Nagu

Nagu (Finnish: Nauvo) is a former municipality, now part of Pargas, in the Archipelago Sea in south-west Finland. It consists of two main islands and some 3000 minor ones.

Understand

Nagu is located in the middle of the Archipelago Sea, which has a great influence on the identity of locals, although the life in the main islands may look like in the countryside elsewhere. The fields are smaller, the shore is nearby and traditionally people have got their living in small pieces, such as from fishing, agriculture, sea fowl hunting – and seafaring.

A large part of the outer archipelago, and thus of the Archipelago National Park, belongs to Nagu. Minor inhabited islands, often with one or a few families, are connected to the mainland with mostly daily ferry services – conditions permitting. Living there means a quite solitary life in winter, but in summer there are lots of tourists, summer guests and some locals who escape the dark months to apartments in towns. This is the paradise for yacht sailors, many making the journey from Helsinki and back every year, more than a hundred nautical miles each way.

Nagu and its surroundings are traditionally Swedish speaking and still has a strong Swedish majority, while a quarter of the population and many summer cottage dwellers and visitors are Finnish speaking. Service is usually available in both languages, as well as in English. The language in which businesses market themselves says little about their own language.

Get in

Road ferry between Pargas and Nagu.

Skärgårdsvägen ("the Archipelago road", Finnish: Saaristotie, regional road 180) starts in Kaarina (Swedish: S:t Karins) outside Turku (Swedish: Åbo) at national road 1 (part of E18) from Helsinki (Swedish: Helsingfors). On its way out to Korpo (Finnish: Korppoo) it connects the main islands of Nagu: Storlandet and Lillandet (and Biskopsö and Ernholm between them). There is a ferry connection from Prostvik in the east (on Nagu Lillandet) to Lillmälö in Pargas, mostly twice an hour, with a stop in the night. There are considerable queues when people head for their summer cottages or return, i.e. Friday and Sunday afternoons, respectively (sometimes for hours, with three ferries driving non-stop; there is a kiosk near the ferry pier). Another ferry goes from Pärnäs in the west (on Storlandet) to Korpo. The distance between Prostvik and Pärnäs is some 27 km, between Lillmälö ferry pier and Pargas centre some 17 km.

From Galtby in Korpo there is a ferry connection to Långnäs in Åland.

The main village, Kyrkbacken, is in the east end of Storlandet, some 14 km from Prostvik, 33 km from Pargas centre and 55 km from Turku. Like in many Finnish villages the view from the road is not too romantic: a petrol station and flat roofed grocery stores. Older houses are preserved e.g. on the way to the marina. The village is actually quite large, interspersed with woods.

There are coaches from Turku (about 12€, children 4–11 half price) along Skärgårdsvägen, via Nagu to Korpo and Houtskär a few times a day, operated by Vainion Liikenne (but usually in the white and green colours of Skärgårdsvägen Ab). There are a few direct connections also from Helsinki, but usually there is a transfer in Kaarina, see Pargas. The coaches have right of way to the ferries, as have e.g. local taxis. Timetables at Matkahuolto (use "Nagu" for Kyrkbacken, "Pärnäs (Pargas)" for Pärnäs; the names may get exchanged into Finnish ones).

There is a good bike route from Turku to Pargas. Some kilometres after the centre it transforms to a gravel road going up and down any hill, but continues to Lillmälö.

You could also take a boat or ship from Turku or Kaarina: m/s Aspö going from Turku to Utö via Pärnäs (phone +358 2 240 5330; 25 €/person one way, children 4–11 years 12,50, restaurant on board) or m/s Autere going from either Turku or Kaarina via Själö to Kyrkbacken (return ticket with 2 hours in Kyrkbacken or 3 hours in Själö 44 €, children 4–14 years 30 €, bike 10€). Both start between Föri and Martinsilta bridge in Turku

Coming by yacht you can stop nearly where you wish. Most inhabited islands have at least a jetty for visiting yachts, although for more advanced service, such as washing machines, the marina at Kyrkbacken is where to head. See Archipelago Sea for information about charts etcetera.

Get around

The coaches drive along Skärgådsvägen and will get you quite near most (but not all) places on the main islands. If you have a bike (or are willing to walk a few kilometres) this may be sufficient to get you to most destinations, but is surely impractical for getting around.

The roads are quite quiet and suitable for biking. Except for Skärgårdsvägen they may be gravel roads. On Skärgårdsvägen, look out for cars racing from one ferry to the next (and driving a car yourself: if you get off first, just park until the worst speeders have past).

Some of the nearby islands, such as Högsar, are connected by road ferries, allowing you to drive there with car or bike, except in the middle of the night.

For islands at a distance, such as Nötö, you have to use the ship-like ferries, departing mostly once or twice daily, with timetables and routes differing depending on day of week. The complete route takes several hours. Most are there foremost to serve the local population and probably free (earlier free only to locals, but this made for too much bureaucracy), some are heavily subsidized and cheap, some are totally commercial.

The ship-like ferries part from Kyrkbacken or Pärnäs (14 km from Kyrkbacken), both on Skärgårdsvägen, or from Kirjais Österby (reachable by bike, car, ferry or a special subsidised taxi that has to be ordered well in advance; 12 km from Skärgårdsvägen, 16 km from Kyrkbacken). Check whether you have to order the connection in advance (usually before 14 or 16 the preceding day) to have the ferry call at your pier, and make sure you are seen when you are to be fetched.

Nearly all ferries take bikes and most take a few cars (but there may be no parking lot or road to drive at the destination). Check separately for out of season; in winter there may even be hydrocopters or ice roads instead. Timetable information (Pargas tourist information) +358 400-117-123, info@pargas.fi. The relevant ship-like ferries:

With a yacht all small islands are in reach. Be careful about islets with nesting birds: any disturbance may give crows and gulls a chance to eat eggs and chicks.

For the main islands your best bet is to leave the yacht in a marina and rent bikes (should be possible at least at Kyrkbacken, probably at most accommodation businesses on the main islands).

A rowing boat or similar is nice for getting a feel for the sea and to explore nearby islands. If you cross larger bodies of water, you might get stuck, would the weather change.

See

Landscape on Själö.

You are probably here to see the archipelago; get out of the coach at the ferries to feel the fresh air and enjoy the views.

Specific sights:

Do

Fishing, boating, swimming.

Buy

Eat

Out of season many of the restaurants are open only at lunch on workdays, in weekends or at request. Check beforehand.

There are two grocery stores in Kyrkbacken. Smoked fish is sold in the marina (with some luck).

At Kyrkbacken

Restaurants also at most accommodations.

Drink

For nightlife, check in the marina of Kyrkbacken and nearby restaurants. Certain weekends, such as Midsummer, there may be events also at other places.

Sleep

There are B&B:s and cottages for rent at many locations.

Connect

Postal code 21660 Nagu.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, January 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.