Glass goes on the archipelago trail in Turku, Finland

THE archipelago trail in Turku is a breath of fresh air for those who thrive in nature and want to experience Finland’s rich culture. Despite there being a handful of different routes, this trail is gaining popularity as it covers a diverse range of islands that offer something for everyone. Life in Turku, on the south-west coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River, is buzzing with locals enjoying food and drinks on the row of boats that stay pulled up by the bank. One of the remarkable things about Finland is you feel an endless surge of energy due to the long days as the sun barely sets – a dangerously fun illusion.

Turku Cathedral

The island of Nagu’s guest harbour Nauvo is action-packed as it’s in the heart of the archipelago, and lunch at the French style L’Escale overlooks the water. While you’re sipping some of their fine wine, there’s a chance you may spot the president, who also enjoys a visit. Nagu is an exceptional kayaking location, as the structure of the islands breaks down tough winds, making it the perfect water for learners and experts alike. It’s easy to see why kayaking is so popular as the public are welcome to explore, picnic and take breaks on almost all the surrounding islands with the understanding they respect nature.

Kayaking in Turku

Finnish Boat Hut

The island of Korpo follows, offering more land-based activities and classic archipelago accommodation. Quirky and cosy go hand in hand at Hotel Nestor, where Finnish nautical decoration meets modern rustic. High-quality cuisine can be found at the Restaurant Back Pocket, which sees the owner William Hellgren serving up Finnish dishes such as reindeer and seafood with an eccentric twist. Guests are encouraged to take a stroll shoeless in the woods where the special barefoot path offers a sensory and visual experience. A soft mossy walkway leads you to an outdoor gallery where modern art has been incorporated into nature.


Boats in Turku

The unspoilt natural beauty of the islands has a calming effect on the soul for many, but for those looking for something more spiritual, St Olav Waterway is a new pilgrims’ route that goes from Finland to Sweden via the archipelago trail.

Exchanging legs for wheels is popular when going to Kustavi. Island-hopping is made easy with the free ferry service that runs regularly, and I even spot a self-service greengrocer on the roadside – the community is very welcoming. Depending on your pace you can see up to six or more islands in one day, but the beauty can be enjoyed regardless of whether you drive, cycle or hike.

Cycling in Turku

Turku City

Mossala Island Resort is a fitting rest stop and provides breathtaking views from its observational tower. However, Kustavi isn’t far, and a night at the Peterzens Boathouse is the ultimate treat. Attracting a large sailing community, the boathouse provides accommodation in fully recycled huts which overlook the harbour. An evening sauna is essential, and those who dare can take a cold dip in the water afterward.

Before leaving Kustavi, I venture to the quaint artisan handicrafts village where I see popular products such as ceramics and candles being made from scratch. After that, a boat ride into the idyllic cobblestoned old town of Naantali is the perfect finale. The famous fish burger at the Snickari is a delight, and if you’re dining in the evening, you’ll hear the town’s trumpet solo that is played daily to indicate evening has come – its charm mimics an old film set.

Artisan Craft Village

Turku Archipelago

This trail’s organic allure and wide range of activities make it the perfect short or long break destination. If you’re lucky you’ll even spot deer in the forest, but don’t get too attached as you might be eating something similar for dinner.

by Katrina Mirpuri

For more details please go to Visit Archipelago or Visit Turku


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