Cycling the Archipelago Trail
Off Finland’s west coast lies one of the country’s most beautiful and most unique tourist destinations. Shaped by the Ice Age, the Turku archipelago consists of over 20,000 islands and islets.
The area is naturally popular with sailors, but the numerous islands mean that the area can also be explored by road on the circular Turku Archipelago Trail.
20,000 visitors every summer
The Archipelago Trail is one of Finland’s most popular tourist routes. In the summer season, which runs from May to September, it attracts about 20,000 visitors, by car, by motorbike and by bicycle. Rather than a road, it is perhaps best described as a network, made up of many sections of roads linked by ferry crossings. Besides 160–190 kilometres of road sections, the crossings from one island to the next cover an additional 30–50 kilometres depending on your chosen route.
Best for bikes
The circular route might have been made for cyclists as the winding roads that cross the archipelago encourage drivers to drive more slowly than they might on the main roads of the mainland. A large proportion of them are tourists too, taking it slowly and enjoying the scenery. Pedalling through the islands, the views change often and quickly from bare rocky islets to the green countryside of the inner archipelago with its wooden houses, and red wooden boatsheds. There are countless small bridges and the ferry crossings provide excellent opportunities to rest and recharge your batteries.
Plenty to see
Although the length of the Archipelago Trail might not sound much to an experienced cyclist, it’s worth leaving plenty of time as there is lots to see along the route in the summer. There are plenty of museums, historic buildings, fortresses and ruins in the archipelago as well as the Saaristomeri National Park, one of two national parks in Finland to be awarded PAN parks certification as a protected wilderness area. This makes it an ideal place to explore the varied natural landscape, flora and fauna, e.g. on a guided boat trip.
In the summer visitors can stop off at exhibitions of the islands’ maritime culture, do some shopping and settle down for the evening in one of the many guest harbours which are buzzing with life on summer nights in June and July. The harbours also offer overnight accommodation. On top of this there are also plenty of campsites for tents and, this being Finland, cottages to rent, not to mention family hotels and B&Bs offering a home from home.
The whole trail or a shorter option?
The Archipelago Trail can be explored in many different ways. If you’re starting from Turku and the whole 200 kilometre main route might be pushing it a bit, there are shorter sections, all of which are shown in the Archipelago Trail guide. All the routes are also perfect for beginner cyclists because there are plenty of places to stop off for a rest along the way and the ferry crossings mean sometimes you don’t have any choice but to get off and enjoy the scenery.
Coastal Areas & Archipelago
Coastal Finland with its stunningly beautiful archipelago offers a variety of fascinating destinations that are easy to reach.