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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Helsinki chapter.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is one of the most visited places in Helsinki. This unique island is also a part of UNESCO’s world heritage and fortunately for us, easily reachable by a ferry with a normal bus ticket. The construction work on the island (or well, islands, since Suomenlinna actually includes 5 of them), was started in 1748 by Augustin Ehrensvärd and the fortress was first named Sveaborg, which then transformed into “Viapori” in the mouths of the finnish speaking community. Since the Swedish time, the fortress has played an important part in both Russia and Finland’s history.

This unique neighbourhood of the city of Helsinki is full of history, beauty and nature. Keep reading to find out what you should include in your Suomenlinna visit on a summer day:

  1. Café Vanille

If you are planning to start your visit from Main quay which you can find on the island of Iso Mustasaari, I highly recommend you drop by this very cute and welcoming coffee place The Café is located in the Merchants’ quarter, which is a piece of 19th century Russian city, and the oldest still existing wooden houses can be found there. The homemade cakes are their speciality and while enjoying the freshly baked goodies, you can imagine how the life of the early merchants must have looked like.

Photo by Tapio Haaja on Unsplash

   2. The Great Courtyard and the Museum of Ehrensvärd

To arrive to the great courtyard from Iso Mustasaari, you will traverse the beautiful sceneries of a magnificent artillery bay and go through a casemate. After that a beautiful Courtyard will open in front of your eyes and in the middle you will find the tomb of Mr. Ehrensvärd (1710-1772), who has been buried in the heart of Suomenlinna. This is a good occasion for you to visit the museum of Ehrensvärd as well and have a look at the way of living that prevailed during those times. Maybe you will also find something surprising about the history of the community on the island!

   3. Piper’s Park

The park is considered as one of the most ancient parks in Finland. It is a good evidence of an English style garden, because its exterior imitates the real nature, as it is not very symmetrical. Also, in the park you can find a lovely pond and a nice coffee place. Make sure to stay on the marked track, since Suomenlinna has a unique and vulnerable nature that should be respected. Also, just next to this park you will find a very picturesque views from the rocks over the sea.

  4. Submarine Vesikko

This submarine is located on Susisaari, and you can see it from the bridge when crossing the artillery bay. It is one of the tourists’ favourite attractions, and certainly worth seeing as it is nowadays a museum space. You will find the beds of the 20-membered crew and learn about their work in the depths of the Baltic Sea during the wars before the Paris Peace Treaty in 1947. According to the treaty, all other Finnish submarines were forbidden, but luckily Vesikko has remained as a museum. Also, remember to take advantage of the season, since Vesikko is open only during the summer.

Photo by Tapio Haaja on Unsplash


   5. The South End of Kustaanmiekka

The southern end of the island is the most magnificent view of Suomenlinna, when the ships arrive in Helsinki from the neighbouring cities or countries. As it was the first part of the fortress that the Swedish king would see, it has a remarkably big gateway with beautiful stone stairs.

Also, when you arrive to this gateway, you can see another island next to the Suomenlinna, Vallisaari, that once was also considered a good option to built the fortress. In the end, Suomenlinna was chosen to be built on its current location due to many different strategical reasons, like the sources of drinking water. The mysterious Vallisaari that was not open to the public until very recently, has nevertheless a lot of interesting history to offer, so it might be a good destination for your next trip in the archipelago!


Read more about Suomenlinna:



Matkailijan Suomenlinna : Olof af Hällström,  Olof af Hällströmin perikunta, 2004 (Vammala : Vammalan kirjap.)

Viapori-Suomenlinna: C. J. Gardberg, Kari Palsila ; [… suomentanut Irma Savolainen], Otava,1998 Helsinki



The author is a student of Translation and Interpretation of French from the University of Helsinki. She is constantly up to planning new travels around the world, learning more about herself and cherishing her friends. She loves to pay attention on the little details and explore between different cultures. 
Helsinki Contributor