Reporting from Finland, finally!
Let me tell you about our flight first. The journey to Finland was quite the adventure in itself.
My brain seemed to have left for holiday earlier than me, so we have arrived at the airport one DAY too early. Packed and ready to get on board, no matter how many times we checked the flight schedule, our one wasn’t there. We did the only thing you can, grab a glass of wine to calm your nerves and book the closest hotel to stay overnight.
Luckily it was a pretty smooth ride from then on.
Finland greeted us with gorgeous weather and despite taking half of my winter wardrobe, I hardly needed it.
Finland delivered, as advertised in those glossy travel magazines.
But let me show you instead of telling you.
We booked a mini weekend break in the Turku archipelago, one of the prettiest places in Finland. The archipelago is extremely well connected and you don’t really realise you’re island hopping until you hit the end of the road and have to take a ferry to the other side. The holiday started in Kirjais, which is a small island with a few cottages for summer rentals (more on that later). From there, it was just a short drive to Nauvo (Nago in Swedish), the heart of Turku archipelago.
This little town blew my mind. It’s so pretty and unspoiled, with a gorgeous harbour, plenty of village charm and freshly smoked fish sold right by the sea. On top of that, plenty of red and white cottages, the staple of Finnish landscape. Despite high holiday season, you never felt like in a crowded holiday resort.
We walked from the main road by this gorgeous yellow B&B to the back, following the smell of fresh sea breeze.
Nauvo is most known to locals because of its guest harbour, which provides refreshments and all the facilities you have in a house for those visiting with a boat. Including sauna, of course.
There is a regular ferry that can take both passengers and cars to the surrounding islands (even as far as Aland – half way between Finland and Sweden).
We settled in the Strand Cafe to enjoy the views and a fresh brew of coffee.
Followed by the best cinnamon buns.
Even though the weather was surprisingly warm, the water was still freezing.
That didn’t stop these guys from enjoying their summer fun!
Another hard to miss landmark in Nauvo – this 13th century church.
It reminded me so much of those old English churches which are scattered throughout the countryside.
The church in Nauvo was dedicated to St Olaf (like the snowman from Frozen – how scary I know that!) and contained the oldest musical instrument in Finland – organs called Nauvon positiivi, which were later relocated to the National Museum of Finland.
Educational trivia – check!
My favourite part was the green oasis outside.
Straight out of a fairytale.
The inside of the church is well worth a peek.
No entry to pay and no one monitoring the traffic, you we free to roam and take pictures. A few too many, like me.
As it’s a tradition with old churches, the priest lives in a separate house across the street. This one is even more special because even the church bell has a separate location – on a top of hill across from the church.
And of course it’s red.
If the church tour makes you hungry, there are quite a few food options to pick from.
The best view is from the ones in the harbour, one of them was a boat restaurant serving pizza. My kind of thing.
In addition to these, you can also grab a bite in one of the hotels or B&Bs, the yellow one at the beginning had a particularly beautiful back garden.
If you’re in for a bit of shopping, prepare to make your wallet cry. There are few shops but they only have the best quality Scandinavian and international brands.
We didn’t stay in one of the hotels in town (like the one pictured below), but rented a cabin 15 mins drive away.
As I later found out, there are few very nice cabins even with a private beach around the corner from the harbor (check AirBNB). You can expect to pay between 100-200 eur per night for a cabin that sleeps between 6-8 people. Book with family or friends and it is surprisingly cheap!
The culinary highlight in Nauvo: freshly smoked salmon and trout.
Get it from this stall right by the water.
Grab a seat at the bench and eat it right there with dark rye bread.
You could happily spend a week exploring Nauvo and surrounding islands and won’t run out of things to do.
Outdoor cooking, stunning nature trails, berry picking, fishing, swimming, boating, eating yourself to sleep and enjoying the long summer nights when the sun doesn’t go down until midnight.
Call it a summer to remember.
This little guy certainly didn’t complain!
PS: I finally found my modest Finnish summer house. Wrong colour but nothing a can of paint doesn’t fix!