Finland: The Pearls of the Gulf of Bothnia – Southwest Islands and the Town of Uusikaupunki
These small and scarcily inhabited islands belong under the national parks of Archipelago, Selkämeri, Kurjenrahka and Teijo. A number of non-profit organizations take care of nature protection, development of tourist industry. The most important of these is Metsähallitus which operates across Finland.
These islands have great conditions to observe birds. Ocassionaly you can spot sea lions here. People who love tourism, geocaching, and other free time activities will like it here. Weather here is usualy nice (sunny, warm weather in spring and summer is not unusual). However, wind is strong.
Great point to start exploring the island is Uusikaupunki, quiet port town. Its name is really hard, even impossible to pronounce. This town is about 70 kilometers northwest from Turku. Around 20 thousand people live in the area. Visit a church near the port. It is worth your time for it shows how people here are linked to the sea. Its interior is simple. We found interesting wooden arches and columns. Detailed ship models add to its atmosphere. Metsähallitus organization organizes cruises to nearby islands.
Regular sea lines can get you to one of the most interesting islands in the area - Isokari. The red and white lighthouse is its prominent feature. It is 49 meters high and it still works. Isokari lighthouse is the second highest lighthous in Finland. At the present, there is a small museum. Visitors can learn about the history of the island and also about daily operations of the lighthouse. A beautiful vista waits for you and to see it you need to climb stairs. Then you will enjoy the view of cliffs and glittering water surface. There used to be a military garrison for over 200 years on Isokari. Its orders were to guard surrounding islands and control ships entering Finish waters. Cozy wooden buildings which were used by the soldiers stationed here are still used as accommodation facilities.
Wooden cabins are typical in the area. These can be also found on Vekara isle which is about one hour of boat ride away from Uusikaupunki. Only one family has been living on the island for generations. They are descendants of seamen. Together with volunteers and people who protect nature they work on keeping the island in its original shape.
I recommend to plan your trip into the area for spring or the beginning of autumn. Local weather resembles the one in central Europe yet you need to be ready for strong wind. In the period from June to August, we can enjoy bit longer day than in central Europe there. Early in August, sun sets as late as eleven p.m. So sit down at your computer and plan your spring or summer vacation.
The southeast coast of Finland is easy to access for tourists who have no other means of transport but public tranport. For instance, you can quite fast and comfortable get from Helsinki to the town of Uusikaupunki having a transfer at Tampere. Generally one can say that trains are more expensive than buses in Finland. Moreover, it is recommended to buy tickets in advance on the internet. Finish railways often offer limited tickets for a very affordabel price. The website for train search (as many other internet websites relevant for travelers) is also available in English.
GPS: (Uusikaupunki) 60°48'26.5"N 21°24'10.8"E
Text and photos: Martina Kotorová
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