Helsinki: Walking Capital of the world

~When it comes to convenience, Helsinki is one of the best European cities to live in or travel to. Be it the public transport or its impeccable city planning or just the excellent air quality, everything about this city is highly impressive. And I can go on and on about all the things I love about Helsinki but, off late, what has caught my attention is that the city is vying for the title of the ‘walking capital’ of the world. HSL (Helsinki Regional Transport Authority) is urging residents and visitor to walk more and make the Helsinki metropolitan area known to the world for its walking habits. And we are definitely looking forward to living in the Walking Capital of the world. ~

I don’t think that I have said this before but Helsinki is gradually beginning to feel like home. Every time, after a very hectic trip when I land in Helsinki, I realize that this is where I feel the most comfortable. I have started feeling this way not only because I have a home here to come back to but also because this city doesn’t overwhelm me. Most of the time, places and people are too much to handle and I am surprised that Helsinki has grown on me so quickly. This city has an unhurried feel to it which you cannot see in the crowded metro trains of Stockholm (packed with morning commuters) or the busy avenues of Paris (where there are more tourists than its residents). Helsinki serves a perfect city-life with just the right amount of hurly-burly, carefully garnished with the word called convenience.

HSL, in order to promote this campaign, has taken the help of renowned British wildlife photographer Burrard-Lucas to document some pedestrian inspirations in the city. And he has photographed thousands of pictures of people’s feet for this campaign. All of his pictures are published on HSL’s Instagram account every Monday so that people can get inspired to walk to work to ward off Monday blues. If you are a resident then follow them on Instagram and be inspired to make Helsinki the walking capital of the world.

So why would a transportation company want people to walk?

It’s because it is Finland and it never ceases to surprise you. The aim of this campaign is to promote well-being as well as add more life to the city streets. Plus it cuts down the carbon emission. How thoughtful! In another way, it saves millions of money spent on healthcare.

I have seen that it is safe to walk around anywhere in and around Helsinki. It doesn’t matter if you are a resident or just a visitor, you can easily walk around and switch to a public transport only when needed. Since I live in the city center area I have always been walking around the city center; running errands or discovering new things. So I can safely say that, at least for a tourist, a day in Helsinki can be spent walking from one point of interest to the other. If you are a first timer in Helsinki then you can always grab a walking route map from the Helsinki Tourist Information Center at the Central Railway Station and just set out on your self-guided walking tour.

Download a pdf file of the walking routes here.

Most of the tourist attractions are concentrated within a small radius and they can be easily reached on foot or by city bikes. So basically walking around these spots will not only make you burn some calories but also help Helsinki achieve its goal of reaching Carbon Neutrality by 2050.

My 5 reasons why Helsinki is a good place to go ahead and give this idea a thumbs up?

1. It is a seaside city with amazing shoreline perfect for leisurely strolls or jogging.
2. It really has a cool climate (during summers) so you won’t be sweating a lot during your walk.
3. Nature is just as accessible as public transport in the city. You would definitely want a hike without really having to leave the city.
4. Some of the iconic places and buildings in Helsinki are best explored only on foot with lots of time for detailed observation and admiration.
5. Helsinki’s sidewalks are safe, less crowded, and well maintained like you won’t even feel the stress.

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