Espoo (Swedish: Esbo) with a population of a quarter of a million is the second largest city in Finland. It's part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area along with the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, and the small city of Kauniainen which is completely encircled by Espoo.
The national park of Nuuksio is situated in northwestern Espoo.
Espoo has several local regional centres, thus divided into seven major areas: Vanha-Espoo, Espoonlahti, Espoo, Kauklahti, Leppävaara, Matinkylä and Tapiola. The Espoo center (Espoon keskus) is the administrative centre, but doesn't rise above its peers with respect to population. Population is concentrated in an ⊐-shaped area defined by the railway to Espoo centre (north) and the highway Länsiväylä (south) up to Espoonlahti. The rest is sparsely populated, and north of Espoo centre, the area is mostly forested.
The science and technology related campuses of the Aalto University are based in Otaniemi, Espoo, along with a thriving science community that includes numerous startups and organizations such as VTT – the Technical Research Centre of Finland. Nokia is headquartered in Keilaniemi, Espoo, along with other high-tech companies such as KONE, Tekla and Fortum, etc.
With respect to transit, the south of Espoo is served by the local highway, Länsiväylä. Buses via Länsiväylä to destinations in Espoo leave from the Kamppi bus station (Kamppi shopping center, ground floor). The orbital line 550 connects the train stations of Oulunkylä and Huopalahti with the southeastern part of Espoo (Leppävaara, Laajalahti, Otaniemi, Tapiola and Westend).
Northern Espoo and Espoo centre (Espoon keskus) are served by Helsinki commuter trains, with 4 faster E, S, U and Y trains (25 min from Helsinki) to Middle- and West-Espoo. In addition, A train (every 10-20 minutes, 17 minutes from Helsinki) serves the east part of Espoo. The Finnish National Rail commuter traffic section has route maps and timetables online.
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- Regional U-line bus 540 (€4.50) leaves from bus platform 14 of T2 via platform 5 of T1, for connections to the areas of Leppävaara, Nihtisilta, Ikea and Espoon keskus. Everyday 07:45-22:50
The following regional buses run only in rush hours from Mon-Fri, roughly one departure per hour, leaving from bus platform 4 of T1 via platform 35 of T2
- 514 and 514K (€4.50) connect the areas of Leppävaara, Tapiola and Westend.
- 535 (€4.50) connect the areas of North and Middle Espoo.
Freeways 1 and 51 pass through Espoo, as do the westernmost portions of ring road one and three.
Trains A, E, S, U run across Espoo. Train L runs late at night and on weekend mornings. Single ticket costs €3.00 within Espoo and €5.00 to Helsinki and Vantaa, valid within 80 minutes and entitles unlimited transfer to other trains and buses.
Buses are frequent and convenient enough. Check HSL Journey Planner for timetables. Kauniainen is a part of the Espoo zone. Two-digit lines (e.g. 18, 42) are Espoo internal lines, three-digit lines (194, 506) cross city borders to Helsinki and Vantaa. One can select a zone 1 ticket (Espoo internal, €3.00) or a zone 2 ticket (cross-border, €5.00). With the Travel Card (5 €), a card like London's Oyster card, these can be reduced to €1.95 and €3.65, respectively.
Additionally, tickets to Kerava, Sipoo and Kirkkonummi (zone 3) cost €7.00 or €5.70 with the Travel Card.
There are excellent cycling paths almost everywhere in Espoo, so it's worth cycling in a sunny day. Remember to wear a helmet. Detailed information of cyclist paths are available at HSL's website.
- Nuuksio National Park. This is a "go to" place in Espoo, being probably the most accessible "true Finnish forest" near Helsinki. There is parking and footpaths. Although one has a metalled path up to a beautiful lakeshore, none are completely accessible to wheelchairs or prams, since all include unmaintained sections with rocky slopes and/or tree roots blocking the way.
- The Gallen-Kallela museum, Gallen-Kallelan tie 27, ☎ . 11:00-16:00. A small museum of the Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931) who is best known for his illustrations of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. The museum is located in a castle-like house Tarvaspää on a rocky hill facing the sea originally designed and built by Akseli Gallen-Kallela between 1911-13 as a combined home for his family and a studio. The museum presents not only the works of Akseli Gallen-Kallela, but also tells the story of his family and contains a collection of artifacts brought back from their travels to Africa. €8.
