Suomenlinna (Sveaborg)

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Helsinki, Finland

Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) Helsinki Reviews

vances vances
581 reviews
A fortified visit Jun 24, 2016
A day trip to explore Suomenlinna Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is time well spent. The Swedes fortified the tiny island chain around 1750 and it was what spawned the rise of Helsinki. Reaching the islands is an easy fifteen minute boat ride and very convenient. There are several ferry providers: cheapest is public ferry, which also has the most frequent runs. However, we paid just a wee bit more to go for a round trip with JT Line (7€ versus 5€). JT Line stops at two different places (we debarked at Suomenlinna Centre, which the public ferry does not visit, and re-boarded for home at King’s Gate quay, which is slightly remote) and with stops every hour that seemed frequent enough.

The inhabited portion of the chain consists of four islands linked by bridges. Virtually all of the tourist activity is centered on the main island where both ferry stops are. The overall footprint is not too big, so we immediately trooped off to explore the ‘residential’ islands. Immediately to the west of Suomenlinna Centre lies Iso Mustasaari (‘Big Black Island’), which appeared to house the main facilities for the Finnish Naval Academy, including barracks. Nothing particularly scenic and we proceeded north to the more diminutive Pikku Mustasaari (‘Little Black Island’) and Lansi-Mustasaari (‘Western Black Island’), both of which consist solely of apartment blocks: there are about eight hundred folks living on Suomenlinna. Both of the smaller islands offered pleasant views and had some nice, small beach areas.

After the whirlwind tour we returned to the main island and dove into the tourist opportunities. There are several museums on the island, though we only checked out the Suomenlinna Museum at Suomenlinna Centre. This has very few displays, but they are informational and it is free – they offer a half hour movie for a charge. They also offer free maps which are very handy.

Now that we were armed to explore more diligently, we stepped outside, only to be greeted by rain. Thus we waited the sprinkle out at Jääkellari Café with a coffee. A nice spot which gets a separate review. Then we circled around the town, which has some pretty old buildings and the occasional artist shop, where we enjoyed conversations but made no purchases. We stopped next at an interesting landmark, the Suomenlinna Church, which is a somewhat unique combination of church and lighthouse. I guess one way or another they will try to get you on the right path!

Heading south we came upon Piper’s Park, a splendid pond and home of Piper’s Café, where we popped in for lunch when it began raining again (also reviewed separately). After lunch we plodded around the southern end of the island. This is uninhabited and where all of the old fortifications and cannons are. This is the best part, because you are basically skirting the coast with great views and plenty of interesting bunkers to explore. We eventually worked our way around and the southern tip and towards King’s Gate Quay to catch a ride back. However, we found another really fascinating dining spot, Pizzeria Nikolai. Embedded in a bunker, the pizzeria has a medieval charm (i.e., stone walls, candlelight and no windows) and lovely outdoor seating as well. The last thing we needed was more eats, so off to the quay.

A lovely investment of a half day if you are visiting Helsinki.
Ehrensvärd's Tomb - Augustus was …
Ehrensvärd's Tomb overlooks Piper…
Scanning the Helsinki skyline from…
Laura goofing on Suomenlinna
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
monkeymia79 says:
Thank you for sharing this Vance, it looks like a lovely place with so much to offer.

Bookmarking for later.
Posted on: Oct 08, 2016
margunn says:
I'm going to Helsinki next weekend. Was thinking about going to Suomelinna,you convince me ☺
Posted on: Oct 08, 2016
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SylwiaG SylwiaG
24 reviews
Fort in magical place Jan 15, 2016
Fort Suomenlinna, but really the fortress is situated on interconnected islands a short distance from the shore. Construction began in 1748, and its task was to defend Helsinki from the sea. Currently not perform any military function, but is a great monument inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, has an important cultural function. It's a beautiful place, which is situated among the greenery, with an impressive fortresses, museums, cafes and restaurants. An important attraction is the submarine from World War II - Vesikko (prototype U-boats), which can be accessed and experience ... claustrophobia :)! Suomenlinna is not only for for fans of militaria and the history, but for all those, who want to spend a day surrounded by nature, peace - in picturesque place. On the Suomenlinna ferry ride, which departs every a dozen minutes from Kauppatori - the main square in Helsinki. I would highly recommend!
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
rcpilgrim rcpilgrim
40 reviews
Interesting Naval Architecture And A Great Side Trip May 21, 2012
Suomenlinna is a great side trip from Helsinki and can easily be seen in a few hours or you could spend all day hiking around the islands if the weather is nice. It is a sea fortress with impressive naval architecture, built by the Swedish in 1748 when they controlled Finland. There are around 200 or so buildings on the archipelago that include barracks, churches, batteries and residential structures. The island is accessible from the mainland by ferry only and is a pleasant trip from the Port Of Helsinki. The archipelago of Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Defensive walls built by the Swedi…
Neoclassical style church on Suome…
javier1 javier1
17 reviews
Nice place for a walk Mar 26, 2012
Suomenlinna fortress is a nice group of islands (4 islands connected with bridges). Is part of the Unesco World Heritage. Nowadays it has the remmaning of the fortress, many museums, restaurant and some families living there.

