My neighbourhood

It is easy to come to Vartiokylä and to stay: “It has that small village atmosphere”

Vartiokylä in Helsinki is a traditional and loved residential area. Its inhabitants especially enjoy the calm, being surrounded by nature, and the excellent availability of hobbies and services.

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Vartiokylä is a seaside residential area in East Helsinki, located right by the Vartionkylänlahti bay. It is a calm neighborhood, yet conveniently close to Itäväylä and by the Helsinki Metro line.

Additionally, Itäkeskus, which houses the Itis shopping centre with its movie theatre, a public swimming pool, and a library, among other things, is close by. Vartiokylä is also known for its sports park, which is among the largest in Helsinki, the idyllic Marjaniemi community garden, and the Vartionkylänlahti bay beach. Puotila and Rastila beaches are also places to enjoy in Summer.

What else is Vartiokylä? We set out onto the streets of Vartiokylä and interviewed the people we met.

Everything necessary is close by in Vartiokylä

There is a new outdoor gym near the Puotila football field. Pensioner Pertti Melonen, 59, has come to exercise from his home in Ramsinniemi, five kilometres away.

Melonen had an international career in management development and has travelled a great deal. He has a lot of points of comparison about good living conditions.

Pertti Melonen has considered moving to Vartiokylä.

There is a new outdoor gym near the Puotila football field. Pensioner Pertti Melonen, 59, has come to exercise from his home in Ramsinniemi, five kilometres away.

Melonen had an international career in management development and has travelled a great deal. He has a lot of points of comparison about good living conditions.

What does Melonen like about Vartiokylä? He answers quickly and without having to think.

“The variety of services, the exceptionally clean streets, the short distances, and the friendly people. My acquaintances living in Vartiokylä thankfully say that everything is close by here.”

Melonen believes that, often in city planning, the apartment buildings are built first and only then is thought spared to considering what services the area requires. However, Vartiokylä has succeeded in city planning, he says.

“This place offers opportunities to engage in many hobbies at a walking distance and excellent transport connections everywhere. For example, this outdoor gym is the best I have ever seen.”

The diverse, new exercise machines glimmer and allow their users to adjust their resistance to fit their needs.

Melonen has considered moving to Vartiokylä. He also praises Vartiokylä for its skillful combining of old and new architecture, and for respecting the existing urban environment when constructing new buildings. As an example, Puotila manor has retained its position as a local landmark ever since the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.

An idyllic meeting spot by the beach in Vartiokylä

Cafe Meridian is located by the local boat club. The red, wooden cafe building evokes thoughts of the countryside.

The cafe, opened in 2009, is a cosy meeting spot where you can eat a proper meal or enjoy a pancake and coffee, among other menu items. It is especially renowned for its salmon soup. The cafe staff makes the majority of the pastries and meals themselves.

Sari Honkanen describes Vartiokylä as peaceful and maritime.

Sari Honkanen, 53, works behind the counter and in the kitchen. She describes the place as peaceful and maritime.

“You can quickly reach a place this idyllic from the rush of Itäkeskus. Just take a single short street here to the cafe, and you will find yourself in rural scenery!”

Meridian is open almost throughout the year. It is only closed for a month at the turn of the year to allow the staff some rest. To counterbalance the rush of Summer, the cafe is peaceful in Autumn and Winter. The terrace is open for much of Autumn.

Medieval atmosphere on a walk at the hillfort

Let us head towards the Vartiokylä hillfort. It is estimated that the hill was the location of a fortress in the 13th and 14th centuries. Stone foundations of defensive structures are still visible in the slopes of the high hill.

Kari Tarpinen, 67, is taking a walk at the base of the hillfort. On New Year’s Eve, he climbs the hill to view fireworks with other locals.

Kari Tarpinen enjoyes his walks around the Vartiokylä area.

Tarpinen has lived in Vartiokylä for 10 years and has no plans to move away. 

“Vartiokylä is a traditional residential area with a long history. People have moved in and out of the area for so long that it is now home to all kinds of people, which I like.”

Tarpinen also takes walks in the nearby Mustavuori in Vuosaari, which is good skiing ground in Winter. Other favourite locations of his include the nearby Puotila and Rastila manors, which he visits to enjoy coffee or lunch.

The calm and the good groceries of Vartiokylä proved irresistible

Construction worker Andrey Filyushkin, 24, is wearing his work overalls on the way to the now open 24 hours Alepa in Vartiokylä. He currently works in Vartiokylä, which is a small distance away from his home in Puotila. Filyushkin is going to buy flowers for his common-law wife.

Andrey Filyushkin has moved back to Vartiokylä.

The young man moved to Vartiokylä from Pihlajamäki with his family when he was 17, and has now returned to the area with his partner.

“I lived downtown for a while, but didn’t feel at home there. Vartiokylä and Puotila are nice and calm areas. It’s nice to walk the dog here even late in the evening.”

Filyushkin was born in a small Russian town. Vartiokylä reminds him of home. He likes to take walks alone or with his dog in the forests between Puotinharju and Myllypuro. On the other hand, the Prisma in Itäkeskus is an excellent shopping location.

“I also enjoy the presence of the sea here in Vartiokylä.”

The small village atmosphere is also suitable for families with small children

Arja Virtapuro, 59, is also on her way to do shopping. She visits the nearby grocery several times a week.

“A versatile shop where you always find what you were looking for,” she offers praise.

Arja Virtapuro finds the small village atmosphere to be the best aspect of Vartiokylä.

“A versatile shop where you always find what you were looking for,” she offers praise.

Virtapuro has lived a whole 27 years in Vartiokylä. She also finds the calm to be the best aspect of Vartiokylä.

“Vartiokylä is cosy. It has that small village atmosphere. I think it’s also important that Vartiokylä has a lot of nature.”

Virtapuro’s favourite location in Vartiokylä is the seaside, where she often takes walks.

Her now grown-up children attended kindergarten as well as primary and lower secondary education in Vartiokylä. She speaks highly of the area from the point of view of families with young children.

“The Rusthollari playground was really important to us when my children were young. We went there every day.”

Virtapuro’s children also played basketball and football at the local clubs. Everything they needed was close to home, even then.

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16.11.2022

Text Elisa Helenius

Images Petri Mulari

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