Suomenlinna Island is one of the most beautiful and historically diverse places in Helsinki. It was originally founded as a sea fortress by the Swedish monarchy in the 18th century.
Today, the island is a favourite place for many locals and tourists with over 800,000 visits per year.
The name of Suomenlinna translates into English as ‘Finnish Castle’. This romantic name was given to the island right after the Russian revolution and the Finnish Independence Day in 1917. In actual fact, there is no real castle on this island. However, well-preserved remains of the sea fortress and the Swedish/Russian military buildings turn the island into a picturesque place full of charm.
Today the island is also a home to just under 1000 people who reside on the island permanently. Local city council has done a lot to provide a comfortable lifestyle for the residence of Suomenlinna. The island has its own supermarket, an art school, a Lutheran church, a hostel and even a naval school. There are also various museums and artists’ studios that are open to the visitors.
In the summer time the island is especially busy with tourists and you will find plenty of cosy cafes, coffee shops and souvenir places doted around the fortress. In winter, most of the restaurants are closed, except for the famous Suomenlinna Brewery, Viaporin Deli & Cafe,
Ice Cellar, Suomenlinna Cafe and Bastion Bistro. All these places would warmly welcome you for a traditional lunch or a cup of strong Finnish coffee.
One thing to remember **there are no cash machines on the island**. However, credit cards are mostly accepted.
As for travelling to Suomenlinna, it is extremely easy regardless of the season. In order to get to the Suomenlinna Island you need to take a boat from the market square. The boat is a part of the public transportation in Helsinki region, which means you, can use a daily pas to go there. If you need to buy a ticket, you can buy a Suomenlinna ticket for 5 euros. The ticket is valid for 12 hours which gives you plenty of time to explore the islands. Apart from the transportation cost, there are no other fees involved for visiting to the island. All you need to do is to have a public transport ticket! The boats to and from the island travel very frequently - every 40 to 60 minutes. A picturesque boat journey takes only 15-20 minutes and it is a real pleasure! You will get to see the city of Helsinki from a different perspective as well as to see the nearby islands that are spread all over the coastal line.
Needless to say, Suomenlinna is a must-see attraction in Helsinki. It is a perfect place for a half a day trip or a picnic. Even if you are short of time, one hour will be enough to see some of the main Suomenlinna attractions.
PS. The temperatures on the island are usually a couple of degrees cooler than in Helsinki. Most of the time, the island is exposed to strong Finnish winds. So remember to wrap up warm!