When you want something fun and easy to do for your family, why not head to the east of the Helsinki region and try out Kotka. The beautiful seaside town located just over an hour’s drive from Helsinki provides families with easy hanging out and a genuine Kymenlaakso atmosphere. The magnificent archipelago can be reached from the centre of Kotka by boat in less than 15 minutes.
Easy day trip by car or bus
A day trip to Kotka from the Helsinki area is an idea that can be put to practice easily. By car, the drive is less than 1.5 hours along the new motorway, but Kotka is also a great destination for families without a car of their own. The buses departing from the Kamppi long-distance bus terminal in Helsinki take you to the centre of Kotka in Kotkansaari, where everything is conveniently located within a walking distance. Almost every place is accessible by pram, because city planning has paid attention to unobstructed access.
Start the day with a posso at the Market Place
When you are in Kotka, you should first go to the Market Place to enjoy coffee and posso, the local sweet pastry. Those arriving by bus can easily walk from the bus station to the Market Place. On the way, you can stop at the Sibelius Park, where children have a nice playground with a small bus for play.
The sweet pastry indigenous of Kotka is called a posso. It is at its best when hot, so your best bet is to buy one in the morning straight from the bakery stand at the Market Place. At the same time, make sure to buy some meat pies that will surely be loved by the whole family if you get hungry later on during the day.
Shopping Centre Pasaati beside the Market Place is the destination for all your shopping needs. If you want to see the port of Kotka, the famous seamen’s tavern Kairo or visit Maritime Centre Vellamo, you should walk along Kauppakatu street from the Market Place. However, when the theme is to spend the day as a family, the next destination is the Isopuisto Park, which starts almost from the corner of the Market Place along Ruotsinsalmenkatu street towards Sapokka.
Via playgrounds to the seaside in Sapokka
The Isopuisto Park is the largest and oldest park in Kotka. The park that represents English-style landscape gardens offers both the blaze of blooming flowers and tranquil and comfortable resting places. The park houses two playgrounds for children (separate ones for small and bigger children), a game field and a paddling pool. Once enough energy has been released, you can continue to Sapokka.
Sapokka is a versatile centre of summer events. The outdoor terrace of the restaurant Tulikukko is a good place for watching the activity of the bustling marina. You can also visit Maretarium that presents Finnish fish or walk in the Sapokka Water Garden. Sapokka is the point of departure by boat to the magnificent archipelago of Kotka – and here’s where the real adventure begins!
Make your way to Katariina Seaside Park
If you do not wish to venture on an island trip, the versatile Katariina Seaside Park is a great alternative. The park offers magnificent seascapes and also houses a variety of playgrounds and a skate ramp.
The Katariina area has no restaurant, but if you bring your own picnic equipment, the park has a grill and tables (you must bring your own charcoal for the grill). If you are interested in swimming, after the park you can head for a local oasis situated less than a kilometre away: the Mansikkalahti beach or the outdoor swimming pool located on the way there.
The Katariina Seaside Park can be reached on foot from Sapokka, but the distance of about 2.5 kilometres can be a bit long for the smallest walkers.
Text: Annika Haavisto-Kurki