It’s no secret that the Western part of Finland is my favourite area of the country. The countless islands and skerries that form one of the most beautiful regions I’ve ever visited, draw me back every summer. The archipelago roughly stretches from the most Southern tip of Finland, Hanko, through towards the Turku archipelago, all the way through the West, where the Archipelago somewhere merges with the Åland Islands. Check the bottom of the post for my full plan including linked map!
The Archipelago Trail is a loop from and to Turku, leading through the most stunning parts of the Western archipelago. I’ve visited during winter and once during summer many years ago. This year, I had a rather spontaneous need for a nature escape and an actual holiday, and I suddenly had a rough week of time on hand. So, I decided to cycle the Archipelago trail – in search for peace of mind and blueberries. Just my little bike and me.
My plan: this was supposed to be a holiday. I’m not a very fast cyclist, and also my point wasn’t to break any records and to get across the place ASAP, but to slow down, take a break and enjoy the place I was at, go paddle and pick blueberries. I broke down the trail into maximum distances I wanted to do per day and used that as a guideline to find my accommodation. The recommendation from my friends in the area was to cycle the trail counterclockwise, as ferry lines in the other directions can be sparse and put you under more time pressure, also the other way there are fewer people travelling.
I downloaded a bunch of audio books to listen to (in the end I went through THREE whole ones!).
I didn’t prepare much. I literally booked most of the accommodations a couple of days before (which I don’t recommend, especially in the summer season – many places are full already in April). Here’s a couple of things I’d suggest to prep:
- Do book accommodations beforehand. The website of the Archipelago Trail has a super handy map which shows you cabins, hotels and B&B’s on a map, including direct links. There you can also check restaurants, sights and all the things.
- Get your bike checked. I dropped into Pyöräkeskus in Helsinki and got my tires checked, some screws tightened, fresh oil and I was good to go. The professionals there help you for free with small things or supervise you while you fix stuff yourself.
- Check all the ferry times! When prepping your route, Googlemaps will tell you which ferries you’ll take. Those that cover bigger distances work on a schedule, so it’s good to have an idea when to take those, and if there are any costs involved. Shorter routes are basically just an extension of the road and go back and forth, and are free.
- Prep your rough route and save it in Google maps. Super handy for navigation and having all your destinations at hand, including distances and info.
- Check out my packing list (coming soon)!
The whole trail is about 250km long. For me, this was a purely leisurely trip where I wanted to have some time to paddle, hike, swim and do nothing, and not cycle all day every day. Also, I decided to skip the last part from Nauvo back to Turku, as I wanted to avoid more plain boring roadside cycling and opted for the ferry ride via Seili Island. Here’s a rough breakdown and the full map (including my accommodations):
DAY 1: Turku – Naantali – Merimasku – Askainen (40km)
DAY 2: Askainen – Taivassalo – (Kustavi – ) Iniö (66km)
DAY 3: Iniö – Mossala (20km)
DAY 4: Mossala Rest day
DAY 5: Mossala – Nauvo (54km)
DAY 6: Nauvo – Seili – Turku (the map shows the last part of the trail, not the ferry) (would have been about 64km)
Where to stay & What to do
The region offers all kinds of different options, from luxurious villas to the most simple cottages, camping and caravan areas, B&B’s and hotels, or entire resorts (especially those around the locals harbours) – you name it. It entirely depends on your budget and wishes.
I personally like to stay in cottage “resorts”, getting the simplest cabin there is (often from 30€) and use the facilities on site. Since I was travelling by myself, I looked out for places that offered breakfast and ideally some kind of meals because I wasn’t really in the mood for schlepping all supplies around.
As there are water and islands, it’s a paradise for kayaking. Most slightly larger places have those for rent, you can also rent bikes there (if you travel by car), get a SUP board, or just go for a forest hike, pick berries and mushrooms and feast on those. I recommend the Mossala Island resort for a stopover, there’s a restaurant, kayaking, a hiking trail and a wonderful little beach. Grännäs Homestead near Nauvo has the most scenic swimming spots and sauna. While in Nauvo, make sure to check out Köpman’s for food, also a cute little B&B.