Driving the Archipelago Trail in Finland

Image of Bunny in Peterzens
Image of sailboat

What Is It?

The Archipelago Trail (Saariston Rengastie) in Finland’s southwestern corner is a circular route across the islands, islets and skerries that make up the Turku archipelago in the Baltic Sea. It comprises approximately 200 kilometres of driving, a number of bridges and eight short journeys by different vessels, including commuter ferries.

The Archipelago Trail is open from late May to late August and is doable by car, motorcycle or bicycle. The trail starts in historical city of Turku and continues through the unique patchwork of beautiful islands.

Image courtesy of www.saaristonrengastie.fi

The Archipelago Trail does not have any magnificent sights or must-do activities. It is all about exploring the remote countryside, admiring the quiet beauty and pristine nature, taking it easy and appreciating life in the slow lane.

The scenery is dominated by the Baltic Sea but offers surprising variety as well. Bunny particularly loved the smooth hills and mini-cliffs that are typical to the Turku archipelago and the results of erosion when the last Ice Age withdrew.

Going Against the Flow

People usually drive or cycle the Archipelago Trail clockwise. Surprise-surprise, Bunny went counter-clockwise. She could not find any convincing reasons for not doing so. In fact, many tourist brochures mention that the trail can be tackled in both directions.

Read below about Bunny’s 2,5-day exploration of the Archipelago Trail, where she stayed, what she saw and how she liked her adventure.

Day 1: From Turku to Kustavi (1h 15 minutes, 83km)

Image of Kustavi church

After having made her way to Turku, Finland’s oldest city, Bunny started on the Archipelago Trail towards Naantali. That is where the President of Finland (Bunny is not a fan) spends his summers so it must not be too shabby, Bunny thought.

Unfortunately, Naantali was way too busy for Bunny who couldn’t even find a proper parking place in town even on a Wednesday. So, Bunny decided to leave Naantali for another time. She did make use of the grocery shops in town, though, and bought some nice picnic fare to be enjoyed later on the trail.

Driving the Archipelago Trail counter-clockwise, the beginning towards Merimasku, Lieranta and Mietoinen is typical, slightly boring, Finnish countryside, lots of fields with a farm house thrown in here and there. The first sea views start just after Taivassalo. Now it was starting to feel like an archipelago route, Bunny thought.

Please note that Bunny is using the Finnish names for all the towns along the Archipelago Trail. They also have Swedish names as most of them are Swedish-speaking communities. Screw that, Bunny says. She was forced to study Swedish at school for a number of tragic years and has a bone to pick about that. This is her revenge.


Bunny got to experience the essentials in Kustavi: Alko (government-licensed booze retailer) and the church. There is not much else in this small community.

The scenery is beautiful though, particularly around Lootholma, which offers a guest harbor, camping site, some impressive looking cottages (and yurtas, for some reason), a couple of saunas and beaches as well as some activities.

Image of Bunny in Lootholma
Image of old ship


Bunny stayed in Peterzens, about a 15-minute drive from the so-called centre of Kustavi. Peterzens is another guest harbor, with some modest, but cute, “boat house” accommodation available. Peterzens also has a lovely restaurant, some design shops and other activities on offer, including mini-put (Bunny did not partake).

Bunny loved the restaurant’s big terrace where she sat for hours with a bottle of chilled Pinot Grigio, watching the world (and boats) go by. 

Image of Peterzens

The accommodation was small, but just fine. Each cabin was fitted with a mini-bar fridge, modest TV, toilet and sink but no shower. In true Finnish style, guests had to avail themselves of a common but segregated shower and sauna area. That sounds rough but had its positives: steps from the sauna you could jump from a raised platform or gently descent wooden steps into the Baltic Sea. Return to the sauna and repeat. You will never sleep better.

Image of Bunny in Peterzens
Image of boathouse

Day 2: From Kustavi to Nauvo (4h 45mins, 80km)

On the morning of the second day, Bunny discovered another advantage of staying at Peterzens: it was a three-minute drive from the ferry harbor. Handy indeed.

Heponiemi - Kannvik Ferry

The ferry from Heponiemi (Kustavi) to Kannvik (Iniö) was Bunny’s first on the Archipelago Trail.

Driving to the harbor, she was a bit taken aback by the long line of cars ahead of her. There were two lines, in fact, the one on the right for visitors, such as herself, and the one on the left for islanders, who had priority. Bunny was afraid there were too many cars ahead of her but luckily the ferry proved quite spacious.

There was no payment, the Bunnies just drove onto the ferry and they were on their way. Onboard the ferry, even though it was a short journey, only 25 minutes, most people left their cars. There was a small kiosk on the upper deck that sold snacks and drinks (and accepted credit cards). Bunny enjoyed an ice-cream whilst observing the Turku archipelago basking in the morning sunlight.

