TRIP REPORT: Feeling Finnair – Exploring Suomenlinna

Exploring Suomenlinna
Feeling Finnair

Off to Suomenlinna

Sometimes called the “Gibraltar of the North”, Suomenlinna (Sveaborg in Swedish)was a sea fortress that protected the city. This was built by the Swedish in the mid-1700s, conquered by the Russians and finally ceded to Finland when it gained its independence in 1917, Suomenlinna was mostly turned over to civilian control in 1973.

It is made up of five islands and part of the city of Helsinki today.

There’s a full Wikipedia article, as well as the tourist board site.

However, it has its own pace of life, with under 1000 inhabitants, a few cars and most of the fortifications intact. It is now a home for museums that look at its past, but also restaurants, cafes and theaters

It was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1991 as a unique monument to European military architecture and in summer a good place to go for a picnic or two – or just to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Getting there

There are both private and public ferries to Suomenlinna. HSL (the public transport organisation) operates frequent services during the summer there from Market Square, for €2.80 each way (and the ferry is included if you have an HSL travel pass of some sort – including the day passes, it included that HSL sells) . FRS operating services too. During winter, times are a lot more restricted than in the summer.

Departing Market Square.

An inbound ferry

A Viking Line ferry.

You can do paddleboat tours too.

Hovering aerial traffic.

Approching Suomenlinna

Locals and actors.

On the island itself, you will need to use two legs to get around, as there is no public transport. I would recommend some sensible shoes here, as there are some climbs along the way. Parts of the island are accessible if you are in a wheelchair or mobility device, but you might find there are more than a few hills in the way. Thankfully, there is an accessibility guide for those travelers.

In the tourist information centre, there are paper guides too.

There is a recommended “Blue route”, which covers 1.5km or so. This does make it quicker to explore, but you’ll miss out on some sights if you’re not paying attention around you.

I used a web guide. which managed both local mapping

And there are plenty of things to pay attention to as you wander around.

Through the Jetty Barracks.


Whilst on the way, some phone boxes have art in them.

The first major site you’ll encounter is the church, whilst is also a lighthouse.

Passing further into the first island, you can head to the Toy Museum. Here, the Viking Line ferry was setting off.

There are plenty of maps around

As well as information totems

If you paid for a tour, you might wander into some roving actors on the way.

I deviated from the Blue route a little, as there is a submarine that has been turned into a museum here.

Normally, I would be up for going in – however, I still have a few mobility issues after last year, so this was not on my agenda for the foreseeable future.

I tracked back onto the Blue route around the islands.

On the way, I found a wonderful peak, that had great views back to the city.

As well as finding battlements on the way.

And various wildlife.

The paths lead to The Kings Gate. This 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.

From here (and after a small rest), I headed onwards, going off the Blue route a bit and exploring my way back to the ferry dock.

To get back to the mainland, again, I took a ferry. The same pricing applies as before.

Next: Back to Helsinki Airport

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