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Sanna’s Guide to Helsinki and Fly-fishing

Thousands of lakes and rivers in Finland

Name: Sanna Koljonen
Lives: Helsinki, the capital of Finland
Born: 1989
Profession: Law student
My hobby: Fly-fishing, hiking & ashtanga yoga

Sanna fishing in a river

HELSINKI: Sanna is a Finnish law student, passionate not just about fishing but also conservation and sustainable use of fish populations. Been fishing since 1996 and fly-fishing since 2003, Sanna fish with her twin sister Karoliina who also is a very passionate fly fisher. Fly-fishing in Finland during summertime is amazing cause of the nature and night less nights. There are thousands of lakes and rivers in Finland.

Here I grew up: Järvenpää, a relatively small city 35km north of Helsinki.

Why fly-fishing as your hobby?

When I was a child, my parents took me to the nature, which I think was the reason I developed a close relationship to nature and animals. My grandfather and parents taught me fishing when I was very young. My mother is a Senior Research Scientist in fisheries and that has also played an important role. For me fishing is about spending time in the nature, discovering new beautiful and often isolated places, unexpected encounters with wild animals, learning to understand how the nature works and of course about incredible adventures shared with good friends.


Where is your favourite river? The river where I learned to fly-fishing is owned by the Fish and Game Research Institute of Finland and is not for public. However I feel that it is my “home river”. In Finland, there are countless beautiful rivers, small and big ones.

Can foreigners fish there?

One of my favourite rivers in Finland is Kermankoski, situated in Heinävesi, East part of Finland. In order to fish in Finland one needs to pay a national fisheries management fee (39 Euros). Then for some rapids and rivers one needs to pay a separate fishing licence but they are much cheaper than permissions in Sweden and Norway. For fishing in Kermankoski one day licence is 30 Euros.

Your biggest catch? It was a 69cm and 3,5 kg sea trout I caught in Ljungan in Sweden. I was so thrilled about the catch and couldn’t stop smiling during the whole day and our journey back home.

Do you fish alone or with friends? I am very lucky to have a twin sister who shares the same passion. If I’m not fishing with my sister, I fish with some friends or even alone even though I think fishing is most fun when shared with other like-minded people.

Sanna and her sister Karoline

Best time for fly-fishing?

Definitely summer. I love summer nights because here in the North, it never really gets dark and you can fish all the night.

Your favourite places in Finland? My favourite city is probably Helsinki because as a capital it offers the most things to do. My favourite summer city though is Hanko, located 130km west of Helsinki offering 30km of beautiful sandy beaches and idyllic cafes and restaurants. If you want to get out of the capital, then I recommend the beautiful Finnish archipelago with thousands islands. I love islands such as Utö (the southernmost inhabited island in Finland, very isolated), Bengtskär (famous for its lighthouse) and Houtskari (located in the Archipelago Sea in the province of Western Finland).

My favourite place to eat: I prefer vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants located in the Kallio district. My few favourite restaurants are: Onda: Toinen linja 3, 00530 Helsinki. Lovely vegan food and service.
Sandro: Kolmas Linja 17, 00530 Helsinki. Delicious brunches on Saturdays and Sundays.

Typical local food

Finnish people eat quite a lot of different types of fish. Summertime there is also lots of delicious desserts made of blueberries, strawberries and cloudberries.

Meet the locals: Lots of Finnish people visit Vallisaari, an island open to the public in the beginning of the summer 2016 and is located 20 minutes out of Helsinki. To get to the island, take a boat that leaves from the Helsinki market square (return ticket 7euro). As Vallisaari opened to the public only recently not so many tourists have yet found place.
More about Vallisaari

My favourite bar: Helsinki has many nice meeting places and the most talked about this summer has been the recently opened restaurant Löyly, owned by a Finnish politician, an actor and fish activist Jasper Pääkkönen. Löyly is more than a restaurant because it combines Finnish sauna culture with a restaurant – you can both enjoy your food and go to sauna and bath in the sea. More about Löyly 

My best advice: For a fly fisher traveller, I recommend discovering beautiful Finnish rapids (such as Huopanankoski, Läsäkoski, Kermankoski) where you can fish brown trouts and graylings or head to the isolated Lapland to fish salmon in Tornionjoki (river on the Finland-Sweden border) or Tenojoki (on the Finland-Norway border) and experience sunny nights and the wilderness.

Where next? I’ll head to Finland’s Lapland with my twin sister and friends to chase big river pikes.

Make it Happen!

Touch Down: Helsinki can be reached from anywhere in the world and Helsinki Airport serves 200 international flights each day. By train: The journey between the airport and the city centre is half an hour and ticket costs 5,50 Euros. Finnair City Bus costs 6,20 Euros and taxi around 45.

Stay: Helsinki offers a wide range of accommodation, from inexpensive hostels to luxury establishments.

Eat: “New Nordic Cuisine” has taken over the scene and found a truly audience among the trendy small restaurants. The Abattoir is a new centre for food culture and hosts a variety of food-related events. Also street food can be found throughout Helsinki. Restaurant Day is now held four times a year.

Play: Bars and clubs are lively places, offering something for everyone from the trendiest hangouts to real bohemian atmosphere of the local bars. A way to lift up the spirits of an evening is to visit a genuine karaoke bar. Helsinki has plenty of them.

Mini Guide: Helsinki has a maritime atmosphere, a long shoreline and over 300 islands. Modern design can be seen everywhere in Helsinki, famous brands like Marimekko, Iittala, Artek and Arabia are all a cool part of everyday life. Helsinki Tourist Information offers free information. Address: Pohjoisesplanadi 19.

Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya a few years back. Meeting people, local food and engaging stories are my passion. I plan for ambitious once-in-a-lifetime trips. My delight is the prospect of Future Travels: Longer, Slower, Farther! I just want a tiny slice of adventure to be alive, and then excited to return home.


  1. Great info
    A friend and myself are heading to Finland mid June 2019
    We are looking for info on fly fishing for salmon, char, grayling.
    We land in Helsinki and will be driving from there.
    Not sure if we need to drive far north or to the east.
    Any info would be greatly appreciated (guides, lodging, towns to use as a base)

  2. Hi! Love your fly fishing passion! James and I will be there in mid/late May 2019. Where would we find a nice fly fishing lodge and guide in southern Finland? Thank you! Karen

  3. Inspiring! I am coming to Helsinki the beginning of September and would like to fly fish if worthy of the season. Looking for recommendations for guides, and wondering if I can launch from Helsinki or if I need to get to another location. Any guidance you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, David


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