Key residential areas
Reijola, Munkkiniemi, Haaga, Pitajanmaki, Kaarela


Reijola is divided into three major sub-districts: Laakso, Ruskeasuo, and Meilahti. The latter is defined by the sprawling Meilahti Park that lies by the Baltic Sea. You will find many old villas in this area, most of them dating from the early 1900s. The presidential residence, Mäntyniemi, is also found in Meilahti, along with the residence of the Prime Minister and the former home of ex-president Urho Kekkonen (now a museum).

Also in Meilahti is the island of Seurasaari, a lovely forest-covered island rich in wildlife, such as squirrels and birds. Its Seurasaari Open-Air Museum is a showcase of old-fashioned farm buildings from all over Finland.

The sub-district of Ruskeasuo features a housing development built in the 1950s and the Arena Centre, where many sports teams play.

A more modern residential area, Pikku-Huopalahti, lies within the Ruskeasuo, Meilahti, and Haaga districts. It is recognizable for the light pastel shades and triangular shapes of its apartment buildings, which were built in the 1980s and 1990s. Their designs contrast sharply with the surrounding houses that date from the 1950s and earlier.


Once the rural estate of the 17th century Munksnäs manor, Munkkiniemi became a focus for residential development from 1910 to 1938, partly due to the architect Eliel Saarinen's concepts for Greater Helsinki. He designed the Munkkiniemi-Haaga plan, which called for the two adjoining districts to be made into blocks of high-rises on streets radiating from a central axis, with a carefully-ordered traffic arrangement and three major parks. However, his plan was never fully realized.

Yet Munkkiniemi still became a major residential suburb. The upscale Vanha Munkkiniemi neighborhood with its pleasant maritime environment is one of the few places where Saarinen's plan was partly implemented. It is a very respectable district, with many high-income residents. Several embassies and green spaces can be found close by.

A later housing estate, Munkkivuori, exemplifies the garden city aesthetic of 1950s Finnish urban planning. Its apartment blocks are widely-spaced, leaving a lot of greenery between buildings.

Other housing estates include Niemenmäki, an area of 1960s high-rise apartments, and Talinranta, a 1990s residential development with a beach environment.

The islands of Kuusisaari and Lehtisaari are among Munkkiniemi's prime residential neighbourhoods. Although the houses are fairly modest and unassuming, the environment is very clean, the atmosphere is calm and relaxing, and the scenery is breathtaking. Property prices are quite high. Developers are further planning to construct new terraced housing on the northern shore of Lehtisaari.


Haaga is clearly divided into north and south parts, which underwent development in different ways. The south, Etelä-Haaga, saw the construction of many small multi-storey flats and townhouses in a rather haphazard, almost maze-like layout.

The north, Pohjois-Haaga, was more deliberately constructed between the 1950s and 1970s. Many tall apartment buildings of up to 12 storeys went up here. Here you will find the Kivihaka housing estate, built next to the Keskuspuisto.

Just west of Pohjois-Haaga is the Lassila housing development constructed in the 1980s.

Part of the modern Pikku-Huopalahti development, with its distinctive pastel-coloured buildings, extends into Etelä-Haaga (the rest of it is in Ruskeasuo and Meilahti).

A campus of the Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, which offers courses in business administration, education, journalism and communications, is in Haaga.


Pitäjänmäki was a sleepy rural area until 1904, when the railway station was completed. Houses quickly went up around the station. So did the Strömberg industrial zone, for whose workers another railway station, Valimo, was built in 1949. In this area there are a lot of the type of Finnish house built during the post-war era: the rintamamiestalo, a small wooden house with the foyer area jutting out homes built by the homeowners for themselves according to the same simple floor plan—small one-story wooden houses, with either the foyer area jutting out, or a small roof over the front door.

Industry is still big here, particularly IT and electronics. Nokia, Fujitsu Services, and ABB have operations here. But these days, there are many office buildings here as well as factories.

Pitäjänmäki has a few residential areas. Pajamäki is a 1950s housing development beside Tali Manor Park, home of the Helsinki Golf Club.  Reimarla, originally built in the 1970s, has villas and apartment blocks. The neighbourhood of Konala is partly industrial and partly residential. Its northern corner, which borders the city of Espoo, is to be developed into townhouses.


Kaarela is one of the largest suburbs in Helsinki, and still undergoing development. The first suburban homes went up in the late 1950s, forming the area known as Kannelmäki. In the mid-70's, after the local railway line to Martinlaakso was constructed, the number of residences in Kannelmäki swiftly doubled.

In the '80s, the Malminkartano development was built with a mixture of closely-packed housing blocks and commercial buildings.

Other living areas here include Maununneva and Hakuninmaa, both of which consist of detached and terraced housing alongside Keskuspuisto.

One of the latest residential developments being planned in north-east Kaarela is Kuninkaantammi, whose name means "King's Oak." This refers to a famous oak tree that King Gustavus III planted here during a visit sometime in the 1700s. The oak tree can still be seen here to this day.

Plans call for Kuninkaantammi to be "a varied townscape," with a mixture of detached and terraced houses, plus some parkland.