former municipality in Finland, now part of Pargas

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

UnderstandEdit

 
Nagu, including the archipelago

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 have 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.

Nagu was, together with the rest of western Swedish-speaking Åboland merged into a new municipality, which confusingly – and to much bitterness – renamed itself to Pargas, as the town had a majority on votes. Often Pargas is referred to as "Pargas Pargas".

Get inEdit

 
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 Lillmälö in Pargas to Prostvik in the east end of Nagu Lillandet, 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 Retais in Korpo to Pärnäs at the western shore of Storlandet). These road ferries are a free public service. The distance between Prostvik and Pärnäs is some 27 km (17 mi), between Lillmälö ferry pier and Pargas centre some 17 km (11 mi).

A ferry from Långnäs in Åland takes you to Galtby in Korpo. A road ferry arrives there from Houtskär (where you might have ended up by island hopping).

The main village, Kyrkbacken, is in the east end of Storlandet, some 14 km from Prostvik, 33 km (21 mi) from Pargas centre and 55 km (34 mi) from Turku. Like in many Finnish villages the view from the road is not too romantic: a petrol station and flat roofed grocery stores (you can get a glimpse of the church from the road, though). 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 six to eight times a day, operated by TLO (but usually in a white and green livery and labeled "Skärgårdsbuss"). There are a few direct connections also from Helsinki by Skärgårdsvägen Ab (owned by Vainion Liikenne), but usually you use coaches to Turku and 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). The Föli route planner also has the timetables for coaches from Turku, but knows only the main stops. Check the map, use common sense and check with somebody in the know when you are unsure. The 1 Nagu bus station is at the SEO gas station.

There is a good bike route from Turku to Pargas. Some kilometres after the centre it gets narrow and starts going up and down any hill but it continues all the way to the Lillmälö ferry pier, and is paved except the last kilometre or two. On the Nagu side you mostly have to cope with the road traffic, one strategy is to get off when the batch of cars from a ferry is approaching.

You could also take a boat or ship from Turku (departures from the Aura river between Föri and Martinsilta bridge). They arrive in 2 Nagu guest marina.

  • m/s Norrharun, +358 40 017 6684, . 2020: 10:00→11:45→12:15 (Turku–Själö–Kyrkbacken) or 09:30→11:45–14:20→14:50 (Turku–Själö–Själö→Kyrkbacken), back 16:00→16:30→18:15 or 15:25→15:55–16:30→18.15; 10 and 12 June–30 Aug daily; spring and autumn to 20 Sep weekends only, 24–27 Sep special cruise. From Läntinen Rantakatu 37 in Turku, via the postal jetty in Själö, to the guest harbour in Kyrkbacken or Gullkrona. The route is extended to Gullkrona W,Sa 22 June–9 Aug, and those days departures from Turku are earlier and the connection Själö–Kyrkbacken handled by m/s Östern, with 2½ hr on Själö (or more, if desired). Turku–Nagu €25/15, return €36/22; Nagu–Själö €8/4, return €15/7.50.

Coming by yacht you have thousands of options. 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. There are lots of summer cottages, often not seen from a distance; do not land at private jetties or close to houses. See Archipelago Sea and Boating in Finland for some destinations, yacht rental, charts etc.

Get aroundEdit

 
Stenskär in the southern archipelago, with a popular guest harbour

The coaches drive along Skärgårdsvägen 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). Renting a bike is possible at many accommodation businesses.

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 the Kyrkbacken or 3 Pärnäs (the Utö ferry departs from Kyrkbacken during quay repairs November 2020–May 2021, with adjusted schedules), the latter some 14 km farther, both on Skärgårdsvägen. A few part from 4 Kirjais Österby which is reachable by bike, car, ferry, or a special subsidized taxi that has to be ordered well in advance. Kirjais harbour is located 12 km from Skärgårdsvägen, 16 km from Kyrkbacken.

Important! Check whether you have to order the connection in advance (usually before 14:00 or 16:00 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 some take a few cars, but there may be no parking lot nor road to drive at the destination. M/S Baldur (ex Eivor) does not carry private cars, M/S Östern does not carry cars to Själö. 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:

 
The harbour of Brännskär: boathouse and ferry pier to the left, guest jetty in the middle, a second boathouse to the right

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. The Kyrkbacken marina offers this service explicitly: bikes for rent, the yacht can be left Sunday afternoon to Friday afternoon for €40, except in peak season.

A rowing boat or similar is nice for getting a feel for the sea and to explore nearby islands. You get to rent or use one for free at some lodgings. If you cross larger bodies of water, you might get stuck though, would the weather change.

There are kayaks for rent at some lodging businesses, and from dedicated businesses (see Archipelago Sea). The latter are probably to be preferred at least for longer journeys if you need advice.

