Three island retreats for a day trip during the summer break. 

View over Vallisaari, Soumenlinna and Kauppatori

During the summer Helsinki offers many refreshing spots to forget about your thesis for a day and to recharge after a long spring semester. One of the unique things of southern Finland are the countless islands of the Archipelago Sea. You could spend every day on a different island during the summer and you’d still only discover a small fraction. There are 257 islands that are over 1 km2  and over 17000 smaller islands. When you have so many islands to choose from, it’s not easy to decide where to go. Fortunately, some of the most fascinating ones are just a short ferry ride away from the Market-square. Here are three popular islands that are super easy to reach from Kauppatori.

A sheltered picnic spot along the green shoreline in Suomenlinna.


The fortress island is one of Finland’s most popular attractions and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. To reach Suomenlinna from Aalto University you only need one ticket. With your HSL card or a single AB ticket you can ride all the way to  the harbour and jump on the next ferry without paying any extra fees. It’s a great choice if you are looking for a perfect spot to combine picnic and swimming. There’s even a supermarket in case you’re running out of ice-cream. There are six museums on the island and the Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) offers a popular artist residency here which makes Suomenlinna even more appealing for Art and Design students.

Not only people cherish the island. These geese decided that Suomenlinna is a great place to raise their little offspring.


Just a stone-throw away from Suomenlinna lies Vallisaari. The island was not open for the public until 2016. It’s secluded state let the nature on the island flourish and reclaim the old military buildings. Illustrated maps guide the visitors through a scenic landscape and the history of the old defense fortress. The island offers accessible trails and a peaceful atmosphere. However, swimming is not allowed along the shoreline, but the stunning viewpoints make up for that. A cute coffee shops near the jetty makes waiting for the next ferry very convenient.

The lush vegetation of Vallisaari is beaming in shades of green during the summer.


This cute tiny island is just 7 min away from Helsinki’s Market Square. Lonna has a wonderful sauna built only with natural material and heated with wood burning stoves. The ideal place if you want to experience the relaxing joy of a proper traditional Finnish Sauna in an unique location. The island also holds the reputation to be one of the best spots to enjoy the sunset.

The countless islands of the archipelago are waiting to be explored!

If you are looking for a wilder and more remote island that calls for a longer stay, check out Aalto Squad’s blogpost about Örö Island and the first year’s photography students’ discoveries:

Dominik Fleischmann
MA Photography

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