Helsinki from the sea & sea fortifications

Leaves from: Helsinki, Merisatama, Kaivopuisto (jetty to the west of Café Carusel). The boat sets off from the same jetty as the ferry to Pihlajasaari (map link). By appointment

Time: 2 h, price: €120 per person
Number of participants: 6–11 people

Also possible: Jetty of your choice in the Helsinki city area

On this excursion, you’ll see many of Helsinki’s most famous sights from a new perspective, accompanied by entertaining stories about them.

Setting off from the jetty, we pass the new district of Hernesaari, whose public sauna, Löyly, was included on the Time magazine list of the “World’s 100 Greatest Places”. The view from the sea really brings out its innovative wooden architecture.

Our trip would not, of course, be complete without taking in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Suomenlinna sea fortress, one of the most popular sights in all of Finland. From the boat, we can see the Suomenlinna shipyard, featuring some of the world’s oldest working dry docks, along with the Vesikko submarine and the ramparts of Kustaanmiekka and Vallisaari. The historic days of naval battles come to life here – you can almost hear the thunder of the cannons!

Leaving Suomenlinna, we continue past Lonna and Hylkysaari to another island holding the historic Helsinki district of Katajanokka. There, Finland’s best-known icebreakers are laid up at the jetty until winter.

We admire the traditional sailing ships lining the promenade at Pohjoisranta, and the inviting terraces of the restaurants beneath Uspenski Cathedral.

Heading for the Market Square, we spot the rocky little island of Katajanokanluoto, with the cabin once used by maritime pilots. Ahead, the view of the city skyline, dominated by the cathedral, shows why people say the loveliest views of Helsinki are from the sea. The white building on the right, vaguely reminiscent of a sugar cube, was designed by Finland’s most famous architect, Alvar Aalto. Behind it looms the Uspenski Cathedral, and a little further to the right two fairly new attractions: the Allas Sea Pool and what must be the world’s only Ferris wheel to incorporate a sauna.

On our way back, we catch sight of the tradition-steeped market hall, the elegant pavilion of Finland’s oldest sailing club and the historic Kaivopuisto park.

A little further away to our left is Harakka; right by the beach are the other three islands of Uunisaari, Liuskasaari and Sirpalesaari. The latter can be reached by boat in summer, or via a temporary bridge in winter.

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