I’ve already told you that my trip to Helsinki last month was an eye-opener to how gorgeous the Finnish capital is. The city is just as lovely as its friendly inhabitants, with good shopping and amazing food to be found all around. While the Finnish have reason to complain about their weather for part of the year (during the rather cold winters the sun doesn’t shine for 51 days), I got lucky with gorgeous blue skies, perfect for strolling, tanning and even swimming. While most of us have to make do with a nearby lake or public pool, Helsinki inhabitants can simply ferry over to the lovely little island of Suomenlinna (impossible to remember this name), where one can hang out on the rocks or at one of the small beach areas and swim in the sea. The ferry, which takes 15 minutes and is often described by visitors as their favorite part of visiting the island, costs only €6,50 for a round trip. On weekends, you can grab a bag of fresh fruit from one of the market stalls, take a seat and enjoy the ride….

On a sunny weekend day, you see hords of locals swarm here, BBQ grills and picknick baskets in tow. Families, groups of friends or older folks – everyone loves it here. Some go for a little picknick on the provided green areas, other lie down on the rocks or the small beach for a swim.

But Suomenlinna offers more than a good tan and some splashing with salt water.

Ask the ticket sales stand at Helsinki Harbour for a map of the island. It lists the various cafes, restaurants and shops you can find here, as well as attractions such as the canons, the submarine and, most infamously, the fortress. The historical maritime fortress is a Unesco World Heritage site and one of Finland’s most popular sights attracting over 700.000 visitors per year. Personally, I had the most fun checking out the many tunnels (that might have once served as prisons, at least they look like that), exploring long out-of-service canons from up close and simply taking in the beautiful landscape that comes with various wild flowers, ducks and pittoresque houses.

In all honesty, the variety in restaurants here is quite limited and I had a hard time finding much more than pizza and pasta, but if it’s a coffee and a piece of cake that you fancy, Cafe Vanille has lovely treats and a very charming decor.

If you have some time on your hands and are looking to come here s a day trip, I recommend renting  bike over in Helsinki and bringing it onto the island. You best bring some food with you for a nice picknick and some qualty time dipping those feet into the water.

To really help you get a good idea of the island, I made a little video, including some impressions from my entire weekend in Helsinki.