Sveaborg is a sea fortress in Helsinki, in Scandinavia better known as Suomenlinna (Suomenlinna, “Finnish fortress”). The fortress was built in 1748, at a time when Finland had not yet become an independent country and was part of the Swedish state. For more than half a century, the fortress was the most valuable naval fortification that defended Helsinki, but in 1808 it finally fell under the pressure of the Russian army and fell into the possession of Russia for the next 110 years. The name Suomenlinna was given to the fortress in 1918, when Finland gained independence. After that, it belonged to the Finnish military garrison for a long time, until in 1973 it was taken over by civilian administration.
All cannons located on the territory of the fortress were cast in Russia and the inscriptions on them are only in Russian. For Finland climate and geography, please check TopPharmacySchools.
Now Sveaborg is undoubtedly one of the brightest sights of Finland. There are several museums on its territory, architecture lovers may be interested in buildings belonging to different architectural traditions and styles, those interested in military affairs will find a huge variety of military equipment related to different stages of the existence of the fortress, and the fortress itself is amazingly beautiful, so a simple walk it will give you pleasure.
There is a prison in the fortress, where people convicted of petty offenses serve their sentences – it is they who are engaged in maintaining the fortress in proper form.
How to get to Sveaborg
You can only get to the fortress by water, as it is located on an island located two kilometers from the city.
From the Kauppatori market square, HKL ferries run from one to four times per hour, depending on the season. The first ferry departs there at 9 am, and the last one back at 6 pm. You can buy ferry tickets at the river station, a one-way trip will cost you about 5 EUR.
From Kolera-allas, located near the market square, the JT-Line river trams leave from May to September, making an additional stop near the King’s Gate. Tickets for them can be bought both at the pier and directly on board – also for 5 EUR one way.
Sveaborg has neither public transport nor bike rentals, so it’s best to wear comfortable shoes for the trip.
If you don’t want to return to Helsinki in the evening, you can stay in Sveaborg for the night; Hostel Suomelinna was built there especially for this, located just a stone’s throw from the pier. However, it is worth noting that in terms of living conditions it is much inferior to hotels located in the city. On the first floor of the hostel there are rooms for 6, 8 and 10 people, on the second floor there are double and triple rooms, and the shower and toilet for all rooms are shared on one floor. One night there will cost you 25 EUR if you decide to stay on the first floor, and 55-90 EUR if you opt for rooms on the second floor. Breakfast at the hostel will also have to be paid separately – 7.90 EUR.
Restaurants and cafes in Sveaborg
The sea air, combined with long walks, whets your appetite like nothing else, so you will definitely want to visit one of the restaurants located in the fortress. Fortunately, there are enough of them so that anyone can find something that suits their tastes and financial capabilities.
The Café Chapman restaurant is located in the heart of the fortress, in the Traverse Adlerfelt built in 1770, and visiting it, you can fully plunge into the atmosphere of those times. The average bill there will be 35-40 EUR.
Beer lovers should definitely visit the Suomenlinna Brewery, which serves beer brewed in the fortress’ own brewery. In summer, the restaurant offers a buffet with various national dishes, among which the amazing smoked fish stands out. The restaurant is located in the pink barracks next to the pier.
If you are planning to visit Sveaborg with children, you should take them to the Toy Museum Café, where you can have tea and cakes inside a real toy museum. And for real gourmets in Sveaborg there is the Walhalla restaurant, which offers a huge selection of dishes and a rich wine list. The cost of the a la carte menu in it starts from 50 EUR.
You can also stop by Café Vanille, which offers excellent desserts, Café Piper, where you can promise in the English-style garden in the summer, the Klubi 20 restaurant, or Café Bar Valimo, located in an 1870 ammunition depot.
Entertainment and attractions of Sveaborg
There are six museums inside the fortress.
The Suomenlinna Museum has a rich exposition covering the 260-year history of the fortress. Here you can see items used in everyday life, tools, weapons and ammunition found during the excavations of Sveaborg. The museum is open all year round, from May 2 to September 30 it is open from 10:00 to 18:00, the rest of the time it opens half an hour later and closes at 16:30, the entrance ticket costs 7 EUR, for students – 5 EUR, pensioners and children from 7 to 17 years old pay 3 EUR, for children under 7 years old admission is free.
The Ehrensvärd Museum exhibits miniature ship models, weapons, period furniture and paintings by Sveaborg artist Elias Martin. The museum is open throughout the summer season from 11:00 to 18:00, and in spring and autumn – only on weekends, from 11:00 to 16:00, a ticket for adults will cost 5 EUR, for children under 17 years old – 2 EUR.
In the collection of the Toy Museum you will find thousands of antique dolls, teddy bears, cars and children’s games, the oldest of which were made at the very beginning of the 19th century. The museum also has a separate room with military toys. However, be careful when visiting the museum with children – in addition to the cafe mentioned above, it also has a shop, and who knows how much they will lighten your wallet if you do not take them away in time. The museum is open to visitors only from March to October, from 11:00 to 17:00, for adults the ticket price will be – 6 EUR, for students and pensioners – 4 EUR, for children under 18 years old – 3 EUR, family ticket (2+2) costs 15 EUR.
The Military Museum in the Manezh is located in a building that was previously used by the Russian army as an artillery depot, but now it displays Finnish military equipment since Finland gained independence. The museum is open from mid-May to September, from 11:00 to 18:00, for adults and children from 7 to 17 years old, the entrance ticket costs 5 EUR, for students and pensioners – 3 EUR, family ticket (2 + 2) – 12 EUR, for children under 7 years old admission is free.
You can also visit the Vesikko submarine used during World War II. Inside the boat, almost all rooms are open to visitors. The entrance to the submarine is also open from mid-May to September, from 11:00 to 18:00, the cost of an entrance ticket for adults and children from 7 to 17 years old is 5 EUR, for students and pensioners – 3 EUR, a family ticket (2+ 2) – 12 EUR, for children under 7 years old admission is free.
In the Customs Museum there are exhibits dedicated to the Finnish customs, the permanent exhibition tells about the various methods of smuggling and the activities of the customs at the present time, and the temporary exhibition changes every year. The museum is open from June to September, from 12:30 to 17:30, admission is free.
You can visit all these museums for free if you apply for a Helsinki Card.
While walking around Sveaborg, pay attention to the King’s Gate, built in 1754 at the place where the Swedish king Adolf Frederick, who was watching the construction of the fortress, stopped and served as the main entrance to the fortress.
The Great Court, located next to the administrative center of the fortress, makes an amazing impression – the buildings around it have concave facades and distort the perspective. The docks of Sveaborg are considered the oldest in Finland and one of the oldest in all of Europe. In the Zander Bastion you can walk along the thick stone walls and look at the old defensive weapons. In addition, it is worth seeing the Ehrensvärd crownwork, a church and a memorial in honor of the Red Guards imprisoned in the fortress.
Address: Suomenlinna C74, Helsinki