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My hubby and I would like to visit Suomenlinna Fortress in Helsinki. Unfortunately Princess doesn’t offer an excursion there despite listing it as a top site. Have any other cruisers done this DIY?    If so, how did you do it? How long was the ferry ride? Or do you know of any tour companies that offer a shore excursion there? The best way we could find is to take a taxi to the ferry terminal by the Market Square, take the ferry to the island, tour, and then do it all in reverse.  

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We will be doing just that on our June cruise - taxi to market square, water bus to Suomenlinna and ferry/bus back. If you cruise is later than mine (June 12th, Regal Princess), I'll let you know how it went.

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We did a DIY trip to Suomenlinna Fortress.  We actually took the tram from near where our ship docked to a stop within easy walking distance of Market Square.  From there we took the ferry to the island and did a self-guided walking tour that is included in the Rick Steves Northern European Cruiseports guidebook.  After our tour, we returned to Market Square, stopped in a cafe for one of the famous local cinnamon buns and coffee, and continued sightseeing in the city using the trams.  The above-mentioned guidebook is a wealth of information on how to get around, what to see and where to get one of those great cinnamon buns!

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11 hours ago, GradUT said:

We did a DIY trip to Suomenlinna Fortress.  We actually took the tram from near where our ship docked to a stop within easy walking distance of Market Square.  From there we took the ferry to the island and did a self-guided walking tour that is included in the Rick Steves Northern European Cruiseports guidebook.  After our tour, we returned to Market Square, stopped in a cafe for one of the famous local cinnamon buns and coffee, and continued sightseeing in the city using the trams.  The above-mentioned guidebook is a wealth of information on how to get around, what to see and where to get one of those great cinnamon buns!

This is also what we did when we visited the fortress. Really quite easy if you follow the guidebook mentioned above.

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As earlier replies have correctly answered it is pretty easy to get to Suomenlinna by ferry from Market Square and tour the sea fortress independently. Just be aware that the ferry frequency can be at times fairly low: the schedule for this summer has not yet been published, but if the schedule is anything like last year (and most likely it will be), the interval between ferry departures is 20-40 minutes on weekdays and 15-40 minute intervals on weekends depending on the time of the day, more frequent in busy daylight hours, less frequent in early morning and late evening. So, especially for return journey, you should plan in advance which ferry is the latest you can catch. Another tip: the Suomenlinna ferry is part of the Helsinki region public transport (HSL) and thus the same tickets are valid for this ferry as for busses, trams, metro and local trains, thus with a single ticket one could travel the whole route from the cruise port to Suomenlinna or vice versa as you can make unlimited number of changes within the ticket validity time (from April 27th onwards, that will be 80 minutes if I have understood correctly). Of course, the taxi option might still be easier and faster way to travel between the cruise port and Market Square. Likewise, the cruise companies may offer shuttle busses that provide transportation for this common route and the cost is probably somewhere between the taxi fare and HSL public transport ticket.

And at Suomenlinna, at Jetty Barracks right next to the main quay where the ferry docks, there is a tourist information office, so if you need any help to plan where to go in the sea fortress, stop there and pick up a brochure etc. You can also find brochures available for download at the official website of Suomenlinna. Also worth a mention is that Suomenlinna also hosts homes for a significant number of people, so it is preferable to not snoop into every building or backyard.

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3 hours ago, Hezu said:

As earlier replies have correctly answered it is pretty easy to get to Suomenlinna by ferry from Market Square and tour the sea fortress independently. Just be aware that the ferry frequency can be at times fairly low: the schedule for this summer has not yet been published, but if the schedule is anything like last year (and most likely it will be), the interval between ferry departures is 20-40 minutes on weekdays and 15-40 minute intervals on weekends depending on the time of the day, more frequent in busy daylight hours, less frequent in early morning and late evening. So, especially for return journey, you should plan in advance which ferry is the latest you can catch. Another tip: the Suomenlinna ferry is part of the Helsinki region public transport (HSL) and thus the same tickets are valid for this ferry as for busses, trams, metro and local trains, thus with a single ticket one could travel the whole route from the cruise port to Suomenlinna or vice versa as you can make unlimited number of changes within the ticket validity time (from April 27th onwards, that will be 80 minutes if I have understood correctly). Of course, the taxi option might still be easier and faster way to travel between the cruise port and Market Square. Likewise, the cruise companies may offer shuttle busses that provide transportation for this common route and the cost is probably somewhere between the taxi fare and HSL public transport ticket.

And at Suomenlinna, at Jetty Barracks right next to the main quay where the ferry docks, there is a tourist information office, so if you need any help to plan where to go in the sea fortress, stop there and pick up a brochure etc. You can also find brochures available for download at the official website of Suomenlinna. Also worth a mention is that Suomenlinna also hosts homes for a significant number of people, so it is preferable to not snoop into every building or backyard.

Thank you Hezu for great info! If you bu any chance know, is water bus more frequent than ferry? From what I read on Suomenlinna website, water bus might be preferable for us on one of the ways (there or back).

