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alan s 06-08-20 02:48 PM

Finland trip in August
Planning a trip in southern Finland for early August. Looking for local knowledge from members who have bike toured there (and/or live there elcruxio). Will be starting east of Helsinki near Porvoo, and over a 10 day period, plan to head west to the area around Turku, and possibly to Aland if time allows. Looks like the Archipelago Trail is nice, and read about someone riding and taking a ferry between Kasnas and Hanko, with a stop at the Bengtskar lighthouse, which looks really nice. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

elcruxio 06-09-20 03:25 AM

Here's some ferry timetables in general to help you route possible coastal routes - Ferry schedules

From Porvoo to Helsinki I'd suggest you take the the old Helsinki road 170 (helsingintie). It's a nice quiet road which is used a lot among local cyclists. I've used it a few times when i've cycled to meet my parents at their summer cabin. The 170 continues as the east way (itäväylä) in Helsinki and runs directly to the city center and it's pretty nice especially in the summer. Though you may also want to try to follow the Helsinki coast whenever possible as that's quite beautiful. Just be careful not to stray into Laajasalo, which is a cape on the eastern side of Helsinki. Nothing wrong with it but there's only one way in and out.

I live in Turku but I've never cycled the Helsinki Turku gap so I have no idea which would be the best route to take. All I know that in the Helsinki end the old Turku road (110) is hilly and narrow. There's a surprisingly large amount of heavy traffic on that road even though there's a direct highway right next to it. Personally I'd probably go towards Hanko via road 51 and the smaller roads next to it. Hanko is pretty in the summer and also the southernmost place in Finland so definitely worth checking out.

Again I have no experience of the Hanko - Kasnäs route but I hear it's pretty great. Apparently it's friendly to cyclists and the ferry trip from Hanko via Bengtskär and Rosala to Kasnäs goes from june 1st to august 28th. But you need to reserve a seat in advance
Some routes apparently require two reservations.

Åland is one of my definite favorite places to tour. It may have some nostalgia to it as it is the first proper tour my wife and I ever did together. However there's a definite sense of adventure to it as there's a lot of ferry hopping, weird archipelago nature, unmanned roadside stands selling elderberry juice etc.
There's the fast way to get there which is with a large party boat (it's really a ferry, but people use them to party) from Turku harbor to Marienhamn.
Then there's the right way to do it which is to ride from Turku to Parainen and take a ferry to Nauvo (Really beautiful harbor in Nauvo. Been there a few times with a sailing boat and it's really top notch). Then you ride through Nauvo and take a ferry to Korppoo and there you can take a ferry which takes you to Åland. For the proper island hopping experience I'd take the ferry from Korppoo to Överö and from there I'd cycle to Föglö which has a ferry to Svinö which is then a part of the mainland Åland. I'm not sure but I think the ferry that goes to Överö then continues to mainland Åland but I'd say seeing Överö is definitely worth the extra ferry hop.

There's a small caveat however. It took the wife and I 10 days to do the Åland expedition. It was our first tour and so we only rode around 50 kilometers a day and we went round the whole thing AND we island hopped back as well which took us a fairly long time. But if you want to speed up your visit there I'd say island hop there and take the larger ferry back from Marienhamn. The real time drain is the circumnavigation and island hopping back. There's also a chance that in august not all the ferries are running so there's that as well.

If you have time, the definite places to see in and around Turku are Ruissalo (and island south of Turku). There's also a large camping site at the western tip if that's a thing you want to do. Also Naantali is by far one of the coolest summer towns in Finland. They say that all towns are summer towns but Naantali is definitely the spot to visit.

The archipelago trail while intriquing as an idea is actually pretty disappointing. For first timers it's ok, but to me it's really quite boring. I'll always vote for Åland and other places in stead of the archipelago route.

If you are into hiking while touring there's a small national park north of Turku called the Kurjenrahka National park. Nice place but the trails aren't accessible with a touring bike so maybe not that great an idea.

A few things about cycling in Finland.
Cycling here is generally very safe and other road users are generally polite and follow rules of the road well.
However there was a major overhaul in our traffic laws just recently (eight days ago to be exact) which changed a few things. Right now we're in a situation where no one really knows how some things relating to cycling work. However with that kept in mind just follow the old rules and wisdoms and you'll be fine.

- You are allowed to ride on the road. If you ride on the road you are generally expected to ride on the shoulder if it is safe. This really only means if the shoulder is wide enough to really properly ride on. Personally I don't ride on the shoulder if it is narrower than half a meter but it really depends on the road condition, traffic, place etc. Åland for example has awesome shoulders which are a joy to ride on.
- If there is a cycleway next to the road you are expected to use that instead of the road. A bicycle way is marked with a blue sign with a white bicycle symbol. Most cycleways are combined MUP's and those are marked with a blue sign with a pedestrian and bicycle symbols. Pedestrian is king on these ways so give them a wide berth. People walking dogs can be a pain so ringing a bell well before passing them is adviseable.
- Riding on pavement (pedestrian only ways) is forbidden. Pavements can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from MUP's but in Turku they are usually paved with these wide concrete flagstones rathern than asphalt. The road sign for a pavement is a blue sign with just a pedestrian symbol. You'll know them when you see them. MUP's are far more common than pure pedestrian ways.
- If you do get into an accident with a car or another road user always call the police. The popo in Finland are professional and willing to help people in need.
- I hate giving this advice as it's not according to the principle of how things should be, but it's better to be safe than right. If you're not sure a car is going to yield, just slow down or stop. Sometimes a driver doesn't see you or doesn't have the insight to look around. It is very rare but it does happen unfortunately.

