I’ve lived in Finland for most of my life, but much of the country is still terribly unknown to me. It’s funny, for some reason it actually seems easier to travel abroad than to explore your own surroundings. I had always dreamed of getting to know my homeland better when I was offered a wonderful chance to explore Finland’s beautiful South Coast with Visit South Coast Finland.
Geographically speaking the region is ridiculously close to the Finnish capital of Helsinki, but the relaxed and rustic atmosphere is about as far removed from city life as possible. Life seems to move at a slower pace, everyone seems happier and the rich history of the nation is still alive and well in rural Finland.
I began my day of exploration at this charming farmhouse that now doubles as a hotel and restaurant. They still have extensive farmlands, much of it contributing to the wonderful and inventive menu at their restaurant. I tried a few tasty treats, took a leisurely stroll around a nearby apple grove and immediately found myself in a state of total relaxation.
The next stop on my adventure tour was Ekenäs or Tammisaari. Although it may not always be clearly visible in its everyday life, Finland has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish – and this is a predominantly Swedish speaking region.
I tried my best to use my (unfortunately primitive) Swedish skills, but luckily almost everyone I encountered also spoke Finnish and English. And if they didn’t, smiling and pointing always works. Regardless of the language barrier, I constantly found myself stuck in happy conversations while trying the tasty fresh offerings from local farmers at the market square.
After touring the fantastic food and antique stalls I did my best to get deliberately lost in the atmospheric old town. The colorful rows of beautiful old wooden buildings have a specific Scandinavian charm.
You’re never far from the ocean in Finland
The region has several amazing beaches
My city tour of Ekenäs concluded at Hotel Sea Front, where I got to see a local crayfishing legend cook some self-caught crayfish with a secret recipe. During the busiest summers he says to have cooked up to 100 000 crayfish, so he definitely knows what he’s doing – and the end result really was delicious!
Mörby Gård was my next destination, and it proved to be a true adventure. The idyllic farm offers the perfect setting for a total getaway – just an hour away from Helsinki but the scenery is authentic farmland, rural and romantic. During my quick visit I got to pick ripe plums right off the tree and try some homemade elderberry juice and oatmeal cookies made from homegrown oat. You don’t get experiences like that in the city.
All that was nothing compared to the cute cows, who seemed to stare straight into my soul. I couldn’t help but stick my city shoes into the mud and frolic with them. The farmer, Anna Alm, spoke beautifully of her animals, introduced many of them by name and described their playful personas.
She also told me that she prefers to sell meat straight off the farm, because that way people might actually understand where that meat comes from. This definitely affected me and it’s fair to say I couldn’t eat a burger for the longest time after my visit…
I concluded my fantastic journey through Finland’s sunny South Coast at Sjundby Castle and discovered a tiny ice cream shop hidden in an old wheat silo at the foot of the hill leading up to the castle. Their homemade ice cream – made with fresh berries picked from the nearby forest – was amazingly delicious.
For more info on the region, check out visitsouthcoastfinland.fi.