Spread over six islands in the Helsinki archipelago, Suomenlinna Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular destination for picnicking and leisure activities. The fortress is an important historic site with multiple on-site museums, as well as a living community with roughly 900 permanent residents.
The sea fortress has 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) of walls, 290 buildings, and more than 100 guns and cannons. Main sights include the dry dock, the King's Gate, and the fortress' six museums: the Suomenlinna Museum, Customs Museum, Toy Museum, Ehrensvärd Museum, submarine Vesikko, and the Military Museum’s Manege.
A top Helsinki attraction, Suomenlinna fortress is featured on most city tours. Walking tours of the sea fortress are available from downtown, and a Helsinki Card includes free entrance to the onsite museums. Boat and canal excursions are also a popular way to access the fortress.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring a picnic or enjoy a meal at one of Suomenlinna’s 11 onsite restaurants.
- Access to the island is free of charge, but each museum has its own entrance fee.
- Most roads on the islands are cobblestone, which can make it difficult to maneuver a wheelchair or stroller.
- Dogs are allowed on the island but must be kept on-leash, away from beaches and playgrounds.
How to Get There
The Helsinki Card includes access to all ferries. HSL ferries depart every 20 minutes from the passenger quay at Helsinki’s Market Square (Kauppatori), while the JT-Line water bus runs during summer and stops at the Visitor Centre pier and King’s Gate.
When to Get There
The Suomenlinna Museum and some shops and restaurants are open year-round, but many attractions are only open from May to September. Summer is the most popular time to visit, when Helsinki’s weather is typically pleasant.
Suomenlinna was founded by the Swedes in 1748 to protect against the Russians, but following a prolonged 1808 attack it was surrendered to the Russians, who then used it to protect shipping channels to St. Petersburg. 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.