Finland in the Summer? Discovering the Kimitoön Archipelago

Let’s admit it – when we think of Finland, summertime travel isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. Before I travelled to Finland last summer, I associated the country with the northern lights, Santa Claus, the snow-covered trees of Lapland, and cute reindeer. Am I far off the mark? Not necessarily as that does paint a partial picture of Finnish winters, however, there’s a completely different side of Finland to discover. I’m talking about summer in the coastal and archipelago regions!

Summer in Finland with flowers in bloom, Kimitoön Archipelago

Nature all around you

Finland is nothing short of idyllic in the summertime. I spent most of my time in the Kimitoön Islands located in the southwest peninsula. Out there it was nothing but the tranquility of nature. The drive over to Dalsbruk (Taalintehdas) took us through thick forest, past dark lakes, and when we finally reached our destination, we discovered a little slice of paradise in the form of cute cottages, fields in bloom, and tempting berry bushes. It was country living at its finest.

Fresh berries for sale at the farmer's market

Farmers’ markets

One of the things I enjoyed about summer in Finland was being able to browse the various farmers’ markets. How can you resist fresh hand-picked berries with vibrant colours like this? And the best part of the markets was that they didn’t just sell fresh produce – they also had stands cooking up meals which you could enjoy at a picnic table outdoors.

Long days and short nights

One of the benefits of visiting Finland in the summertime is that you get extremely long days! Because we were so far north in the hemisphere, the sun was always up by the time I woke up and it was always up when I went to bed. There were nights when I’d look at my watch and see that it marked 9:30 pm, and then I’d look out the window and marvel at the fact that I could still see the sun on the horizon. While my body found it a little bit tricky, I eventually adjusted and found that I was able to stay up later than usual because my mind was boggled by the fact it was still daylight.

The Bengtskär Lighthouse located on a rocky outcrop out at sea, Kimitoön Archipelago, Finland.

A lighthouse and a home

One of the most unique places I visited along Finland’s archipelago region was a remote lighthouse located on a little rocky outcrop out at sea. The Bengtskär Lighthouse is the highest lighthouse in all of the Nordic countries, however, what sets it apart from the rest is that this place is also a home to a lovely couple. Paula and Per Wilson have the distinguished title of being the lighthouse’s keepers, and the only time they leave this peaceful abode is during the winter months when the waters freeze over preventing supplies from reaching the island. When asked if they ever get lonely out there, they explained they crave the serenity of their little lighthouse at sea.

Healthy picnics in the park

Finns are very health conscious and during my time there I took a lesson from their books. It was here that I discovered the magic of black rye bread with cream cheese and salmon. Easy to pick up from the local grocery store and best enjoyed outdoors!

Delicious cakes at Farmors Cafe

Homebaked cakes in Högsåra

And I’m following healthy picnics with sugary treats! Yes, you’ve heard me talk about Högsåra before. The island happens to be home to Farmors Cafe – one of the best cafes in Finland’s archipelago region! – and I spent a wonderful afternoon enjoying their home-cooked meals. I journeyed here aboard a kayak and you wouldn’t believe how happy I was when my strenuous journey was rewarded with cakes, tarts, and cheesecakes!

Lakeside lounging

My cottage in Dalsbruk was right by the water and it was the perfect place to spend the summer afternoons lounging around. While the water was very chilly by Southeast Asian standards, that didn’t take away from its beauty and you could see many people out enjoying it, either rowing their boats or jumping off their decks into the lake for a little polar dip.

The Viking Village of Rosala, Kimitoön Archipelago

A little Viking history

A fun little day trip was visiting the small island town of Rosala, which is home to a Viking village that showcases Finland’s history with the Norse sea-faring people. Here we got a lesson in Viking traditions – from the clothes they wore, to the weapons they used. My favourite, however, was the food! I was pleasantly surprised when we were ushered into a dimly lit dining hall for a true viking feast. We sat down at a wooden table where a bear skin eyed me from the walls and the aroma of a hearty soup wafted over from the serving table. On the menu that day was a thick white fish soup with potatoes and vegetables, and a side of black rye bread with salted butter. I went back for seconds. Simple yet delicious!

Crayfish and schnapps

While staying in Dalsbruk I was invited for a home-cooked meal and it was one of the quirkiest yet funnest meals I had. Throw a group of Finns, Danes, Austrians and Canadians together. Add a plateful of green beans which you eat by dipping in hot melted butter, another plateful of crayfish which you eat by ‘sucking the juices’, and a few shots of schnapps which we could only sip on if we sang along to ‘the song’. We may have been a mish-mash of characters, but we sure had a lot of fun.

Sea kayaking in the Kimitoön Archipelago

Sea-kayaking around the islands

And last but not least, I couldn’t experience the Finnish archipelago and coastal regions without hitting the water. Led by out trusty guide Benjamin from Aavameri Open-Air Adventures, I kayaked for over 4 hours that day and got to see wildlife and enjoy the tranquility of the water. My body ached for days afterwards, but that was so worth the journey.

And that was Finland in the summertime – green, tranquil, and the perfect place to enjoy slow life. And the best part about discovering Kimito Island, is that it’s just a couple of hours from the capital of Helsinki, so you can easily take a little side trip.

Have you ever visited a winter destination in the summertime?
How did you like it?

