Haukilahti is a small coastal town in Espoo located between Westend and Matinkylä. It’s just a 20 minute journey from central Helsinki and is a lovely place to visit on a sunny day. We decided to take a walk along the waterfront walkway / cycle path which is known as Espoon Rantaraitti and is clearly signposted with its own walkway logo.
Before starting along the footpath we wandered around Haukilahti’s attractive Mellsten marina which is home to 637 yachts and small boats. Just beyond the boat harbour is a sheltered cove and beach which was voted the best beach in Espoo in 2015. There were lots of people relaxing in the warm sunshine and the adjacent beach bar restaurant Cafe Mellsten was doing a brisk trade.
Having spent some time on the beach we resumed our walk on the marked trail towards Matinkylä. The winding path crosses a wooden bridge over a creek and continues along the water’s edge through the trees.
It was very tranquil wandering along this path with few people around. The trail hugs the coast most of the way with just the occasional signposted detour inland to skirt round large seaside homes. A tapping sound stopped us in our tracks and tucked into the forest behind us we spotted a Greater Spotted Woodpecker searching for insects in a tree trunk.
After quietly watching the bird for several minutes we continued on our way towards Matinkylä. The waterfront walkway meanders along the shore and passes the scenic Matinkylä beach and the adjacent Cafe Merenneito.
This seaside cafe / bar has a sunny terrace and additional seating on its own jetty with stunning views of the bay. As it was approximately the halfway point of our walk, it was a good place to stop for a drink and relax awhile.
Continuing around the bay our next stop was at the Nokkola boat harbour where boats depart during the summer months around the Espoo archipelago. As we approached one of the boats was just setting off. There’s a new cafe restaurant here built on the water’s edge called Majakka with a very attractive rooftop terrace that was busy with people making the most of the warm weather.
From the marina we left the marked trail and headed inland to the town of Matinkylä which is one of Espoo’s largest urban centres. A great deal of construction work has been taking place in Matinkylä in recent years as the town is to be the final stop in the first phase of the Länsimetro underground system connecting Espoo with Helsinki. Next to the metro station lies a large shopping centre called Iso Omena (Big Apple) which first opened in 2001 with a second phase opening in August 2016 shortly after our last visit. I was impressed with the newly opened section which is light and airy and blends into the original development without appearing that it has been added later. The shopping centre now has more than 200 stores, a cinema, health centre and library.
Iso Omena library is very impressive as, in addition to borrowing books, members can learn how to use 3D printers, laser engraving machines, vinyl cutters, sewing machines and much more. I only wish we had such resources in our local libraries! Matinkylä is located only 6.5 miles from Helsinki taking only 15 minutes along the Länsiväylä motorway making it easily accessible for a visit from the capital.