A bird oasis in the middle of Helsinki

Vanhankaupunginlahti as viewed from the Lammassaari bird watching tower © Jussi Helimäki
Vanhankaupunginlahti’s location in the middle of Finland’s capital, easy accessibility via public transport and the diversity of its flora and fauna, including an abundance of bird species, make it a real jewel among urban nature destinations.

Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti is Helsinki’s largest nature reserve, covering an area of 326 hectares. The area expanded further in 2016 with the addition of the herb-rich common alder forest of Pornaistenniemi and the forests of Möylä.

The Vanhankaupunginlahti bird wetlands are part of the Natura 2000 network. Vanhankaupunginlahti and Laajalahti in Espoo also form wetlands of international importance that are protected under Ramsar Convention.

The Pornaistenniemi area includes a variety of different habitats: lush, herb-rich common alder forests, coastal meadows and reed beds. The coastal forest of Pornaistenniemi has been growing in its natural state for a long time, as is evident from surveys indicating that it houses an impressive 56 polypore and 99 corticioid fungi species.

Over 300 different species of birds have been sighted in Vanhankaupunginlahti over the years. The coastal forests house lesser spotted woodpeckers and thrush nightingales, while the reed beds are home to citrine wagtails, sedge warblers, Eurasian reed warblers and the largest population of bearded reedlings in Finland.

Pornaistenniemi is also a valuable reptile and amphibian habitat. It is one of the few places in Helsinki where you can find moor frogs.

The summer hut area on Lammassaari island offers plenty of daytime hiding places and breeding sites for bats. The extensive bat population of Lammassaari and nearby Kuusiluoto consists of northern bats, Daubenton’s bats, whiskered bats and grey long-eared bats.

The bird watching tower on Lammassaari is an excellent place for observing the nesting of grey herons on the island of Loppi in the other side of the bay, as well as the bay’s numerous other waterfowl and the waders foraging the mudflats. There are a total of six bird watching towers, four accessible bird watching platforms and one bird hide in different parts of the bay.

“Best. Duckboards. Ever.”

Ella, 5

Pornaistenniem is circled by the accessible Heart of Nature path. The duckboards leading to Lammassaari were converted into an accessible path in 2017 as part of a project funded by the EU.

When the ground is not frozen, the reed beds may only be navigated using the marked routes.

You can find plenty of additional information about the flora and fauna of Vanhankaupunginlahti at