Protection for the coast
There are 39 national parks in Finland, and in 2017, when Finland celebrates its 100 years as an independent country, the 40th national park will be inaugurated. They have a total area of more than 8000 square kilometers. Seven of them are within the coastal region.
There are seven national parks in the archipelago area. Besides enjoying the scenery and spotting animals and plants, the parks present ideal opportunities for outdoor activities. Archipelago and island hopping offer spectacular ways to experience Finnish nature trough fishing, sailing, cycling or canoeing. Other interesting places to visit and experience Finnish nature include the Kalajoki Marine Nature Center, Haltia and the Wetland Center in Liminka Bay. The main function of national parks is to protect nature. However, provided certain basic rules are adhered to, anyone may wander freely inside them. More than 90 percent of the 500-square-kilometre Archipelago National Park off the southwest coast of Finland is underwater. For canoe aficionados, there’s enough to see and do for a week or even two.
Archipelago See (4)
The labyrinthine Archipelago Sea, off Southwestern Finland, has more islands than any other archipelago in the world. It has also been described as the world’s most beautiful archipelago. Apart from wild windswept rocky islets, the visitors can enjoy traditional archipelago life in vibrant villages, where accommodation varies from modest cottages to hotels. Scheduled ferry services take locals and trippers to the main islands all year round. For canoe aficionados, there’s enough to see and do for a week or even two. The national park can be reached after a three-hour car drive from Helsinki or a one-hour drive from Turku, where there are short daily flights and train connections from Helsinki.
Only 45 minutes from Helsinki city centre or from Helsinki-Vantaa airport, lies Nuuksio National Park. There one can escape into wild natural settings, with lovely lakes, green forests and rugged crags. Even a one-hour hike along well-marked hospitable trails gives the visitor the feeling of experiencing the wilderness. Or make a longer hike and enjoy your picnic by a campfire place where dry firewood waits the trekker. The nearby Finnish Nature Centre Haltia spotlights the best of Finland’s natural treasures from across the country. If you forgot your picnic, don’t worry: Haltia’s buffet lunch table is full of Finnish delicacies from nearby famers, many of them producing organic food. Nuuksio can be reached by a combination of local train and bus, or by car or taxi.
Teijo’s attractions include peaceful lakes and forests, as well as historic ironworks villages where traditional crafts still thrive. From these picturesque settlements you can head straight out to explore the lakes, seashores, marshes and forests of the national park – and go hiking, canoeing or fishing. You can get a good taste of Teijo on a day trip, but it’s also well worth staying over – out in the wilds under a starry sky, or in cosy lodgnings in a charming village. A trip there can be combined with a trip to the Archipelago National Park, reachable only with an hour’s car ride from Teijo. A train connection from Helsinki to Salo several times a day, followed by a short car ride, takes the visitor to Teijo. Alternatively, it can be reached by car from Helsinki in two hours.
Ekenäs Archipelago (2)
The Ekenäs Archipelago National Park is located in the region of Uusimaa on the southernmost End of Finland. Almost 90 percent of the surface is water. The best way to discover the more than 1300 islands is by boat and in summer is the region a popular spot for sailors and canoeists. For divers there is an interesting underwater world to discover.
Bothnian Sea (5)
The Bothnia Sea National Park was opened in 2011. It includes the archipelago to the west of Rauma. The islands are a paradise for explorers. On Reksaari, there are some protected animal species indigenous and a geological path on the Kuuskajaskari island take the visitors to the primeval times. Divers can here explore Finland's most pristine marine waters. The lighthouse of Kylmäpihlaja offers individual accommodation for visitors.
Bothnian Bay (6)
The National Park Bottnische Bay is located between Sweden and Finland at the bottom of the Bothnian Bay, in the outer archipelago of Kemi and Tornio. It includes the islands of Sandskär and Seskar Furö as well as some smaller islands and islets, which can only be reached by own boat. All islands have only arisen from the sea within the last 1500 years.
Eastern Gulf of Finland (1)
This sea national park extends over a 60 kilometre-wide sea surface off the coast of Kotka about 150 km east of Helsinki. It is best to be explored by boat, because the more than 100 islands are far from the mainland and from inhabited islands. In spring huge flocks of arctic geese and waterfowl pass through these waters on their way northeast, creating an amazing natural spectacle. If you´re lucky, you may see some seals.