Helsinki is just one of the many Scandinavian cities that are holding it down on the sustainability front. Scandinavians have long since been doing their own thing and it always seems to be the right thing, Finns included. Helsinki is a relatively small capital city, population 564,000, but its residents are purported to be some of the best educated in the world. They also have some of the cleanest drinking water reported. Maybe there’s a correlation…?
Furthermore, the city of Helsinki is run almost entirely on one central heating system, designed and implemented by the a sustainability-forward government. So if you’re worried about the cold, you don’t actually have to leave your hotel. But if you want to do as the Finns do, you’ll have to – and you’ll likely ride the bus. 40% of the population uses strictly public transportation of which 15% of the bus fleet is natural-gas driven. If not bussing it, residents take full advantage of the 1,000 kilometers worth of bike paths that circulate the city.
Of course, if you’re there for the New Year, it’s better to stick to sightseeing (and mostly indoors). I suggest starting with Ekoviikki, an ecological building site that houses 2,000 inhabitants and is run on solar heating. It’s about as sweet and sleek modern Scandinavian as you can imagine and the most unique housing settlement in all of Finland.