An ideal day or half-day trip from Helsinki is to pack a picnic and take the regular ferry to Suomenlinna Fortress.
A great deal of Helsinki’s history was shaped here.
(1) Suomenlinna Island is an inhabited Sea fortress, founded in 1748. It is one of the most popular sights in Finland with around one million visitors annually.
Consisting of many small islands inhabited by residents, The Fortress is easy to reach from Helsinki.
A ferry service runs from the Market Square to Suomenlinna throughout the year for the normal price of a tram or bus ride.
(2) The trip to Suomenlinna is accessible only by water. It takes about 15–20 minutes and offers magnificent views of Helsinki and the surroundings from the sea.
A ferry service runs from the Market Square to Suomenlinna throughout the year. In the summer season, a water bus service to Suomenlinna is also available. The guest harbour in the middle of Suomenlinna caters to visitors arriving by their own boats.
During the cold winter months, the trip through the ice-covered waters is a unique experience.
(3) On arrival You are greeted with cobblestones and an archway that takes you through the pink, a classical row of buildings that leads to the church and the huge cannons and church bell. The visitors’ center is an informative spot where you can see exhibitions and find out more about the islands. Conducted tours are held at regular intervals
(4) In 1991, the Suomenlinna fortress was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique monument of military architecture.
(5) Another special feature of the fortress is that in the course of its history it has served in the defence of three realms: Sweden, Russia and Finland.
The UNESCO World Heritage Listed fortress was founded by the Swedes in 1748 to protect against the Russians, but following a prolonged attack, Sveaborg was surrendered to the Russians in 1808. The Russians then used it to protect the shipping channels to St. Petersburg. In 1917, after the Russian Revolution, Finland declared independence and took back Suomenlinna, using it for the military until 1973 when it passed over to the citizens of Finland.
(6) Explore the fortifications and if you’re taking the kids along, don’t forget the flashlights as some passages can be awfully dark.
(7) At the far end of the second large island across the bridge, you’ll find the Gustav’s Sword channel where the ferry ships going to Tallinn and Stockholm pass through. It’s rather narrow and quite a sight to behold.
(8) The beach is tucked away in a cove, and it’s well protected by the shoreline wrapping around it. The view is picturesque beyond words.
(9) There are plenty of museums that display all kinds of artifacts but be sure to see the Submarine Vesikko and, for children and the young-at-heart, the Toy Museum. The boatyard where they still manufacture wooden boats captures the imagination.
(10) As you meander along, you’ll stumble on cafés in the most scenic spots with Café Piper being a favorite in the summer. For something a little more substantial, try Walhalla Gourmet and Pizzeria Nikolai. Walhalla has long been considered a top restaurant where you can savor such delicacies as smoked reindeer tongue with creamy morels and breast of pheasant with grapes.