Image of Heponiemi

Here's the timetable for the Heponiemi-Kannvik ferry:


In Kannvik, the Bunnies drove out of the ferry and followed the main (read: the only) road for five minutes before arriving at another ferry landing.

Jumo - Skagen Ferry

The next ferry from Jumo to Skagen was just a little hop over to the next island. The process seemed fully automated to Bunny. There were traffic lights indicating which lane of the ferry would be filled first and the drivers dutifully followed the lights. Bunny didn’t see anyone actually operating the ferry but assumed that it did not move solely on its own.

The journey took less than five minutes and it was again free of charge. There is no timetable for this ferry as it operates on an on-demand basis. The Bunnies didn’t have to wait for more than five minutes.

Image of Bunny on the ferry
Image of traffic lights

From Skagen, it was another short drive, perhaps five minutes, to the other side of the island to Dalen to take a longer ferry ride.

Dalen - Mossala Ferry

The Archipelago Trail exists thanks to the Antonia ferry that plies the Dalen - Mossala route. It was not possible to do a circular route around the archipelago before this ferry started operating.

Antonia was the only ferry that the Bunnies had to pay for: 40 euros for the car and the two of them, payable when driving onto the ferry (credit cards accepted). There was also another, much smaller, ferry in the same port at the same time, so make sure you enter the right one, Bunny says.

The journey to Mossala lasted for almost an hour and Bunny spent it in the small, on-deck cafe admiring the scenery. For those with small bladders, there was also a bathroom onboard.

Here’s the timetable of the Dalen-Mossala ferry:


The Mossala island resort just outside the ferry landing looked like a pleasant place to stay, with various services and options for activities. Bunny decided to drive on as she wanted to make good progress and arrive at her destination with plenty of daylight to save.

Image of Dalen
Image of Mossala island resort

The drive from Mossala to Mossala E was nice but short. There was a beautiful farmhouse community, including an old windmill, on the way to the ferry landing.

Mossala E - Björkö Ferry

This was another automated quickie. The Bunnies didn’t have to wait at all, the ferry left right after they drove in, with just one other car on the ferry with them. Two minutes later, they were in Björkö. Bunny noted very nice boathouses on both sides of the channel. There was also Pub Pelago greeting thirsty passengers right in the port.

Image of boathouses

After a ten-minute drive, another short ferry ride awaited.

Kivimo - Roslax Ferry

This was a very quick ferry from Kivimo to Roslax, operating on demand.

After the ferry, the drive continues towards Kittuis for about 15 minutes. There was a not-too-well-signposted crossroads shortly after the ferry landing. You will need to turn right, to the direction of Turku. Bunny didn’t. There were no signs indicating the right direction for the ferry and she somehow (Mr. Bunny loves this word; things somehow always go wrong for Bunny) assumed she should go towards Houtskari town centre. It took Bunny a while to realise her mistake, but thanks to the map she had snagged earlier on the trip, she soon corrected the error of her ways.

So, the Bunnies turned around and made it to the next ferry landing in Kittuis on time, only to learn that the ferry was too full to accommodate them. This was the first and only ferry the Bunnies missed whilst on the trail. It was no biggie, though, because the next ferry would follow in 1,5 hours.

Image of Houtskari
Image of Houtskari

The Bunnies left their parked car in the queue and visited a little Cafe Grill in the harbour to get some refreshments. Cafe Grill had a small terrace with sea views and Bunny’s idea was to sit in the sun and enjoy a couple of cold drinks whilst waiting for the next ferry. Unbelievably, the only drinks available were alcoholic ones. Bunny was forced to have a cold cider, which meant that Mr. Bunny would be the designated driver for the rest of the day. Mr. Bunny was duly delighted.

Kittuis - Galtby Ferry

The Bunnies easily fit on the next ferry, which was the biggest one yet they had seen on the trail. It had a nice, air-conditioned cafe with a lovely smell of freshly-baked Cinnabons filling the space.

It was a pleasure to sit inside for the next 40 minutes, observing the archipelago float by outside. And all this free of charge again. Bunny was pleasantly surprised by this aspect of the Archipelago Trail. Apparently, the world’s highest taxes paid by the poor working Finns are good for something after all.

In Korppoo, Bunny decided on a little side trip before continuing towards her final destination of Nauvo. She wanted to see St. Michael’s, one of the oldest churches in Finland. The construction of the stone church with a beautiful vaulted ceiling began in the 13th century. The Bunnies were the only ones inside the church and took their time admiring it, including the fascinating images painted on the walls. It was a lovely atmospheric stop on the Archipelago trail.

Image of Korppoo church
Image of Korppoo church

Back on the trail, (turn left just outside the ferry landing where the traffic signs point to Turku) the Bunnies headed for Retais for their final ferry of the day.

