Just a short ferry ride away from the centre of Helsinki lies one of the most popular and famous places to visit in Finland. The island of Suomenlinna is more than just a well-liked tourist attraction. Among many things it’s also the home of around 800 residents. Because even those tourists who barely spend a day in Finland manage to make time for a visit to Suomenlinna I feel like it’s practically a civic duty for Finnish citizens to explore this place. When I found out my boyfriend had never visited I new instinctively that I had to take him there.
Seeing a familiar place with fresh eyes
Photo: The ferry to Suomenlinna departs from the Market Square ferry terminal.
A sunny Saturday in June we set out on our island adventure. Visiting Suomenlinna is super easy, since there’s a ferry departing with very regular intervals. We were really lucky and got to the ferry right when it was leaving and hopped straight on board! Since we had already purchased our travel tickets earlier when we travelled by metro from Espoo to Helsinki, there was no additional cost for the ferry.
I’ve been to Suomenlinna numerous times, but it’s been a very long time since the last time I really explored the place. During my years studying journalism there used to be an alcohol-infused Halloween orienteering that took place among the old historical fortress ruins. After that there have been weddings, bachelorette parties, short visits, picnics. But I guess the last time I’ve really explored was perhaps fifteen years ago when my grandma, who actually used to live there, took me there. So, although the idea was to plan a special day for my boyfriend I was pretty psyched myself!
“We all live in a…”
Photo: Although I had visited Suomenlinna several times before, I had never ventured inside the submarine Vesikko. Or ever been inside any other submarine for that matter.
We started our day checking out the beautiful wooden houses close to the ferry pier and then proceeded towards Susisaari. There we got acquainted with one of Suomenlinna’s most popular sights, the submarine Vesikko. This old submarine was built in 1933 and served in the Second World War. Today it’s been turned into a museum, where visitors can see for themselves how life looked like cramped into a narrow submarine way down below the waves. Although this submarine is red, black and white I was still humming the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine song.
Continuing towards the southernmost parts of Susisaari on Suomenlinna we stopped to peer into the old dark fortress ruins, spooky! At the southernmost end of Susisaari we explored the grassy hills and admired the old cannons. Apart from the cannons, these landscapes always make me think of hobbits and the Lord of the Rings –trilogy!
We had a lovely lunch at Pizzeria Nikolai, which is a restaurant located in the old fortress ruins and then continued towards the King’s Gate.
Taking in the scenery
Photo: In the distance, one of Suomenlinna’s most famous sights, the King’s Gate.
One of the most typical things to do on Suomenlinna is to have a picnic, so of course we had to try that as well. We found ourselves a nice spot on some warm rocks and got to see one of the large cruise ships leaving towards Stockholm in Sweden.
Slowly we progressed towards Suomenlinna Brewery, a part of our island adventure that one of us had looked forward to for months (as I’m not a great fan of beer you might guess who the excited one was). Passing the beautiful church and admiring the scenery we took our time, sitting down for a while to admire the Helsinki skyline as seen from the ferry pier.
Checking out a beer oasis
Photo: I continue to fall for these old buildings every time I visit Suomenlinna and find myself googling how to move there.
The brewery, located in one of the historical buildings, was really cool, even for someone who doesn’t really enjoy beer. And as it was possible to purchase smaller, tasting portions I even dared try something myself! I went for something called black cider that the bartender described as a mixture of cider and beer, so it seemed safe enough. Okay, so it wasn’t technically beer, but still, I tried something at a brewery!
We stayed at the brewery until late evening and then hopped on the ferry back to the city centre, then continued by metro home to Espoo. All in all: a very enjoyable summer excursion in our own capital city!