Good Reasons to Visit Espoo and Vantaa - Helsinki Neighbours
Helsinki, along with Espoo, Kauniainen, and Vantaa, collectively form the capital area. Although officially separate cities, they are called Greater Helsinki. Many travellers tend to focus solely on Helsinki Centre without realising that there is so much to explore in Espoo and Vantaa as well. Nestled in the captivating country of Finland, Vantaa and Espoo shine as vibrant cities that offer a delightful fusion of culture and nature, providing travellers with a diverse range of experiences.
While Vantaa boasts an exceptional science centre and a rich art scene, Espoo entices visitors with its stunning archipelago and captivating museums. In this article, we embark on a journey to explore the wonders of these two Finnish gems, introducing a few of their hidden treasures and highlighting the best attractions. You get reasons to hop on a train and see things outside Helsinki.
Vantaa – Where Science Meets Art
The Wonders of Heureka
At the heart of Vantaa’s scientific prowess lies Heureka, a captivating science centre that promises an unforgettable experience for both adults and children alike. Immerse yourself in the superb exhibits, exhilarating interactive games and enthralling shows that showcase the wonders of physics, space exploration, and the intricate workings of our planet.
In addition to Heureka’s changing exhibitions, cosy restaurant and cafe, the science centre has a 3D planetarium. It allows visitors to experience a unique visual 3D experience without annoying glasses. Since the image on the hemisphere screen covers the entire field of vision, spectators feel like they are at the centre of everything.
Heureka is located in Tikkurila which can be reached by a commuter train. The station is in Zone C.
Cultural Treasures of Vantaa
Vantaa embraces its cultural heritage with a myriad of museums and art galleries that showcase the nation’s history and artistic prowess. The Vantaa City Museum, housed within a charming old railway station, exhibits a collection of over 25,000 artefacts, including historic farm tools and equipment. Delve into the city’s transformation from the 19th century to the modern era through a captivating display of photographs.
The Vantaa City Museum is also near Tikkurila Railway Station.
International Cuisine and Local Delights
After a day of exploration, Vantaa offers a diverse culinary scene where you can satisfy your taste buds with a range of international flavours. Delight in the abundance of restaurants that cater to every palate, offering a harmonious blend of global cuisine and local delicacies. Whether you crave exotic spices, hearty comfort food, or traditional Finnish dishes, Vantaa’s dining scene has something to please every discerning palate. For a more relaxed experience, unwind in one of the cosy local cafés, savouring a cup of rich Finnish coffee while immersing yourself in the city’s laid-back atmosphere.
In Vantaa, the restaurants are scattered throughout the city, with some located in malls, others near the Tikkurila area, and the most charming ones near the Vantaa River. It is recommended to read reviews before choosing a restaurant, as the quality can vary and not all restaurants are equal.
We recommend trying the restaurant Kuninkaanlohet next to Vantaa River or The One Thai Kitchen at Tikkurila.
Espoo – Nature’s Playground with a Cultural Twist
Sail and Hike in Espoo’s Natural Beauty
Espoo’s diverse geography invites outdoor enthusiasts to embark on thrilling adventures amidst stunning landscapes. Explore the archipelago of over 150 islands, where sailing reigns supreme and offers a unique perspective of Finland’s coastal beauty. To some of the islands, there are scheduled boat connections. Feel the cool breeze on your face as you glide through the pristine waters, admiring the picturesque scenery and discovering hidden coves. For those who prefer to stay on land, Espoo’s woodland trails beckon with their tranquillity and solitude. Hike through deserted forests adorned with conifer and birch trees, and lose yourself in the serenity of nature’s embrace.
There is also a large natural park in Espoo, Nuuksio. It is the perfect destination for a day trip: you can hike in the forest, dip into a lake or just enjoy the peace of almost untouched nature.
In Nuuksio, there is the Finnish Nature Centre, Haltia. It has fantastic exhibitions, a gift shop, a restaurant and much more. It is a perfect place to start a relaxing hike. To reach Haltia, you need to take a commuter train to Espoo Centre and then continue by Bus 245A to Haltia.
Museums and Galleries
Espoo’s cultural scene is a treasure trove of artistic wonders, waiting to be explored by curious minds. Journey through the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), which celebrates the nation’s greatest artisans spanning two centuries. Marvel at the masterpieces that showcase Finland’s artistic prowess and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of creative expression. A short drive northeast leads to the Gallen-Kallela Museum, dedicated to the renowned Finnish painter, and also houses a fascinating collection of artefacts from his family’s African travels. The Finnish Toy Museum and the Museum of Horology offer unique experiences, unveiling the secrets of childhood nostalgia and the intricate world of timekeeping.
Abundant Dining Options
Espoo boasts an array of restaurants that cater to every gastronomic desire. From fine dining establishments serving exquisite modern cuisine to cosy eateries offering traditional Finnish fare, Espoo’s dining scene is a gastronomic playground. Sample delectable dishes crafted with the freshest local ingredients, paired with carefully selected wines to enhance your culinary journey. As the sun sets, savour the vibrant ambience of Espoo’s restaurants and delight in the harmonious blend of flavours that will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.
We recommend giving a try to Lucy in the Sky near Keilaniemi metro station. It has fantastic views over Helsinki, Espoo and the Gulf of Finland. Another nice option is the restaurant Haikaranpesä which is located in an old water tower in Kivenlahti. Haikaranpesä can be reached by metro but you need to connect to a bus.
Getting to Vantaa and Espoo
Convenient Transportation Options
Vantaa and Espoo are easily accessible from Helsinki, with regular bus, train and metro connections linking the cities. For international travellers, Vantaa is home to the main international airport, ensuring a seamless transition from air to land. Whether you choose to arrive by plane, train, or bus, both cities offer efficient transportation networks that will whisk you away to your desired destination. Explore the well-connected public transportation systems, or opt for the convenience of taxis and rental cars to navigate the cities at your own pace.
Finding the perfect accommodation in Vantaa and Espoo is a breeze, with a range of options to suit every budget and preference. From 4-star hotels boasting world-class amenities to cosy guesthouses offering a homely atmosphere, you’ll find the ideal place to rest and rejuvenate after a day of exploration. Embrace the warm Finnish hospitality and immerse yourself in the comfort of well-appointed rooms, where every detail is designed to enhance your stay.
In Espoo, we recommend GLO Hotel Sello in Leppävaara and in Vantaa, Original Sokos Hotel Vantaa at Tikkurila.
Vantaa and Espoo offer a captivating blend of culture and nature, inviting travellers to embark on an unforgettable journey through the wonders of Finland. From the captivating exhibits of Heureka to the serene beauty of Espoo’s archipelago, these cities promise a rich tapestry of experiences. Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scenes, indulge in cuisine, and explore the natural wonders that await at every turn. Whether you seek scientific wonders or artistic inspiration, Vantaa and Espoo will leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul. Plan your visit to these Finnish gems and unlock the secrets that lie within their enchanting embrace.