Here’s the timetable of the Kittius-Galtby ferry:


Retais - Pärnäs Ferry

This was another quick, five-minute ferry journey from Korppoo to Nauvo where Bunny had reserved accommodation for her second night on the Archipelago Trail. The ferry operates on demand, so there is no timetable. The Bunnies didn’t have to wait at all, it was all very easy and smooth.


Nauvo is one of the bigger towns along the trail. It is replete with grocery stores, shops and restaurants and even a little boardwalk, making it a very pleasant place to stop and even spend a day.

Image of Nauvo guest harbour

Guest Harbour

In Nauvo, the Bunnies stayed in Hotel Strandbo. It could not have been better located: right in the middle of the town’s picturesque guest harbor.

Ferries to the Seili Island, famous for its former leper colony, were leaving practically from the hotel’s doorstep. A number of restaurants, bars and shops were also just around the corner.

The hotel itself was cute and tiny. Bunny’s room was quite nice but small and extremely hot due to the very rare heatwave Finland was enjoying during Bunny’s trip.

Image of Bunny in Nauvo
Image of ice-cream
Image of hotel Strandbo

Bunny was impressed with Nauvo in general. Sure, it was a small town but it has plenty to do: boat trips, stand-up paddling, bicycle rental, kayak tours, swimming, shopping… Amidst all this choice, Bunny engaged in her favourite past time activity: bathing in idleness.

Well, at least she hopped around the guest harbour, devoured an excellent veggie pizza at Najaden Bar & Pizzeria and downed a couple of drinks in one of the beach bars.

The next morning, she also had a brief cultural moment and went to check out the Nauvo grey stone church. This medieval church, with a small cemetery around it, was beautiful, albeit quite dark and sombre (perhaps it was just because they didn’t have the lights on?).

Day 3: Final Stretch from Nauvo to Turku (1h 15 mins, 60km)

The Bunnies last (half) day included a short drive back to Turku. The distance from Nauvo to Turku is approximately 60 km and the stretch includes only one quick ferry ride.

Bunny thought about going kayaking or cycling in Nauvo but the weather suddenly stopped cooperating, turning quite nasty and rainy, so she decided to head back home instead.

Bunny bought fresh strawberries for the road and headed towards Turku in a constant drizzle.

Prostvik - Lillmälö Ferry

Bunny’s last ferry ride on the Archipelago Trail took her from Nauvo to Parainen. It was a well-organised and large ferry though the ride lasted only about 15 minutes. It was constantly raining, so Bunny didn’t even bother leaving the car, instead preferring to munch on her strawberries inside the vehicle.

Then it was a couple of nice bridges, followed by more and more urban environment until Bunny hit Turku again. The trail was over, but Bunny’s memories were nice.

Image of the Archipelago Trail
Image of windmill
Image of ferry
Image of Bunny studying a map

Good to Know Before You Go

  • Technically, it is possible to do the Archipelago Trail in one day. Do not even consider that, Bunny says. Two nights is the absolute minimum if you want to truly appreciate the region and engage in any activities - otherwise you will be just sitting in your car.
  • Reserve your accommodation in advance, particularly in high season. Bunny decided to go on a whim, in the height of summer, and as a result had slim pickings as far as accommodation was concerned. Most places were fully booked for the two days she spent on the route.
  • Check the ferry timetables in advance to avoid any nasty surprises. The ferries operate on a first come, first served basis - with a priority lane for the local inhabitants - and the queues can be long in the high season. When making your plan, don't count on getting a place on the last ferry if you don’t want to be stranded on an island where you have no place to sleep.
  • Go when the weather is good. Yeah, it’s Finland, Bunny knows, but even in Finland they have a couple of sunny days per year. Doing the trail is just not the same if you are plying through the route in miserable rain and wind…
  • Get a paper map ahead of your drive. Practically all towns along the way have tourist information kiosks that can provide the Archipelago Travel Map. Although it is easy to follow the trail itself, a map is essential if you want to make any side trips along the way.
  • Fill up the gas tank in advance - petrol is more expensive on the islands. Bring enough cash as well. Although credit cards are widely accepted in Finland, there are no ATMs on the smaller islands and you don’t want to end up without any beer money to spare.

Bunny’s Conclusions

Bunny had not heard of the Archipelago Trail until a couple of days before she decided to go. It was her first time in this part of Finland and she loved the unassuming and quiet beauty of the archipelago.

She did feel a bit jealous of the many cyclists on the trail, though. Perhaps next summer she will tackle the Short Archipelago Trail from Nauvo to Rymättylä and go by bicycle!

Image of Bunny paw prints

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  • Ananya says:

    Thank you for this wonderful informative and humorous post! Just planning my Turku Archipelago trip and will take your advice to not try and fit everything in to one day. Loving your blog!

    • Bunny says:

      Thank you so much. Hope you’ll enjoy your trip!

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