One of the best ways to explore the Helsinki archipelago is with the cruise company JT-Line. In the summer, their nine cosy water busses operate a busy tour schedule from three centrally located docks. You can board their paddle-wheel vessel from next to the Market Square to head to Korkeasaari, or jump on from Ruoholahti or Merisatama to reach the sandy beaches of Pihlajasaari.

Korkeasaari Zoo was established in 1889 and currently houses more than 150 different animal species. The island of animals does vital work studying and supporting endangered species: one third of their animals are classed as endangered. The zoo also takes care of its visitors with its three restaurants. You can also bring your own lunch and use their free barbecues and picnic tables.

JT-Line: Cruise to sandy beaches or one of the world’s oldest zoos from the heart of Helsinki

You will be able to spot many of Helsinki’s monuments while travelling to Korkeasaari – including the Helsinki Cathedral.

Pihlajasaari can be reached by boat in ten minutes. The recreational island has a long history and quaint old wooden villas tell the story of days gone by. You can learn about the history of the island by embarking on a nature trail. If you’d rather soak up the sun, head to the beach for a dip in the sea.

This year marks JT-Line’s thirtieth year taking customers out to sea. The company, founded and owned by Juha Tiilikainen, is run by CEO Riina Lindell-Eränen, who has been with the company for many years. “I started as a deckhand, worked my way to skipper, worked on the admin side of things and then got the position of CEO, when Tiilikainen stepped down. I love working for this company and I’m not the only one. We have seasonal workers who come back to work for us – summer after summer,” she says.

JT-Line: Cruise to sandy beaches or one of the world’s oldest zoos from the heart of Helsinki

All aboard for Korkeasaari Zoo!

JT-Line have six year-round staff but over 60 people work for them during the season. Like Lindell-Eränen, many have trained to be deckhands and then skippers with the assistance and supervision of JT-Line.

For JT-Line, protecting the archipelago and its waters is crucial. Sustainable and local thinking are core to their practice: their fleet runs on renewable fuel oil, they have local partners and source products locally. They also support environmental causes, this year they’re supporting the John Nurminen Foundation that works to protect the Baltic Sea. Their commitment to sustainability was also recognised with the Sustainable Travel Finland Certificate in 2021.

JT-Line: Cruise to sandy beaches or one of the world’s oldest zoos from the heart of Helsinki

The ferry journey from Helsinki to Pihlajasaari is only 10 minutes long. Photo: Omar El Mrabt.

Instagram: @jtline
Facebook: jtline

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