If the weather is ok is a nice place to walk watching the different parts of the old fortress and almost seeing the coast of Tallin. You may walk about 5-10 km during the day to round the four islands. Its recommended to do this in a nice weather day.

Here you can get more ingo:
brettjayhawk brettjay…
26 reviews
Suomenlinna Jun 13, 2011
When I arrived in Helsinki I really didn't know what I was going to do because I didn't do any research. At the hostel I noticed that the Suomenlinna Island was a UNESCO World Heritage site. I took the boat down by the wharf and spent a half day exploring the island.

Some of the must visit places on the island include Augustin Ehrensvärd's grave, Vesikko Submarine, and the different museums. In the museums you will find some of the tanks and war time weapons that were used on both the Finish and Russian side. I really enjoyed being able to go in the Vesikko Submarine. I can say that I've been in a real submarine!

Its also fun to explore the caves and fortresses that surround the island. On the island you can find many naval guns used to protect the fortress. If I remember right many of these guns were put in by Peter the Great.
Ulitalo Ulitalo
2 reviews
Great place for a day trip May 01, 2011
There are plenty of ferries travelling to the island every half an hour from the main harbour. Especially worth seeing objects are: U-boot from the Second World War, Russian Church, Docks and Kings Gate. There are open air restaurants and cafe bars when you can eat pizza and drink beer. If you go to Helsinki you should take a half day trip to Suomenlinna!
138 reviews
Jul 12, 2007
Suomelinna or Sveaborg as its was called when it was built is a massive fortress lying on six small island outside of Helsinki. It has been described as the Gibraltar of the North and was long thought to be impenetrable.

There is several things to do here , but i can recommend the Museum next to the information and the walking tour. There is an English walking tour at 14.00 so its not a bad idea to first take the museum next to the information center and then take the tour since it starts at the same place.

Suomenlinna Museum.

This is the main museum on the island and cover the history of the fortress from it where built to this day. Its also a 25minutes movie that starts every 30mins that is worth a look. Three Stars

Vesikko Submarine.

This is located only a short walk from the information center , and the price is 4euro to go inside. Its not really anything to see inside , but how many can say that they have been inside a submarine? 2two stars.

There are several other museums on these isles , but i spent to much time walking around the island and exploring on my own.

Cafe Chapman:

This Cafe has a buffet for 10.50 Euro and the quality of the food is ok. The bread is hard , the beer tastes like it is the bottom of the barrel and the food is just mediocre , but remember that you are in a tourist area is listed on the World Heritage list, so you are paying for the location. Three stars

PS: Did you know that Sveaborg is is falling apart? The molding that holds the rocks together contains alto of salt and the people preserving the fortress are doing whatever they can to keep it in good condition. Some of the tunnels are already closed.

Total 4stars.
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ninnu ninnu
5 reviews
Jun 24, 2007
If you're ever in Helsinki, one must-see is the fortress of Suomenlinna! It's a little island just outside Helsinki downtown, that is both historical and beautiful. There you'll find both old stone walls and caves, and especially in the summer time it's full of people!

During 1st of May, which has more and more become a student festivity in Helsinki, you'll bump into lots of students in their student overalls celebrating the day - might be something to see as well ;)

You get there from the Market Square, where boats leave every 20 minutes or so. The boat ride takes about 10-15 minutes, and during it, you'll see some of the Finnish archipelago. The ride costs EUR 2.20 (adult) and just under EUR 2 for children under 16. If you have a travelcard/buscard inside of Helsinki, you can use it on the boat also!

Well worth the visit, and if you want to get out of Helsinki to swim or sunbathe, this is the place to be! :)
This is the first thing you see wh…
stabber911 says:
From your photo, I would like to visit Finland
Posted on: Jan 18, 2008
cneoridium says:
Nice! I was in Helsinki one December- much different, dark, 0 degrees and ice! Beautiful though.
Posted on: Jul 13, 2007
Adrian_Liston Adrian_L…
156 reviews
Jun 24, 2004
Suomenlinna (in Finnish) or Sveaborg (in Swedish) is a sea fortress built on six islands just outside Helsinki. The fortress was built by the Swedes in 1748 (with large donations of gold by the French) to protect against Russian expansion. The fortress was called the "Gibraltar of the North" because of its stunning fortifications. The six islands are clustered together and high sea walls rise up from the shore. The only entrance to the fortress is in between the islands, which forces attacking ships to pass through the narrow walled straights under direct cannon fire from the fortresses. The forts contain their own dry docks for repairing ships and plenty of cannon power.

In 1808, after France made peace with Russia, Russia launched an attack on Finland. With superior numbers they were easily able to take the mainland and Helsinki, but they could not force a beach head on Sveaborg. The Russians set siege to Sveaborg but did not have sufficient cannon power to take the fortress and were rapidly running out of food. In the type of chance event that changes history, the inexperienced Swedish commander Carl Olof Cronstedt happened to pass by when a solider was killed by shrapnel from a chance cannon shot. Cronstedt lost his calm and surrendered the fortress with 7000 men and full of supplies to the Russians on the 3rd of May, 1808. This event gave the Russians an impenetrable foothold on Finland, making it impossible for Sweden to retake Finland.

The islands are full of historic monuments and you can still see the fortifications and dry docks. They also make a perfect picnicking area from Helsinki in the summer.

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photo by: portia