The archipelago in Southwest Finland is one of my favourite places in the world. With endless blue seas, traditional boathouses and a relaxed atmosphere – it’s incredibly beautiful, especially during summer.
The island of Korpo in the archipelago has a particularly special place in my heart as I’ve been coming here my whole life.
Are you dreaming about visiting Korpo this summer? Here’s a quick guide to help you plan your visit.
Feels Like Home
For most of my life I’ve moved around a lot. Different countries, different cities, different houses and so on. But one thing always remained the same: my family’s summer place in Korpo. In a way, Korpo feels most like home to me and throughout my life I’ve spent every single one of my summers there.
People often ask me to share my best tips for visiting Korpo. So I wanted to put together a short guide with some of the most common questions answered.
When is the Best Time to Visit Korpo?
Summer is the best time to visit. In particular July is when Korpo bursts into life and during the Korpo Week (Korpo veckan) the island is jam-packed with things to do. However, it’s also the busiest month – so those looking for some island style peace and quiet might prefer for example the end of August or the beginning of June.
Right before and right after Midsummer is not a good time to travel to and from Korpo if you’re travelling by car. Getting to Korpo involves taking two ferries and Midsummer usually means extremely long queues.
An underrated season to visit is spring. There are not that many options to chose from when it comes to for example restaurants. But if you want to experience the archipelago before the crowds, just as it’s waking up from its hibernation, spring is the time to go. Spring is also the number one season for anyone who’s interested in birds: Korpo is such an incredible place for bird-watching! During April and May you might also have better chances of spotting other archipelago creatures, including seals.
Once Mid-August arrives, the tourists disappear and the island slowly starts to prepare for the arrival of winter. Autumn is pretty, but if you’re looking to experience the best ruska (Finnish word for colourful fall foliage), there are better places to go. On the small islands there are more pine trees than leafy trees and pine trees wear the same green outfit all year round. However, autumn in Korpo is beautiful in its own way and definitely peaceful and quiet.
I don’t personally recommend winter unless you’re looking for a very extreme type of experience. Most of the restaurants are closed and the days are very short. The sea is also frozen, so you won’t get the same island feeling you get the rest of the year.
In summary, I’d say there’s a reason why the tourist season is from Mid-June to Mid-August. That’s when the weather is at its best, the island is beautiful and full of life and you find the widest selection of activities, restaurants and accommodation. But if you’re looking to see animals or birds, or want absolute peace and silence, consider spring or autumn.
What to Do in Korpo?
Especially during summer there’s an endless selection of different activities, sights to see and things to experience. You can go sailing, horse-back riding, island hopping, fishing, kayaking or visiting local farms and admire beautiful sunsets – the list goes on and on. But I’ve narrowed this down to some of my own personal favourites.
Please note that almost all of these are available only during the summer season. Also remember that the pandemic might affect some of the activities listed.
Boat-Watching on the Pier in Korpoström
The guest harbour at Korpoström is very quiet most months, but from Midsummer to Mid-August it’s one of the most popular places in the archipelago. The harbour is full of boats: sailing boats, yachts, traditional archipelago boats and even jet-skis the past years.
One of the best ways enjoy a summer day in Korpoström is to enjoy a drink or an ice cream on the pier. You can either buy your beverage/ice cream of choice from the tiny Strandboden store or if you prefer to sit by a table you can head over to the restaurant at the Korpoström Skärgårdscenter (Archipelago Center). The restaurant’s terrace sits on top of the water and is a great spot to soak up some archipelago vibes.
The village of Korpo is adorable! Horses, meadows, traditional red and white wooden houses as well as the grand, pink Korpo manor. The local food store, Hjalmar’s restaurant and the impressive church form the centre of the village. In contrast to a lot on the island, these three are open all year round.
When visiting Korpo, a stop in Korpo village is a must. During summer there’s a small market on the square between Hjalmar’s, the store and the church. You’ll find local farmers and fishermen selling products.
The 14th century stone church is also certainly worth a visit.
Most importantly (in my opinion): don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit Bagar Bengt’s Bakery! Everything he makes is delicious, but especially the bread (ask for “potatislimpa”) as well as the salmon pirogue (ask for “lax pastej”) are amazing.
Riding Along the Archipelago Trail
Korpo is part of the Archipelago Trail, a trail that passes though some of the best archipelago destinations. You can either choose to visit Korpo as part of the Archipelago Trail or you can rent one of Korpo’s Archipelago Bikes and just explore Korpo by bike.
If you opt for the latter Archipelago Bikes (Skärgårdscykel) can be rented in either Korpoström or Verkan. Previous years the cost has been 7,50 euros for half a day (4 hours) or 15 euros for the whole day (8 hours).
Exhibitions and Museums
For those who love visiting interesting exhibitions and museums Korpo has plenty to offer during the summer season.
Skärimuseet – the Archipelago Museum
By the guest harbour in Verkan you’ll find the archipelago museum where you can learn more about traditional fishing in the archipelago as well as smuggling during the Prohibition era in Finland.
Korpo Local Museum
A short distance from Korpo village and the church you’ll find Korpo Local Museum. In this museum you can learn more about traditional archipelago living and get acquainted with for example traditional furniture, houses and clothes from Korpo.
