In commercial collaboration with Visit Päijänne and the European Agricultural Fund.
At the end of June, I and Joni (the guy with the yellow jacket in the picture below) planned to cycle the large ring route (132 km) from Hartola to Sysmä and back through Kammiovuori – the second highest point in southern Finland – and also to take a few photos for Visit Päjänne.
The road from Vääksy to Sysmä and the northern part of Lake Päijänne has been chosen as one of the most beautiful scenic routes in Finland and part of it is also on this cycle route.
On our first day, we started cycling around 2.40 p.m. and arrived at Vähäniemi beach a few kilometres from Sysmä at 9.40 p.m. We parked near the Itä-Häme Museum, where we found beautiful wooden buildings from the 1580s. We also discovered a suspension bridge built over the Tainionvirta River in the 1930s and is just 200 meters from the museum.
The entire route was easy to drive, and there was something to see too.
The highlights of this bike tour were:
- Pulkkilanharju ridge – Add 16 km to the original route. The Pulkkilanharju ridge is made up of islands connected by three bridges – one of which is a 175-meter steel suspension bridge.
- Vähäniemi beach was not officially part of the route and you have to add 14 km to the route to get there and back on the actual route. However, I definitely recommend staying there overnight. There is also a covered fire pit and a fire pit on the beach. Firewood can be bought for 5 EUR. There is also a beach volleyball net there.
- Sysmä – We had lunch here and stocked up on our provisions in one of the grocery stores. Here you can also see the Olavi Virta Memorial statue, a church, and the “moving stone”, which we did not visit. Several small bridges over Lake Päijänne from Sysmä to Kammiovuori.
- Kammiovuori (Kammerberg) – which we didn’t visit this time. However, we took a nice picture of it. However, the top of the “mountain” is well worth a visit as the scenery is great from above. There is also a seven-meter-high boulder called “Linta” and the cave of Hezekiah, named after a vagabond who hid there.
- Kalkkinen village with a wooden church from 1910. Kalkkinen is also an important place in the history of wobbler making in Finland.
I found cycling along the route quite relaxed as the route only went up and down gently. The road from Kammiovuori changed from asphalt to sand. You have to note that all restaurants are closed after 6 p.m., and there are no grocery stores on the way except in Sysmä, Kalkkinen, and Hartola. So pack enough food and water in your bags and enjoy a nice evening on Vähäniemi beach. It’s definitely a nice bike route, especially in June when the landscape is covered in flowers. It is probably also a great bike tour in autumn (Ruska), and it is definitely worth taking a few pictures of the landscape from the summit of Kammiovuori.
In commercial collaboration with Visit Kimitoön, Visit Salo, Visit Raseborg and Visit Hanko.
On this bicycle trip, I had the opportunity to visit Bengtskär – the biggest lighthouse in the Nordics. The route goes from Salo to Mathildedal, Dalsbruk, Kasnäs, Rosala, Bengtskär, Hanko, Raseborg and then back to Salo. It also includes transportation with ferries. You can also find my video about this trip on YouTube.
Salo – Rosala
My friend Dustin and I left Järvenpää early in the morning and travelled by train to Salo, where we got our bicycles which Carfield Bike Rental provided in Turku.
Initially, I was planning to take my own bicycle with me, but it seems that there was no free spot for bicycles on the train throughout the whole day. Therefore, I should have probably booked the train well in advance.
The weather forecast predicted rain for the coming days – where the first day of our trip should be the worst. There was even a storm warning for the Gulf of Finland.
We cycled around 30 km from Salo to Mathildedal and took us around 1.5 hours. We also passed by Teijo National Park, which I can recommend as we previously had our Packrafting meetup. Unfortunately, taking pictures during this part of the trip was limited due to the heavy rain. In fact, we wear soaking wet when we arrived in Mathildedal – a charming village between Salo and Kasnäs. We had lunch in Mathildedal Marina Restaurant, where we enjoyed the nice sea view while having our burgers with fries. The weather seems to get better now as it stopped raining.
We continued our bicycling trip at 3.15 pm in more dry conditions. Even so, it occasionally rained a bit.
The old Strömma Channel was built in 1844 to transport ore from the Koskinjoki river to Teijo. The new Strömma Channel was built in 1968, just 10 km west of the old one.
The other sight – the Dalsbruk Ironworks village – was founded in 1686 and active until 2012, and some parts have been restored in the early 2000s.
