These days, the old fortress island of Suomenlinna is home to families and artists and is a part of the City of Helsinki, with a total year-round population of about 800.
Access to the islands is possible from Helsinki’s South Harbour, with a ferry plying the short distance from the mainland from early morning until late at night.
In the summer a number of waterbuses also include Suomenlinna on their itineraries.
Suomenlinna remains an important cultural centre, with museums, galleries, restaurants, and cafés. The old shipyard is active in restoring wooden sailing vessels.
Among the many museums worth looking into is the Doll & Toy Museum, which has a delightful collection of doll houses and toys dating from the 1830s onwards, and is as attractive to adults as it is to children.
Restaurants & Cafes near the Water
On Kustaanmiekka, the southernmost part of the island group, it is easy to feel that you are a part of some great historical chapter, since during the Swedish period the building housed the famous Walhalla Orden, one of Viapori’s many secret societies.
At around six in the evening, you can watch the colossal ferries on their way to and from Sweden. They pass through what seems to be an impossibly narrow channel towards the open sea, so close that you might be tempted to reach out and touch them!
Some will argue that the terrace of Café Piper, located in an English-style formal garden on neighbouring Susisaari, offers Helsinki’s best panoramas, allowing the combination of a cool beer and unlimited ship-spotting.
Or you can try Restaurant Susisaari , which has a convenient location near to the Suomenlinna Centre and the waterbus pier. Traditional Finnish cuisine is on the menu here, along with a nice selection of wines and local beers.
Suomenlinna also boasts a brewery of its own.Suomenlinna Brewery Restaurant, located only a few steps from the ferry, serves food made from fresh Finnish ingredients and their own beers.