Top three things to experience in the wintry archipelago

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Credits: Mikko Huotari

Winter in the archipelago is all about warm woollen jumpers, cosy log fires and occasional dips in the frigid sea

The coast of Finland is home to the world’s largest archipelago. With a laidback lifestyle, strong maritime culture and constantly changing seascape, this region is well-worth visiting – even when the temperature drops.

“Why go to Paris when we have Turku?”

As the Finnish saying hints at, why travel abroad when we have so much beauty and romance right here at home? In Turku, the cultural hub of Finland’s southwest coast, this is especially true. A beautiful city intersected by the Aura River, Turku is home to historic Turku Castle, a 13th-century fortress perched on the mouth of the river. The town’s centre is jam-packed with cosy restaurants and cafés serving delicious dishes (usually featuring local fish) and delectable confections. While Turku is breathtaking during the warmer months of the year, winter is equally stunning. Cold-weather activities include slow walks to Vartiovuori Observatory, visits to the many museums scattered throughout the city, peeks at art galleries like Titanik and relaxing strolls into the nearby Ruissalo. Don’t forget to visit Turku’s wonderful Christmas markets, which are held annually in Old Great Square!

Credits : Timo Jakonen
Credits: Esko Keski-Oja

Ferry to the winter magic of the Åland Islands

The Åland archipelago is made up of 6,500 islands, and while most are rocky islets, more than 60 are inhabited. Nature in Åland is a beautiful combination of land and sea, and while the islands can be windy, they’re often sunnier than the mainland. When walking and hiking here, observe the massive pressure and erosion of the Ice Age on the land. With its open landscape and abundance of lakes, Åland is great for scenic winter activities! For example, when the ice is thick enough, the waterways surrounding Åland are perfect for long-distance ice skating. Equipment can be rented onsite or with the help of a local guide. Other wintry activities include ice bathing, hiking, skiing and cross-country skiing.

Learn more at the Visit Åland site.

Take a cruise from Vaasa

Credits: Jaakko Salo

Vaasa is the pearl of Finland’s coastal region. Boasting more than 20 cultural destinations within a kilometre’s reach of Market Square, it’s the Nordic energy capital and home to the Kvarken Archipelago, a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site. When visiting Vaasa, don’t forget to include a side-trip to Sweden! Wasaline ferries travel to the neighbouring town of Umeå, across the Kvarken strait, each day, making it possible for travellers to see two countries, two cities, and the astonishing Kvarken Archipelago all in one journey! The cruise line’s Aurora Botnia is equipped with the latest environmental technology and runs on climate-smart renewable fuel, and its cabins and public spaces are decorated using recycled materials, with table tops and counters made from recycled plastic and carpets containing fibres from old fishing nets.

Credits: Visit Porvoo

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Turku, Finland's oldest city, is a great destinati...