- Otaniemi Campus, Otaniementie 8. The campus of Aalto University (former Helsinki University of Technology) was designed by Alvar Aalto in organic modernist style, and includes the Dipoli congress center designed by Reima and Raili Pietilä in an eccentric style (lacking in right angles). Most buildings of interest are located either on the main street, Otaniementie, or on Otakaari, a loop road going from Otaniementie via Dipoli to the dorm village (Teekkarikylä) and back. The Laajalahti nature protected area, a good birdwatching site, is accessed from Otaniemi.
- EMMA, Ahertajantie 5. Hosts Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA) and a few other museums WeeGee exhibition centre
- Glims talomuseo (Glims house museum), Glimsintie 1, Karvasmäki. Local open air museum.
- Espoon automuseo (Espoo car museum), Bodomintie 35, Pakankylä.
- Espoo cathedral, Kirkkokatu 1, ☎ . The cathedral near Espoon Keskus is over 500 years old and built out of granite stone. free.
- Marketanpuisto, Pehtorinkuja 3. This park is a permanent garden exhibition next to and operated by the Överby gardening vocational school. Stroll around and look at the works by the students. If you are an amateur gardener yourself, you'll perhaps get some ideas for your own garden. Free.
- Espoo TV and radio mast (Espoon radio- ja televisioasema), Pellavakaskentie, Espoo (Latokaski district, 1 km walking from the closest bus stop (Latokasken koulu)). At 326m, the highest structure in the capital region and the third highest in Finland (two other masts are 327m high). It isn't the Eiffel tower - you can't climb it or even get next to it (the immediate surroundings are closed off with a fence) but it's there. There is, however, a walking trail next to the place.
- Espoo Central Park (Espoon keskuspuisto). Like New York and Helsinki, Espoo also has a central park. A little peace of a few kilometres south of Espoon Keskus. The park consists mostly of dense spruce forest, with some steep hills. Has maintained footpaths, although they might be inaccessible to wheeled vehicles (prams, wheelchairs) with snowfall.
- Architecture in Tapiola. The Tapiola district in the east of Espoo was constructed as a garden city in the 1950's and 1960's. The district is a showcase of Finnish architecture from that period and many of the buildings look quite innovative and unusual even today.
- Serena Water Amusement Park (Vesipuisto Serena), Tornimäentie 10 (Bus 339 from Helsinki Bus Station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 23:00-20:00. This is the largest water park in the Nordic countries with some 2,000 sq.m. of heated pools indoors. The buildings have seen their best days, but kids love the water slides. An extra 1,000 m² of outdoor area is open in the summer. Serena is at its best in winter when you can kick back in a jacuzzi and watch people ski on the other side of the glass windows. All-day pass €32 except some Fridays €25 (4-8PM only), family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) €75..
- Espoo archipelago. Many small islands outside Espoo can be visited by boat in the summer. They are great for hiking and camping.
- Classical music. Tapiola Sinfonietta is an orchestra specializing in Viennese classical music, but also plays modern music. They perform regularly in the Tapiolasali concert hall, sometimes together with international guest soloists.
- Watch a game. Espoo has a team in many premier Finnish sports leagues. The football (soccer) team FC Honka play their home games in Tapiola sports park, Esport center is the home for Oilers (floorball) and Honka (basket ball), and in the winter many fans head to Barona Arena to see a home game of the local team Blues.
- Rantaraitti. Any time. The Rantaraitti hiking trail runs along Espoo's entire coastline, from the border to Helsinki at Laajalahti all the way to the border to Kirkkonummi at Kauklahti. The trail is well marked with frequent Rantaraitti icons. You can start and end your hike at any point during the trail. Free of charge.
- Länsiväyläjuoksu, Otaranta, ☎ . , 10:00=16:00. Espoo's most famous annual running and walking event. Held on a Sunday in late April. Three event categories: long run, short run and walk. All of them start and end at Otaranta. The long run is over 17km and goes all across the Laajalahti bay, also visiting neighbouring Helsinki. The short run and the walk are 6km and only visit Espoo. A nice opportunity to get some exercise and see the scenery in southern Finland. There is a fee for participation but spectating is free. €15-60 depending on category and registration date.
