I’m going to post about five different islands around the Helsinki area. It’s one of the things I love about the city: that there so many islands to visit! Other things include the ocean in general, the flea markets, the amount of liquorice you can buy (not limited to Helsinki) and that there are weird things like a Pub tram (which I haven’t been in yet).
I’m going to start with the most obvious (and when we went there also the most touristic) one, Suomenlinna. Some of my photos are older, from when I visited the first time in 2015. The reason is that the second time (mid-July 2016) there were tons of tourists and it was nearly impossible to get a picture without any!
There is a new ferry ticket that brings you to three islands for 7 Euros (3,5 for kids)offered by JT-Line. You can always go with the HSL ferry (using your HSL bus/metro card), which is the cheapest option. But to see Suomenlinna, Vallisaari & Kuninkaansaari and Lonna you need the JT-Line ticket. The first time I went to see Suomenlinna we took the regular HSL ferry, the second time we went with JT-Line. Both start from Helsinki city market. We had to wait in line for a bit to get on the ferry, but there we got nice seats then and when it’s leaving (and later when coming back again) you get a nice view of Helsinki.
The ferry took us to Vallisaari first (that’s the order if you want to do the Island hopping: Vallisaari – Suomenlinna – Lonna), it takes about 25 minutes and there we got off the boat to walk around a little. We decided not to go to Lonna because we wanted to go to a public sauna afterwards. I think Lonna would be nice to have lunch/dinner at, though.
All of the islands are former military islands and there are signs where you can read about history. We went to a small lake in the middle of the island, where bats should roam often (we didn’t see any, but it was in the middle of the day, so no surprise!). We read that you can’t swim in the lake because you could get hurt by wood and other things. Maybe they will clear it up some time.
I really like the Nationalparks.fi page (maybe because I love those parks and get excited about them) and there you can find useful information on Vallisaari. I know there is much more to see and maybe a day trip there would be a good idea some time to see it all!
From Vallisaari we went to Suomenlinna, we wanted to spend most of our time there and there was a long line to wait for the ferry, so we lined up to have more time in Suomenlinna. It was very quick to get there.
On Suomenlinna we walked around the main parts and took photos. I remember the masses of tourists, but it’s one of the main tourist attractions so it wasn’t a surprise. (I prefer being in remote places, but beautiful places attract tons of people so I guess I have to live with it ;))
I remember finding it funny that “Suomenlinna” means “Finnish castle” but the Swedish version is “Sveaborg” which means “Swedish castle” or “castle of mother Svea”. I guess everyone wants the island for themselves.
A couple got married in the church when we walked by and lots of people were having picnics. Many tourists went to see the shops. In the end, we took the HSL ferry back.
Some more pictures from 2015 (the weather also seemed to be much better):
I have to say the island is very beautiful and enjoyed it both times (even with lots of tourists the second time). But I’d still suggest picking a day when there are fewer people. You can see its beauty without being distracted.
There is a café, some shops, museums and a lot of things to do. Taking a picnic is always a good idea (It’s true I think about food a lot).
P.S.: I just read that G.R.R. Martin wrote a story about Suomenlinna, which was published in 2007. (Link) It’s an inspiring island, I can see that.
Have a nice week!