I found a new favourite spot in the capital area, when a friend suggested we’d spend the Sunday morning in Villa Elfvik and the Laajalahti nature reserve in Espoo. Villa Elfvik is a lovely old building with an environmental education centre, a nature school and a cafe (cash only!). The nature display was small enough for even me to look at it, and children had been considered: you are allowed to touch and you could interact with parts of it. Our kids loved pushing buttons and listening to the sounds of birds trying to guess which one said what.
Upstairs in the villa is the “Badger Forest”, a room for kids to play and explore the nature in. Therr our children liked a little tent, did some drawing but they loved trying various animal outfits. Every first Sunday of the month there is a story session with some environmental theme for kids at 11 am (in Finnish). We wanted to participate but our children were more interested in telling stories than listening, so I am not quite sure what the story was like.
There is a short walk from the parking area to the villa. The villa is a starting point to several nature trails in the Laajalahti nature reserve. We spent a good couple of hours roaming the shortest one “Nature Sanctuary”, only about 700 metres, but there were fallen trees to climb, a tiny but cute old pavilion, jetties, an old rowing boat in a boat shed, ice to break and a bird-watching tower and board walks to run on. Apparently this area is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in southern Finland (however, the likelihood of spotting birds with our lot was minimal). Both the trail and the bird-watching tower were accessible by wheelchair and pram but I doubt all the other walking routes are.
Please find directions and maps for how to find Villa Elfvik