By taxiEdit

SeeEdit

 
Sjöfartshuset in Kyrkbacken, just behind the church
 
Borstögumman, an 18th century figurehead, watching the archipelago from Borstö

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:

  • 1 Nagu church (Nagu kyrka), Kyrkvallen, +358 40-312-4430. Medieval stone church built probably between 1430 and 1450. The pipe organ from 1791 was built by famous Swedish organ builder Olof Schwan.
  • 2 Maritime House (Sjöfartshuset), Kyrkostigen 3 (by the church), +358 2 410-6600. 4.6–12.8 Tue–Sun 11:00–18:00, 13.8–31.8 Tue–Sun 11:00–16:00. Exhibitions telling about the seafaring traditions of Nagu from early 19th century to these days. Many ship models and paintings. €3, children under 12 free.
  • 3 Stone labyrinth in Finby (Finby jungfrudans) (near Kyrkbacken). Take a short hike along a nature trail that leads to an old man-made stone formation or labyrinth, also called jungfrudansen, the maiden's dance. There are many this kind of labyrinths around Baltic Sea coasts but nobody knows why they were made. The map of the trail can be downloaded from [1] (with description in Swedish and Finnish only). Free.
  • 4 Bronze age burial cairn. Fairly impressive bronze age burial cairn on top of Jättekastet hill. Those days these islands were yet uninhabited so nobody knows who the deceased was or what he/she was doing here. The best way to visit the site is to follow Westerholm Cultural Path from the town center, there is more to see on the trail than just this grave. In the forest there is a rope to help the climb to the hill (the Westerholm Path has alternative route around the hill but then you miss the site). Both climb and descend are steep. Be careful. Free.
  • 5 M/S Estonia Memorial (at Pärnäs). When approaching the ferry terminal in Pärnäs, take a little path across the road just opposite the bistro. After a few hundred meters you will reach a rocky shore with a memorial to the victims of cruise ferry Estonia sinking September 28th 1994, where most of those on board perished. It was the deadliest peacetime shipwreck to have occurred in European waters. There are monuments also in Tallinn and Stockholm. Free.

IslandsEdit

  • 6 Själö (Finnish: Seili). Lush island near Nagu Kyrkbacken, with a former leper colony, later mental hospital, now the Archipelago Research Institute of University of Turku. Famous for its history. A wooden church remains. Reached by boat or by ferry (Falkö, Östern or Fanny). Guided tours (in English by request), restaurant and accommodation in rooms for 1–4 persons with shared bathrooms and kitchens (since 2017). Take precautions against the ticks. Östern and Fanny €6/3 single; Falkö free.
  • 7 Nötö (Nötö). An island located some 25 km south from the Korpo main village. The wooden chapel is from the 19th century. Grocery store with Alko delivery point. Summer café. Nature trail with a fascinating singing stone, Klockarsten. Accessible by M/S Baldur from Pärnäs (from Kyrkbacken during quay repairs November 2020–May 2021, with adjusted schedules). During the season a day trip is possible in Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (no coach connection from Pärnäs at Wednesdays) but accommodation is also available. Start from Aspö and stay overnight in Nötö.
  • 8 Berghamn. A small island with six year-round inhabitants is on the route of M/S Baldur and M/S Cheri. Northern part of the island belongs to the Archipelago Sea National Park and the buildings of old Västerby fisherman's farm act today as national park information hut (free entry). The exhibition is concentrated on fishing. Guides are present at the summertime. Camping at the yard is allowed but beware, there are vast amounts of ticks around. Two marked nature trail. Campfire site and dry toilet at the area. The village on the island is included to the list of nationally significant built culture environments.
  • 9 Gullkrona. This small island south from Nagu main islands is on the route of M/S Cheri and M/S Norrskär from Turku (summer weekends). Once famous and popular guest marina was deserted for over a decade as the entrepreneurs were too old to keep business running. New owners re-opened the harbor in 2019. At summertime there is a guest marina with saunas, café, nature trail, and a small museum about island's maritime pilot history.

DoEdit

Fishing, boating, swimming.

  • 1 The Westerholm Trail. This 3 km long nature and culture trail follow footprints of Nagu-born painter Victor Westerholm (1860-1919). He spent his childhood here on the Ernholm island and later became a renowned landscape painter. The circular trail starts from the market square and is well marked but the forest part is poorly suitable for disabled. free.

EventsEdit

  • Nagu kammarmusikdagar (Nagu Chamber Music Festival), . 6–10.7.2016, mostly 19:00. Classical music, mostly in the church. Mostly €18/15/10.
  • Harvest happening (Skärgårdens skördefest), +358 40-735-05-93, . 14-16.9.2018. Market with local produce (Sa 10:00–15:00), fish smoking competition (Sa 14:00), open doors on some farms (at least the sheep farms Västeräng on Ytterholm and Korsnäs Östergård; Su 10:00–16:00), and "restaurant days" (Strandkrogen, Biffi and Pensar Syd in Nagu, also restaurants elsewhere, special menues and lotteries F–Su)
  • Möviken runt. Yearly, July. Cross-country running event.

BuyEdit

There is an Otto ATM at Andelsbanken, about opposite to the SEO station in Kyrkbacken.

  • Grocery stores by Skärgårdsvägen in Kyrkbacken, perhaps also in Kirjais (owner change, check what they did with the shop) and Nötö
  • Clothes by Svanhild Åbonde, shop at the Kyrkbacken marina
  • 1 Troolen, Skjutbanevägen 2 (Lillandet, by Skärgårdsvägen), +358 40-809-1062, . In summer: M–Th Sa 09:00–17:00, F 09:00–19:00, Su 11:00–17:00; lunch 11:00–14:00. Fish (mostly own) and other seafood, also kiosk and café with lunch (a fish dish). lunch €8,50.

