The sea around Helsinki has remained unfrozen because of weather that is historically warm and for the first time on record, lakes in southern and western parts may not freeze this winter. Climate change is apparent across numerous measurements in Finland and warming is seen in sea and air temperatures.
The situation is very worrying from an environmental perspective and it has dramatically changed the experience of winter this year. Normally winter swimmers like me would need an ice hole to reach the water but not so this year as lakes and the sea stay open and summer swimming spots become winter swimming ones.
An outdoor swimmer from the UK contacted me last week through Instagram enquiring about where she could try winter swimming in Helsinki during an upcoming trip next week.
In previous years the options would not have been very many because you’re reliant on a dedicated entry kept open by a water pump or by brute force employed frequently.
But this year the options for winter swimming in and around Helsinki are many I told her. If you don’t need a sauna with your swim and you enjoy a more gritty experience then I would recommend these four places.
One is Hietaniemi beach, near some sights that you might be visiting as a tourist anyway – Regatta cafe and Sibelius park – and handily on a bus route to and from the centre of Helsinki.
Then there’s a very small and modest beach in beautiful Eira overlooked by modern penthouse apartments and some colourful Jugend villas, also onveniently on a bus route.
Suomenlinna is one of my favourite summer – and now – winter swimming spots. There’s a bay facing southwest towards the ferries arriving and leaving Jätkäsaari.
And there are also many places to slip into the sea at Seurasaari on the west side of the island. My preferred spot is somewhere down here where the smooth rocks slope gently into the sea.
There aren’t changing or storage facilities open in the winter at any of these places but given that these places are pretty deserted at this time of year, then you can leave your bag and belongings unlocked (even unhidden) and they won’t go missing.
All of these places should have somewhere to warm up within 10 minutes walk.