Maritime attractions in Helsinki
Helsinki’s proximity to the sea offers an endless number of opportunities in summer and winter alike. Helsinki’s shoreline is adorned by around 100 kilometres of coast and over 300 islands.
Suomenlinna is one of the world’s largest historical maritime fortresses. Built on six islands in the 1700s, the garrison town is among the most popular sights in Finland and a living district that is home to around 850 city residents Suomenlinna has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. With its museums and events, Suomenlinna offers a unique experience for visitors of all ages, who can also enjoy idyllic cafes and cosy restaurants.
Children can have a great time exploring the many tunnels of the old fortress, also the submarine museum will be a sure treat for them! It is good to reserve at least half a day for a visit to Suomenlinna. The vast fortress is best explored on foot, so prepare for some hiking with good shoes and a windbreaker. Suomenlinna is open year-round, although some facilities are open only in the summer months.
The municipal ferry to Suomenlinna departs from the Market Square throughout the year. In summertime you can also take a JT-Line waterbus from the Market Square. The journey takes around fifteen minutes. The municipal ferries accept the Helsinki Card and regular municipal transportation tickets as payment. JT-Line waterbuses accept the Helsinki Card but not municipal transportation tickets.
The Visitor Centre on the main island has an info desk and the Suomenlinna Museum housing an exhibition about the history of the fortress. Guided tours also depart from here. These are offered daily by the Ehrensvärd Society in the summertime in English, Finnish and Swedish. In wintertime guided tours in English are offered on weekends. Tours can also be ordered in advance.
With its swimming beaches and cafés, Pihlajasaari Island is one of Helsinki’s most popular recreational islands. Visitors can also enjoy the island’s sauna. From early May to late September a ferry carries passengers from Merisatamanranta (beside Cafe Carusel) or Ruoholahti.
The beautiful island of Uunisaari is situated off the southern shore of Kaivopuisto Park close to the city centre. The island has swimming beaches, a restaurant, a kiosk and saunas. The ferry departs the mainland from the compass by the shore. Uunisaari is open year-round and can be accessed by pontoon bridge in wintertime.
Seurasaari is the only open-air museum in Helsinki. The island has been a favourite recreational destination for Helsinki residents since the 1880s, when townspeople arrived by boat to enjoy picnics with their families. In addition to the museum and swimming beach, the island houses a restaurant that was renovated in 2007. The easiest way to get to Seurasaari is by taking bus number 24. Visitors should also visit the neighbouring Urho Kekkonen Museum (Tamminiemi) located beside the bridge leading to the island.
The islands off the southern coast of Helsinki house a number of restaurants connected with yacht clubs, including NJK, Klippan, Särkänlinna, Uunisaari, Boathouse and Saari. These island restaurants are unique summer treasures where visitors can spend long evenings enjoying great food and spectacular scenery.
Helsinki Zoo is also located on an island, Korkeasaari. In summertime you can travel to the zoo by ferry from the Market Square and Hakaniemi Market. The price of admission is included in the ferry ticket. In wintertime you can also get to Korkeasaari by bus from the city centre or by taking metro to Kulosaari and then walking across Mustikkamaa to the main entrance of the zoo.
Sightseeing cruises let you discover Helsinki’s beautiful archipelago. You can even enjoy a seafood lunch or romantic dinner onboard. Sightseeing ferries depart from the Market Square throughout the summer.