The World Heritage Site, which is easy to reach by ferry from the main market square in Helsinki, and which I included in my “Must see’s of Finland” but which I have never blogged about. But Suomenlinna is so well known that most locals frequently visit it all year around and most tourist find they way there too. And yes, the entry to the island is free and the ferry costs as much as a regular bus within the city.
The fort was built in the 18th century when Finland was still a part of Sweden. It was used during the wars and it wasn’t until the 60’s when the Defence Forces decided to vacate the islands, which made it possible for civilians to visit them. Nowadays there are about 800 people living there. There is a playground, a beautiful little church, ruins and renovated castle walls, lovely venues to be rented for parties, a summer theatre and a number of museums (not proud to say I haven’t visited any of them but you can find out more about them here). There are also loads of lovely cafés and restaurants, many of them only open during the summer season though.
When we go there as a family, what we like most is:
- the ferry. Always exciting for the kids.
- exploring the tunnels in the stone walls, and peaking out through the windows
- ice cream kiosks… 😉
- in the winter the big pool where ships “hibernate”
- us adults enjoy the scenery (apart from the broken toys and engines, and some unmaintained lawns and building. What’s with that?! I suppose the World Heritage Site technically only refers to the fort but shouldn’t both the small islands be kept tidy anyway?!) and the history. With the ruins, old army buildings, canons and cobblestones it is present everywhere.
- picnic – it’s probably on of the most traditional picnic places in Helsinki
- many of the cafés
- the canons and the submarine would be a great hit with the kids, but recently we haven’t made it quite that far…
One of the best things with Suomenlinna is that you can easily spend the whole day on the islands but then even a two hour visit will be enjoyable.
The pictures are from our last daytrip to Suomenlinna: