We just spent one of the warmest midsummers I can remember in Finland! The temperatures were above 20 degrees with cloudless blue skies. Traditionally, we camp out during the midsummer holiday weekend. This time we didn’t go to any of the national parks or other coastal towns, however. We chose to visit a favourite spot right nearby – Pihlajasaari Helsinki.
Pihlajasaari Helsinki – a popular island
Pihlajasaari is one of the islands closest to Helsinki’s mainland – you can get there in about 15 minutes from the city. It’s a relatively small island with no permanent residents and consists of two parts connected by a bridge. The main island has the sandy beaches which you can see as you arrive at the harbour.
A tenting area and nudist zone can be found on the smaller island. There are several public toilets around the island. A bar and a restaurant can be found on the main island. We did not dine in as we carried our own snacks and beverages. Read all about our midsummer eve campout in this blog!
The island is known for it’s ‘instagrammable’ sandy beach with rows of colourful changing booths (few of which are available for public use). Facing north from the island, you have a view to the Helsinki west skyline and west ship terminal. You can spend time watch the cruise ships pass by!
Kellosaarenranta 3, 00180 Helsinki
A 10-15 minute ferry ride gets you to Pihlajasaari island from Ruoholahti harbour. The price is 8,50 euro round trip per person. Another ferry route operates from Kaivopuisto/Eira and costs the same. Ferry services during midsummer holiday run extra hours too. Normally, a boat leaves every full hour to the island. You can buy your ticket onboard.
Check out JT-Line ferry timetables here: Pihlajasaari aikataulut
We chose to depart from Ruoholahti as it was more convenient. We arrived at Ruoholahti Metro station and walked to the harbour. Note that this is not the main ship harbour (West ship terminal of Helsinki) but a smaller boat jetty in Ruoholahti bay (see map).
During the midsummer holiday, most locals leave to their summer cottages. But those who stay back, all go to Pihlajasaari Helsinki! Or so it seemed..
Check out a short clip of our stay in Pihlajasaari Helsinki below!
Camping out in Pihlajasaari
The island has easily accessible sandy beaches and camping facilities. Although after our experience, I wouldn’t say it was the best camping place we’ve stayed at. The tenting area was limited to one part of the smaller island of Pihlajasaari and it was pretty packed!
Also, midsummer means nightless night – so no sleep, even if you want to. People are gonna be up all nights drinking and partying. The tents were all so close that there was no silence until about 4 in the morning and then it’s starts to get really light already and the tent heats up. So camp here if you’re up for an all-nighter. One positive was that there were no mosquitoes around.
I recommend a day trip to the island – it should more than suffice if you want to spend a day on a sandy beach. We had our camping equipment with us and decided to set tent in the allocated zone, in the eastern part of the island. It usually costs 15 euro per spot but we arrived late ~11PM and left early next morning, and there was no staff in sight.
We carried all that we needed – tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, blanket, and also dinner. There are a few shelters with fires for cooking around the island, in case you need to grill something. Our food was readymade (salad bowl and sandwiches) so we avoided using the fire. For beverages, we had a couple of beers and carried cool bottles of water.
From the island, we watched the sun set before midnight and viewed Helsinki from the sea till the late hour.
Back to the city
After spending half the day on the sandy beach, soaking up some sun, and dipping in the icy water (yes, the sea water was still quite cold), we returned to Helsinki. After arriving back at the harbour, we then headed straight to Thai Vegan Kitchen, walking distance/2 tram stops away, to get some good food!
That’s for our midsummer experience! Pihlajasaari is definitely worth visiting if you’re looking for a summer-beachy-island destination in Helsinki.
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