In Korpoström the Archipelago Center has several different exhibitions. There’s a larger main exhibition that is replaced by a new theme every now and then. There are also some smaller exhibitions – like Our archipelago where you’ll learn more about the archipelago.
The Barefoot Path, an environmental art exhibition shows visitors how art can interact with nature. As the name implies it’s a path that leads you to art placed in natural surroundings. The path is around two kilometres long and you’ll find it in the village of Österreitas.
Jazz and Sailing in July
During Korpo Week there’s a chance to enjoy both some excellent jazz music out in the sun and watch boats race in the Korpo Runt Regatta. During the jazz festival Korpo Sea Jazz there are plenty of different concerts and jam sessions to choose from in different parts of the island.
The Korpo Week culminates during the weekend when the Korpo Runt Regatta takes place. One of my personal archipelago favourites is watching the old, traditional clinker boats competing.
Previous years it’s been possible to combine both listening to jazz and watching the regatta in Korpoström.
Korpo and Beyond
If you want to combine a visit to Korpo with some more archipelago exploring or island hopping there’s a lot to see in the region. I can highly recommend taking the boat to Jurmo, Aspö, Nötö, Utö, Själö/Seili or stopping in Nagu to enjoy some good food.
Read more about Jurmo here: Visiting Jurmo – A Complete Guide to Exploring the Stone Kingdom of the Archipelago
Read more about Seili here: A Complete Guide to Visiting the Island of Seili – An Archipelago Gem With a Dark History
Where to Eat and Sleep in Korpo
During the summer season there’s a wide variety of different restaurants and places to stay on the island of Korpo.
For those looking for an amazing culinary experience, nothing compares to Restaurant Nestor’s Back Pocket. The food is exquisite and the dishes are practically works of art. This is one of the most expensive choices on the island, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re a foodie. I’d even say this restaurant alone is worth visiting Korpo for.
The rest of the restaurants don’t compete in the same category, but for some nice burgers or fish dishes there’s plenty to choose from. If you want to enjoy food or drinks with a sea view try the restaurant at the Archipelago Center or Buffalo at Verkan. Although it doesn’t include sea view, Hjalmar’s restaurant’s terrace is great if you’re in Korpo town.
As we have our own place in Korpo I’ve personally never actually stayed at these places listed. So this section about accommodation is – in contrast to everything else in this post– not based on personal experience.
If you’re looking for a hotel experience you might be interested in either the hotel at the Archipelago Center in Korpoström or Hotel Nestor’s by Österretais. In Korpo village you’ll find Hjalmar’s Hotel and DAG-15.
There are also some b&b alternatives as well as rental cottages like for example Faffas Bed&Breakfast, Britas cottages, Hollsta’s cottages and Tornvillan.
How to Get to Korpo?
Korpo is an island in the archipelago outside of the city of Turku. It can be reached by boat, car, bus and bike.
Getting to Korpo by car includes some island-hopping with ferries and it’s best if you’re not on a tight schedule. Travelling from Helsinki can take you anything from a little over 3 hours to almost 5 hours if the queues to the ferry are particularly bad. Once, it took me almost 7 hours to get to Helsinki from Korpo. But this was the Sunday after Midsummer, a notoriously bad day when it comes to traffic.
Riding the ferries can be a bit daunting for a first-timer. Just follow the directions of the staff on board and remember to stay to the right in the queue (the left is for locals with priority passes).
You can get to Korpo by bus. The schedules and routes do vary from year to year and if you’re travelling from Helsinki it usually (not always though) includes a change of bus in either Turku or Kaarina. To read more about how to travel to Korpo by bus this year, check out for example Matkahuolto’s webpage.
During summer biking along the Archipelago Trail is very popular. For more information on this alternative check out Visit Parainen’s webpage.
If you’re lucky enough to own a boat you can reach Korpo by sea. Guest harbours are available at both Verkan and Korpoström. More information on Korpoström’s guest harbour here.
What About Ticks?
One of the things that people ask me about the most is how scared they have to be about ticks when visiting Korpo. How likely is it to get Lyme disease and is it safe to travel to Korpo with kids?
Korpo and the rest of the archipelago region have plenty of ticks. They’re tiny, but can potentially carry two different and dangerous diseases: Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).
However, both are rare. First of all, not everyone will get bit by ticks and second of all not all ticks carry these diseases.
So even if you do find one of these creatures attached to you, there’s no need to panic and there’s no guarantee you’ll get either disease. If you know how to do it make sure you remove the tick as soon as possible – the longer it stays attached the more dangerous it potentially becomes. If you don’t know what to do you can see a doctor or a nurse who can help you remove it.
Minimise the odds of getting in contact with ticks by avoiding walking in shorts in high grass. And remember to check for ticks every night before going to bed.
There’s been a lot of focus on Lyme disease in the media lately, which is good. But this has also fuelled a lot of unnecessary fear. As long as you remember to check for ticks (both on yourself and if you have kids or pets on them as well) I see absolutely no reason why someone – adult or kid – should stay away from the archipelago just because of ticks.