The Archipelagos

Finland's Baltic Sea coasts are dotted with countless islands. Navigating these labyrinthine archipelagos is a delightful challenge for sailors or brave canoeists while landlubbers can enjoy island hopping trips by car or bike, using the ferries that link larger islands.

Berghamn Heritage Farm in Southwestern Archipelago National Park. Photo: Jari Kostet

Boat excursions are organised regularly during the summer from harbour towns like Turku, Kasnäs, Hanko, Ekenäs and Kotka into Finland's three archipelago national parks: the Archipelago, the Ekenäs Archipelago, and the Gulf of Finland.

Camping out or spending the night on a remote Baltic island is an unforgettable experience. Some larger islands in national parks have free moorings for visiting boats, as well as nature trails and viewing towers where keen-eyed birdwatchers may spot white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), rare seabirds, and huge flocks of ducks, geese and swans on migration. Many smaller islands are off limits to boaters during the nesting season, to allow seabirds to breed in peace.

About halfway between Finland and Sweden lie the peaceful and picturesque Åland Islands (www.visitaland.com), an autonomous province of Finland. Ålanders speak Swedish, which is also the most widely spoken language in many other Finnish coastal regions and islands.