Finland has a reputation for honouring and caring for its population of young ones. From its progressive schooling system to its beloved Moomins (the Finnish children's book and animated characters that are now considered a national treasure), expats will find that few destinations are more child friendly.
Helsinki serves as a case in point and its events, attractions and parks all serve to show the Finnish people's appreciation of the process of growing up.
Outdoor activities for kids in Helsinki
Harakka Nature Centre
Those who are looking for a more peaceful adventure can head to Harakka Nature Centre. Situated on an island, visitors have to travel by boat to the centre where they can view wildlife in the seashore meadows and marshland. Entrance is free and tours are led by knowledgeable staff.
Seurasaari Open-Air Museum
For a bit of history, visitors can learn about traditional Finnish lifestyle at the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, which is made up of many buildings scattered across a forested landscape.
Children can also look out for wildlife at Seurasaari, but the Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari island is the best bet for this kind of activity. Home to around 150 species, animals are carefully selected and cared for to ensure they can survive Finland's climate. The zoo is among the oldest of its kind in the world, and animals from habitats as diverse as the Amazon rain forest to the Arctic tundra are on the cards and are sure to leave youngsters suitably intrigued.
Theme parks in Helsinki
Helsinki boasts several world-class attractions that are perfect for a family day out, including a selection of thrilling theme parks. These outings can get expensive, so many local families buy season tickets which offer better value for money. Linnanmäki is one of the most popular amusement parks in Finland, while Serena Water Park in Espoo is fun for all ages with both indoor and outdoor pools.
Indoor activities for kids in Helsinki
Helsinki City Museum and Children's Town
Helsinki is also home to expertly-curated museums such as the Helsinki City Museum which explores history and culture and often shows off new exhibits. Helsinki City Museum is ideal for parents and their children: parents can learn more about the city in which they live, while their children do the same in the museum's newest section, called Children's Town, where Helsinki's history is imparted to them through play and joint activities.
SEA LIFE Helsinki
Right alongside the Linnanmäki amusement park, families can also visit SEA LIFE Helsinki to marvel at all their wonderful sea creatures and have fun in play areas. Children's events are always popping up here, and families can organise birthday parties and special events for the little ones. Parents would be wise to consider the annual passes which allow unlimited entry.
Parent networks in Helsinki
Expat parents are likely to encounter a world of stresses when moving abroad, especially to a country with an unfamiliar language. There are many ways families can reach out to build and strengthen their support networks in Helsinki. One of the easiest ways to do so is online, through expat-parents groups on Facebook as well as looking at websites such as Meetup to get out there and make new connections and friends. Parents can also make friends through their children's schools where they can meet both foreign and Finnish intercultural families.