Find that hard to believe? Then take a look below to get a complete guide to the Archipelago National Park, including the most popular islands, the best activities and top tips for how to get around.
Turku is a city surrounded by amazing nature. The combination of city culture and the natural world is a magnet for tourists and one of the most common reasons people make the city their home.
An air view of the former military island of Örö. Photo provided by Visit Turku.
Contained within Turku’s extensive archipelago is the fascinating Archipelago National Park. Located due south of the city, the park has so much to offer, from Viking villages to fortified islands. Using Turku as your base, explore it all by island hopping on a kayak or cycling between idyllic towns, with spectacular Instagram scenery at every corner.
Twist and turn along the Archipelago Trail
From Turku, either drive or cycle to the fringes of the park along the Archipelago Trail. The trail leads you through the islands of Pargas and Nagu, areas offering a greater range of accommodation, services and the authentic archipelago life.
The Archipelago cycling trail. Photo provided by Visit Turku.
In Pargas, stop by Art Bank –an homage to Salvador Dali– and the Tammiluoto Vineyard, or hop aboard MS Eivor out to Berghamn, a great place for camping overnight. Nagu’s guest harbour has great restaurants, whilst the Korpoström Centre provides activities and info about the archipelago.
Float on an unforgettable kayak experience
The Coastal Route is a newer cycling trail further to the southeast of Turku. The trail begins in the city of Salo and winds south through iron works villages and the Teijo national park before reaching the Archipelago National Park at Kasnäs.
From Kasnäs, enjoy an archipelago experience like no other, and set out on a kayaking adventure. With the help of professional guides like Aavameri, launch your expedition to the outer islands from Kasnäs, Pargas Port or Ruissalo in Turku.
People enjoying a kayak excursion in the Archipelago. Photo provided by Visit Turku.
If that sounds too much like hard work, take a ferry to the island paradise of Högsåra, where the historic pilots’ village and Famors Café await. You can also check into the Kasnäs spa hotel and indulge in freshly caught smoked fish in the authentic archipelago buffet, or relax on a boat trip to Rosala’s Viking village.
Escape to an isolated island
There are three outer islands of the Archipelago with a particularly unique character. The former military island of Örö contains an impressive underground compound, a hotel from beautifully renovated barracks and, amazingly, even a place to go surfing.
The island of Bengtskär, at the far south of the park, is the tallest lighthouse in the Nordic region. Despite being ruggedly isolated, the historic beacon comes with a hotel and café-restaurant, and if you’re lucky, neighbouring seals might stop by to say hi.
A group of visitors kayaking in Bengtskar. Photo: Avameri.fi
Finally, the peaceful island community of Utö is another former military outpost. The island is the perfect place for meditating in solitude on the rocks and reconnecting with your soul. All three islands are accessible by ferry from the mainland.
Bonus suggestion: moonlight sailing to Åland
Sailing is another unforgettable way to experience the archipelago. Rent a boat in Kasnäs or join a day cruise aboard the beautiful yacht Eugenia. Take a memorable moonlight sailing trip to Mariehamn and investigate Åland, enjoying one of the many superb restaurants whilst on the islands.
Return to Turku along the St Olav Waterway and add a bit of spirituality to your journey. The trail is a genuine pilgrimage route that originates in Trondheim in Norway!