An ideal day or half-day trip from Helsinki is to pack a picnic and take the regular ferry to the island fortress of Suomenlinna Castle. A great deal of Helsinki's history was shaped here - the UNESCO World Heritage Listed fortress was founded by the Swedes in 1748 to protect against the Russians, but following a prolonged attack, Sveaborg was surrendered to the Russians in 1808. The Russians then used it to protect the shipping channels to St. Petersburg. In 1917, after the Russian Revolution, Finland declared independence and took back Suomenlinna, using it for the military until 1973 when it passed over to the citizens of Finland.
Suomenlinna is made up of 8 islands, with 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) of fortress walls, 290 buildings and over 100 guns and cannons. These days there are 6 museums, 9 restaurants and 850 residents. Many locals like to picnic among the fortress ruins with a few drinks - it can get pretty boozy here on summer weekends.
the Tourist office was easy to fine and everyone spoke perfect English (good since we speak no Finnish), so getting our cards was a breeze.
The included bus tour was perfect - a nice overview of the city. Using the card when riding public transport was also easy and all the museums we visited accepted the Helsinki card without issue. All in all a good value.
We had great value from the Helsinki card. Probably went to several museums we would not have entered. The ferry trip was very fun.
Review by Jimmy B., July 2012
Suomenlinna is a beautiful place to spend a half day wondering around. On the ferry there, you get a fantastic view of the city from the water and get to see all the charming little cottages on the islands around the city and once there, you have plenty of beautiful, historical buildings to explore. Definitely a must see!
HKL ferries depart every 20 minutes from the passenger quay at the kauppatori. The Helsinki Card is valid for all ferries and attractions at Suomenlinna.