You can transport bicycles on trains or on certain long distance busses but for long distance trains and busses you need to buy a spot for the bicycle in advance. Usually you do this when buying a ticket for yourself.

If you want to meet or grab a bite of lunch or just more general guidance or questions / translation help with the ferry things, reservations etc. throw me a PM and we'll talk. I have a full bike workshop so if you have any mechanicals etc. I can help.

jpescatore 06-09-20 05:43 AM

A few years ago, my wife and I did a supported tour of the Aland Islands - phenomenal flat cycling. I did a CycleBlaze journal here.

We pretty much did what the previous post recommended - island hopped and took the ferry back from Marienhamn. The route was did would easily be doable unsupported, from a food/lodging point of view - the towns are not very far apart - assuming everything is open. We chatted with many doing it camping vs. lodging.

djb 06-09-20 07:43 AM

lots of great info.

questions Alan--what are the realities of flying there and 14 day quarantine upon arrival etc issues? I cannot imagine that they would allow some random Americans to just enter into their country and travel around? What about insurance issues in terms of any and all possibilities?
These are all factors that personally have unfortunately made us not even consider any air and bike travel in other countries until the unforeseen future.

alan s 06-09-20 01:19 PM

Thanks for all the advice. Aland sounds perfect. Maybe I’ll find a way to get to Turku more quickly than riding there and hop on a ferry. The Hanko-Kasnas side trip could be done on the way back to Helsinki.

As far as the coronavirus situation, it is expected that foreign tourists will be allowed in possibly in late June or July, so that is the biggest factor in whether this will happen. Flights are picking up again. My friend who has a house near Porvoo is heading there from the US in late June and should be able to provide good information.

alan s 06-16-20 01:43 PM

The entry rules are slowly moving toward allowing foreign travel there, with further easing expected on July 1 and 15. I’ll have to wait to book a flight until it’s clear I can go, but would expect flights to rapidly fill at such time.

tomtomtom123 06-28-20 04:13 AM

Rumor has it that Americans will be banned from the reopening of the EU border. But keep a look out on new information, and the official announcement whenever it comes out.

djb 06-28-20 05:05 AM

Originally Posted by tomtomtom123 (Post 21557489)
Rumor has it that Americans will be banned from the reopening of the EU border. But keep a look out on new information, and the official announcement whenever it comes out.

I would not be surprised if the existing Canadian US border closure to non commercial crossings gets extennded, if the unfortunate rising of cases in some individual states remains as co concerning as it is now.
This whole situation must just be hammering all the regular mom and pop tourism related Industry.
we will try to do local trips as much as we can to at least support stuff around here.

alan s 07-02-20 09:54 AM

Things are not looking good for this trip. As of now, the border is open for 15 countries, including Canada, but not the US. There is a list of 54 countries from which the 15 were approved, and the US is not even on that list. Unless there is a miracle, I’ll have to scrap my plans until next year.

fietsbob 07-02-20 11:31 AM

Yea the national leadership has been unwilling to do what was needed to suppress the virus transmission.
and Tourist Visa blocking is the result..

djb 07-02-20 03:40 PM

For all of you Americans, the rest of us look at your situation and we just hope that the proper measures that we and other countries have taken, will be heeded and followed.
Cultural and political angles make no difference whatsoever to this virus.

I wish you the best in making responsible, mature and educated decisions that will decrease the time this virus affects your society.

sorry your trip didn't work out Alan.

tomtomtom123 07-02-20 04:13 PM

Well, the ban applies (supposedly) to residents of the US, so you may try looking at it in more detail to see if it allows you entry if you were a resident of another country, for example like if you were somewhere else in the previous half year. But I'm not an expert, and a lot of the news articles are missing the important details.

PedalingWalrus 07-02-20 04:20 PM

Yeah, good luck shelling out the cash for flight tickets and then arguing your case at the airport or border and basically risking the $$$ you invested. I would not go into such battle with such handicap and I even have dual citizenship.

fietsbob 07-02-20 04:39 PM

Might be a case for buying traveler's insurance get money back if trip is buggered up..

350htrr 07-02-20 09:21 PM

Originally Posted by fietsbob (Post 21566138)
Might be a case for buying traveler's insurance get money back if trip is buggered up..

I would not count on that, we have been trying to get our moneys back for our cancelled trip to Europe because of countries locking down for the last 2 months... and... nothing, not even a "we are working on it" reply... Some insurance companies even said they will not cover anything if the cause was the Covid 19 epidemic…

fietsbob 07-02-20 09:57 PM

My last trip was in 97, should have stayed.. even got a visa extension..

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