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6 hours ago, nattie said:

Thank you Hezu for great info! If you bu any chance know, is water bus more frequent than ferry? From what I read on Suomenlinna website, water bus might be preferable for us on one of the ways (there or back).

Nope, the water bus timetable seems to be less frequent than the HSL ferry. And since apparently most services do stop in couple other islands enroute, the travel time to Suomenlinna is slightly longer. On the other hand, I think of those stops, at least Vallisaari could be a worthy place to visit: it is the island next to Suomenlinna and has slightly more wild nature, although sure there is some signs of the military past too. Also since the water bus stops in different places in Suomenlinna than HSL ferry, that might be an advantage: for example you could get directly to Kuninkaanportti (King's Gate), which is quite far away from the main quay. The water bus is not part of the HSL fare system.

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As said the ferry is part of the Helsinki region public transport  and thus the same tickets as the buses, trams etc. So if you for example buy a local traffic day ticket it is valid for the ferry as well.

The waterbus on the other hand us handled by a private company.

The ferry will take you to the main quay. the waterbus to Artillery Bay or to the King's Gate. 

see map: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/frantic/suomenlinna/2018/06/ENG_suomenlinna_karttapohja_2018.pdf

 

 

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Again thank you very much to Ultima Thule and Hezu. You can never learn from guidebooks what you can from locals!

Last questions:

- Does Uber exist in Finland? I have just found out that it doesnt in Denmark.

- Do we need to buy tix to ferry ahead of time? I have read somewhere that tix machine on the dock is not very reliable and you cannot buy tix when onboard (sounds fishy to me), no such issues were reported for waterbus.

- It says on the Suomenlinna website that Main Quay is about a mile away from King's Gate (30 min walk). How accurate is that? Not including stops, just walking?

 

I know it is cheaper to just take tram/bus and than ferry to Suomenlinna (one ticket, etc.), but I think it would be easier to do cab/Uber to and from the ship to Market Square in the interest of saving time.

 

I think we are going to go with the following:

- cab/uber to market square

- water bus to Kings gate

-  tour from kings gate (opposite end) to Main Quay

- take waterever comes first (ferry or waterbus) back to Market Square

Doable? We are in port from 11am to 6pm on Saturday, so will probably get to Market Square no earlier that noon and will want to be back by 5 pm.

 

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  • 2 months later...
On 4/9/2019 at 8:37 AM, Hezu said:

As earlier replies have correctly answered it is pretty easy to get to Suomenlinna by ferry from Market Square and tour the sea fortress independently. Just be aware that the ferry frequency can be at times fairly low: the schedule for this summer has not yet been published, but if the schedule is anything like last year (and most likely it will be), the interval between ferry departures is 20-40 minutes on weekdays and 15-40 minute intervals on weekends depending on the time of the day, more frequent in busy daylight hours, less frequent in early morning and late evening. So, especially for return journey, you should plan in advance which ferry is the latest you can catch. Another tip: the Suomenlinna ferry is part of the Helsinki region public transport (HSL) and thus the same tickets are valid for this ferry as for busses, trams, metro and local trains, thus with a single ticket one could travel the whole route from the cruise port to Suomenlinna or vice versa as you can make unlimited number of changes within the ticket validity time (from April 27th onwards, that will be 80 minutes if I have understood correctly). Of course, the taxi option might still be easier and faster way to travel between the cruise port and Market Square. Likewise, the cruise companies may offer shuttle busses that provide transportation for this common route and the cost is probably somewhere between the taxi fare and HSL public transport ticket.

And at Suomenlinna, at Jetty Barracks right next to the main quay where the ferry docks, there is a tourist information office, so if you need any help to plan where to go in the sea fortress, stop there and pick up a brochure etc. You can also find brochures available for download at the official website of Suomenlinna. Also worth a mention is that Suomenlinna also hosts homes for a significant number of people, so it is preferable to not snoop into every building or backyard.

How long should we plan for touring the fort? Thanks for all the transportation info

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Your plan sounds doable.  You can spend as much time as you like at Suomenlinna, depending on whether you plan any inside visits. We spent about 3 hours there, going at a very leisurly pace, walking from the main ferry landing to Kings Gate and back again. I have more detail in my review if you want to check it out from link below.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can report back that our day went smoothly! We went straight to the ferry terminal and asked which ferry company would be best. They recommended the one that went straight to Suomelina as the other one made a stop first. The ferry ride gave a pretty view of Helsinki. We actually felt satisfied spending about 2 hours on the island. We could have spent maybe 30 more minutes exploring but decided to explore the city a bit instead. Keep in mind that our perspective of time spent was based on having toured many fortresses in the past. If this is your first, you would probably want to stay longer here. Be prepared that the ferry does take a lunch break, and we unfortunately arrived just as the ferry was leaving and wouldn’t depart again for like 45 minutes instead of 20 minutes. We used that time to buy a snack nearby. When we came back out, the ferry arrived earlier than we thought, so we could at least sit onboard to wait and eat our snack. We had a few hours to tour the city after and left Helsinki pretty satisfied. 😀 

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