First, a few notes:
This itinerary is based on a kayaking expedition from Turku in Finland, renting from Aavameri. For alternative companies or locations within Finland, click here.
This itinerary includes time to explore the cities of Turku, Helsinki and to hop over the sea for a day trip to Estonia, or a train journey to Russia. These options are completely customisable.
Nice to know – This itinerary features SWAPS, assisting you to create your own adventure.
If you’re going in July, be sure to check when the local island rock festival is happening. This will lead to full hostels/hostels, and any remaining places will be double the price. Book early if this is the case.
Things to do in Turku
What you need to book
Book your flights & train/bus if required
Journey out – Fly to Helsinki, Finland and take a train or bus to Turku, Finland.
Alternatively, fly directly to Turku*. B
Journey home – Book your journey home from Helsinki. B
If you choose to fly to Helsinki, the train station you’ll need is at Helsinki airport. You can even choose to stay in Helsinki at the start of your trip and explore the city there. To book your train(s), click here. B
*There may be less available flights to Turku, but it is more direct.
Meet your friends and stay at a hostel/hotel for the first night. B
- A recommendation is: Borea Ship Hostel. This is a friendly, well known hostel with dorms and private rooms, based in an historical area of Turku. The ship itself is a museum and they have kept the old-fashioned feel within the rooms. Rooms are simple and dark but give an unusual feel, and this is one of the cheapest places to stay in Turku. Staff are helpful. You’ll be based on the canal, near to other museum ships & the castle, one of the most famous attractions in Turku. However, you are a 30 minute walk away from the city centre, where you will find markets, shops and restaurants. Buses from there often stop on the opposite side of the canal, with the nearest bridge up to a 20 minute walk away. Don’t rely on Google Maps, as it doesn’t seem to know that Borea is on the other side of the canal! If any popular event is happening in Turku, make sure you book Borea early as this hostel does fill up.
- If you prefer the hotel feel, try the Centro Hotel in the city centre.
- An alternative, small but friendly hostel in the city centre is the Poshtel.
- You may find better deals on Airbnb if you’re all able to stay in the same place.
Things to do in Turku
Explore Turku. Check out the ship museums (noted above), the castle, eat at a Viking restaurant, or visit the Market Hall. You can also see Moomin World, but this is further away and may require an extra day in Turku.
Visit camping shops in the city centre of Turku for last minute supplies and to purchase your fuel, which you obviously can’t take on the plane. Bear in mind that if you need to do this, you may wish to have an extra day in Turku to see the sights.
Get picked up by Aavameri and taken to their recommended spot to begin your safety course & 5 days of kayaking. Aavameri will suggest starting places when you book, but the best place may be determined by weather conditions. B
When you book, request the following:
- A 5 day self-guided kayaking trip with single or double kayaks (your choice)
- Confirm that transportation to and from the starting location is included in the price
- A 3 hour safety course on the first day (mandatory if you have any newbies to kayaking)
- Any camping kit you wish to rent (this will incur an additional price)
Where you go when you’re kayaking is totally up to you and may be influenced by your skill and fitness level, and the weather conditions. Weather is very changeable in this area, although July and August are meant to be the best times, weather wise, to kayak.
The Finnish Archipelago is largely a national park. It therefore has various tourist sites within it, including villages, lighthouses, bicycle trails, and many rented saunas! Pick up a guide to the archipelago and check out the various areas. You may be able to plot a route around these. There will be some areas designated as camping friendly by the park, despite Everyman’s Right. On other islands, you will be able to camp anywhere, so long as you are not too near someone’s cabin, if there is one. Some islands will have tap water so you can refill your bottles. Some have little shops with ice cream and other (less) important things. The ones with shops usually have toilets, if you want a break from wild camping. On other islands you will be completely isolated. Well, there may be the odd sheep…
Islands vary in size but seem to be somewhat larger than the ones I visited in the St Anna archipelago in Sweden, at least in the south. You may be able to enjoy some walking along the many footpaths here.
When you finish kayaking, Aavameri will pick you up and return you to Turku, if this is what you booked.
You now have the option of staying another night in Turku or heading straight to Helsinki by train or bus. For the trains, it’s this link. B.
Book accommodation for Helsinki. I’d recommend the large Both Hostel. You may also find Airbnbs or choose from the wealth of hotels in the city centre. B.
