Suomenlinna – The Frozen Fortress
(c) by Mikko Luntiala
The immense sea fortress Suomenlinna (also known as Viapori or Sveaborg) is one of Helsinki’s most impressive and most visited tourist attractions. Over half a million people visit Suomenlinna yearly. The island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and houses around 850 permanent residents.
How to get there
Visitors can travel to Suomenlinna at any time of year on the Helsinki City Transport ferry. A waterbus is operated during the summer months by the JT-Line. The waterbus stops at the King’s Gate and Visitor’s Center pier. There is also a guest harbor for those who wish to travel by private boat.
Tours and attractions
Once on the island, visitors can explore the fortress with a tour. Guided tours last around an hour and leave from the Visitor Center. Guides discuss the fortress’ eventful history and provide information about some of the island’s main attractions. Self-guided tours are also possible; maps and brochures are available online and at the Visitor Center.
The King’s Gate is one of Suomenlinna’s most-iconic attractions. The two-story gate was built in the middle of the 1700s, where King Adolf Frederick of Sweden’s ship was anchored during his inspection of the fortress. Additional attractions to see while visiting Suomenlinna Sea Fortress include the Great Courtyard, dry dock and a toy museum. Guests searching for adventure should explore the island’s historic tunnel system. There is a map of the tunnels available at the Visitor Center, and a flashlight is strongly recommended.
There are no barbecues, open fires or grilling allowed on the island, but visitors are encouraged to bring snacks and picnic lunches. Those who would like to enjoy a picnic lunch without the hassle of packing one can buy picnic food at the shop near Suomenlinna’s main pier. Guests can also satisfy their hunger at any of the island’s various restaurants and cafes.
Children should be supervised at all times while on Suomenlinna as there are many unfenced, dangerous cliffs that pose a risk to those who wander too close to the edge. Suomenlinna is a beautiful island, paved with cobblestone walkways. Because of the terrain, navigation may be difficult for strollers, wheelchairs and people with limited mobility.
Have you ever visited Suomenlinna? Are you about to? We’d love to hear about your experiences and expectations, please leave a comment!
Video of Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
Suomenlinna on the map
Hotels near Suomenlinna
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