Cycling Around Finland's Turku Archipelago
Cycling holidays in Finland's Turku Archipelago are becoming more and more popular. We chat with our Finnish specialist Heidi about what she loves about the region and what travellers can expect on a cycling holiday there.
Turku in the South-western corner of Finland is the oldest city and the first capital of the whole country. The Turku Archipelago is certainly one of the most prolific in the world: a total of some 20,000 islands and skerries, most in their pristine natural state, are scattered from Turku all the way out to the Åland Islands. Much of the Turku Archipelago is encompassed in the Archipelago National Park, ensuring that the region retains it’s natural beauty. Inhabited islands in the Turku Archipelago can be reached by inter-island ferries making many islands accessible by bicycle and meaning there is little traffic to contend with.
I personally am really fond of history, and that’s why the region really speaks to me. The Ice Age has left it’s marks to the archipelago: the land is rising 50cm in a century, which is changing the landscape and coast-line continuously. There are also lots of archaeological discoveries such as ship wrecks to prove that Vikings and Hanseatic merchants had made their way through the archipelago in centuries past.
Best Time of Year for Cycling around the Turku Archipelago
The summer season is the best time to visit the archipelago, since the weather is warm and nature is blossoming. Long daylight hours also help you explore the outdoors. It is definitely worth booking early if you would like travel here as unfortunately this season is quite short (between June-August) and accommodation often books out.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN THE TURKU ARCHIPELAGO
Are there any villages, specific spots or experience that you really enjoy in the region. We are particularly interested in anything that you think travellers would not normally experience if they didn’t have inside knowledge.
The whole route is filled with amazing sights, but perhaps the most impressive of them is the intriguing island of Seili. Seili was the island where the mentally ill and those with leprosy were sent in the 17th century. Grimly, anyone who was banished there was required to take their own coffin boards since most of them never returned!
The old town of Naantali is also one of my favourites. Its buildings are from the 18th century and the atmosphere is astonishing. For those interested in architecture the place is a heaven. You can find many kinds of unique and typical features of Finnish architecture and design in Naantali. The Old Town on the harbor is well worth a visit and there is a viewing tower there where you can look out over many beautiful villas.
The islands of Iniö too are naturally beautiful and are home to a lot more to a lot of sights, including Sofia Wilhelmiina’s church, old, idyllic village sceneries and Åselholm’s saw and windmills.
Favourite Food & Drink in The Turku Archipelago
You have to taste the archipelago bread (a unique type of black rye bread), it is not only good but also healthy. The Turku Archipelago is also famous for its seafood, which you can find fresh in most of the harbour towns. Restaurants Stallbacken and L´escale, both in Nagu are two of my favourite restaurants in the archipelago and are both well worth a visit if you can.
Further Advice for Cycling in the Turku Archipelago
The Turku Archipelago is ideally suited to cycling and while you should be in at least average shape, the terrain is gentle (though more hills than you would expect) and you can travel at your own pace. Remember it can get quite warm in summer and so keeping hydrated is essential.
Along the route, for much of the time, there are separate cycling paths, specifically for bikes. These are marked with a white bicycle symbol on a blue sign, and sometimes painted on the road in white. These cycle-only roads keep you and your bike separate from the cars, and can be located on the right or left side of the road (sometimes crossing over from one side to the other). On occasions, the cycle path veers away from the car road for a short period before returning again. Sometimes the cycle road is split with a pedestrian pavement. They are clearly indicated - take care to ride along the correct one.
For more information on cycling around the Turku Archipelago visit our Cycling Holidays in Finland page. You can also check out the video from Visit Finland below, which looks at the destination from a slightly different perspective.