The former military island of Lonna in Helsinki archipelago might be tiny but it is a perfect island getaway on a sunny day, just a 7-minute boat ride from Helsinki Market Square.
Once closed to the public, this small 150 metre long island played a significant role in history and had many functions, mostly related to military operations during wartimes. Among others, Lonna was used by the Russian Navy as a sea mine depot in the 1880s. In the 1920s the island was used as a base for clearing mines. Later in the post-war period ships were demagnetised here.Now the former military island of Lonna has been revamped and was opened to the public in summer 2014. Together with the very recently opened former military islands of Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari, Lonna Island makes a great addition to the recreational islands of Helsinki archipelago. Most of the half a dozen old buildings, red brick and red or yellow wood, have been renovated.Today Lonna is a popular island getaway among locals who come here to have lunch, dinner and drinks, bask in the sun, and enjoy a picnic and fresh sea air with amazing sea views over Helsinki city centre.One Saturday afternoon we decided to head to Lonna Island to explore the island for the first time and to have dinner at the restaurant. The island was surprisingly small and it took less than 10 minutes to walk around. We saw plenty of white swans, geese and seabirds playing around. The rocky shores of Lonna make a perfect spot for a picnic and watching the sun slowly set below Helsinki city skyline.I had heard lots of good things about Lonna restaurant serving Finnish summer food and wanted to give it a try. The restaurant menu changes regularly based on the availability of fresh, high-quality local ingredients. They have a large outdoor terrace with colourful chairs and a great view of the sea. The restaurant sits above a casual waffle bar which is perfect for snacks or a cup of coffee. We were a bit unfortunate as we had not booked a table in advance and were told that the restaurant had totally run out of food due to a very busy day on the island. So we were left with no dinner but decided to enjoy a couple of drinks on the sunny terrace instead. This means that we definitely have to revisit Lonna island with better luck. Besides, later this year a public sauna will open on the island, too, so we will have to return to enjoy a dinner combined with a completely new island sauna experience by the sea.
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