Sveaborg, Helsingfors, Finland

A popular excursion for both locals and visitors, Suomenlinna, a fortress built across a group of islands in Helsinki’s harbor, is just a short ferry or water-bus ride from the city center. Begun in 1748 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fortress offers numerous events, guided tours in English and six museums as well as a number of restaurants, cafés and hiking trails, both easy and more challenging.

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Picnic on Suomenlinna

Take a 15-minute ferry to Suomenlinna, a sea fortress built under Swedish rule in the 1700s that spans eight small islands. These days it’s a favorite spot for afternoon picnics. Clamber up the grass- covered stone fortifications to see massive ferries en route to Stockholm, Sweden, or Tallinn, Estonia. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.

Midnight Sun

While in Helsinki, we visited the island sea fortress at Suomenlinna. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Helsinki Harbour and a perfect place to enjoy the midnight sun. This picture was taken around midnight. The fortress was a great place to visit and get out of the noisy city but still be in the city in a parklike setting. The short ferry ride to the islands is also a fun excursion and a way see the city from the water....highly recommended.

Take Your Bike to Suomenlinna Castle

Take your bike (or not) on any of several daily round-trip ferry boats to the island of Viapori near Helsinki, Finland and enjoy a day, or evening, in the park-like setting of this unique castle and associated buildings. There are a range of restaurants from inexpensive to luxurious, but we recommend packing a picnic if the weather is nice. This is a great place to enjoy a wonderfully long summer evening, the sea-side views are breathtaking, just be sure to catch the last ferry back to Helsinki!

Holiday in Helsinki

Not always easy for a vegetarian to find a broad selection of dishes, but here, there were several options. One spot, Tony’s Deli, was accessible by public transportation and the service was great. The comfort food items were just perfect in the cold weather--risotto, gnocchi, and tiramisu. I enjoyed a leisurely lunch from a cozy bench seat and was ready to walk it all off after my sweet finish. Food is always an important part of the itinerary, but so are the UNESCO World Heritage sites everywhere I go. Finland’s must-see, Suomenlinna. I was visiting in November, but a tip, visit in spring, when it’s prettier, livelier, and some of the restaurants are open. I trekked (and tracked) eight miles so it was invigorating!

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