EatEdit

 
Pizzeria Nagu style: Najaden

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

Smoked fish can be bought at Troolen (see Buy above) or at the Kyrkbacken marina, with some luck. Try your luck also at other guest harbours.

At KyrkbackenEdit

Restaurants also at most accommodations.

ElsewhereEdit

DrinkEdit

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

SleepEdit

 
Hotel Strandbo, lodging in Nagu style

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

In KyrkbackenEdit

  • 1 Hotell Strandbo, Nagu strand 3 (by the marina), +358 2 460-6200, . Open 31.5–14.9 (2014). Belongs to Strandbo Group, which is a big organizer of activities for tourists and others. Charter tours etc. available. Closed in winter. single €95, double €125.
  • 2 Lanterna, Parkvägen 5 (by the marina), +358 2 463-1814, . Old house. Ceramics (of hostess?) for sale. Bikes and canoes for rent. single €50/55, double €70–100/90–125 (off season/in season), breakfast €7.
  • 3 Köpmans B&B, Strandstigen 3 (by the church), +358 40 643 4430, . B&B open year round. double €125-135.
  • 4 Gästgiveri Martha, Kyrkvallen 4 (by the church), +358 2 465-1409. Check-in: 14–18, check-out: 12.00. 19th century house. Good food, but possibly only by agreement. Also programme: fishing, bird watching, berry picking, kayaking, hunting, cycling and mushroom picking trips. single €47/55, double €74–84/97–110, family €95–110/130–160 (off season, breakfast €7/in season, breakfast included).

Elsewhere on main islandsEdit

  • 5 Grännäs Homestead, Uttisvägen 27 (3.5 km westwards from Kyrkbacken, 750 m towards Högsar, 250 m to the left), +358 500-789-365, . Also cottages. Bikes for rent. €10/tent+€5/person, caravans (1–4 persons) €30.
  • 6 Kirjais kursgård, owners: Sarviksvägen 31 (Kirjais, south of Lillandet, with road connection), +358 2 465-5150, . Main building and cottages. Guest harbour and restaurant in the village half a kilometre away. Small motorboats for rent, e.g. for fishing (€60/day). B&B €40/pers, including linen, children 3–12 half price; cottage with four bedrooms (10 pers) €350 one night, €900 one week, linen €10/pers (cited prices in season except Midsummer, open year round).
  • 7 Norrgård, Biskopsövägen 133 (on Biskopsö between Storlandet and Lillandet, 5 km east from Kyrkbacken, 1.5 km from coach stop), +358 50-342-5819. Not in winter. Check-in: 16:00–20:00, check-out: 12:00. Cottages since the 1970s. Original ones 4+1 persons, kitchenette, cold potable water, electricity; smaller "overnight" cabins for 4/2 persons with bunk beds, communal facilities. Showers in separate building. Outhouse toilet. Beach with sauna 100 m, child-friendly beach 1 km. Terrain hilly, not suitable for the mobility impaired. Small scale organic farming. Rowing boats and bikes for hire. Luggage transport for pilgrims for a fee. Also separate summer house with own facilities (2+2+1 persons, water at the well). Original cottages €70, from third day €40, small cabins €50/30, additional days €30/€20; sheets €10/person; pilgrim B&B €30 including sheets and rowing boat use; summer house €200/2 days, €520/week.
  • 8 Hotel Stallbacken, Grännäsvägen 14 (3.5 km westwards from Kyrkbacken, 800 m towards Högsar, turn left after the oak alley), +358 40 486 6822, . Countryside hotel with its own restaurant.
  • 9 B&B Västergard, Gyttjavägen 29 (in Gyttja on Lillandet), +385 40-586-1317, . Small and intimate accommodation in the countryside that also offers outdoor activities like cycling and kayaking.

In NötöEdit

  • 10 Backarö (Nötö), +358 50 360 3029, . A small hotel in Nötö. Breakfast included, other meals available by request. single room €60, twin room €80, couple room €80 (children €20).
  • 11 Nötö Camping Site (Nötö island). The camping site on Nötö is located in the southern part of the island.

In PensarEdit

ConnectEdit

Postal code: 21660 Nagu (main island), 21650 Lillandet, 21680 Nötö, ...

Go nextEdit

  • Pargas to the east and Korpo to the west, obviously. You could also complete the Archipelago Trail.
  • A tour to one of the more distant islands of the Archipelago Sea, such as Gullkrona, Nötö, Jurmo or Utö, is a nice adventure. There is accommodation available in winter as well as summer on at least the three latter islands.
  • The Åland islands, reachable from Galtby in Korpo.
  • Kimitoön, which is the other municipality in the southern Archipelago Sea, to the south-east. There is a ferry connection to Örö and Kasnäs in summer.
  • The Archipelago Trail, which continues to Pargas and to Korpo
This city travel guide to Nagu is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.