Nuuksio National Park is so close to the city of Helsinki that you can access a wilderness even by public city transport. Although Nuuksio is not same as the real Lapland, there are a lot of similarities and the feeling of wilderness so close to densely populated city is astonishing. No wonder that Espoo tourism office Visit Espoo has used “A taste of Lapland” slogan on its marketing campaigns.
In Nuuksio you can choose your own way to relax in the wilderness: riding, cycling, climbing, picking berries and mushrooms, swimming, snowshoeing, letterboxing, skiing or trekking. You can even stay overnight in a tent or lean-to shelter. There are almost 30 kilometres of trekking trails close to Haukkalampi, Kattila and Siikajärvi ponds.
But what about Lapland? If you think about Lapland, the first thing that crosses your mind is reindeer, right? Well, in Nuuksio I saw reindeers. Or actually I fed those animals with lichen. A touristy and cliché act yes, but at the same time very touching. Reindeer have their own private fenced forest area. Next to the reindeer park there’s a traditional Sami dwelling where we had a very tasty salmon soup lunch. If you aren't able to fly to Lapland, you can sense the feeling of Lapland in Nuuksio instead.
Also the environment somehow takes after Lapland. The national park comprises the westernmost part of the Nuuksio lake highlands. Dozens of endangered or threatened species of animals, plants and fungi are known to live in the area, for instance the Siberian flying squirrel, the European nightjar and the Woodlark.
The Finnish Nature Centre Haltia is a good starting point for your trip to the wilderness and a sight in itself. It’s the first public building in Finland built entirely of wood and the structure of the building is clearly visible throughout the large building. In its exhibitions you can see a good overview of Finnish Nature, especially if you join the guided tour. Most conveniently there are maintained paths beginning just next to Haltia. If you don’t have the time or aren't able to hike in a national park, there’s still the possibility of seeing stunning landscape and views.