22 Comments

  • I grew up spending my summers around Rosala and Kimito. For me Finland is a year-round destination, probably because after some years abroad, I’ve returned to my hometown Helsinki and love it more every day. As long as I get to travel elsewhere several times a year to get some perspective of how well we actually have it, this will definitely be home for me.

    I love this post and the fact that you’re making my home country more known in the world. 🙂
    Kea/DeepRedBlues recently posted..Instagram Travel Thursday: Southern PointMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      It’s funny how sometimes we just need a little bit of time away from ‘home’ to realize how wonderful our home country really is. I feel the same way about Canada. And that’s nice to hear that you grew up spending your summers in Rosala and Kimito – it’s such a peaceful area!

  • Marilyn says:

    Hi Audrey…reading this account of your venture to Finland is giving me ideas on venturing off to Europe rather than the Carribean.

    Thanks for sharing and always look forward to your mail,Marilyn

  • Jen says:

    I think I’d prefer to visit Finland in the summer over winter. The idea of 24 hour day light sounds awesome and those berries, yum!
    Jen recently posted..Long Weekend Travel: 5 Easy Trips from SydneyMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      You definitely see people staying out a lot later because of those extended sunlight hours. I remember walking around Helsinki on a weeknight at around 9 p.m., and the cafes and restaurants along the street were packed with people enjoying the the remaining daylight with a drink in hand. 😉

  • Yara Coelho says:

    Wow, those berries…. yummy!
    It’s true, when I think of Scandinavia, the first thing that comes to my mind is snow, santa Claus and northern lights, so this is actually a wonderful new angle 🙂

    The pictures are amazing.
    Yara Coelho recently posted..10 reasons that make Lisbon the coolest city in EuropeMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      I’d still like to experience Finland’s wintry landscapes at some point, but a summer visit to the archipelago region wasn’t a bad place to start.

  • Karyn @ Not Done Travelling says:

    I too would like to remark on those berries. Except I can’t think of anything eloquent to say BECAUSE I’M DROOLING ALL OVER MY KEYBOARD.

    If Discover Finland did a promotion that centered around berries, they would make so much money. lol
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..The Chain Of IntroductionsMy Profile

  • Joella J in Beijing says:

    It’s funny, I have actually never had any desire to visit in the Winter and have always wanted to visit the Nordic countries in the Summer! I love the idea of those long, light days. Your photos are just how I would imagine it- blue skies, water and green grass. Lush! I want to go even more now.
    Joella J in Beijing recently posted..In Search Of The Beach: Angthong National Marine ParkMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      It’s a lot of fun to visit in the summertime. Your body wants to stay up later because of the long daylight hours, which means you end up doing a lot more around town.

  • Agness says:

    Cakes and local fruit markets are the reasons I would definitely make it there this summer! 😀
    Agness recently posted..25 Lessons Learnt While Travelling In Asia For 3 YearsMy Profile

  • Renuka says:

    Finland sounds so interesting! Lovely pictures too. 🙂
    Renuka recently posted..Top 10 Things I love About TravelMy Profile

  • Kersti says:

    Beautiful! Next time, you might like Estonia too…just south, a ferry ride away. A popular Finnish destination also. Tallinn the capital city is lovely, as is the countryside, the beach at Parnu, and the island of Saaremaa. 🙂

    • Audrey says:

      I did take a little day trip over to Tallinn for the day. 🙂 I just couldn’t resist visiting a new country when it was so close by!

  • Heather says:

    I’m moving to the region in June, so I hope to visit Finland in both winter and summer!
    Heather recently posted..Touring the U.S. Capitol and Library of CongressMy Profile

  • Lauren says:

    I’ve always wondered about visiting Finland during the summer, and now I know it is fantastic! I didn’t even think about the longer daylight aspects, but that’s pretty neat. Finland looks lovely any time of year!
    Lauren recently posted..Caribbean Cruise – Disembarkation Day with Helpful Tips!My Profile

  • Jade says:

    Wow this really does sound amazing! Kayaking for cake? I could do that! Finland is definitely on my radar now.

  • Ailsa Ross says:

    Every single headline just described my dream life: nature all around me, homebaked cakes, kayaking and lakeside lounging? Yes please! I’m off to lie on my bed and daydream of long summer evenings and sweet little picnics. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Ailsa Ross recently posted..Finding Peace after TravelMy Profile

  • Jeff says:

    Sure, this is the place to be. I’m in love with their farmers’ market, from hand-picked fresh berries to the food they offer.

  • Ryan says:

    Pretty much the epitome of a small seaside town, and it looks awesome. Love the buildings and I have an obsession with lighthouses! Awesome photos, looks like a place I’d love to find myself in sometime!

  • Susan @ Travel Junkette says:

    Kayaking and cottages? Adorable! I’d love to visit.
    Susan @ Travel Junkette recently posted..The Best of Both Worlds at Lahaina ShoresMy Profile

  • Sabine says:

    I love Finland and generally Scandinavia in summer! Possibly because I have very fond memories of camping there nearly every summer as a child. During my teens I spent one year in Kangasala as an exchange student which was a really cool time.
    Your article just made me want to return; I realised that it must have been nearly ten years since my last visit! Gosh I am getting old! 😉 Hope you have something cool planned for this summer?

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