Day 24. A Ferry to Suomenlinna Island

From Helsinki’s bustling marketplace (Kauppatori) boats depart to Suomenlinna Island taking around 15 minutes.  The HSL ferry is operated by Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL) and all HSL tickets and travel cards are accepted.

Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki
Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki

If you need a ticket, be sure to buy one before boarding the ferry as they are not sold on board.  Ferries depart up to four times an hour depending on time of day and season, details can be found here.  A second company, JT Line Waterbus also operate regular services from a little further along the quay.

Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki
Suomenlinna Island

In 1991 the Suomenlinna fortress gained UNESCO World Heritage status as a unique monument of military architecture.  The fortress has served in the defence of Sweden, Russia and Finland over the course of history.  The World Heritage Site is composed of six islands.

Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki
Attractive coloured houses on Suomenlinna Island

Suomenlinna was originally known as Sveaborg when Swedish construction began in 1748 to fortify the islands off Helsinki.  The Swedish era continued for 60 years until 1808 when the island was besieged by the Russians in the Russo-Swedish war.  The island, ships and associated equipment were transferred to the control of the Russian Imperial Government and the island became known as Viapori.  The following year Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia with the island remaining as an army base under Russian control.  Following the Russian Revolution and Finland’s independence in 1917 Viapori was taken over by the newly founded Finnish Government in 1918 when it was renamed Suomenlinna meaning ‘Castle of Finland’.

Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki
A small beach on the far side of the island

Leaving the ferry we walked through a pink stone archway with a clock tower above which leads onto the main pathways through the island.  On the left, we passed Suomenlinna Church which was built to serve as a Russian Orthodox garrison church.  Interestingly, the church serves a dual purpose as its steeple is used as a lighthouse for the island!  We then came to the Island’s Museum and Visitor Centre before crossing a white painted wooden bridge towards the far side of the island.  It’s often breezy on this exposed footpath but on this occasion it was warm and still.  Mounted high on the cliff tops is the original bastion fortress together with the late 19th century Russian defence line, complete with sandbanks and artillery emplacements.

Artillery on Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki
Historic Artillery on Suomenlinna Island

Continuing along the coastal path we came to the King’s Gate, the iconic symbol of Suomenlinna (undergoing maintenance so I have not included a photo).  It was built as a ceremonial gateway to the fortress on the site where a ship carrying the fortress’s founder King Frederick of Sweden was anchored whilst he inspected the construction of the fortress in 1752.

Grass covered buildings on Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki
Grass covered buildings

The return ferry was much quieter and we enjoyed good views on our way back to Helsinki’s market square.  The pastel coloured buildings and the bright orange and white canvas roofed market stalls looked beautiful in the sunshine with the cathedral standing proud behind (just a shame about the ugly crane in the foreground).

Helsinki Market Square
Helsinki Market Square

Back on shore, we wandered around the market stalls which were bustling with activity.  As well as usual market items such as fruit and vegetables you can buy freshly caught salmon and the local small fried fish ‘muikku’ which is rather like a herring.  There are plenty of souvenir stalls selling anything from reindeer skin rugs to traditional small wooden Lapland cups which seemed popular with the cruise day trippers.

Helsinki Market stalls
Market stall selling reindeer rugs

Feeling hungry, we decided to eat lunch in the City Hall lunch restaurant just across the road from the market.  A lunch buffet is served here on weekdays which includes main course, salad, dessert and coffee.  It’s lovely and quiet yet just steps away from the busy market place.  Below you can see part of the attractive restaurant wall mural which depicts the market in bygone days.

Wall mural in the Helsinki City Hall restaurant
Decorative wall mural in the Helsinki City Hall restaurant

We returned to our apartment for a rest then later enjoyed an evening stroll by the sea.


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35 thoughts on “Day 24. A Ferry to Suomenlinna Island

  1. Pingback: Day 27.  Seurasaari Island, Helsinki – Love Travelling Blog

  2. Pingback: Day 12. Pulau Ubin Island, Singapore – Love Travelling

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  4. Pingback: Day 24. A Ferry to Suomenlinna Island – Wag 'n Bietjie

    1. Hi Joy, Well remembered, there is a submarine on the island! It’s a lovely place to go for a picnic on a sunny day. That mural s beautiful as it’s raised from the wall. The restaurant serves lovely food and it’s around €10 for lunch! Can you remember where you stayed in Helsinki? M.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We stayed in the Apartments Rivoli Jardin – lovely 2 bedroom place with loads of room to spread out and also convenient for exploring the city on foot. I would never have remembered but have meticulous notes – the plan always was to include these past travels in the blog!! I just never seem to be able to keep up with the present.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I always enjoy a summery trip to Suomenlinna! It’s also interesting to go over in winter when the sea has frozen over. I have never seen that mural, the things I learned reading your blog 😊👌 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved the mural depicting the market from by gone days. Some of the pictures remind me of the old city in Fredrikstad Norway. Enjoyed walking with you on this trip. From what I can see everything looks relatively unspoiled and rustic. And you mentioned fish. Love fish when any where in Scandinavia. The Danish island of Bornholm serve some of the best smoked fish I have ever tasted. Thank you for sharing. :0)


  7. Great to read about your day in Suomenlinna! It is one of my favourite islands in Helsinki, even though it can get very crowded at times. So much history over there. At least once every summer we pack our picnic gear and head to Suomenlinna for a day out with friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is such an interesting places to visit and even if the ferry is crowded, it’s quite easy to wander around away from the crowds. The views from the ferry are so beautiful no matter how many times I take the journey. Enjoy the remainder of the weekend!


  8. Happy Sunday Morning.

    Excellent presentation with well-selected photos. Suomenlinna is must visit when in Helsinki. There are also some places for sunbathers. I do not know how many times I have visited it, but every time it delights me.

    Did You know that an Anglo-French fleet tried to “conquer” it during our history? It was badly damaged, More info in Wikipedia.

    Thank You presenting it.

    I wish sunny Sunday to You. Matti.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Matti! As you know, it’s so quick and easy to visit Suomenlinna that we go there at least once on each visit. Hope you are having a good weekend – it’s been so warm here that we even used our barbecue yesterday – but perhaps that’s the last time since year!!

      Liked by 1 person

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