From Fascinating Turku to the Finnish Archipelago, these are the first steps of St Olav Waterway, a 1200km pilgrimage that takes two months to complete through 3 Nordic countries.
Today is a mix of urban and countryside, a contrast of peaceful nature paths and roads that connect the archipelago with the mainland. A worthy start for your journey is Turku Cathedral. The cathedral was consecrated in 1300 and is considered one of Finland’s most important historic buildings.
After less than 3 km from the historic heart of Turku you start to walk on soft tracks and nature trails. A great spot for a picnic is at the Vaarniemen look out point. Through Kaarina the route crosses fields, parkland and quiet suburban roads, Hovirinta has a sandy beach.
Following the archipelago cycle trail, you will cross three bridges, a taste of island hopping by ferry for the days to come. The views from the bridges are splendid, however, the main road can be busy and listening to good music or podcasts can help you enjoy some of the noisier parts. If you get tired, the local bus will take you to Pargas, which has plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants and beaches.
Short on time? Stage 1 is perfect as a day trip from Turku. Walk as far as you like and hop on a local bus to take you back to the centre of Turku.
Today's route uses pavements, nature paths, quiet roads and cycle paths. When walking along roads without pavements or cycle paths, please walk on the left side, facing the direction of traffic and be aware of oncoming cars. The nature path in Vaarniemen is not suitable for cycling; there are boarded walkways, a steep stair and sections of bare rock that can be slippery especially after rain.
The route is marked with the square logo of St Olav Ways and arrows. The route is marked sparingly in the centre of Turku and although easy to follow, you should pay attention to route taken.
There are shops and supermarkets close to the trail in Turku and Kaarina although you will need to check the exact location beforehand, as they are not on the trail.
The archipelago is a sensitive area; please respect the nature and inhabitants of the archipelago. You can read about your rights and responsibilities according to everyman's right. Fires can only be made at designated fireplaces when there are no active forest fire warnings. Please see: http://en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/warnings
Good to know! In the archipelago, the main language spoken is Swedish despite Finnish being the majority language in the rest of Finland. That is why we use two names for the same place; Turku – Åbo, Kaarina - St:Karins, Pargas – Parainen, Nagu –Nauvo, Korpo – Korppoo. In the route description, we will use the names of the majority language of the town: Turku, Kaarina, Pargas, Nagu and Korpo.
More information: www.stolavwaterway.com
St Olav Waterway will officially open 24.5 2019
Pyhän Olavin merireitti avataan 24.5 2019
S:t Olofs sjöled öppnas 24.5 2019
Turku is easily accessible from Helsinki, Tampere and the rest of Finland by both coach and train. Four daily sailings connect Turku with Stockholm and the Åland islands. The operators are Vikingline and TallinkSilja. Turku has an international airport with regular flights operated by Finnair, SAS, Air Baltic and Wizz Air.
Along most of today’s section of trail, there is a frequent local bus service, twice an hour during the day. You can hop on the bus and carry on until the centre of Parainen/ Pargas using Bus 810. http://tlo.fi/reitit-ja-aikataulut/saaristobussi/ Buses 901-904 take you further out into the archipelago. The timetables are only available in Finnish or Swedish.
In Kaarina a service bus K2 can help you to visit Kuusisto Bishop's Castle Ruins https://www.foli.fi/fi/node/1581/