We finally reached Kasnäs at around 21.30, where we had dinner in Kasnäs pavilijong, which we enjoyed quite much since we didn’t have that many snacks with us and also run out of water.
Initially, we had planned to take a ferry from Kasnäs to Rosala. However, the last ferry left at 8.30 pm and we had to order a taxi boat which picked us up at around 22.00.
The taxi boat to Rosala took about 30 min, and Paul greeted us at the harbour that has built and maintains the Sebbholmen EcoCamp on the Island. He showed us our cabin and the sauna – located next to the sea – which we really enjoyed after a long and sometimes wet bicycle trip. The cabin was super cosy with a sea view, and we fell asleep at about 0.00 am. Then, at around 5.30 am, I got up to record nature sounds on the island.
I think we enjoyed most cycling the section between Dalsbruk and Kasnäs, and it was also quite impressive to cycle over the 473 meters long and 18 meters high Lövö bridge, which was opened in 2011 to replace the ferry. From the Lövö bridge, we had a fantastic view over the area.
Rosala – Bengtskär – Hanko
We woke up at 8 am after a great sleep in our wooden hut. We packed our bags and went with our bikes to the Viking Center in Rosala, where we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast and learned a little about the history of the Vikings in this area. The Viking Center displays the findings of the Vikings on Rosala, and we visited reconstructed houses and even a Viking ship.
The food was excellent, and we also had our lunch in the Viking Center – Sweet Potato Soup with self-made Pesto and Sour Cream and a Salad buffet. The staff was amicable too, and we were told that over 100 people live in Rosala throughout the year while some only work on Rosala for shorter periods. There was also a guided tour as the Viking Center is basically an open-air museum. There was also a nice souvenir shop where we found different items related to the Vikings and the Archipelago.
Our ferry to Bengtskär left at 12.50, and it took us about 50 min to reach the island, which is located in the open sea. First, the lighthouse was just a tiny spot in the far distance, but the closer we came, it turned out that it was quite a massive construction.
Climbing up the lighthouse was also an experience. On the different windows, there were mini-exhibitions which made the climb up more interesting. However, it was quite warm on the top as we were surrounded by glass, so we decided not to spend too much time there.
When I visited Örö – a fantastic island with beautiful nature and rich military history – I saw huge canons built in Russia and used to protect Bengtskär during the war. The lighthouse on Bengtskär still has visible marks from the war.
After visiting the Lighthouse, we spent the remaining hour on the rocks, where I also found old carvings. Finally, we left Bengtskär at 3 pm with MS Summersea (Marine Lines) towards Hanko, arriving at 4.30 pm. On the ferry, we ate ice cream, and they also grilled sausages which were sold for 2 EUR.
Once we arrived in Hanko – Hotel Boulevard – a boutique hotel where we got a cell in the old police station, we went to our hotel.
Then we visited the Hanko Water Tower, which offered a great view of the entire city and the sea. The entrance fee was just 2 EUR.
We had our dinner at Restaurant Origo, which offers an Eastern Harbour warehouse atmosphere and classy archipelago food. They also had two options for vegetarians – a vegetarian burger and risotto with chanterelles and Rucola salad.
After dinner, we went with our bicycles to the Spa park to see the old beautiful villas. One of the staff in the water tower told us that the best way to explore Hanko is actually by bicycle.
Then we continued to the Bellevue beach, where we spotted a carousel in the sea. The water was also clear, and there was an inviting beach bar. Next, we visited Hanko Casino, a beautiful wooden restaurant with a nice fountain and beach in front of it. There were also 2 canons, a midsummer pole and traditional changing rooms at the beach.
The Hanko coastal battery was active during the Second World War. They were built to shoot down German dive bombers and to protect the beaches. We had a fantastic view of the sea from this place, and it was a good spot for photography too!
As it was getting late, we decided to go back to our hotel to have a good sleep as we have to cycle to Raseborg the next day, which is about 43 km away.
Hanko – Raseborg
After a delicious breakfast in Hotel Boulevard, we went to Hanko Museum at around 9.30 am, closed on Mondays. After that, we decided to bicycle to Bellevue Beach and visit the House of the four winds – located at the end of the beach – which is famous for previously being owned by former Finnish Marshall Mannerheim. Nowadays, it‘s a Cafe with a fantastic view of the sea and even an old coastal battery.
We continued our trip to Raseborg and came across a Soviet war memorial that won an award in 1969 as the most beautiful Soviet war memorial outside of the Soviet Union.
