the author at the sea wall on a sunny day with boats docked in the water behind her and reflection of the ocean-scape in her sunglasses

Discovering Helsinki’s Waterfront Trail: One lawyer’s journey through nature and design

  • June 13, 2024
  • Kerri Salata

Design thrives in Helsinki. From stunning architecture to the functional design of their services, like transportation and cuisine, a mixture of beauty and efficiency is embedded into every inch of this city. Eachlobby of Helsinki library September, the city hosts Design Week, a festival that celebrates design of all kinds – interior design, innovative materials and products, graphic design, fashion and even legal design, which integrates laws, regulations or legal services or processes with design. Fall is a perfect time to celebrate the fusion of design with the practical, but it’s also a beautiful time to focus on rejuvenation, health and wellness.   

A fun way to see Helsinki and all the splendid design offerings in practice is by walking a 15km loop around the sea wall. The Helsinki Waterfront Trail (Rantareitti) is roughly 130km long, but you can walk it in parts. Urban hiking in Helsinki allows you to appreciate the functionality and beauty of the city while getting a good workout. If you’ve travelled to Helsinki, you were likely impressed by their colour-coordinated transit system, which makes it easy to traverse the city without getting too lost. The stretch of shoreline paths that encircle the city is also colour coordinated, a system readily posted on poles (of course!): a series of blue and beige markings blaze the trails.  

Before heading off on your urban hike, here are some brief tips to keep in mind.

  • Anyone new to Helsinki should remember that the city is walkable, cyclable, and scooter-friendly, meaning that most residents commute without driving. Pedestrians will need to share walking areas with other modes of transportation and maintain caution at all times. There are specific paths for walkers and others for bikes and motorized scooters. Be sure you’re walking in the correct lane. sculpture of a large red 'A" with a yellow crescent moon on top that a grey cat is seated on
  • The weather swings wildly along the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic. Even though I was trekking with my companion on a beautiful fall day, the weather swung quickly from hot, to torrential downpour, to cold in a matter of hours, so you have to be ready with layers, rain pants and a poncho.  
  • In terms of fitness level, it doesn’t really matter what condition you’re in. The trail is relatively flat and can be tackled in whole or in parts. If at any moment you want to stop or veer off course, the transit system is close by, and motorized scooters are available everywhere for rent.  

We started our hike at Helsinki’s Market Square in the Port of Lyypekinlaituri, heading southbound, and then just walked, explored and stopped for coffee along the way.  

We did, however, take a few wrong turns. Some places are not well marked due to ongoing construction, but if you hug the sea wall most of the way, you’ll get there. Two of the trickier areas to navigate included Hernesaari, where we had to backtrack through industrial areas and cruise line ports. The other notable area was near Hietalahti Port, close to the Clarion Hotel, which is impossible to miss because of its height along the shoreline. Don’t be lured towards Jätkäsaari (unless you want to explore it); stick straight across but adjacent to the river Ruoholahdenkanava and look for the alphabet cat (see above).

At points, you’ll end up hiking along the side of a highway, which, with all the quiet electric cars and a refreshing absence of gridlock, isn’t such an unpleasant experience.  photo looking downward at up and down escalators in subway station

One of my favourite parts of the walk was Lapinlahti, which, if you follow a stone wall, will open up into a beautiful sandy beach and café, Lapinlahden Lähde. Continue hiking, and you’ll hit Hietaniemi Cemetery and Sibelius Park – it’s beautiful, fairly quiet, and offers natural scenery just right near the city centre. 

If you want an added adventure on your way back to Market Square, consider exploring the Katajanokka peninsula. You’ll have to cross a bridge with locks but will then be stunned by the almost surreal gigantic icebreakers of Arctia. These mammoths operate in the dead of winter along the Baltic, breaking through 2- meter-thick sheets of ice to keep shipping lanes open.   statue of cartoonish elongated figure with rueful expression

Had we planned it out a little better, we would have ended the day in true Finnish tradition at Löyly Sauna, where you can rest those tired muscles with the heat of wood-burning saunas that range from hot to the extremely hot blackened smoke sauna, followed by a dip in the freezing Baltic, cocktails and dinner.     

Exploring Helsinki along its shoreline path is a fantastic way to see the city and get some exercise at the same time. Whatever you want to call it – urban hiking, rucking, or walking – just get out there and explore.  


More info: 

Trail Map:



Löyly Sauna:  

About the author

author Kerri Salata seated on 'stair wall'Kerri Salata is a lawyer, ethics, and compliance professional who advises companies on how to meet their legal and regulatory requirements using creative, design-driven strategies. She is the Founder of Kerri A. Salata, Legal Professional Corporation, and also holds the position of CEO at Comply With Me, a Compliance Consultancy Firm known for its innovative approach to regulator-accredited compliance education. Kerri blends her professional experience with visual design to transform traditional legal and compliance processes into user-accessible resources and training making complex regulations more understandable and interesting, particularly in the banking and securities industries. Kerri writes and blogs about a variety of legal topics including wellness in the legal profession.

Professional photos by Dr. Roman Elinson at