Expect your usual city attractions: Churches/Cathedrals, and Museums. There is a vintage tram that you can ride on weekends. Electric scooters are as accessible and bookable (via an app on your phone) as London’s bicycles. By far the most interesting things to do here are to visit the market on the port, and the islands via tourist boats that set off from here. Be careful which boat you pick though, as not all of them stop on the islands. You can buy your tickets on the day.
The best islands would have to be the sea fortress Suomenlinna and the ex-military island Vallisaari. Expect to spend the majority of your day walking around these islands. If you want to go into the museums, make sure you have enough time as, despite the midnight sun, they may still shut at the end of the working day. Sundays have shorter opening hours.
If you get bored or fancy something unusual, here are two other ideas…
Take a day trip to Tallinn or St Petersberg
A return cruise to Tallinn (Estonia’s old town) will set you back around £50 each, cheaper if you book it early. It will take around 2 hours each way, and even if you only manage to stay in Tallinn for 4 hours, it’s still worth the chance to explore this pretty and unusual old town. B.
This is one I didn’t realise I could do: Take a train to St Petersberg from Helsinki. It will take 3-4 hours, it isn’t that expensive, and it’s now on my list of things to do. B.
Take a train to the airport from Helsinki Central. You can usually buy these tickets at the train station. Most trains go to the airport and take around 25 mins. B.
Swaps – create your own adventure
Things you can swap:
- Initial half day/full day in Turku. SWAP for your chosen number of days.
- Kayaking from Turku. SWAP for your chosen location. Recommendations are here.
- 5 day expedition. SWAP for your chosen number of days.
- Aavameri as the kayaking company. SWAP for your chosen company. Recommendations are here.
- Self-guided expedition. SWAP for a guided expedition (this can be arranged when you contact Aavameri).
- 2-3 days in Helsinki. SWAP for your chosen amount of time or your location preference.
This itinerary is for a 10-11 day trip, including a 5 day self-guided kayaking expedition for 3+ people in Turku, Finland, with added days to explore Helsinki and Tallin/St Petersberg as you wish.
What you need to book
- Return flights to Helsinki or Turku, and from Helsinki. B
- Train to Turku from Helsinki (if required). B
- Accommodation for your first night in Turku. B
- Your 5 day self-guided kayaking expedition, including transportation to and from the starting location, with Aavameri. B
- Your train from Turku to Helsinki. B
- Your post-kayaking first night in Turku or Helsinki. B
- Your train or bus from Turku Central to Helsinki Central. B
- Your accommodation in Helsinki. B
- Ships or trains for day trips you wish to take while in Helsinki. B
- A train from Helsinki Central to Helsinki Airport. B
- A basic understanding of first aid, with a minimum of one responsible first aider who is confident in delivering basic aid in remote areas. If your group does not have this skill, please get in touch as I may be able to help.
- A minimum of two people must be good at navigating and confident at sea, if not ready to test their skills at sea. Everyone else should understand how to use a compass, but luckily this area has fairly good phone signal & there are good maps of the area on Google Maps if you need to confirm your position using this aid.
- Everyone in the group should have a general level of good fitness. The majority should have used sea kayaks before, but the safety course will help get everyone to the same level.
- Everyone in the group should have a good general experience of camping & camping/cooking equipment. Ideally, at least one should have tried wild camping – and everyone should know what to expect as wild camping can be different to the ease of a campsite.
- Flights: £100 + bags (approx)
- Kayaking 5 days self-guided, including transportation: £388 (approx)
- Hostels are approximately £40 a night, depending on where you stay and how early you book. Total: 4 nights in hostels/hotels = 4 x 40 = £160
- Trains are about £7 but may be cheaper. So, at a max, £21 plus an additional journey if you choose to travel from Helsinki on day one.
- Day trips may cost you approx £50 for the journey
= £719 for a 10 day trip + spending money (the beauty is that you will spend little, or nothing, while kayaking).
This price is based on flights to/from London & prices may vary based on exchange rates, company price changes & any discounts you may be offered. This price assumes you are not requesting to rent any camping kit from the kayaking company.
Keen? Check out the kit list.
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Remember, no amount of itineraries or recommendations are a substitute for good planning, backup plans, and proper skills & training. We are not advocating to always travel without a guide. No plan is perfect, and no journey without risk. Check the weather, government travel advice for your chosen area and any other necessary information before you travel. Consider your own skills. Travel safe.
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