Just a few kilometres further, we visited shortly the chapel of Täktom, which was built in 1920 and then continued our way through Raseborg. Pine trees mainly covered the landscape, and at some point, we passed by a 4 km line of boulders which forms the Harparskog Defense line and consists of 12.000 boulders which should protect against tanks. We also saw a bunker on the way, and there was also the front museum which was unfortunately closed on Mondays.
(Picture: Dustin Ehalt Photography)
When we arrived in Raseborg, we checked into Hotel Seafront, located about 1 km from the old town consisting of wooden buildings and the Ekenäs church built in 1680 in Neoclassical architecture. I also visited shortly Sonjan Herkku – a small store offering local specialities. The store is divided into three rooms – one for sweet products, one for salty products, and one with mixed products.
We bought ice cream and walked along the guest harbour, where we found a couple of restaurants such as Restaurant GY Fyren where we had our dinner. We ordered “Confited quail thigh, fried quail breast, and local spelt and gravy“ and as a vegetarian option “Spinach fritters with grilled zucchini and tomato sauce flavoured with black garlic“. We had “Glazed rhubarb bavaroise with elder cream“ and “Lemon meringue pie and sherbet made of sorrel“for dessert.
After dinner, we went to Ramsholmen and Högholmen – two islands near the old town – which were special as the trees were quite different from the other trees we found in the area because of the different soil. On Ramsholmen, we discovered a nice sand beach, and at the end of Högholmen, we found a nice spot on a cliff to watch the sunset.
Raseborg – Salo
The next morning we had breakfast in Hotel Seafront, packed our bags and took a shortcut to Salo which is 43 km away from Salo. This section was much easier to cycle than the long section on the first day, and we felt relaxed when we arrived in Salo. On the first day, we were told by a local to try one baguette at the market square just next to the bridge, and they were delicious. We returned our bicycles to Hotel Fjalar and walked back to the train station.
To summarise, this trip was quite interesting – especially the section between Kasnäs and Raseborg offers nice scenery and history. Mathildedal is also very nice!
What could be better? The first day should probably be split into two days as it is too far if you also plan to take pictures and have some breaks. There could be more details on the map on what to see (natural or historical sights), especially between the sections from Salo to Kasnäs and Raseborg/Salo. Otherwise, it was fun!
At Lake Pihlajavesi I cycled the 80km long test bike path from Punkaharju to Vuoriniemi, Uitonniemi, Pellossalo, Kulennoinen and back to Punkaharju.
Lake Pihlajavesi is the sixth largest lake in Finland, and the route has been divided into two routes. First, we cycled 33 km from Hiekanniemi to Pellosalo. Then we continued by ferry from Pellosalo to Uitonsalmi and from there on to Vuoriniemi and back to Punkaharju.
The highlights of the route were the:
- Punkaharju nature reserve, where we cycled along an Osers in the lake.
- remains of the Kuikonniemi fortress, which was part of the Salpa line in the continuation of the war between the Soviet Union and Finland between 1941 and 1944.
- Kuikonniemi beach for swimming.
- ferry ride between Pellosalo and Uitonsalmi.
- strawberry cake and the view of the Pihlajavesi lake from the summer café Tynkkylän Lomaniemi.
- Finnish Forest Museum Lusto (not visited)
The section from Uitonsalmi to the Finnish National Road No. 14 was not that exciting (except the summer café). The first few kilometres from Pellosalo were quite sandy and slippery (with the wrong tires).
Archipelago route in Puumala
The archipelago route in Puumala is a 60km long route opened in 2017, and I liked the landscape very much because you can see the lake more often, and the landscape changes a bit. There are also several Oser and bridges that we crossed by bike from which we had a great view.
What I liked best about this bicycle route was the:
- boat trip with the Norppa II ferry from Hurissalo to Lintusalo Island, which you have to book in advance. During the 40 minute crossing, which costs around 15 EUR, we passed many small islands and were also able to see a very rare bird’s nest in one of the treetops.
- ferry from Hätinvirta to Puumala is free.
- small wooden bridge with the river in the Sahanlahti Resort.
- pizza in the Satama restaurant in Puumala.
- pistohiekka beach with a great view of the lake. You can walk quite far into the lake without the lake getting much deeper.
- oser and bridges from which you have a great view.
- very good signage for the cycle path.
- view from the bridge at the Lietveden Kiosk.
