Island Hopping - Suomenlinna, Vallisaari and Lonna
Maritime Helsinki is worth its own mention. The city is lined with almost 100 kilometres of shoreline and over 300 islands, many of which are open for visitors. The Market Square has easy access to Suomenlinna, as well as the recently opened islands of Lonna and Vallisaari.
Suomenlinna is one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world, founded in 1748 and built by Field Marshal Count Augustin Ehrensvärd on islands off the coast of Helsinki. Suomenlinna remains as one of the most popular attractions in Finland and was included in UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991 as a unique monument to European military architecture. An important part of any visit to Suomenlinna is a good meal or a refreshing break at one of its cafés. The fortress has a selection of restaurants and charming cafés. The Visitor Centre and Suomenlinna Museum, situated in the middle of the fortress, are a base and information point for visitors as well as the starting point for the walking tours. Suomenlinna is explored on foot. In summer there are daily guided tours in English, Finnish, Russian and Swedish, in winter the tours are held on Saturdays and Sundays in English and in Russian.
The breathtaking Vallisaari was opened to the public in spring 2016. Left for years in its natural state, the old defence fortress island is located between the military base of Santahamina and the popular Suomenlinna island. Trekking on the island is done following marked routes. There are also a few picnic spots that are recommended instead of the rocks. The finest view on the island can be taken in at Aleksanterinpatteri.
From 14 May until 18 September visitors can also attend guided tours in Finnish, Swedish and English. Also pre-bookings for groups.
Lonna is a sweet little island between the Market Square and Suomenlinna, only a seven-minute ferry ride away from the mainland. The little sister of Suomenlinna was used at a time for making shops immune to sea mines.
Run by Top Chef contestant Jouni Rahikainen, the restaurant at Lonna is highly recommendable. The island also has a waffle bar, a terrace, a multi-use space and a boat dock for visitors.
You can sink into the carefree mood of the island with other travellers, or find your own quiet spot on the rocks enjoying one of the best sunsets in the city. The old warehouse buildings on the island are now used for events and seminars. Another rare treat is on its way: a public sauna.
Lonna can be reached in the summertime (1 May - 18 September) with JT-Line's Suomenlinna ferry running about once an hour. It leaves from the Market Square and stops at Lonna on the way to Suomenlinna.