We were enchanted from the moment we stepped onto Finland, the snow tickling a childlike glee. Helsinki was enough to delight us, but it was our trip down to the Kimitoön archipelago that really revealed Finland’s magnificent nature.
Here’s a photo journey through our visit.
We woke up to a dark morning at 8am in time for sunrise around 9am. In Finland, you don’t need a 5am call to catch such wonder.
The steam on the icy waters made for a mystical morning scene.
We were off on a boat ride, heading to Högsåra, an island of just 30 people.
At around -12 degrees, it was important to dress the part.
In the late 19th Century the Tsar used to visit Högsåra, complete with a full private orchestra in tow. He made friends with a fisherwoman who lived in this hut.
In summertime, Högsåra thrives. In Winter, it’s quiet – a perfect place to experience life in the cold.
The locals stay all year round.
It was once a community of maritime pilots, but only a few still remain, most venturing into other business.
We strolled around the island…
…up to its highest point,
…home to some wind turbines that power Högsåra plus some of the mainland.
Some beautiful dogs came along for the journey,
…perfectly dressed for the freezing cold.
It helps to have (fake) fur.
Before we left, we were treated to some glüg, plus of course a dash of vodka.
Then it was off back the Kasnäs peninsula.
The night before, we had braved the sea – a quick but exhilarating dip after baking in the sauna.
Sweet relief was offered by the steaming outdoor hot tub. We sat and chatted while gazing out to sea through a veil of glittering snow.
Later that afternoon, it was time to leave Kasnäs and drive back to the main Kimitoön island.
We got out to walk across the island’s new bridge. Before, access was only by ferry.
The Kimitoön islands are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and we were lucky to try the first skating of the season on a lake fringed by forest (more on that coming next week).
Our final stop was the Storfinnhova Gård, Forest Village, home to a massive smoke sauna.With two levels, you can dip between the high heats and a refreshing little pool. We whiled away an hour, talking and drinking beers, experiencing the best of Finnish sauna.
The more brave among us (Steve included) dipped in the river for an ultimate refresh.
And then onto a wonderful feast with hints of the medieval.
Some slept in trees. We got cold feet and opted for warmth (although those who slept in the trees said they were cosy).
On our final morning we awoke to gorgeous light across the meadows, yet another glimpse of Finland’s magic.
And to end it all? A full rainbow.
Finland = magic.
Useful info on the Kimitoön Islands
The Kimitoön Islands are mostly Swedish speaking. The Finnish name for the archipelago is Kemiönsaari.
On our first night, we stayed at the Kasnäs Archipelago Spa. A highlight was the sauna and outdoor hot tubs. Groups of up to 12 can rent them for private hire including a cabin where you can eat. It would be an awesome place for a special occasion.
From the hotel, we got a boat taxi over to Högsåra with Kasnäs Taxibåt.
We went skating with Aavameri Outdoor Adventures who also offer sea kayaking.
Our second night was at Storfinnhova Gård, Forest Village.
We were invited to Kimitoon by Visit Kimitoön as part of the Nordic Bloggers Experience.
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