The coast and islands of Finland

It is an interplay of contrasts and the pulse of a modern age that make the coast and islands of Finland a paradise for vacationing in the northern European country.

The south of Finland has always thrilled minds with its location by the sea, creating moments and events that are fondly remembered.

Gulf of Finland - coast and islands of Finland
Gulf of Finland – the southern coast of Finland

In this context, the coast and the islands are equally associated with Finnish diligence and vacation peace.

Again and again, along the coastline, bustling cities dominated by export-oriented industries alternate with the idyllic tranquility of fishing villages and seaside resorts.

Especially this mixture and the combination of different contrasts make this Finnish region a feast for the eyes and last but not least a pleasure for the senses.

Along the coast and on the islands you will always find historical reminiscences, which are mainly determined by the numerous buildings.

At the same time, the coastal region is the best proof that Finns are no longer content to be located on the northern edge of Europe.

In the Finnish coastal cities, every effort is made not to lose touch with the rest of the world, and so one encounters a modernity that is unprecedented in many parts.

The spirit of innovation and the pursuit of new developments are probably just two components that accompany everyday life in Finland’s coastal cities.

While wood and paper were for a long time the most important export goods that this region of Finland had to offer, today it is mainly modern technologies that shape everyday life.

But although you come across large industrial landscapes in many coastal towns, they have managed to retain their typical Finnish charm. So you won’t find a trace of hustle and bustle here.

Finnish coastal towns have managed to preserve a certain tranquility that makes them inviting, but at the same time charming.

The coastal cities have a very artistic face, which is not least characterized by the lively cultural scene.

Again and again, larger towns alternate with sleepy villages along the coast. These contrasts make a trip along the sea charming and multifaceted at the same time.

The south of Finland, but primarily the southwest, is characterized by a rugged coastline. The actually so straight lines finally get lost in countless skerries.

Most of Finland’s archipelago islands are connected to the mainland by bridges and are easy to reach.

Only when one continues one’s journey northward does the population on the Gulf of Bothnia become somewhat thinner. Again and again, one encounters vast stretches of land in these climes that are characterized by breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Probably the most beautiful Finnish sandy beach can be found in Yyteri near Pori.

Countless cliffs stretching towards the sky break the expanse and create an unmistakable paradise for water sports enthusiasts.

Especially sailors and surfers have been able to discover the coast of Finland for themselves and have learned to appreciate the wind of the sea.

The Åland Islands – a paradise in itself

One of the most famous destinations in the south of Finland is the Åland Islands. They have managed to retain a very special charm to this day and are visited by numerous vacationers, especially during the summer.

Together with their origins, the Åland Islands are still considered very special. They are composed of more than 6500 islands.

Long ago, not all of them are inhabited and so you always encounter archipelagos, some of which are wooded and rocky. Together they form a unique mosaic stretching between mainland Finland and Sweden.

In the Åland Islands, most of the locals speak Swedish. Today, about 26,500 people live on the islands.

They share an area of 1527 km². The Åland Islands were the center of battles between Sweden and Russia for centuries. It was not until 1856 that the islands were demilitarized.

Since a decision of the League of Nations in 1921, the Åland Islands have belonged to Finland as an autonomous region. Despite belonging to Finland, they have been able to preserve their very own culture and centuries-old traditions.

The people are particularly proud of their own flag, which has existed since 1954. Since 1984, the Åland Islands have also had their own stamps.

In addition to the numerous sights, the Åland Islands inspire with a magnificent nature. The wide, often flat landscape is perfect for cycling.

At the same time, the Åland Islands are known as a bathing destination during the summer. In the midst of a nature that has remained true to its origins to this day, you will always come across places where you can relax and experience the Finnish lifestyle first hand.

But also anglers and water sports enthusiasts get their money’s worth on the islands. There are several ports on the Åland Islands, through which they are connected by ferries with both Sweden and Finland. The main ports are Mariehamn, Lumparland, Vårdö and Eckerö.

The capital of the Åland Islands presents itself with Mariehamn. Today, about 10,800 people live in the city.

