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Self-guided Cycle Tour through the Archipelago to the Åland Islands

Self-guided Cycle Tour through the Archipelago to the Åland Islands

Would you like to cycle along the Great Mail Route in the Finnish archipelago? For this bike tour you will get a quality bicycle and a ready-made route. Service vehicle transports the luggage and takes care of you. Accommodation and ferry tickets are included.

The Great Mail Route is a historic route leading from Turku to Stockholm. The route was taken into usage in mail transportation in 1638 but it is estimated that this route has been used from the 14th century This roundtrip is an enjoyable mix of cycling and ferry crossings from island to island. These crossings give you a nice break between the cycling legs.    

Shaped by the ice age, the beautiful Finnish Archipelago consists of thousands of islands and islets. The enchanting sea, the barren outer islands and the unbroken peace offer you an atmosphere in which you can totally relax and have a regenerating holiday. You will find old villages and idyllic harbours as well as fascinating towns and attractions such as museums, historic buildings and ruins. Enjoy fresh and delicious Archipelago food provided by the local fishermen and farmers and admire the local artisan handwork. Don’t forget to try the Finnish sauna!

A ready-made, serviced bike tour  makes your life easy. You do not have to spend time in finding out ferry timetables, right or suitable route or take care of finding accommodation - everything has been taken care for you. Your luggage is transported from hotel to guesthouse and guesthouse to hotel. There is a contact person with a service car picking you up, if needed. 

What will you see and experience along your cycle tour?

  • Unique archipelago nature
  • Ferry rides from island to island 
  • Idyllic old town of Naantali
  • Ceramics workshop and an old artisan village in Kustavi 
  • The Brändö islands
  • The bare beauty of the outer archipelago
  • The ruins of the Bomarsund fortress
  • The Kastelholm castle and the open-air museum of Jan Karlsgården
  • Mariehamn with its maritime museum
  • Cruise from Mariehamn to Turku by the most ecological cruise ship in Finland, the Viking Grace
  • The oldest town of Finland, Turku 

This cycle route suits for people, who have good physical condition and experience in exercising. Terrain is gently undulating, there are some steep but short ups and downs. The route runs mostly on secondary roads and cycle paths. There are several ferry trips. Daily distances from 23 km to 53 km. There is a service car and also a telephone service even at the weekends. 

The cycle route uses many kinds of roads from main roads and side roads but mainly you will cycle on roads with low traffic. Only on day 2 there is a 9,6km part with more traffic. We recommend this bike tour for adults or families with children older than 12 years unless children will travel as bike passengers. The days are however relatively long.

 

SELF-GUIDED CYCLE TOUR THROUGH THE ARCHIPELAGO TO THE ÅLAND ISLANDS

Accommodation: 7 nights in middle-class hotels and guesthouses

  • 4 nights in a hotel, with toilet and shower in each room (Please note that in Hotel Havsvidden the jacuzzi, pool and saunas can be used)
  • 1 night in a cabin with own toilet but sauna and shower are located in another building
  • 2 nights in a room with shared bathroom and shower in another building or in the corridor

Please note! Also available accommodation in single and triple rooms.

Meals: breakfast, all the other meals each participant pays him/herself

Guidance: self-guided tour with route description, map and information about each destination in English, German or Italian, service car and telephone support (also on weekends).

Transportation: luggage transfer, when necessary also the bicyclist and her/his bicycle can be picked up with a service vehicle along the route, ferry tickets (except on the 2nd day you will need to pay the ticket costing from 0-25€/person).

Itinerary:  

Sunday day 1: Naantali

Your bike tour starts from idyllic town of  Naantali. Take a walk through the town and harbour and enjoy good food in one of the beautiful seaside restaurants. Naantali is one of the oldest towns in Finland. It was founded around the medieval Brigittine convent of which the church still dominates its skyline. Known as the most sunny town of Finland, Naantali attracts local and foreign visitors from around the world with the ever-popular children's favourite Moomin World theme park, as well as with the largest Spa in Scandinavia. The official summer residence of the President of Finland, Kultaranta estate, is also located in Naantali, on Luonnonmaa Island. The beautiful garden of Kultaranta estate can be visited in summertime on guided afternoon walks. Don’t miss the traditional evening vesper drumming, just before eight o’clock by the corner of Naantalin Kaivohuone.

Monday, day 2: Naantali - Kustavi cycling distance 30 or 50 km

The first leg of your cycle tour takes place in the Turku Archipelago. Once you leave the town, you cycle through countryside and cross bridges with characteristic archipelago seascapes. The route follows partly the historic Great Mail Route that ones passed from Turku to Stockholm. Then you make your first ferry trip. After a long cycling day you can relax your mind and muscles in a Finnish sauna.

Tuesday, day 3: Kustavi – Brändö Islands cycling distance 41 km

Today you leave the Turku Archipelago and travel with ferry to the Brändö Islands, the northmost part of the Åland Islands. Before heading to the Brändö Islands, we suggest you to visit the Artisan Village of Kustavi, where you can find local artisan workshops and reputable artisan pottery. The Great Mail Route leads you through the island chain of the Brändö Islands. In the middle of the Archipelago Sea, one after another, the bridges connect the numerous small islands together. Here you can really feel the connection with the surrounding nature and sea. The geological evidence and the effect of the Ice Age can be well discovered on the bare ice-scratched “whaleback” formed rocks. Enjoy the silence and fresh air in this unique environment.

