Finland offers beautiful countryside, rich culture and history, rugged seashores, fresh food and so much more. If you’re looking to escape the city of Helsinki for a few days, consider heading West out of Helsinki to the Archipelago region for some beautiful scenery and adventure.
As you head West out of Helsinki, I highly recommend a stop at Nuuskio National Park for a morning hike. The woods are a quick 40 minute drive out of the city and offer a peaceful retreat from the tall buildings and crowds. This is the closest forest to the city and has some beautiful trails to explore ranging from 2 km to 110 km. The park is rich with life, trees, and lakes. It is wrong to visit Finland and not explore one of its many enchanted forests.
The Raseborg Castle ruins also make a fantastic stop which take you off of the main roads and into rich farmland. The castle is only open for tours during the summer high season, but is worth checking out if it’s along your route.
This lovely small village is located along a crystal clear river and is home to a vibrant art and craft scene. This is where the Fiskars high quality cookware is made. In addition, there are many studios open to the public during the high season. This is a great place to do some shopping for locally made Finnish goods. Take your time strolling through the streets and studios. Fiskars is a small village, but offers a lot. Meander along the river banks, side streets, and back dirt roads. Take your time here! You could easily spend a few hours to a day or two here.
While here, stop in at Cafe Antique for a coffee and cinnamon bun. If you’re interested in tasting some local spirits, check out Agras Distillery, Fiskars Brewery, or Kuura Cider house. All worth checking out. I am a big fan of Kuura and their ciders are made from 100% Finnish apples.
Turku is a fantastic city and the oldest in Finland. Turku is home to a university and a vibrant community offering fantastic food, nightlife, museums, and scenery. The highlights of Turku are the River Aura running through the downtown, the Turku Castle, and the Cathedral. The area offers a rich history and is known as a popular summer destination. Spend some time strolling along the River Aura. The picturesque river is lined with pretty parks, benches, and outdoor cafes. A favorite in Turku are the riverboats along the older side of the River Aura (side of the Cathedral). These are a popular summer destination for eating and drinking and a must while visiting Turku.
A dining essential in Turku is Ravintola Smör, located right along the River Aura. Go with an appetite and try everything! The food is fresh, unique, and fantastic.
The city of Rauma is home to Finland’s most famous historic wooden town. Old Town Rauma, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a beautiful district of the city filled with cobblestone streets and small shops and boutiques. Rauma is famous for its bobbin lace making. Stop in at the Lace makers association’s shop Pits-Priia (Kauppakatu 29) to check out their beautiful products and watch a traditional bobbin lace maker.
I recommend taking the water taxi out to the Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse island. This is a great way to see the archipelago and there is a delicious restaurant at the lighthouse. There is also a Kiikartorni Lookout Tower in the harbor which offers spectacular views o of the archipelago.
While in Rauma, do not miss Wanhan Rauman Kellari. The cellar was originally built as an air-raid shelter and potato cellar and has been a restaurant since 1967. Wanhan has a great atmosphere and excellent food. Rauma is also known for lapskoussi (lobscouse casserole with tender meat, vegetables, and seasoning), gingerbread, and vanilla donuts. Stop at Kontio Cafe in Old Rauma for some gingerbread and vanilla donuts!