If you are in Helsinki, then a day trip to Suomenlinna, or Sveaborg is a must. It’s a stunning sea fortress built on eight islands about 4 kms southeast of the city centre of Helsinki. The sea fortress has free entrance and you only need to pay for the ferry.
But if you already have the Helsinki Pass, then the entire day trip to Suomenlinna becomes free.
How to get there – Suomenlinna from Helsinki?
A HSL ferry service runs from the Market Square to Suomenlinna. The trip to Suomenlinna takes approximately 20 mins and you get some stunning views of the city of Helsinki from the ferry.
You can see the ferry schedule here.
The ferry ride is free with the Helsinki Card. In case you have a valid HSL ticket (AB, ABC or ABCD) you can use it in the ferry. Suomenlinna lies in Zone A.
In the summer season, a water bus service to Suomenlinna is also available. The water bus service runs only from May to September.
TIP – You might be tempted to be be seated at the first seat on the top deck of the ferry but be warned that the winds are pretty strong and it can get really cold.
Things to do in Suomenlinna
The fortress is big and has museums and some occasional exhibitions. Therefore, to make the best use of your time I would suggest following something called the Blue Route. It covers all the major attractions and that way you won’t miss out of anything important. The route has blue direction signs.
It also helps to have the brochure with you.
Route and distances (From the official website)
- Main quay – Suomenlinna Centre 500 m (1/3 mile) (10 min)
- Suomenlinna Centre – Piper’s Park 400 m (1/4 mile) (10 min)
- Suomenlinna Centre – King’s Gate 1 km (0.6 miles) (20 min)
- Suomenlinna Centre – Great Courtyard 200 m (0.12 miles) (5 min)
- Main quay – Submarine Vesikko 800 m (1/2 mile) (20 min)
- Main quay – King’s Gate 1,5 km (1 mile) (30 min)
The King’s Gate is the iconic symbol of Suomenlinna. It was built in 1753–54 as the entrance gateway to the fortress. The gate was built on the site where the ship carrying King Adolf Frederick of Sweden, was anchored while he inspected the construction of the fortress in 1752.
Once completed it served as the main square and administrative centre of the Fortress. In the middle of the square you can see the tomb of Augustin Ehrensvärd.
The Suomenlinna Church is a Russian Orthodox garrison church. The original building had five steeples with onion domes. It’s a popular wedding venue even today.
The dry dock in Suomenlinna is the oldest in Finland and one of the oldest operational dry docks in Europe. The main function of the dock was to repair ships.
The pink-plastered Jetty Barracks, built during the Russian era, is the main gateway to the fortress. The building dominates the northern shoreline of Suomenlinna. It is the first building visitors see as they arrive at the main quay.
Bastion Zander at Kustaanmiekka, in southern Suomenlinna, has been the flag bastion of the fortress throughout its history.
Prisoner-of-war camp memorial
The memorial consists of two rocks, one in natural condition and one quarried, and a rectangle cut in stone. Attached to the work is a plaque with the name and date of the prison camp written on it.
There are 6 museums in total and every museum has a separate entrance ticket.
- Suomenlinna Museum – Showcases the history and the present state of the fortress. Open throughout the year. Other 5 museums are only open during summer months and were closed when we visited.
- Ehrensvärd Museum
- Submarine Vesikko
- Military Museum’s Manege
- Toy Museum
- Customs Museum
Restaurant and Cafes
There are plenty of restaurant and cafes inside the fortress and you can enjoy a variety of food options from fast food to fine dining.