We spent a week on vacation on Västerö, a small island in the Turku Archipelago. The surroundings are soothing, and the air is fresh. The archipelago is a tranquil and scenic leisure playground where boating, fishing, and simply taking in the scenery are popular pastimes.
We had a great time relaxing with the family and nature. This was our second trip to Västerö, a fantastic vacation destination.
Turku Archipelago – what is it?
The Turku Archipelago is a tightly clustered chain of islands that begins south of Turku. Rugged rocky islets and forested islands, separated by the open sea, are characteristic of the area.
The Turku Archipelago is often described as one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the world, and who could disagree? Most of the archipelago lies in the area of the Archipelago National Park.
By some definitions, it is the largest archipelago in the world by the number of islands, although the islands are tiny and tightly clustered. The exact number of islands depends on how you define an island. The size of the patches of dry land in the area varies from small rocks peeking out of the water to large islands with several villages or even small towns. The number of the larger islands of over 1 km2 within the Archipelago Sea is 257, while the number of smaller islets of over 0,5 ha is about 18,000. If the number of minor uninhabitable rocks and skerries are accounted for, even 50 000 is mentioned in some sources.
The first island we reached was Parainen, about 25 km from Turku. We stayed at Solliden Camping for a night before going to Västerö, our final destination. Solliden Camping is about 2 km from Parainen Center. It has cottages, campsites, fireplaces, and sea sough. We stayed in a small hut for four people, which cost us about 50 euros.
Just a little before Parainen starts Saariston Rengastie – a road number 180 connecting the islands. The next oversized island on that road is Nauvo. There are free continuous ferries between Parainen and Nauvo. One should wait and, without any ceremonies, go to the ferry, which departs right after loading.
From Nagu village, cycle along Norrstrandsvägen, a winding dirt road with some self-service farm kiosks selling fresh potatoes, tomatoes, and other products. Weigh your purchase, write it on the notepad, and leave the appropriate amount in the cash box.
The main Archipelago road is an alternative; it is tarmacked but narrow and busy. There is a summer restaurant and a kiosk at Pärnäs ferry pier. The ferry has regular departures, and the crossing takes five minutes.
On Korppoo, you immediately get an archipelago feeling as the road is more minor. It is a 10km drive to Korpo village. You pass the village of Österretais on the way with a barefoot culture path, restaurant, hotel, and bed & breakfast.
Korppo has a supermarket, shops, tourist information, a restaurant, and a beach. There is also a restaurant before the village in Verkan marina.
After Nauvo, the ferry takes you to Korppo, the most distant big island from Turku. There is another ferry between Nauvoo and Korppo, so although it is 75 km from Turku to Korppo, you should count at least 1,5 hours for that route. From Galtby harbor in Korppoo, you can take a free ferry to Åland.
We drove to the smaller harbor of Kuggvik in Korppoo, and a 40-minute ride on the Mahalia 2 boat took us to Västerö, a small island in the archipelago.
Can you rent an island in Finland?
Yes! There are plenty of options to rent an island just for you in Finland, especially if you book in good time. There are different standards for the cabin, and they come in different price categories. Some facilities also have simple overnight cabins. They are well-suited to short stays for weekend trips or when you want to sleep in one place for one or two nights. Overnight cabins are a more straightforward type of accommodation that does not include heating or your toilet or kitchen. They can meet your basic requirements with the minimum equipment or be a bit more exclusive.
There are plenty of rental cottages on the coasts of Finland to suit different tastes, from exclusively equipped villas to more traditional summer cottages. Whether you are interested in a luxury resort near services or a quiet location in the archipelago, the calming effect of the marine environment will give you a perfect getaway from everyday life.
The best time to visit the archipelago is undoubtedly the period from May to September. The days are long, the weather is perfect, and there is plenty of sunshine. Avoid the archipelago in the winter. Days are too short and can be either bitterly cold or unbearably damp.
Is the Finnish Archipelago expensive?
Yes, it is. Visiting Finland won’t be light on your wallet, so be prepared to spend more than on other European tourist destinations.
Food and alcohol are two things that are very expensive in Finland and will eat into your budget. For example, a pint of beer at a pub or a restaurant can set you back 7–10 EUR, and a small glass of wine costs 8 EUR. A mid-range restaurant’s regular main dish costs between 20 and 35 euros.
Many lunch places offer a good-value meal deal that costs 10–15 EUR, which often includes a main course, salad, soup, bread, and coffee. Otherwise, dining out is pricey. If you want to save money on food, we recommend heading to the supermarket.
What did we do during the seven days?
The island of Västerö is 1,5 km long and 1 km wide. We were the only inhabitants, except wild animals, during a vacation week. From wild animals, we saw deer and minks. There are also rabbits and foxes on the island.
- Trekking or walking was our main activity. Our house was about 300 meters from the small harbor and sauna. Also, we made several walks to pick berries (raspberries and cowberries) for eating and cakes. Västerö is rocky, so climbing on the rocks was good exercise.
- Boating. We had two small boats to use – Buster and Galaxy. The Galaxy was more stable, and with this boat, we tripped around nearby islands, made a trip around Västerö, and visited a small lagoon at Birkskär. One beautiful afternoon, we drove to Kälo, the only island with a regular public boat. The surroundings are picturesque, and it was so relaxing to go boating there.
- Fishing. In the first year, we tried to fish by spinning, but this was unsuccessful. The beginning of August is not the best time for fishing – the weather is still too warm in the archipelago, and fish like cooler weather more. We also tried fishing with nets. The result was not perfect – five fish. We smoked them, and they tasted heavenly. In the second year of our visit to the archipelago, we did not even bring spinning. On the first day, we went fishing with nets, and it was a success – our catch was 25 seabass. We cleaned and salted them and had a delicious dinner the next day – smoked fish. The next few days, our catch with nets was less, but still, we had a soup of five sea bass and smoked fish again from 25 seabass. The last catch was caught with a fishing pole from a wooden bridge.
- Sauna. Our vacation home had a sauna in a separate building by the sea. The sauna holds a place in the hearts of every Finnish person. It cherishes traditional values and respects health and purification treatments, of which the sauna is the most prominent. We heated the sauna each night up to 90 degrees Celsius and enjoyed its calming influence on us. After warming our bodies inside the sauna, we jumped into the sea, which was rather cold – at 16 degrees Celsius.
The week in Västerö was a perfect vacation, far away from every day worries. There is no Internet or TV on the island. Even cellular coverage is available only at certain spots.