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 tourist information (Skärgårdens Turistinformation), Strandvägen 28, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M–W 09:00–16:00, Th 09:00–17:00, F 09:00–15:00.
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 Skärgårdsvägen to Pargas, 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.
From June 2016 most services to Pargas are by TLO. Livery for buses to Pargas centre (lines 801 and 802) is usually the same as for buses in Turku, but Föli tickets are not valid for Pargas. TLO also operates coaches going farther (lines 901–903) with a different livery ("Skärgårdsbuss"). Vainion Liikenne retains the (few) services directly from Helsinki via Kaarina and Pargas farther on.
The fare Turku–Pargas is €6.20 for adults, €3.10 for children (4–12 years). Bikes can be taken on the bus if there is room, for a fee (€3–5?).
From Turku, there are connections
- to Pargas centre every hour, except some hours in the night, every half an hour daytime except Sundays, some more at rush hours; departing from the bus station (2018–2020) but using stops for local buses.
- via Pargas to Nagu and Korpo, mostly with a transfer option to Houtskär, six to eight times a day; from the bus station, using stops for coaches.
There are a few direct connections a week from Helsinki, via Kaarina and Pargas to Nagu and Korpo, by Skärgårdsvägen/Vainion liikenne. Otherwise you have to transfer in Kaarina or Turku. 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). Check the transfer arrangements; transfer in Turku may be possible, avoiding the 300 m walk between stops or excess waiting time, but transfer in Kaarina (by Kaarina centre or in Piispanristi) can save some time and is a little cheaper if you buy separate tickets. In 2019 the pedestrian tunnel in Piispanristi is closed because of roadworks, use the temporary zebra crossing.
The 1 bus station is by the roundabout on Skärgårdsvägen, by the north end of the centre. The buses terminating here drive through the centre. Café Bustis (also lunch), fuel station.
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, as there are long passages along narrow sounds. The nice Kyrksundet sound through the town, providing a short route to Turku, is accessible only with motorboats of moderate size (low bridges).
- 2 Kalkholm (at the south end of the centre, by Kyrkfjärden), ☏ . 20 €/night.
- 3 Airisto (Stormälö, in the south-east end of the Airisto body of water), ☏ . 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, car or taxi if you want to get anywhere by land and don't have bikes. 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.
Bikes are for rent at Hotel Kalkstrand, Café Hallonblad and Solliden Camping. At these places and at the tourist office there is a free biking map available, with 12 km of routes to nearby destinations such as the query lookout, Bläsnäs beach and the church. More comprehensive biking maps are probably for sale.
The 4 taxi station is in the southern end of the centre, by Kyrksundet.
- Pargas Taxi (now using same number as Taksi Länsisuomi), ☏ (Shared cost number).
- Taxi Bengt Östman, ☏ , .
- Taxi Elovirna, ☏ , .
- Taxi Leino, ☏ .
- Pärres taxi, ☏ .
- 1 Pargas kyrka. Medieval church.
- 2 Gamla malmen (the old town). Wooden old town by the church.
- 3 Pargas hembygdsmuseum (the local history museum), Storgårdsgatan 13, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 1.6–31.8 Tue–Sun 11–16, other times by request. 3€, children under 12 free.
- 4 Pargas industrimuseum (the quarry museum), Gruvvägen 1, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 18.6–18.8 Tue–Sun 11–16, other times by request. 3€, children under 12 free.
- 5 Kalkgruvan (the limestone quarry) (view e.g. from the designated place near Pajbackavägen). 24 h daily, except around 14:00. free.
- 6 Art Bank, Köpmansgatan 24, ☏ , ✉ 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 options include swimming, beach volley, golf, disk (frisbee) golf, horseback riding, boating, canoeing and fishing.
- 1 Beach volley courts (by the bus station). 24 h daily. Free.
- 2 Bläsnäs beach, Åsuddsvägen 4 (a kilometre north of the bus station, keep to the right at forks). Beach, shallow and deeper part separated by pontoon. Swim jump tower (5 m), beach huts, toilets. No guards. Sailing board, sup boards, kayaks etc. for rent, but a call in advance is needed (+358 400 531 641). Also with teacher. Quay for visiting yachts, ramp for trailered boats. Free. Kayak/board €10/hr, canoe €20/hr, with teacher €50.
- 3 Archipelagia Golf, Finbyvägen 87, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 18 hole golf court. Restaurant. Greenfee in season (22.6–9.8) €55/40/25.
- 4 Finby jogging/skiing route, Finbyvägen 87–89. 24h daily. 2.1 km jogging/walking route in the woods. Cross-country skiing tracks in winter, 1–10 km. Lights in evenings. Free.
For renting yachts, smaller boats and canoes, see Archipelago Sea.
- Call of the old town (Gamla Malmen kallar). Festival in the old town, with garden sales, theatre and general merrymaking.
- Pargas orgeldagar, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 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,–.
- Saaristo trail. Annually, late August. Cross-country running competition, with 1, 6, 11 and 18 km routes.
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 (M-Market) in the south.
- 1 K-Supermarket Reimari, Kyrkoesplanaden 32 (by Skärgårdsvägen, 400m east of the turnabout), ☏ . Mon–Sat 7-21, Sun 10-21. Customer quay on Kyrksundet, accessible by motorboat (low bridges). Pharmacy. Fuel station 200 m from the quay.
- 2 S-Market Parainen, Vapparvägen 3 (150m north of the turnabout). Mon-Sat 07–21, Sun 10–19. Café Kajutan in the same building (lunch Mon–Fri 10:30–18, Sat 10:30–17).
- 3 M-Market, Strandvägen 2, ☏ (?). Mon–Fri 7–22, Sat 8–22, Sun 9–22. Price for calls 8,35 c/call + 17,17 c/min.
- R-kioski, Strandvägen 12. Kiosk. Also fishing permits and post services,
- 4 Torget (Market square by the taxi station), ☏ . Saturday mornings, summertime also Wednesday evenings. Market. Not many sellers, but often some fish, berry and mushroom.
- Hamntorget (Kalkholm, by the guest harbour in the south end of town). Summertime Th 16:00–20:00. Market.
For souvenirs, consider e.g.
- Gullkrona, Strandvägen (close to the north end of Köpmansgatan), ☏ . 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), ☏ . Summertime 12–18, otherwise mostly by agreement. Sheep farm with quite pricey but excellent products from yarn and mittens to sheep fur coats and art. Coffee served in nice surroundings. Sheep available for caressing. Herding dog performances at some occasions.
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.
- Axo (north end of Köpmansgatan). Café of the Axo bakery.
- 1 Fredrikastugan, Fredrikaplan (by the church), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 2 Café Hallonblad, Storgårdsgatan 1 (?). Lunch weekdays 11:00–14:00. Nice café with several individually furnished rooms. Lunch €10, lunch soup €8,50.
- Café Nathalie (Köpmansgatan).
- 1 Hotell Kalkstrand, Strandvägen 1 (in the centre, by the marina), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: at Harry's pub when reception closed. Hotel in Pargas centre. Single room 80€, double 100€.
- 2 Sattmarks Stuga (Sattmarkin Tupa), Sattmark 1 (9 km from the centre westwards along the Archipelago road, just after the high Sattmark bridge), ✉ 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), ☏ (?). Single room 59€, double 85€, family room 121€.
- 3 Camping Solliden, Solstrand 7 (north of the Archipelgo road, before the turnabout of Pargas centre if coming from Turku), ☏ , ✉ 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, ☏ , ✉ 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).