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Finland
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Suomenlinna - Sveaborg Sea Fortress

Suomenlinna
In 1748, when Finland was a part of Sweden, the Swedes built Sveaborg, a fortress and large military outpost to protect their empire in the Baltic Sea. In 1808, the Russians successfully attacked Sveaborg and for the next hundred years, Finland was a grand duchy of Russia. With the independence of Finland in 1918, the sea fortress was named Suomenlinna. Today, the ramparts of this great fortress are covered in grasses and bright yellow flowers, and the cannons are perfect for kids to climb on. Suomenlinna is a great way to spend the day with kids in Helsinki.
  Tip: From Market Square, take the ferry to Suomenlinna. While waiting for the ferry, watch the boats go by in the harbor – big cruise ships, racing sail boats, car ferries, coast guard boats, fishing boats, fire boats. Bring a picnic and make a day of it. If you've rented bikes, this is a good place to bike around.
  At the Visitor's Centre, you can pick up maps (very helpful, as there are several islands and numerous museums), plus the ferry timetables and calendar of special events. Also at the Visitor's Centre, stop to see the Suomenlinna Experience, a multimedia show with translations in English. Older kids will enjoy the show, about how the fortress was built and the cannonball attack by the English navy in 1855.
  King's Gate – The best spot on Suomenlinna is the star-shaped ramparts and bastions around the King's Gate. Here there is a whole warren of embankments and passages to explore in out, tunnels to run through, huge cannons to climb on. Stand on the ramparts at the southern tip of the island, facing out into the Baltic Sea, where you can imagine the English and French ships aiming their cannons at the fortress.
Suomenlinna
  Throughout the islands there are grassy areas for picnics, and near the King's Gate, there are picnic tables. A small playground with swings and climbing structures is located near the Officer's Club. Near Piper's Park, there's a tiny cove and sandy beach where kids can wade in the water.
    Coast Artillery Museum is located in big old brick building that was the powder magazine in 1776. It has big guns, old cannonballs, and a pictorial history of the role of fortress in different wars over the centuries.
   

Tour the submarine Vesikko. Built in 1933, Vesikko used in World War II against the Russians. After the war, it was only Finnish submarine that wasn't scrapped after the war. It's a small submarine, but you can get a sense of lying in a cramped bunk over the torpedo tubes.

    The Doll and Toy Museum has a lovely collection of old fashioned 19th century dolls, beautifully displayed with Victorian furniture and tea sets and teddy bears (including one bear riding an old fashioned bicycle). The café has delicious hot chocolate.
      Tip: The ferry, entrance to Suomenlinna, Suomenlinna Experience, the submarine Vesikko, all are free with the Helsinki Card.
travel for kids | finland | helsinki | suomenlinna
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