Islands within a fifteen-minute ferry ride

Helsinki Archipelago
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There are four popular island destinations that can be reached with a fifteen-minute ferry ride from the Helsinki downtown area. Suomenlinna is home to 900 residents, some of whom commute to work on the mainland even on a rowing boat.  
Walking towards the camera, two girls stroll along a path on Suomenlinna during a sunny day. Either side of the path are wildflowers, bushes and a tree, with the sea just seen on the horizon.
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The Suomenlinna sea fortress is a 15-20 minute ferry ride from the Market Square. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island is one of Finland's most popular tourist destinations as well as home to around 900 Helsinkians. The cluster of islands is accessible year-round and the winter season ferry rides offers the opportunity to marvel as the ferry breaks the icy crust that has formed over the sea. The ferries depart from the Market Square and in the summertime there is also a water bus to Suomenlinna that departs from the Esplanadi side of the Market Square. In addition, a maintenance boat transports vehicles as well as passengers to the islands from the district of Katajanokka, arriving at the Iso Mustasaari pier.

Suomenlinna (around 80 hectares) is comprised of a couple of hundred buildings on eight different islands. Colloquially Suomenlinna usually refers to five islands where the ferries land: Kustaanmiekka, Susisaari, Iso Mustasaari, Pikku Mustasaari and Länsi-Mustasaari. It is near impossible to avoid the area's history as a sea fortress: it has belonged to three different nations and has played a significant role in many turning points in Finnish history. In addition to the walls (around 6 km in total), the cannons (105 of them), the tunnels and the museums, there are also cafes, restaurants, a brewery, a summer theatre and countless picnic spots. There are also year-round services such as a supermarket, a library and a church. Read more about the ferry ride to Suomenlinna in the summer 2022.

A group of people hike across a grassy hill in Vallisaari, sea on the horizon, walking away from the camera and along the trail to the left. The sky is partially cloudy.
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The former military island of Vallisaari and the island of Kuninkaansaari, which connects to Vallisaari via a bank, are situated near Suomenlinna, about a 20-minute ferry ride from the Market Square. Colloquially the name Vallisaari refers to both islands together. The islands were opened to the public in 2016 and have quickly become a firm local favourite for a day trip. The combination of old fortresses and the abundance of different species that have evolved in the area over the centuries tell a unique story of the coexistence of man and wild nature. Over 400 species of plants, over 1,000 species of butterflies and countless types of birds have been identified on the islands. Vallisaari is one of the most important natural habitats for bats, and some species of plants and animals found on the islands are either already endangered or under observation. Visitors can explore the islands of Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari only on marked paths. The southern side of the main island is closed off for safety reasons. Read more about the ferry ride to Vallisaari in the summer 2022.

Small Lonna island bathing in sunset
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The small and quaint Lonna is located between the island group of Suomenlinna and the Market Square. The former mining island is now a wellness oasis. You can enjoy your trip to the island either by enjoying a relaxing time on the rocks or by getting acquainted with the island's history in the museum spaces. Services include a restaurant, the popular waffle bar, and a public sauna. Read more about the ferry ride to Lonna in the summer 2022.

Colorful booths on Pihlajasaari beach
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Pihlajasaari – or Pihlis – (around 26 hectares) is a ten-minute ferry ride from the southern downtown shore. Pihlis in fact is made up of two islands, a western island and an eastern island, but a walking bridge connects them and together they have nearly five kilometres of shoreline. The island nature is beautiful and wild and many of the old villas are protected. The islands are beloved by sunbathers: in addition to the 500-metre beach there are many peaceful rocks to lie on. The eastern Pihlajasaari also has a naturist beach as well as a camping site where visitors can spend the weekend for a small fee. Other services on the island include a restaurant, a cafe, a beach kiosk that is open depending on the weather, and a sauna that can be rented. Read more about the ferry ride to Pihlajasaari in the summer 2022.

Cafe Kobben ja Katajanokaluoto ilta-auringossa
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Katajanokanluoto is a small island between the mainland and Suomenlinna. It is only 95 meters long and 65 meters wide. The island has a protected two-storey main building that was built in 1876, which originally served as a pilot station. The pilot duty on the island ended around 1910, and the island was opened to the public in 2020. The islet is served by a connecting ship from the Market Square's Keisarinluoto pier, the journey takes about seven minutes. Cafe Kobben, located on the island, serves tasty pizzas and pan coffee. The island's opening hours are subject to weather. 

Two families are having a picnic, sitting in a green, grassy area surrounded by trees on Mustasaari Island.
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Mustasaari (around 5.7 hectares) is located behind Seurasaari. It is about a 15-minute ferry ride from Töölö. The island is owned by the Helsinki Parish Union and it is open from early June until mid-August for individual visitors and groups. Groups can get in touch and arrange visits also outside the summer months. Besides its peaceful nature the island also offers plenty of activities. Services found on the island include a canteen, a chapel, a playground, a nature path, a sports field, a beach and a sauna that can be rented. In the summertime the island is also home to many domestic animals such as lambs and rabbits. A walking bridge connects Mustasaari to the adjacent Hevossaari, an island left in its natural state. Mustasaari has a substance-free policy and is open to the public in the summer 2021. The ferry departs from the Taivallahti pier in Töölö at the end of the Eteläinen Hesperiankatu street.

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Four popular island destinations can be reached with a fifteen-minute ferry ride from the Helsinki downtown area. Suomenlinna is home to 900 residents, some of whom commute to work on the mainland even on a rowing boat.