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If you go to Helsinki one of the top attractions is Suomenlinna (Swedish – Sveaborg). Suomenlinna is an island fortress, about a 10-minute ferry ride from the Helsinki Harbour. It played a vital role in Helsinki’s history. Sweden and Russia ruled Finland at different times in its history. Suomenlinna was a sea fortress built when Sweden ruled this area of the land. It was called Sveaborg, but local Finnish soldiers called it Viapori. Russia took over Finland from Sweden after defeating Sweden in the Finnish Wars, so from 1808 to 1918 (when Finland gained its independence). After 1918 the former fortress of Viapori became Suomenlinna (The Fortress of Finland).
Suomenlinna was an army garrison for a while, but in 1973 it was turned over to civilian administration, and in 1991 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. Suomenlinna is a popular tourist attraction in Helsinki, but what visitors might not know that it’s also home to about 800 residents, a naval base, and a jail (a minimum security penal colony). The fortress is actually on a series of 6 islands.
While I didn’t spend a lot of time at Suomenlinna (nor did I have time to take advantage of one of the free tours), I did spend about an hour or so wandering around and taking photos. The island has several museums, some shops, and restaurants/cafes, but sometimes my favourite thing to do when travelling is just to wander around.
Things You Should Know
Suomenlinna is accessible via ferry, which leaves from Market Square in the centre of Helsinki. Ferries run at least once/hour (more in the high season). Here’s a map of the area around Suomenlinna Tickets have to be purchased from a dispenser, and a single ticket is €2.70 or €5 for a round trip ticket that’s good for 12 hours. The ferry ride is about 10 minutes, and Suomenlinna is free to visit, although the various museums on the islands charge for admission.
While in Helsinki I stayed at the Kongressikoti Hotel. The hotel is a five-minute walk from Senate Square and the Helsinki Cathedral. Helsinki can be an expensive city, and this was an exceptional budget accommodation option in the centre of Helsinki. I was a provided a complimentary stay at The Kongressikoti Hotel. Thanks to the Kongressikoti Hotel for their support.
As always this post was written by me and all opinions here are my own.
Have you visited any UNESCO World Heritage Sites?