- Ropecon. Annual role playing convention
- Sello, Leppävaarankatu 3-9. One of the largest shopping centres in Finland with excellent traffic connections. Local trains A, E, S, U, Y and the night train L all stop at Leppävaara station which is just beside the shopping centre. Also many bus routes serve the area. Selection of retailers is geared Finnish and international clothing and consumer electronics chains. The shopping centre features several cafes, restaurants and fast food outlets as well as two large grocery stores.
- Iso Omena, Piispansilta 11. Large shopping centre serving the Matinkylä district. Bus lines 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 10K, 11, 31, 35, 112, 503, 132, 143, 145, 147, 150, 151, 154, 160 and 165. The selection of shops is fairly similar compared to the slightly larger Sello shopping centre, although there are some speciality shops geared towards a more upscale clientele.
- Entresse and Espoontori. The two shopping centres, Entresse and Espoontori, serve the Central Espoo district near the Espoo train station. Local trains E, S, U and the night train L stop here. Both shopping centres are significantly smaller than the ones previously introduced. Espoontori features a grocery store, Tarjoustalo (a budget general store) and various smaller retailers. Entresse has a grocery store, jewellery shops and clothing stores.
- Tapiola shopping district, which includes Ainoa, Heikintori, a Stockmann and numerous smaller shops.
- Smaller shopping centers are Lippulaiva in Espoonlahti; Olari Prisma next to Iso Omena on the opposite side of Länsiväylä; Mankkaa and Viherlaakso; a hardware store area including the shopping center Merituuli in Suomenoja; another similar area in Lommila and Muurala near Espoo center, and numerous others. Most areas have at least one local shop, with some exceptions.
- Iittala Outlet, Espoontie 25, Lommila. Home decoration and kitchen utensils.
- Lumene, Lasihytti 1, Kauklahti. Finnish cosmetics manufacturer Lumene has its factory outlet in the disctrict of Kauklahti in Western Espoo. Local trains E, S, U and the night train L stop at Kauklahti station.
- Espoon lahjatupa, Kirkkojärventie 3, Espoon keskus. An outlet shop rich in atmosphere selling Finnish handmade gifts and home decoration products.
Like most cities in Finland you can buy fruits, vegetables, fish and more and sit down for a cup of coffee at outdoor markets (tori). They are open from 9AM to 5PM. For maps and information on events, Espoon torikauppiaat association website.
- Espoon keskus (Asematori)
- Leppävaara markets (Läkkitori north of the railway station and Viaporin tori on the southern side, in the inner court of Sello shopping center)
- Espoonlahti market (Ulappatori)
- Tapiola market
- Karakallio market
- Fida International. Fida International operates goodwill flea markets in four, mostly residential areas: Espoon keskus (Asemakuja 3), Soukka (Yläkartanonkuja 1), Niittykumpu (Merituulentie 30) and Lähderanta (Kolkekannaksentie 15). The selection in the shops mostly consists of used clothes, books and furniture. Prices tend to be a tad steep.
- Espoo Recycling Centre (Espoon kierrätyskeskus), Matinpurontie 8. The selection includes furniture, clothes, toys, books, sports equipment, cookware and cutlery. The shop has also a free of charge department with a small variety of clothes and other items.
- Some self-service fleamarkets around Espoo include Akseli (Sinikalliontie 1, Mankkaa), Olarin kirppis (Maapallonkuja 1, Olari), Omppupuun kirppis (Kuninkaankartanontie 11, Kauklahti) and Viherkirppis (Viherlaaksontie 5, Viherlaakso).
- Student diners in Otaniemi, Otakaari 1 (Several places in the area). lunchtime. The lunch restaurants of the Aalto University engineering schools offer cheap meals even for non-students. Most have 2-3 cheap options and one higher-price option. 5-8 €.
