How often do you take holiday in your home country?
I have to admit, I never had a holiday at home, in Slovakia.
As we are in Finland, we couldn’t make the same mistake. My husband’s family is from Turku, so we ventured to the most beautiful part – the archipelago.
Turku has almost 20.000 islands, all well connected with bridges or ferries that get you across the sea for free. Navigating between these islands with a boat is one of the best ways to explore and you can admire the full glory of the nature if you hop on board of the Viking Line or Silja Line cruises from Turku.
We picked a cottage located on the island of Kirjais, near the edge of the archipelago.
The journey from the town was surprisingly fast, you can there without a break in just over an hour. Along the way, we made a few stops which turned out to be a blessing considering we had an active 2 year old in the car.
Our lunch break was a resting place with cafe and small restaurant called Sattmark.
Massive open space with a small shop, coffee shop and a restaurant. More importantly, a lot of space to round around, explore and get dirty. The adults focused on more adrenaline ventures like looking for the best coffee and food for lunch.
It’s a popular stop for lots of families who do their annual bike trip to explore the archipelago trail. The roads are well equipped for cyclists with plenty of stops along the way.
We arrived after midsummer, which is almost as big celebration as Christmas in Finland. The maypole below is used to celebrate with singing and dancing, it’s more common in Sweden than in Finland.
We had a quick sneak around the little shop with lots of traditional gift items, from Moomins to designer candle holders and hand made gifts.
I ended up with pretty vintage postcards to please some people back home.
Rest of the budget was wisely spent on good food and drinks.
The coffee shop is one of the prettiest ones I’ve seen.
Set in an old traditional cottage, it serves gorgeous looking cakes and some small nibbles. You can also buy some hand made souvenirs and gifts. The other eating option was the restaurant by the entrance which had a pretty terrace, but the prices will make you a bit dizzy.
We opted for the healthiest of the bunch, ready made rye breads packed in a quirky newspaper packaging.
After a lunch in the sunshine we were on the road again.
As you drive you will notice signs warning you about the end of the road.
No need to panic, there will be a ferry that takes your car to the next island. It’s an extension of the road, so you don’t need to pay any fees or buy any tickets. The trip takes only a few minutes, but you get a chance to admire the views and boats passing by.
We arrived safely on the next island and headed through a net small country roads to our accommodation.
Kirjais is a pretty deserted island with just a few houses here and there. Our accommodation was close to the small harbor with a restaurant and playground for kids.
We stayed at Kirjais Kursgard, a complex of traditional cottages set just few hundred meters from the harbor. The main house offers a B&B with a dedicated sauna & hot tub house (below).
Each house has all the necessities you need – including sauna, grill and beautiful terrace. There is decent distance between the houses so you never feel like the neighbours are watching you.
First task after arrival was outdoor food.
The covered terrace was the perfect place to toast to the successful trip to the island and beautiful day behind us.
If not playing with the fire, our little man was busy exploring the adventure options around. Any living creature he found was thoroughly examined, named and release back into the wilderness of the forest.
We were mainly concerned with filling our wine glasses and enjoying the whole place for ourselves.
This was our home for 4 days (below).
It looks humble, but it’s huge.
4 bedrooms (two downstairs and two upstairs), plus massive living space and sauna. The terrace extends to the back of the house, where I successfully fulfilled my ambitious intensive yoga workout (which extended to one session in 4 days).
The front windows light up the whole living room, which together with the high ceiling and fireplace made it to Instagrammers hall of fame (at least in my books).
Our bedroom had quite the view too!
Most of our days were spent exploring the neighbouring islands and towns and eating an enormous amount of new potatoes and salmon. My favourite had to be Nauvo, which looked like cut out from a travel catalog, especially on a beautiful sunny day.
Other than that, there was plenty of time to do reading, resting, taking walks and enjoy the peace. Ever heard of silent retreats? This would be my prefer location to do one!
The daylight stayed with us until the early hours of the night, so we decided to take a midnight bike ride (I decided and husband had to go along with the plan). The bikes were free to use, so we jumped on and headed where the road would take us.
The silence and the light during that time of the night is a bit freaky. Especially if you are on a deserted country road with barely any house or human in sight and no sounds at all.
We were only spooked by two deer and one rabbit. It didn’t take long before horror movie scenes started replaying in my head, so we had to return back to safety of hot sauna and a cold drink.
One of our trips was to Korpoo (click to see on map), one of the biggest islands in the archipelago.
We drove to the town centre which was rather boring, but luckily found directions to a nice restaurant by the harbor.
There was plenty to look at and even though the sky was suggesting looking for a cover, it turned out to be lovely – and dry – day. The restaurant was called Buffalo and it has a massive terrace overlooking the bay with boats and big playground for kids. Checks already a lot of boxes. They are known for their meat specialties, so if you want a good steak, this would be good place to go.
Back at Kirjais, here are a few photos from the harbour area – these were from our last dinner there.
Cafe Bystrand is very popular by locals (a lot of them are Swedish) and tourists alike. They also have cute mint planters.
The menu is sweet and simple, sourced from local ingredients.
My favourite pick was the Archipelago Plate (second image below) – best bits of the archipelago on one plate.
There is so much to discover in Finland and I have barely scratched the surface!
If you get a chance to visit Finland, don’t leave out the archipelago of Turku. No matter what season you come, it will take your breath away!