Wednesday, day 4: Brändö Islands – Kastelholm / Godby cycling distance 23 or 32 km

A ferry ride through a beautiful seascape will bring you to the main island of Åland. This day is dedicated to attractions, culture and history. The Great Mail Route first brings you to the district of Bomarsund ruins. The fortress of Bomarsund was once the most magnificent structure on the Åland islands. The fortress was constructed as an important outpost to west by the Russian Empire and was bombarded during the Crimean War in 1854. In consequence, the Åland islands were demilitarised and the fortress was never rebuilt again. Today the area is a historical monument, easily accessible to visitors. The main fort has a beautiful location on the shore and sheep are taking care of the environment and its biodiversity by pasturing around the ruin area. Then you arrive to Kastelholm, where the Kastelholm castle, Great Mail Route exhibition and open air museum Jan Karlsgården lies. At the Great Mail Route exhibition you can see the entire itinerary of the historic Great Mail Route. Worth visiting is also Smakbyn, a famed restaurant of Åland- and Nordic cuisine with distillery and shop, and the local small brewery Stallhagen.

Thursday, day 5: Kastelholm / Godby – Havsvidden  cycling distance 35 or 25 km

Today you cycle to the northmost top of the main island. The route leads you first through a characteristic countryside landscape with apple tree plantations every here and there. As you approach the north, the scenery gets more intact and wild. Before taking the route to Havsvidden, you can deviate to Getabergen, a popular viewing point and tower with a vast view over the thick, green forests and the blue sea. Finally you arrive to your accommodation in Havsvidden, a special place by the edge of the island. Here the barren red granite rocks, the windswept stunted pines and the blue sea create a wonderful contrast. The day’s cycling will be rewarded with warm sauna, refreshing seapool and comfortable jacuzzi.

Friday, day 6: Havsvidden – Mariehamn cycling distance 47 km*

Your bike tour heads to the capital of the Åland Islands, cycling through the inland countryside. You pass Jomala church, which is one of the oldest churches in Finland. Finally, you arrive to Mariehamn, a reputable shipping town on peninsula with two important harbours. The town’s entire history and development reflects the life of people living surrounded by water. Worth visiting are the maritime museum, the Maritime quarter and St. George church. The museum ship Pommern unfortunately is not open this summer.

Saturday, day 7 Maarianhamina - Turku approx. cycling distance 5 km*

It’s time to leave the Åland Islands behind and return to the mainland of Finland. Before that you have still time to explore the lovely Mariehamn and its surroundings. You can make a circular cycling trip to a charming neighbourhood and continue with a back and forth trip towards south through a wonderful island chain where the scenery to the sea and beautiful villas will enchant you. A pleasant cruise with luxurious cruise ship M/S Viking Grace will bring you to Turku. You travel through a wonderful archipelago of tens of thousands of islands. The cruise starts in the afternoon and lasts five and half hours. You arrive at 20.00 o’clock in Turku, in the oldest city of Finland. From Turku harbour you have a nice ride along Aura River to the centre of Turku. Turku is the former capital of Finland and European Capital of Culture 2011. In the summer the city overflows with events and festivals with themes like tango, middle age, music, theatre, art, design and much more. Some of the main attractions are the cathedral, Turku Castle, Aurajoki riverside, market on the Market Square, Forum Marinum maritime centre and its museum ship fleet (including the full-rigger Suomen Joutsen), Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum, Turku Art Museum, Market Hall, Sibelius Museum and the magnificent Main Library. The river is the heart of the city. Walk along the Aura River medieval cobblestone streets and admire old sailing ships. There are many nice cafès and restaurants in the centre and by the riverside.

Sunday, day 8: Departure

Departure or extension of your holiday. It is worth taking an afternoon or evening bus to Helsinki as there is a lot to see in Turku. 

* Extra tour in Mariehamn of 7,5 or 23km can be taken,if wanted  either on day 6 or 7.

Please note! On request you can leave your rental bike in Mariehamn and continue your tour by a cruise ship from Mariehamn to Helsinki or Stockholm.

LOCATION: 

Start: Naantali, return: Turku

Flight: Helsinki

Bus: Helsinki-Naantali 12.40-15.15, 14.40-17.15, 16.40-19.20 and 18.40-21.15, Turku-Helsinki every hour. Price under 10€/one way/person. Please note that these buses leave from Helsinki city centre. There are also buses leaving from the airport. 

Category Tours
Location Sea
Price 885€/person + 90€/bicycle
Prices for children not recommended for children under 12 yrs
Group size min 2
Group size max 12
Month June
July
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Timing 25.6.-12.8.2017
Duration 7 days
Meals Breakfast
Accomodation hotel/guesthouse/farm accommodation in double room
Service Provider Veranatura
Skafuuri Oy (=Skafur-Tour) commissioner
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