- Pizzaman, Lippajärventie 29, ☎ . Mo-Fr 10AM-9PM, Sa-Su noon-9PM. Pizzaman is located next to the K-Kauppa grocery store. Large pizzas. Try the "Mieliteko" made with four toppings that you pick yourself. regular pizzas 6 - 8 €.
- Ravintola Haukimuori, Iivisniemenkatu 2D. A lunch restaurant in Iivisniemi district with home cooked delicious food. lunch €8.
- Curry Palace, Leppävaarankatu 10, Espoo, ☎ . M-F 10:30-22:00, Sa 12:00-22:00, Su 13:00-19:00, Lunch buffet M-F 10:30-14:30, Sa 12:00-16:00, Su 13:00-16:00. Indian restaurant. Don't leave the restaurant without trying its pickled spice. It's fantastic! Lunch buffet M-F €9.2, weekend €13.5 (2-8yrs €8), mains from €16.
- Deli Rasoi, Siltakatu 11, ☎ . Mo-Th 10:30-21:00, Fr-Su 11:00-22:00. Tasty and authentic Indian food. Great value for the price. Lunch buffet €9.2 (M-F), €12 (Weekend), Mains from €12.
- E.T. Charlie, Ukkohauentie 11-13, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 11:00-21:00 mostly. A spacious, stylish, comfortable restaurant in the quiet residential district of Haukilahti. Serves typical dishes available in restaurants in Finland: pastas, pizzas, steaks, and burgers. No famous speciality, but all dishes are worth trying. The kitchen closes at 9 PM, but the restaurant usually stays open until midnight. Many local people come here often. There is a bus connection to Helsinki (line 111) right in front of the restaurant and it's a short walk away from the Haukilahti beach and marina. Main courses €11-25.
- Fusion Square, Tapiontori 3 B16, ☎ . M-F 11:00-22:00, Sa&Su 12:00-22:00, Lunch Buffet M-F 11:00-15:00. Tasty and authentic Chinese food. Try their spicy tofu. Mains from €9.8.
- Ravintola Grilli Toro, Louhentie 16, ☎ . A good selection of large steaks at a reasonable price in Pohjantori, north Tapiola, especially popular during lunchtime.
- Ravintola Johannes, Hanasaarenranta 5, Hanasaari. Scandinavian cuisine.
- Restaurant Lime Leaf, Sello Rex, Leppävaara. Thai and Malay restaurant run by Chinese.
- Ravintola Sevilla Bar & Restaurante, Tapionaukio 3, Tapiola. Spanish-style restaurant.
- Ravintola Haikaranpesä, Hauenkallio 3, ☎ . Mo-Fr 11:00-15:00, Sa-Su 12:00-17:00. A panoramic restaurant in the water tower of Haukilahti. Open only for lunch! Lunch Buffet 48€.
- Ravintola Tapiontori, Tapiontori 1, ☎ . An upscale restaurant in Tapiola with different menus depending on the season and a great range of wines. dinner about 35€.
- Paul's Bistro, Leppävaarankatu 1 (Next to Sello shopping center), ☎ . dinner without wine 40€.
- Café Mellsten, Mellstenintie 6.
- Bembölen kahvitupa (Bemböle kaffestuga), Bellinmäki 1 (Bemböle district).
- Café Ankkuri, Sateenkaari 9 (Otsolahti district).
- Café WeeGee, Ahertajantie 5 (Tapiola district).
- Café Merenneito, Koukkuniementie 1A (Matinkylä district).
- Kahvila Satakieli, Elfvikintie 4 (Laajalahti district).
- Kaisan Café, Itätuulenkuja 8 (Tapiola district).
- Vasikkasaaren kahvila, Iso Vasikkasaari Island.
Bars and pubs
- William K, Leppävaarankatu 3-9 (in Sello mall). A passable beer pub with nice sunny outdoor seating.
- Base, Leppävaarankatu 3-9 (in Sello mall). A cosy place for a drink, also situated at Sello.
- Hemingway's, Kauppamiehentie 1 (Next to Heikintori square).
- Mitta & Hana (former pub Satulinna), Kirstintie 5. Likely the most famous pub in Espoo.
Most people head east to Helsinki when they're planning a night out, but there are a couple of night clubs in Espoo as well.