Turku Archipelago Trail
In 2016 I was cycling from Turku along the 250 km Turku Archipelago Trail. The whole trip took me 27 hours to complete, and I have spent 1 night in my tent near the ferry harbour leaving from Kustavi.
My first stop was the church in Raisio. Then the trail continued over the Särkänsalmen bridge, which offered a nice view over the sea. There were so many bridges on this trail that you don’t have to rush to get a good picture from any of those bridges. Then I came across a bird tower just after Raisio, and I decided to explore it a bit.
The neoclassical Askaisten Church was the next highlight on The Turku Archipelago Trail, which dated back from the 17th century and was the chapel of the Louhisaari Manor where the Mannerheim family used to live. The church is also part of the oldest tourist route in Finland – the Seven Churches Tour.
Next to the Askaisten Church is the ‘Askaisten Ritaripuisto’ – or The Knights’ Park, founded in 2007 to honour the Finnish war veterans. The stone shows the Mannerheim Cross.
My trip continued to Kustavi along with fields and bridges. Fortunately, the full moon lightened up the night, so it was not too dark to cycle. However, the road felt dangerous to cycle at night as quite a few cars were passing by at very high speed. Once I arrived nearby the Hepponiemi ferry at 12 pm, I decided to pitch a tent nearby the street as the first ferry was about to leave at around 8 am.
The next morning I woke up at 7 am. I packed my tent and my other gear into my bicycle bags and cycled to the harbour.
When I arrived in Hepponimi harbour, there were already quite a few cars queuing to get onto the ferry to Iniö. There were only 2 other people with their bicycles. Once I went on board, I discovered that there was also a cafe. Unfortunately, it was closed for the whole trip. Transportation, however, was free of charge.
From Hepponimi to Kannvik, it felt a bit cold and windy, but I always like to be on the sea and really enjoyed it. At Kannvik harbour were only a few cars queuing for the ferry. Once I arrived in Kannvik, I cycled straight to the next ferry point. There were no significant sights or attractions on the way. At some ferry bridges, there was a box with a button to call the ferry.
In Iniö, there was an old farmhouse and the Iniö church built in the 18th century. A sailing ship hanging from the church ceiling – a quite common feature across the churches in this region (also in Sweden). Maypoles were also a common feature on The Turku Archipelago Trail. At Iniö Landhandel, I had my breakfast. A group of motorcycle riders from the previous ferry were also there. I ordered tea and had a pastry – also called Wiener in Finland.
Ferries were leaving from two different locations – I took the one to Houtskari and paid 15 EUR to get on my bicycle onto the ferry. There was also a cafe on board. Then I arrived in Mossala.
Again there was a nice maypole and an old windmill. I have seen the same kind of windmill already in different places in Western Finland. The next ferry went from Mossala to Björkö. Again free of charge.
At 1 pm I felt a bit hungry and decided to have lunch in the Pub Pelago in Houtskari. I ordered a Halloumi salad and paid 9.80 EUR. There was also a bigger portion available for 15 EUR, and it was really delicious. They are also selling burgers.
After lunch, I continued cycling in Björkö. One ferry employee told me that the population is 80% Swedish and 20% Finnish speaking on these islands. From Kivimio, I took the next ferry to Roslax. And then the ferry from Houtskär to Korpo, which was one of the longer ferry trips. After those ferry trips, I finally arrived in Nagu (or Nauvo), visiting the local church. Again, a sailing ship attached to the church’s ceiling is a common feature in churches in this area. The Nagu church was built in the 1400-century.
Nagu is the biggest town on the islands and has a nice harbour with plenty of restaurants. There was also a Tourist Information at the harbour in Nouvo.
After having bought some snacks in the local grocery store, I decided to continue my bicycle trip. Only 60 km left to Turku. Initially, I have planned another night in a tent but decided to cycle back home on the same day. I took another ferry from Parainen to Nauvo and passed the Kirjalansalmen bridge, probably the most impressive bridge on this trail.
I really enjoyed this bicycle trip, but I would only recommend the part from Kustavi to Turku. The part between Turku and Kustavi is not that exciting except the city of Naantali (one of the highlights on this trip) and maybe the Askainen Knights Park and Louhisaari Manor (which I did not visit).
Moreover, I was cycling quite fast, so you should probably add another day to your itinerary if you plan to cycle The Turku Archipelago Trail. It might also be a good idea to spend a few days on the islands to explore them or relax, especially if the scenery is new for you.