Thursday 17 November 2011

Helsinki Architecture Running Route

Click here for route map
Length: 4.2 km (2.6 miles), terrain flat

Helsinki running routes:
Helsinki Essential downtown route
Helsinki North route

Western shore route
Soumenlinna Fortress island route
For more running routes, see Route List. 
Photos courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Here's a route that heads north from Helsinki's downtown, passes some of the city's most monumental buildings, then heads back along some lakeside paths and parks. Finland is famous for its architects, and this run covers a variety of their works and styles.
Lampholders at Helsinki Station, photo by Wibble22
We'll start on Kaivokatu, in front of Helsinki's main train station, with its strange, gargantuan lamp-holders, looking like relics from the Lord of the Rings film set.

Facing the station, turn left and run past the art-deco Sokos Hotel to the big street, Mannerheimintie. Cross the street and turn right to run northwards.

On your left side is the Lasipalatsi (glass palace) restaurant, in its own 1930s art-deco style.
The glass palace, photo by Susanne Nybergh
In 2 blocks, you'll come to the massive neo-classical Finnish Parliament on the left, made of solid granite.
Finnish Parliament, photo by wstryder
Just one block further down, you'll pass the neo-gothic Finnish National Museum.
The National Museum, photo by Jaime Silva
At the zebra-stripes out front of the museum, cross to the other side (east side) of Mannerheimintie and run straight into the main entrance to the modernist Finlandia Hall, designed by Alvar Aalto in the 1960s, with its timeless cubes and angles.
Finlandia Hall, photo by pica
Keep to the left and run clockwise around to the back of the building. You will find yourself at the southern tip of Töölölahti lake.

Continue northwards by taking the lakeside path around to the left, with the water on your right side. When you get to the north end of the lake, you'll pass the modern opera house, built in 1993.
At the opera house, photo by harrypwt
When you get to the northern tip of the lake, a big street, Helsinginkatu, runs parallel to the path for a while. You can see the old olympic stadium off to the north, built for the 1952 Olympics.

NOTE: You could cross the road and continue running northwards, past the stadium and on into a strip of woods to the left of the Aurora hospital, heading north through natural Finnish countryside for several more kilometers, if you wish. It's my favorite place to run in Helsinki, but goes off the map of normal jogs.

Follow the path closest to the lake as it heads southwards again, turning right just before the big railroad overpass.
Along the lake, from the north shore, photo by Arg768
After about 300 meters, you'll see the path split, with one path going up to the left, over a pedestrian bridge spanning the railroad tracks. Take that path.

The path runs into Eläintarhantie street, where you turn right. After just 100 meters, you turn right again onto the footpath going down through a park to the water ahead. This is a bay which cuts into northern Helsinki from the east.

Run straight south now, with the railroad tracks directly to your right and the water on your left.

Just keep running straight with the tracks to your right after you pass the bay. On your left side, you'll see the botanical garden and then you'll run through Kaisaniemen Park, with its pond and fountains. This is Helsinki's oldest park, and it is worth doing an extra loop through here, especially when the neighboring botanical garden is open (daily till 4 p.m., no entrance fee).
Kaisaniemi, photo by Henri Luoma
Continuing to the south, you'll run past the Finnish National Theater and then out into a big open square next to the train station.

Just run along the right side of the square to the front of the station and you'll find yourself back at your starting place again.

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