Seurasaari Island, situated only a quarter of an hour’s drive from the centre of Helsinki, is open every day and it is free entry to the island (except on Midsummer Eve when there is the Midsummer Bonfires festival). The island provides a nice setting for outdoor recreation, sun worshippers and walkers. The tame ducks, swans and geese swarming around the bridge welcome everybody. Having crossed the white wooden bridge a visitor can’t help running into the happy little squirrels of the island.
Bus 24 from the city centre operates to Seurasaari. Tram number 4 stops at Paciuksenkaari, from where it´s about 10 minutes´ walk to Seurasaari. You can also come here by city bikes (Seurasaari 091).
Until the late 1880’s the manor of Meilahti used the Seurasaari Island for grazing the cattle. In 1889 it was rented for the Serving Company by Helsinki City. Seurasaari was then situated in the middle of the workers’ district, and the Serving Company started developing the island more for people’s pleasure trips and excursions. They took the example from abroad and built the popular issues for entertaining and recreating, such as ice-cream bars, hucksters, phonographs, panorama and photography automates, and illuminations, among others.
The serving company built almost 30 buildings on the Island. One of the most notable is a temperance restaurant with two floors, which was built in 1890 and designed by Frithiof Mieritz (1863-1916). He has also designed e.g. the combined house for guards and people’s waiting room, which is situated in the southern part of the island. In the northern part, there is the house for the guard of the forest, designed in the spirit of ancient Norwegian style.
There are two kiosks in the beginning of the island, ticket booth of Seurasaari Open-Air Museum and Bridge kiosk. Bridge kiosk “Health water and lemonade kiosk” was commissioned by August Ludvig Hartwall and moved to Seurasaari from the corner of the Vauhtitie and Eläintarhantie roads in the 1960s. In the middle part of the island is situated green Olympics kiosk which has been on service since 1952 when Helsinki hosted the Olympics. Seurasaari functioned also as a camping area then. Festival Ground kiosk is open all year round on weekends and public holidays.
Professor Axel Olai Heikel founded the Open-Air Museum of Seurasaari in 1909. Buildings from all over Finland have been relocated to Seurasaari island. The first building moved to Seurasaari was the Niemelä tenant farm discovered by artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela and ethnologist Yrjö Blomsted. The buildings represent various aspects of living in Finland from the 17th century to the 20th century. There are currently 87 buildings in the museum, the last ones being moved here in 2002.
There is an opportunity for nude swimming in one part of the beach in Seurasaari. Men and women have their own, separated sections of the beach. Wednesdays and Sundays the beach is in shared use and the bathing suit is mandatory (maintained by City of Helsinki).
Outside the summer season the lido is maintained by Seurasaaren Uimarit ry
Kyykkä is an old, traditional game deriving from Karelian heritage. During the 20’s and 30’s, playing kyykkä was a very popular pastime in many Karelian organizations, but from then on, the tradition of playing kyykkä slowly died down. Only in the 50’s was kyykkä once more revived and Seurasaari was discovered to be an excellent place for playing Kyykkä in.
How to play “Kyykkä”
You need two teams, most preferably consisting of 4-6 players. Kyykkä itself is a wooden stick from 10 to 12 cm long and c. 6 to 8 cm thick. You hit kyykkä with an other stick that is 75 to 85 cm long and 5 to 10 cm thick. If you are interested in playing “kyykkä”, contact to Karjalan Sivistysseura: pekka.pamilo(at)helsinki.fi or tel. +358 (0)40 769 0294.