HS Helsinki Come back, entrepreneurs on the island of Helsinki hope – The drummed hit destination last summer fell silent, although the place is now even better

In Vallisaari, you can now enjoy the peace of nature without the crowds. As a novelty on the island, a sheep pen is being built this summer.

Suomenlinna Vallisaari, located between Santa Maria and Santahamina, rose to the attention of the general public last year, when the international contemporary art event Helsinki Biennale was mainly held there. The event brought to Vallisaari 145,000 visitors during the summer.

This summer, Vallisaari is peaceful, even quiet.

Iisi Vallisaari’s café entrepreneur Oliver Laiho says the early summer has not fully met the expectations of entrepreneurs.

“Our net sales in June were one-fifth of last year’s. The biennial was drummed for two years, when everyone could hear about Vallisaari. There is no such stutter this year. ”

However, Laiho considers 2019 to be a better point of comparison, ie the summer before the corona pandemic and the biennial. Even this year, only a third of the June result has been reached.

Laiho describes Vallisaari as a green living room right next to the city center. The unique nature of the island has sprouted wildly over the years. The ferry ride from the Market Square to the untamed nature takes only about 20 minutes.

This year in Vallisaari you can enjoy the peace of nature without the hustle and bustle. Laiho thinks that some of them may have a slightly bitter image of the island last year due to the queues and congestion at the biennial, which could be encountered on the most popular weekends in July, for example.

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“Perhaps some have also thought that the island’s services were only temporary.”

Laiho says he has had to lay off two employees due to a weak early summer. The decision was also influenced by the fact that another Iisi Vallisaari café is still under construction. It is due to be ready by the end of next week.

Vallisaari has natural nature, but also café and restaurant services, water points and dry toilets, for example.

Also Ice cream parlor Paja entrepreneur Tommi Karusuon I think the quiet beginning has been a little disappointing. The cold and rainy early summer taxed hikers.

On the other hand, it is positive that the groups have discovered the island and its activities this year, Karusuo says. Businesses have held a variety of recreation days on the island.

Vallisaari’s entrepreneurs also have time to develop their activities and, for example, renovate places for the next season, so that they can once again enjoy contemporary art on the island. The Helsinki Biennale, curated and produced by the Helsinki Art Museum Ham, will be held on July 12-18. September 2023.

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In Vallisaari you can also get to know the colorful military history, as the first fortifications on the island date back to the 17th century.

The island can only be used on marked routes due to its sensitive nature. The southern part of Vallisaari is closed due to dangerous structures. Movement there is prohibited under the threat of punishment.

Vallisaari, which has long been in the possession of the Defense Forces, was opened to the public in the summer of 2016. Today, it is mostly owned by Metsähallitus, or the Finnish state.

Metsähallitus’ customer service manager Petra Niskanen is on the same lines as the island’s entrepreneurs in that it has been a busy group summer. In contrast, the so-called everyday tourists have not been the same. However, May is usually quiet anyway, and the archipelagos are weather-sensitive excursion destinations.

“2019 was a record year for tourism, so it can be difficult to reach those figures anyway.”

In Vallisaari, nature and military history merge seamlessly.

Niskanen does not believe that the congestion at last summer’s biennial would have affected the citizens’ travel plans this summer.

“Congestion was momentary when queues formed at certain indoor destinations. By no means did everyone experience the event. ”

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However, Niskanen thinks that this summer many will go abroad for a long time, when the popularity of domestic destinations may decline.

Vallisaaren this year, visitors will be asked for their opinion on the place and suggestions for improvement will be collected. A visitor survey is conducted every five years.

This summer, it is also possible to rent a bicycle in Vallisaari. A bat nature trail is coming to the island for children.

If all goes according to plan, you can also see sheep on the island this summer. The construction of the sheep pen is still in progress.

Oliver Laiho says one more turpentine. According to him, the Alexanderplatz in Vallisaari is the highest point in the Helsinki archipelago if the Suomenlinna lighthouse is not counted.

From the observation deck you can see over Suomenlinna to the center of Helsinki. In the evening, the sun sets beautifully behind the city skyline.

“You don’t see a landscape like that anywhere else.”

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