Pargas (Finnish: Parainen) is a town and municipality in Finland Proper, the centre of which is the only real (although small) town in the Archipelago Sea, which to a large part belongs to the municipality.
The town has a tradition of regarding itself the capital of (the south-west part of) the archipelago. There is a wooden old town, a giant limestone quarry by the centre (origin of Nordkalk Corporation and its siblings), industry and rural country-side. Much of the central and most of the outer archipelago and thus most of the Archipelago Sea National Park belongs to Pargas. Pargas consists of the former municipalities Pargas, Nagu, Korpo, Houtskär and Iniö.
Pargas is in a traditionally Swedish speaking area. Because of the industry (later: proximity to Turku) there are nearly as many Finnish speaking in the town, though. The municipality is officially bilingual and you get service in both languages nearly everywhere.
As in the rest of Finland you get along in English with most people.
Pargas centre is some 25 kilometres from Turku by road.
The only road to Pargas is Skärgårdsvägen ("the Archipelago road", Finnish: Saaristotie, regional road 180) from Kaarina through Pargas to Korpo (Finnish: Korppoo), starting at national road 1 (E18) and crossing regional road 110, both leading from Helsinki to Turku. There is a bike route all the way from Turku, mostly following the road.
There is a ferry connection from Långnäs on Åland to Galtby in Korpo. You can continue by the road, with two shorter ferry passages.
There are connections also from the north, at least in summer, via Kustavi and Iniö to Houtskär and via Rymättylä to Nagu, and from there to Pargas along Skärgårdsvägen. The main connections are part of Skärgårdens ringväg ("the Archipelago circle road") marketed to tourists, with some capacity for cars. There may be connections via Iniö and Houtskär also in the winter, calling at several small islands, sometimes using hovercraft or hydrocopters. The most convenient route is via Turku/Kaarina any part of the year, unless you are visiting some of the islands en route.
Vainion Liikenne operates the coach connections. The coaches via Pargas centre onwards to Nagu, Korpo and Houtskär are usually in the green colours of Skärgårdsvägen Ab, while those that terminate in the centre are in the yellow colour of Vainio proper. The latter are often city buses without proper luggage holds. The fare Turku–Pargas is 6€ for adults, 3€ for children (less than 12 years), 3€(?) for a bike (transported if there is room).
From Turku, there are connections at least
- to Pargas centre every hour (a quarter past), except some hours in the night, every half an hour daytime except Sundays
- by Skärgårdsvägen to Korpo, mostly with a transfer option to Houtskär, a few times a day
There are also some direct services from Helsinki, and services from Helsinki with transfer in Kaarina, usually at Piispanristi. For Vainio coaches from Helsinki the transfers are "official": direct tickets can be bought from the driver and the transfer is announced. With other companies you might be able to avoid paying for separate tickets by buying the tickets from Matkahuolto (make sure the ticket seller knows about the transfer).
Pargas is a good destination also by yacht, but note the bridges. Getting to Turku via the centre of Pargas is somewhat awkward with sailing vessels (a long passage in narrow sounds).
- Kalkholm (at the south end of the centre, by Kyrkfjärden), ☎ +358 2 458-1300. 20 €/night.
- Airisto (Stormälö, in the south-east end of the Airisto body of water), ☎ +358 2 458-5945. Marina near the big fareways to Turku, by hotel Airisto Strand and a large cottage village, but otherwise in the middle of nowhere. A mile – by sea – to Skärgårdsvägen with some coach connections (the Turku–Korpo ones). Get lift by boat or car if you want to get anywhere by land. 20 €/night.
The town itself is not too big. Most services are by the Strandvägen road or nearby, especially in the pedestrian street Köpmansgatan. Strandvägen goes along the Kyrksundet sound from the roundabout on Skärgårdsvägen (the one with masts) to the marina in the south. The old town is across the sound.
There is a zone with residential areas around the centre. Some services such as sport venues, beaches and the health care centre are here, in a radius of about one kilometre.
For the area outside town the options are more or less bike, car or taxi (boat for some destinations). There are also school buses and other arrangements, which you might be able to use with some detective work – and of course the coaches from Turku.
- Pargas Taxi 0600-300-45
- Taxi Bengt Östman +358 400-720-097, +358 2 458-5009
- Taxi Elovirna +358 400-742-317, +358 40-558-2012
- Taxi Leino +358 40-541-5337
- Pärres taxi +358 500-843-780
- Pargas kyrka. Medieval church.
- Gamla malmen (the old town). Wooden old town by the church.
- Pargas hembygdsmuseum (the local history museum), Storgårdsgatan 13, ☎ +358 2 458-1452, e-mail: email@example.com. 1.6–31.8 Tue–Sun 11–16, other times by request. 3€, children under 12 free.
- Pargas industrimuseum (the quarry museum), Gruvvägen 1, ☎ +358 2 458-1452, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 18.6–18.8 Tue–Sun 11–16, other times by request. 3€, children under 12 free.