- Bada Bing, Itätuulenkuja 10. The former Fellini/Aladdin is located in right in the Tapiola district and attracts many young adults. R-22.
- Fennia, Leppävaarankatu 7 (in Sello mall). Mo-Tu nights -3AM, otherwise -4AM. The only club in Leppävaara is an Indian restaurant in the day and a nightclub in the night, except during major sports event when it is turned into a sports bar with many video screens. Weekends 6€.
- Club Kannunkulma, Kannusillankatu 2. A restaurant in the daytime, and some form of entertainment every night.
- Bella Ciao, Piispansilta 11 A (in the Iso-Omena mall). Fri-Sat nights -4AM. The place to go in Matinkylä. Like the others it is also a restaurant during the daytime. R-18
- Espoo Camping Oittaa, Kunnarlantie 31, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Slightly shabby, yet friendly place. Open from end of May to end of August. A nice beach at lake Bodom just some 200 m from the entrance. €30 / 2 adults + 2 children.
- Hostel Margereteberg, Pehtorinkuja 3, Järvenperä.
- Solvallan urheiluopisto, Nuuksiontie 82, Nuuksio.
- Hellsten Hotel Apartment, Porarinkatu 3, Espoo, ☎ . Clean and simple. Located in a quiet neighbourhood but close enough to shopping centre Sello in Leppävaara.
- Sokos Hotel Tapiola Garden, Tapionaukio 3, Espoo, ☎ , fax: +358 (0) 20 1234 617, e-mail: email@example.com. A largish, modern hotel located in a pleasant neighborhood of Tapiola. Total 154 (all non-smoking) rooms, sauna, exercise facilities, wireless Internet access, restaurant and bar. Convenient transport to Helsinki center by bus. Rooms in the northern part of the hotel have a scenic view facing a large pool. From €83.
- Scandic Espoo, Nihtisillantie 1, ☎ . A newly renovated chain hotel next to freeway 1, best suited for those traveling by car as there isn't very much to see within walking distance.
- Hotel Hanasaari, Hanasaari conference center, Hanasaarenranta 5, Hanasaari island. Located in the Laajalahti bay between Espoo and Helsinki, Hanasaari island fits exactly the hotel, a short road to it and a stretch of the highway Länsiväylä. Hanasaari hotel hosts a Swedish cultural center and is often used for conferences. It is also within a walking distance (1 km) from the Keilaniemi business district. Very easy to reach by bus via bus stops on the Länsiväylä. Notice that there is an unrelated Hanasaari power plant in Helsinki; ask the taxi driver for the hotel in Espoo! The hotel rooms offer magnificent sea views through their huge windows.
- Palace Hotel Sello, Leppävaarankatu 1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A brand new design hotel next to Sello shopping center. doubles from 110€, cheaper weekend rates.
- Hotelli Kuninkaantie, Lakelankatu 1. The only hotel in Espoon Keskus.
- Radisson Blu Espoo, Otaranta 2, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A hotel of the luxury chain Radisson in the Aalto University campus in Otaniemi, right next to the Keilaniemi business district, popular among business travelers and academic visitors. doubles from 110€.
Although a part of the Helsinki metropolitan area, Espoo has few or no problem spots and is exceptionally safe. There are various reasons. The population of Espoo is affluent, with few low-income neighborhoods. Population is simply less concentrated, with few high-rise districts, traffic junctions or concentrations of nightlife. Thus, partygoers are more likely to head to Helsinki to cause trouble.
Caution is warranted in urban districts with nightlife during Friday or Saturday nights, for instance in Leppävaara and Espoon keskus. Suvela and Kirstinmäki, next to Espoon keskus, is often mentioned as the only "ghetto" in Espoo, although this is more reputation than fact if compared to districts in Central or Eastern Helsinki.
The Jorvi Hospital (Jorvin sairaala) is near Espoon keskus. Unfortunately this is a rather remote location relative to most other places in Espoo, 20 min by car from the southwestern corner.
The police station ("Kilon poliisi") is in Kilo district, Nihtisillankuja 4. Contacts
- Kirkkonummi — The next city westwards, accessible by bus, train or car.