Where the gaze may freely wander along wind-swept islets, where the barren meets the beautiful and the dramatic twists and turns of history live in perfect harmony with romanticism. Where small villages are alive with a unique archipelago atmosphere. There lies an archipelago that has remained hidden from many and is becoming one of the most attractive travel destinations in southern Finland. We welcome you to enjoy the gorgeous archipelago of the Eastern Gulf of Finland in Kotka, Hamina, Loviisa, Pyhtää and Virolahti!
Kaunissaari Island is the most popular tourist attraction at sea in Southeastern Finland – and has been that ever since the 1950s. In Finnish, ‘kaunis’ means ‘beautiful’ and ‘saari’ translates as ‘island’, and this island sure is beautiful.
Here, the old harbor bay is lined with red beach storehouses and boathouses. Idyllic fishermen’s huts with their gardens and narrow alleyways invite you to breathe in the atmosphere of the 1930s fishing community, a time this rustic archipelago village reminds you of. The island is covered with fine maritime pine forests shaped by the winds. The long sandy beaches on the northern and eastern shores invite you for leisurely relaxation and water games.
Hiking is a great way of seeing the island. On the shore of the harbor bay there is an archipelago museum displaying an interesting collection of items that tell a story about life, and the people, on the island. A shop, a café, sales outlets for smoked fish and handicrafts and the legendary restaurant Kaunissaaren Maja offer opportunities for enjoying delicious food and purchasing souvenirs.
Svartholm Sea Fortress outside Loviisa was built in the 1750s and suffered great damage during the Crimean War. In the 1960s, the Finnish Heritage Agency began to restore the fortress, commonly known as the little sister of the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress just outside Helsinki.
The Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park is located in the outer archipelago. The national park includes over a hundred islands and islets that are known particularly for their birdlife and military history. The largest islands are Kilpisaari, Ristisaari, Ulko-Tammio, Mustaviiri and Pitkäviiri.
The main island of the national park is Ulko-Tammio, where the only sheltered harbor in the national park is located. Ulko-Tammio is also a significant site in terms of military history where one can see many remains from a World War II fortress and fortifications. You can find out about the military history of Ulko-Tammio by taking a tour along the nature path. There are also two cannons that have been restored to their posts along the nature path. Ulko-Tammio can be accessed from Sapokka in Kotka on summer weekends.
The natural park offers magnificent experiences for birdwatchers. The migration of arctic birds every spring is one of the most spectacular events in birdlife. A flock of millions of migrating birds in all its glory can be seen in southeastern Finland, and its main route passes right over the national park.
To secure your sea adventure, book a ticket on a cruise by Meriset. There is a free ferry that goes once a day in high season, but during the summer it often happens that there isn’t room for everyone on board. If you visit during spring or autumn, there is plenty of room on the ferry but it goes only a few times a week.