10 places in Helsinki that will not be shown to “package” tourists
Walking along the narrow shopping streets, sandwiched between laconic, austere modern buildings, tourists complain about the lack of attractions. Basically, people come to the capital of Finland for one day to make stylish purchases in the designer quarter and try local dishes, after which they go to other Scandinavian countries or return to Russia. Meanwhile, the sights of the city are not only Aleksanterinkatu Street, Senate Square with the Cathedral and Market Square. If you turn off the hiking trails, Helsinki will pleasantly surprise you with the beauty of sea landscapes and a peaceful atmosphere, and photographs on the background of little-known sights will decorate your Instagram profile.
Unfortunately, seeing the most interesting places in Helsinki will not work as part of an excursion group – most of them are located outside the center. To see all the sights from the list, it is most convenient to purchase a pass for 2-3 days and use comfortable public transport.
The 18th-century bastion fortification system, also known as Sveaborg (the “Swedish fortress”), is located on seven islands three kilometers south of the Market Square. The fortress was built after the end of the Russian-Swedish war in 1743 and initially served as the main base of the army fleet. In 1808, the troops of the Russian army captured Sveaborg, and a year later Finland became part of the Russian Empire, and the fortress was used to protect Helsingfors and approaches to Petrograd from a possible German invasion. In 1917, the independence of Finland was proclaimed, after which Sveaborg was renamed Suomenlinna – “Finnish fortress”. Until the end of World War II, the fortress was used for its intended purpose, then it was abandoned. In 1973, Suomenlinna received the status of the Helsinki region, and in 1991 was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
18th Century Bastion Fortification System, Also Known as Sveaborg
The main attractions of the islands are the remains of fortifications, the Royal Gate, ancient cannons and bunkers resembling hobbits. Museums of Suomenlinna, wooden residential buildings of the 19th century and the church, on the site of which once stood an Orthodox church, are no less interesting. And on the coastal stones, “autographs” of the inhabitants of the fortress, carved more than 150 years ago, are still preserved.
The main attractions of the islands are the remains of fortifications
How to get there
From 6:00 a.m. to 2:20 p.m., ferries with the inscription “Suomenlinna – Sveaborg”, which are part of the Helsinki public transport service, regularly go from the pier near Market Square. You can buy a ticket to the fortress with a turnover of 5 € or use a ticket. The ferry route and departure time are displayed on Google Maps. Entrance to the fortress is free.
The island of Wallisaari was known to sailors long before the foundation of Helsinki thanks to a freshwater pond. The first buildings appeared here in the XVIII century – Wallisaari was then used to service Sveaborg. Cattle grazed on the island, chopped wood for firewood and collected fresh water in the lake. Soon in the northwestern part of Wallisaari, pilots settled along the ships through the Kustaanmiekka Strait. There were no defenses on the island – that is why in 1808 the troops of the Russian army easily captured Wallisaari and fired Sveaborg from it. Since then, the Russians have repeatedly used the island for military purposes. When Finland gained independence, the Finnish military stationed artillery here. At the same time, more than 300 people who were engaged in agriculture lived on Wallisaari. There was a school, a store, and even a squad of scouts and a drama club on the island, but over time, people began to move to cities. In 1996, the last inhabitants left Wallisaari. Until 2013, the island belonged to the Finnish Defense Forces, then was transferred to the Main Forestry Directorate. In 2016, the island received its first tourists.
Vallisaari Island was known to sailors for its freshwater pond.
Now everyone can visit Wallisaari: here you can see the lake, the dwellings of pilots, the remains of the fortress and ancient cannons. From the observation deck offers a beautiful view of Suomenlinna. Wallisaari Island is connected by a sand spit to Kuninkaansaari Island, where the remains of ancient fortifications have also been preserved.
In Wallisaari you can see the lake, the dwellings of the pilots, the remains of the fortress and ancient cannons
How to get there
A small passenger ship of the JT-Line company runs between the main pier of the island of Wallisaari and the Market Square several times a day from May 1 to September 30. A 10 € ticket is valid for one day and allows you to visit three islands at once: Lonna, Suomenlinna and Wallisaari. The time spent on each island is unlimited.
Helsinki was founded in 1550 by the Swedish king Gustav Vasa. Then the city center was located at the mouth of the Vantaa River – in the northwestern part of the modern one.