The beauty and fauna of the archipelago, that is, the islands south of Turku in Finland, are amazing. Travelling along the ring road hopping from one island to another is an easy way to get to know it. The ring road is easily adjusted to various needs, and their is plenty of things to do and to see to choose from.
When we did the whole trail in a weekend, we started and finished in Turku and went by car. Other times I have done parts of it by bike. Doing the whole ring road by bike would be good too but it would take a few days. Motorcycle would be a good option. Mostly I have camped as I love sleeping outdoors but there are also cottages and a few hotels on the way.
We drove through Pargas, Nagu and Korpo to Houtskär, where we stayed a night and then continued through Iniö to Rymättylä and Askainen. There are a few variations on the trail that you can choose between. When you plan your route, remember that you depend on the ferries. As a rule of thumb, the yellow ferries are free (on the right) for all and the white ones (far right) cost a little if you have a car but are free for pedestrians and pushbikes. Most of them have timetables you need to follow, not all work throughout the night.
Also, if there are two queues, one of them is for the locals as they have the right to go on first. Especially during the main cottage season in July and August you may have to queue for a good while before you get on on Friday and Sunday evenings. I think the busiest ferry is the one between Pargas and Nagu but the picture on the right is from Houtskär ( I think that time all cars fitted in the ferry that time though, so they carry a fair bit).
As there are a lot of sights on the way, I will highlight only a few here and then let the pictures speak mostly for the beauty of the archipelago. One of the first things we went to see were the ruins in Kuusisto, and then we stopped for a coffee at Sattmark café (below) after passing the center of Pargas (which is a lovely little town with all basic services but we skipped it this time as our cottage is there anyway). Sattmark is a lovely café and has fun wooden animals on the yard. There is also a little craft shop there. The pole was erected during the midsummer celebrations, which is typical for the Swedish speaking areas.
All along the route there are plenty of old stone churches, small nature tracks, viewing spots and picnic places. There were also a few old Viking graves (or just big piles of big stones?) that gave a good reason for a bit of a walk. I find Nagu lovely with its beach, little harbor, a few restaurants and stalls, all close together. It also has a number of summer events, and that is were you can take another boat to Själö (Seili) island.
I recommend a little detour to Själö that is a tiny island with a rich history: way back people with lepracy were sent there and later on it had a lunatic asulym. Nowadays there is some university botanic center (?) and it is well kept. The little crosses on the right are from the little graveyard on Själö, and it is recommended that you do not dig the ground as some germs may still live there. The cute little church by these crosses is worth a visit.
Some of the most beautiful things in the archipelago are the boat sheds and rocks by the sea. Or just the Baltich Sea with its islands.
On the way you will also find little crafts places, sheep, exhibitions and e.g. in Korpoström there is information to be found about the area. There are naturally plenty of spots for refreshing dips in the sea. On if the last things we went to see was the old manor of Mannerheim in Askainen (on the right).
Please find further details about the Archipelago Ring Road on their website
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[…] maybe stay the night at e.g. the Bengtskär lighthouse. A good (long) weekend trip is to do the archipelago Ring Road and experience many of the islands, the ferries, see the viking graves, small harbours etc. The […]
Free ferries? Unheard of! I guess it forms part of the official road system?
You are right, they are apart of the road system. I They claim ferries are in some places cheaper to maintain than building a bridge (our winters are pretty hard on constructions), I don’t know about that but ferries certainly have a special feel to them!
[…] you want to see more of the archipelago, take a look at my old post about the ring road from the area where I was […]