay was active with various forms of watercraft and a pleasure cruiser made its way slowly across the bay, it’s commentary just about audible from the promenade.
Passing Kaivopuisto Park we couldn’t help but notice a huge blue crane by the water’s edge and on closer inspection we discovered it was a giant bungee jump. Several thrill seekers were queuing to take a ride, and at €110 it’s not cheap. I have to say that I wouldn’t go on it even if someone paid me, but it was fun to watch for a few minutes.
The above photo is of the magnificent Helsinki Yacht Club pavilion, which is easily visible from the shore line, sitting proudly across the south harbour on Valkosaari Island. During the summer months a restaurant is open to the public and this is a member of the prestigious Finnish Royal Restaurants federation. The yacht club operates a guest harbour to around 400 visiting yachts each year.
Another beautiful old building located on Klippan Island near to the Yacht Club is Saaristo. This white, art nouveau style villa was constructed in 1898 and is also a summer restaurant with a complimentary boat service from the shore near to the Olympic South Harbour terminal from where Tallink /Silja Line ferries depart daily for Stockholm.
Back at the market square we bought some potatoes from a small boat at the quayside, having bought them previously we knew that they had a delicious earthy taste, similar to the Jersey new potato variety in the U.K. Moored alongside the potato boat was a fishmonger doing a steady trade selling his freshly caught fish. I like the idea of ‘market stall’ boats alongside the canvas topped regular stalls but haven’t seen them in many other places on my travels. Instead of packing up, the boats leave the harbour when they have sold all their produce, returning the following day with a fresh supply.
It was then time to return to our apartment after enjoying yet another warm, sunny day in the Finnish capital.