The archipelago off Helsinki consists of around 330 islands for all kinds of discovery and adventure
The June holidays are near. Summer excitement in the Nordic region begins. Everyone gets excited because sunshine is celebrated after months of dark, cold winters. The waters and islands of Finland are just waiting to be a part of the fun.
Pihlajasaari is the most popular island among Helsinkians to spend a sunny summer’s day. The island is famous for its picturesque sandy beaches, as well as its rocks on the other side of the island, both of which offer great spots for sunbathers and swimmers. The island is perfect for day-long picnics but, if you want a day off from the kitchen, then you can enjoy the delicacies of the restaurant Pihlajasaari.
Kaunissaari is situated on the crest of the high seas and provides amazing views. In fact, the island is one of the farthest islands from the city, with the ferry trip lasting around 40 minutes. The island is known for its long beaches and rich fishing grounds. The diversity of flora and fauna is also impressive and many campers head to the island to enjoy them.
Vartiosaari’s history is very intriguing. It is believed that the island was used as a guard ground to warn locals of imminent attacks during the Viking Age. A warning fire was lit on a rocky hill that soars to 32 metres above sea level. A thousand years later, the island has become a popular site among Helsinki’s bourgeoisie, who built villas there. Nowadays, the opulent berry and mushroom crops attract visitors during the summer and autumn months. The winter creates a superb setting for skiers and skaters.
Seurasaari is one of the few islands you can reach by foot. One of its exceptional features is its open-air museum in which the traditional Finnish way of life is celebrated. The houses, manors and outbuildings have all been relocated from around Finland. There are currently 87 separate buildings that offer a glimpse into Finnish countryside life from the 18th to the 20th century.
You might have heard that Finland is ‘the land of a thousand lakes’, but did you know that Finland also has a coastline strewn with tens of thousands of islands? Finland’s Baltic coast is a perfect travel destination for anyone looking for a sailing experience with a difference.
The Finnish coastline stretches from the eastern Gulf of Finland to the western edges of the Åland islands and then north to the far end of the Gulf of Botnia. The shortest route to cover the whole coast is a mere 660 nautical miles. But what miles those are!
Discover Fishing and Nature
Time spent on the water is, of course, what you like most about sailing, and so here you are in for a treat. No two minutes will be the same – in the Finnish sea waters you are actively sailing all the time: get a thrill out of trimming the sails as the wind and your course constantly change and practice your navigational skills along a total of over 10,000 km of marked channels as you brush past some of the 80,000 islands! And never even think about putting on the autopilot because taking the helm is so much fun.
If you are not preoccupied with the sailing, simply sit back and enjoy the endless variations of the scenery. Close to the mainland lush green forests and colourful holiday homes line your route. Further out to sea, you can spot the traditional red and yellow wooden houses of fisherman and farmer villages, nestling in the shelter between the smooth cliffs and patches of forest.
Furthest out, towards the Baltic, the islands become mere windblown, barren cliffs, homes to wildlife such as birds and seals. And don’t forget to look up to spot the most majestic of the animals in the archipelago, the white-tailed sea eagle, with wings like barn doors, that slowly circles overhead looking for prey.
Village Life in the Archipelago
One of the 240 marinas and guest harbours along the coast and on the Åland islands will be waiting for you, regardless of how you plan your day.
Some of the marinas are located on islands that have been inhabited for centuries by people living off the sea and the rugged land. If you stay overnight, don’t miss the chance to stroll through the nearest village and get a feeling for the courage and determination needed to live out in archipelago.
Other marinas are very modern and built with the discerning customer in mind. The service level of all marinas is high: free water, and power and clean washing facilities, with a sauna are standard, naturally. Most are very affordable – a night in marina is typically around 20 € per boat, including services.
Once the boat is secured and you’ve recovered your land legs, you can enjoy dinner on your boat in the warm and light summer night, or give the cook a day off and head to a nearby restaurant. Afterwards you can just stroll along the shore and drop in for a coffee or a drink in a café or bar.
Regardless of whether you are a hard-core sailor – looking for challenges out on the water – or an explorer of new places, Finland can offer you an unforgettable sailing experience.
Archipelago Community in Högsåra
Thanks to its central location in the Hiittinen archipelago, Högsåra has been known for its community of maritime pilots throughout its history. Entire families of pilots lived on the island, as skills were passed on from father to son.
Relax and Unwind
Högsåra is conveniently accessible by a ferry that also allows cars and bicycles, and the 20-minute ride gives one an immediate taste of the relaxed pace of life on the island.
Visitors can continue by foot or bicycle from the harbour, and enjoy the understated charm of the Högsåra village. Cows and sheep saunter on the fields and lie resting on hot days. As cyclists breeze past, the animals follow the resulting dust clouds with their eyes.
The island’s number one meeting spot and the archipelago’s most famous cafe is the charming Farmors Cafe (”grandmother’s cafe” in Swedish). The warm scent of its baked goods wafts into the surroundings, tempting cyclists as they pass by.
Information and photographs courtesy of Visit Finland. Photographers: Riku Pihlanto, Juho Kuva, Kimmo Brandt.
Fly There on Finnair
Finnair brings Nordic flavours by Signature Chef Tommy Myllymäki for Singapore-Helsinki Route
To celebrate the 8th anniversary of its Singapore-Helsinki route, Finnair is launching its new summer menu, created in consultation with their signature chef, Tommy Myllymäki.
The new menu will be available to customers flying the Singapore-Helsinki route on business class from 6 June to 5 September 2019.
Swedish Tommy Myllymäki, has been a Finnair Signature Chef since 2017. Myllymäki has been nominated chef of the year in Sweden, is the creative director for five Stockholm restaurants and has represented Sweden with great success in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition.
The dish created by Chef Tommy Myllymäki will be served on Finnair’s Midnight Menu as a starter course – a salmon tartar, served with marinated mushrooms, fresh trout roe and sprinkled with fried onion.
Alongside this dish, mains of pan-seared perch with chilli-lemongrass sauce, bok choy in Balinese sauce and rice with sweet potatoes; and braised beef cheek with red wine sauce and mashed potatoes with truffle, carrots and pearl onions will be served. Kikorangi blue cheese and Brie will accompany the courses, and a choice between ice cream, petit fours or fresh fruits are offered as dessert options.
“I am very excited to be continuing this collaboration with Finnair on their Singapore-Helsinki route, and to be creating this special dish for their summer menu. Seasonality is key for me, and I’ve always enjoyed working with Nordic ingredients and flavours,” says Tommy Myllymäki.