There are more than 50 Lighthouses, the old-time markers, in Finland, and 20 of them are open to visitors.
Most lighthouses in Finland have been automated but luckily not abandoned, with many now serving as tourist destinations boasting restaurants and accommodation. The distant locations guarantee visitors peace and quiet, save for the sounds of the sea.
One of the most famous lighthouses is the 150-year-old lighthouse of Söderskär in the Porvoo archipelago near Helsinki. There is three times a week a ferry from Helsinki to Söderskär. In addition to a small restaurant, the tower offers the possibility to overnight in the Lighthouse suite with antique decorations. Other well-known lighthouses with overnight possibility are the lighthouse of Bengtskär, which houses a museum and a café, as well as a number of guest rooms, and the lighthouse on the island of Kylmäpihlaja in front of Rauma. As one of the few has the lighthouse of Kylmäpihlaja rooms in the tower with free sea view. Also very popular are the lighthouses of Tankar and Jussarö in the Ekenäs Archipelago National Park.
Tankar lighthouse watches over the coast of Kokkola (5)
Isn’t Tankar the epitome of a classic lighthouse? The picturesque island of Tankar is dotted with traditional Finnish summer cottages that are still used by locals. A daily boat service allows visitors to enjoy the homely atmosphere and salmon soup served in the family run café restaurant. Staying overnight at the old lighthouse keeper’s house, the old pilot station or in a cottage is rather inexpensive. Walking the nature trail, paying a visit to the cosy little 18th century wooden church and the seal hunting museum are all highly recommended. The lighthouse itself, built in 1889, is of the classic shape and style, and makes for terrific photos.
The wooden fishermen’s church on Tankar lighthouse island is adorned with unique old paintings. Some names carved into its seats and walls date back to the 18th century. The island of Tankar is typical of the Finnish archipelago: Rocky and rugged, yet green and cute.
Söderskär in the Porvoo Archipelago (1)
The 150-year-old Söderskär lighthouse is served by three cruises a week from central Helsinki. Located in the middle of a nature preserve, landing on the island is prohibited to protect rare sea bird species. However, guided tours make an exception. Day trippers can enjoy the café and history tours, while overnighters can stay in the lighthouse tower suite with old-fashioned decoration. The wood-heated sauna, built in 1876, should definitely not be missed. True relaxation kicks in when you realise there’s not much you can do about anything. The sea keeps stress away at Söderskär lighthouse.
Bengtskär, the historic beacon (2)
One of the best-known lighthouses in Finland, Bengtskär turned 100 years in 2006. It is the highest lighthouse in the Nordic countries and is rich in history, making a guided tour just about obligatory. Bombs and grenades have been hurled at the Bengtskär lighthouse, and battles have been waged even inside it. It still sees a lot of action these days, but only of the peaceful variety. The majestic stone brick lighthouse has stood through it all: wars, extreme conditions, and decades of decay until reconditioned in 1995. The tourism services are family run; the restaurant offers traditional local courses and the six lighthouse keepers’ rooms now serve as accommodation. On the second floor of the Bengtskär lighthouse, there is a tiny chapel where memorable weddings can be organised. The lighthouse accommodates 24 overnight guests.
Kylmäpihlaja Lighthouse, a pearl of the coast of Rauma (3)
Built in 1953, this lighthouse is one of few in Finland that has rooms located in the tower itself. A 45-minute boat ride from the mainland, this charming little island serves gourmet lovers, retreaters and nature buffs equally well. The exquisite restaurant alone is worth the trip, and for those staying overnight, a steaming sauna followed by a cooling drink on the cliffs is a must. Watching the sun set on the horizon with only birdlife for company is a cinematic experience. The restaurant at Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse is phenomenal, and food enthusiasts flock here from great distances. Chef Tom Lindqvist and a score of famed guest stars do things to your tastebuds that make you want to miss the boat back. The Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse island is part of the Bothnian Sea National Park and rich in birdlife. Many an hour is easily spent simply walking around watching birds and enjoying the stress-free environment.