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Finland holds seven different UNESCO World Heritage sites. All of the Finns know about the most famous one, Suomenlinna, an island fortress in the capital of Finland, Helsinki. The other 6 are relatively less-known destinations (even for Finns) but are worth a visit.
FORTRESS OF SUOMENLINNA
Let’s begin with the most popular one that most of the tourists visit when traveling to Helsinki. Suomenlinna also goes with its Swedish name Sveaborg (a little fact, you will see names of places written both in Finnish and Swedish, especially in the Southern and Western parts of Finland).
Suomenlinna is a monument of military architecture that was built in the mid-18th century when Finland was still part of Sweden. The island itself is an attraction with all the military barracks and ramparts, but it also hosts a variety of museums, cafes, and restaurants. Moreover, the Finnish army still has its Naval Academy operating on the island. Although people go to Suomenlinna to enjoy beautiful summer days, remember, this island is also a home for almost 1000 people living on the island.
Suomenlinna is a must-see destination if you spend a day or two in Helsinki. Visiting Suomenlinna is easy. Just take a ferry from Kauppatori (the main market square), and within 15 mins you are already there. The ferries go there often; just make sure that you won’t miss the last ferry of the day going back to the mainland.
Did you know?
There is a tunnel between the mainland and the fortress island. However, the tunnel is not open for the public, and it is used for emergency and maintenance vehicles only.
Remember also to check out the Helsinki Card that offers free entry to many of the main attractions in Helsinki. Suomenlinna is one of those.
For further information about visiting Suomenlinna, please check their website.
VERLA – GROUNDWOOD AND BOARD MILL
Verla groundwood and board mill and its associated area is a UNESCO World Heritage site that captures an exciting phase of development in Finland’s history. The first groundwood mill at Verla was founded in 1872 by Hugo Neuman.
Verla may be visited, and accommodation is available all year round. The Verla Mill Museum, lunch café, exhibitions, and shops are open only in the summer.
Did you know?
At Verla, guests can stay in former millworkers’ houses, in a late 19th-century environment. Accommodation is also available in the traditional log-driving hut, in newer wooden cottages or the trees under the stars.
Verla is about 2 hours by car from Helsinki. It might be a bit tricky to reach by public transportation. Your best option is first to take a train from Helsinki to Kouvola and then from the train station take a local bus (runs only in the summer) or a taxi to Verla.
For visiting Verla and learning more about the admission to the museum, please check their website.
THE KVARKEN ARCHIPELAGO
The Kvarken Archipelago is more often found with its Finnish name: Merenkurkun saaristo. The archipelago is Finland’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is a relatively new addition to the UNESCO sites as it received its status in 2016.
The archipelago is a beautiful example of scenery that is in constant change. The ice age that ended 10 000 years ago, and the land uplift phenomenon, still cause the land to rise and forms new islands to the area.
Did you know?
The Kvarken Archipelago and Sweden’s High Coast combines a UNESCO site that is shared by two countries. Due to the uplift phenomenon, it might only take about 2000 years until you will be able to walk from Finland to Sweden!
The nearest city from which you can reach the archipelago is Vaasa. For accommodation in Vaasa, please check this list. Vaasa is about 5 hours drive from Helsinki.
STRUVE GEODETIC ARC
The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulation measurements stretching through 10 countries from the Arctic Sea to the Black Sea. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which helped establish the exact size and shape of our planet.
There are multiple of these points in Finland and six of these points are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site collection.
The six station points are:
Mustaviiri is an island in the Gulf of Finland National Park, which is closest to Helsinki out of these six sites. There is no regularly scheduled vessel traffic to Mustaviiri. The only way to reach the island is by boat or by boat taxi.
Porlammi might be the easiest to visit by car if you are traveling from Helsinki
Oravivuori is located at Korpilahti, Jyväskylä. This is the most famous of the station points in Finland, and you can combine your visit to the Petäjävesi Old Church if you decide to stay in Jyväskylä.
Alatornio Church is more accessible to access than many others. However, it is far away from Helsinki. If you are traveling to Lapland, this might be your choice.
Aavasaksa is a tree-covered hill at Ylitornio. It is a well-known tourist destination with lots of activities, such as a ski slope, nature trail, and observation tower. Aavasaksa is one of the official National Landscapes in Finland.
Stuorrahanoaivi station point is very difficult to reach, and it will require a more than 15 km hike from the nearest road.
An excellent guide on visiting the points can be found here.
Our favorite destination of Finland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the Old Rauma. One of the oldest harbors in Finland, the city of Rauma, is an outstanding example of an ancient wooden Nordic town and worth a visit.
Rauma is on the West Coast of Finland and about 3 hours drive from Helsinki. You can take a look at how to get there from their official website.
Did you know?
You can enjoy the beautiful Finnish archipelago on your visit to Rauma. Check our tips for the Western Coast of Finland. Most likely you might want to combine your visit to Turku with a visit to Rauma.
Make sure to visit one of these excellent restaurants for lunch or a dinner when visiting Old Rauma.
SAMMALLAHDENMÄKI – BRONZE AGE BURIAL SITE
When visiting Old Rauma make sure not to miss other UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bronze Age Burial Site Sammallahdenmäki. It is only 20 kilometers away from Rauma and you can reach it by taxi or even by bike that makes it a nice day destination for the athletic ones. Unfortunately, public transportation does not reach the site.
The burial site consists of 36 burial cairns and is the widest and most versatile Scandinavian burial site representing the Bronze Age culture.
Here’s more information about visiting the site.
If you are not travelling by car, you might want to take a look at the only guided tour that we found.