- Kalkgruvan (the limestone quarry) (view e.g. from the designated place near Pajbackavägen). 24 h daily, except around 14:00. free.
- Art Bank, Köpmansgatan 24, ☎ +358 400-524-177, e-mail: email@example.com. Tue–Fri 15–18, Sat 11–16, Su on request. Private Fine Arts Gallery, certified vendor of Dalí furniture. The permanent exhibition has a collection of sculptures, furniture and paintings by Salvador Dalí and you can get a dinner in his spirit (groups, advance booking). The varying exhibitions are about contemporary art. €8.
Most accommodation businesses also arrange activities.
- Outdoor sports: swimming, beach volley, golf, disk (frisbee) golf, horseback riding, boating, canoeing, fishing
- Pargas orgeldagar, ☎ +358 40-596-8505, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 15 and 27.6–1.7.2016, mostly at 19:00, some at 12:00 or other times. Organ and chamber music festival, concerts at varying locations, some in churches. Some concerts free (program leaflet 10€), others 20,–/15,–.
Most shops can be found in Köpmansgatan, a few near the church, some by Strandgatan or farther away.
- There are two large grocery stores (K-market Reimari and S-market) by the north part of the centre and a smaller (Valintatalo) in the south.
- K-Supermarket Reimari, Kyrkoesplanaden 32 (by Skärgårdsvägen, 400m east of the turnabout), ☎ +358 2 454-6220. M–F 7–21, Sat 7–18, Sun 12–18.
- S-Market Parainen, Vapparvägen 3 (150m north of the turnabout). M–F 07–21, Sat 07–18, Sun 12–18. Café Kajutan in the same building (lunch Mon–Fri 10:30–18, Sat 10:30–17).
- Valintatalo Parainen, Strandvägen 2, ☎ +358 20-700-5915 (8, 35 c/call + 17 , 17 c/min). M–F 7–22, Sat 8–22, Sun 9–22. Also postal services.
- Market (Market square by the taxi station), ☎ +358 40-589-1748. Saturday mornings, summertime also Wednesday evenings. Not many sellers, but often some fish, berry and mushroom.
For souvenirs, consider e.g.
- Gullkrona, Köpmansgatan 12, ☎ +358 2 454-4065. Mon–Fri 9.30–17, Sat 9.30–13. Handicraft shop.
- Stentorp, Skråbbovägen 222 (6 km from the centre towards Turku, 2 km from the Archipelago road), ☎ +358 2 458-8711. Summertime 12–18, otherwise mostly by agreement. Sheep farm with quite pricey but excellent products from yarn and mittens to fur coats and art. Coffee served in a nice milieu. Sheep available for caressing.
Most restaurants are in the centre, in the pedestrian street Köpmansgatan or nearby. Consider also cafés and restaurants in the See, Buy and Sleep sections.
- Fredrikastugan, Fredrikaplan (by the church), ☎ +358 40-177-3020, e-mail: email@example.com. June and July: Sun–Thu 11.00–16.00; other times by request; large groups should announce their arrival beforehand. Museum café. Former home of Fredrika Tengström (later Runeberg; 1807–1879), writer and wife of the national poet.
- Hotell Kalkstrand, Strandvägen 1 (in the centre, by the marina), ☎ +358 2 511-6200, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: at Harry's pub when reception closed. Hotel in Pargas centre. Single room 80€, double 100€.
- Villa Rainer, Skråbbovägen 260 (6 km from the centre towards Turku, 2,6 km from the Archipelago road), ☎ +358 2 458-9077, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: rooms available from 16.00, check-out: at noon. Restaurant and hotel in old villa; open in summer or by request by groups. Rooms 46–105€+breakfast à 15€.
- Sattmarks Stuga (Sattmarkin Tupa), Sattmark 1 (9 km from the centre westwards along the Archipelago road, just after the high Sattmark bridge), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Nice café, marina for guests, fresh and smoked fish, nature path. Cabins for 1–4 persons. 20€+12€/person, linens 10€/person.
- Pensionat Aron, Pjukala (4 km from the centre), ☎ +358 2 651-01891 (?). Single room 59€, double 85€, family room 121€.
- Camping Solliden, Solstrand 7 (north of the Archipelgo road, before the turnabout of Pargas centre if coming from Turku), ☎ +358 40-758-4708, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 12:00 for cabins, 15:00 for tents and caravans. Camping, cottages for 2–10 persons, café, beach, bikes and rowing boats for rent. Tent or caravan €14/day + €4/adult, €2/child (0–15), Midsummer €40 total; electricity €5; cabin €60/night (4 persons 1.6–31.8, €45 off season); bike 7,50 half day; orienteering map €5.
- Library (Pargas bibliotek), Strandvägen 28, ☎ +358 44-358-5880, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 10-19, F 10-16, Sa 10-14. Public computer, Wi-Fi, printer etc.
Area code 2. Good GSM coverage in the town. In the outer archipelago and some rural areas there may be local lack of signal.
Postal code 21600 Pargas for the town with surroundings (the area of the formal municipality).