It was Tsar Alexander II who founded Mariehamn in 1861. To this day, Marienhamn has remained true to itself and so it shows itself to its numerous guests as a lovely little town dominated by marinas and numerous beautiful wooden houses.

During the summer, the Åland Islands come to life and so during this time you will encounter numerous events and cultural activities.

They impart a distinctive diversity to the islands even away from the most famous destinations. Today, the Åland Islands have a long history, shaped by the lives of farmers, sailors and shipowners.

However, the Åland Islands are also known as the land of churches. There are a dozen places of worship worth seeing, built in different historical periods.

Often they are medieval churches, which form extraordinary accents with their murals and votive naves. The church in Jomala is probably the oldest church in the Åland Islands.

A guest in the southernmost city of Finland

One of the most beautiful destinations on the Finnish coast is the city of Hanko. Hanko is the country’s southernmost city, located on a promontory that juts far into the Baltic Sea.

The headland has a coastline of 130 km, with 30 km of pure sandy beach alone. Already at the end of the 19th century Hanko developed into a popular seaside resort, which was visited mainly by people from St. Petersburg and Stockholm.

Today, Hanko is home to around 10,000 people and has thus been able to retain the flair of a sleepy little town.

Over the years, Hanko has become a mecca for sailors. The city has the largest guest harbor in the country and is one of the most famous destinations in Finland not least for this reason.

But surfers are also drawn to the southern Finnish city year after year. Hanko is home to several sights worth exploring. A real insider tip is still today the water tower Vesitorni.

An elevator takes you to the viewing terrace, which is 50 meters above the ground. From the terrace you have a beautiful view of the offshore archipelago and the inviting wooden villas.

Hauensuoli can be reached by cab boat. From the 16th to the 18th century, sailors left their names in the rocks of Hauensuoli. Today the rocks contain more than 600 names, coats of arms and trade signs.

Strolls through Oulu

Oulu has long been one of the most famous cities in the country. With it, Finland’s sixth largest city opens its doors at the upper end of the Gulf of Bothnia.

Today, the city is home to about 127,000 people, and so Oulu is characterized by a bustling activity in large parts.

In 1605 it was founded by the Swedish king Charles IX. Today it is more than 400 years old and includes traces from various historical periods. Early on, Oulu developed into an important trading center for Finland.

In 1822, a major fire shook the city and destroyed large parts. In the following years, Oulu was rebuilt with great commitment and given a modern coat of paint.

Today, life in Oulu is mainly characterized by industry, high technology and the university.

But shipping also still plays a trend-setting role. Besides the cathedral, the modern science center Tietomaa is especially worth a visit.

Pori – the city of jazz

Along the Finnish coast, Pori is a very special destination that opens its doors.

The old trading and industrial city, which today has a population of around 77,000, has been able to make a name for itself on an international level thanks to its annual jazz festival.

Pori was founded at the mouth of the river in 1558. Due to the ongoing land uplift, the city is now located about 20 km inland. Like many other Finnish cities, Pori had to be rebuilt in 1852 after a devastating fire.

In the surroundings of Pori you can meet many other famous places of Finland. First and foremost, Rauma must be mentioned.

It is the third oldest city in the country and is located about 50 km from Pori. Rauma offers its guests a special highlight. Thus, in the city you can find the largest contiguous wooden house district in the Nordic countries.

A total of 600 houses are counted to the neighborhood today. They originate mainly on the 18. and 19th century and have been kept alive with attention to detail.

Already since 1991 the numerous houses belong to the UNESCO world cultural heritage. Rauma is also famous for its lace-making.

Another city worth visiting on the Finnish coast is Porvoo. Here, too, you can get an idea of the impressive wooden house architecture. Apart from Rauma, no other place in Finland has preserved wooden house architecture as well as Porvoo.

Our Finland tipps & insights

Photo of author
Ich bin absoluter Skandinavien-Fan und reise schon seit über 12 Jahren in die schönen Länder Skandinaviens. Hier teile ich meine Erfahrungen und Tipps zu den skandinavischen Ländern und der Ostsee-Region.