Summer is the best possible time to be in Finland – despite experiencing the real winter, of course. Many Finns escape winter to warmer countries, Spain being the most popular option, but when summer arrives, everyone books their flights back home.
I love Finland in summer. Like many other Finns, I have no urge to travel abroad during summer season as there are hundreds and hundreds of amazing destinations and places in Finland that I have never been to. There are also hundreds of destinations I have already seen, but I’m dying to return to.
Invited by Naantali Tourism Portal and Innastus I spent three wonderful days in a coastal town of Naantali that is often referred to as the sunniest town in Finland. Naantali is located on the West Coast of Finland, very near the harbour city of Turku. You might have heard the name of this town already before as it’s the official home for Moomins! Yes, Naantali is the place where Moominworld is located.
Together with a bunch of other bloggers and photographers we spent two tightly scheduled days getting familiar with the different sides of Naantali. After the official part of this blogging trip, I spent another 24 hours in Naantali on my own without pre-planned routes and schedules.
Taking ‘the paths less travelled’ was worth it, once again, and those paths inspired me to share with you some of my best tips for a sunny summer walk in this coastal pearl called Naantali!
This is how #MySideOfNaantali looks like:
Leave your car on FREE parking and explore Naantali by foot!
It’s very likely that you’ll be arriving to Naantali by car. If that’s the case with you, I’ll provide my best tip for you right at the start: In the town centre you always need to pay for parking. The street parking in the old town of Naantali is only for the people living there and therefore strictly forbidden for tourists. Naantali is a busy summer town and parking is extremely well controlled during the tourist season. Trust me, you don’t want to spoil your summer day with a parking ticket. You’re in Finland, after all, it would end up being an extremely expensive parking if that happens!
Luckily there are free parking spots near the town centre. When using a GPS, you want to find your way to ‘Kuparivuorentie’ opposite an ice hockey stadium. There is a wide, free parking area where you can leave your car for the whole day without any worries. And the best is yet to come; A scenic path, decorated with beautiful views, will take you right to the old town of Naantali and to the sea.
Take ‘The Love Trail’ and enjoy the view!
After parking your car you’re on top of Kuparivuori – the Copper Mountain. You will find a trail leading down to the centre with signs saying ‘vanhakaupunki’ – that means the old town. The trail is romantically named as ‘Rakkaudenpolku’ – The Love Trail. It will be downhill all the way to the centre and getting lost is pretty much impossible. Even if you didn’t see a sign, the path will take you to the centre.
On the way down you might want to stop at the rocks of the Copper Mountain. Scenic views will open on both sides of the trail, and it will be a top spot for photographing; On your right-hand side you’ll find an old air surveillance tower made of stones that dates back to Winter War. On your left-hand side you’ll have a beautiful view to the sea towards Kultaranta, the summer house of the Finnish president, and towards the town centre and the marina.
The sunny rocks of the Copper Mountain will also make a perfect spot for a picnic!
The old town of Naantali and its’ beautiful buildings and boutiques
The Love Trail will take you automatically to the streets of the old town of Naantali. Besides millions of stories, the old wooden buildings house souvenir shops, galleries, coffee shops and hotels, and you shouldn’t admire them only from outside; Take the step inside instead!
If you want to learn more about the history, just ask the local people or take part on a themed walking tour organized by the Naantali Tourism Portal.
Wanha Naantali Kauppa and the free Titanic exhibition
This nostalgic souvenir shop, Wanha Naantali Kauppa – Old Naantali Shop, is hard to miss. And you shouldn’t! You’ll find an unexpected surprise on the second floor of the store.
Remember the unfortunate story of Titanic? Did you know that there were 64 Finns on board, and only 20 of them survived the accident? Well, here’s another interesting fact for you; A mother and daughter, Helga and Hildur Hirvonen, were among the 20 Finns that survived Titanic. Their relatives are still living in Naantali, and inspired by the story, the shopkeeper Henri Nevari has built a Titanic exhibition inside his store. The exhibition is completely free of charge.
Surrounded by toys, retro items and souvenirs, the glass cabinets are filled with Titanic-themed items. You’ll find many authentic items such as tableware from the White Star Line and even a genuine piece of a life jacket rescued from Titanic. Besides them you’ll find a lot of exact copies and of course many props from James Cameron’s Titanic movie. You can even touch the same handrail that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have held.
The owner of the shop, Henri Nevari, is enthusiastic about Titanic and also the history of Naantali, so don’t hesitate to ask him for more information. He’ll be happy to inspire you with many many stories. Wanha Naantali Kauppa is a shop full of surprises!
The marina of Naantali and the atmospheric restaurants
In Naantali the sea is right at the town centre, and that is what makes Naantali unique and a perfect summer destination. There are not many Finnish towns where you could find the sea right at the heart of the town. You could walk the docks of the marina back and forth all day long, watch the boats coming and going and enjoy a pint or two on the beautiful summer terraces with views of the sea.
Each restaurant in Naantali has its’ own unique story and its’ very own specialty. Lovely Amandis offers also accommodation and serves the best waffles in the world. Luostarin Puutarhan Olutkellari – ‘The Beer Cellar of The Abbey Garden’ provides a wonderful hidden garden where to enjoy a pint, a cup of coffee – or perhaps a delicious pizza. The beach restaurant Rantaravintola serves food that literally melts in your mouth and on the terrace of Restaurant Trappi we spotted the Finnish president himself dining with his party.
As you might remember from The Love Trail, his summer house is located in Naantali, and you can see it from the marina. If you see a flag on top of the Kultaranta tower, you’ll know that the president is at his summer house.
You can find the Naantali Tourist Information right next to the marina. Stop by to get a free map, to rent a bike or ask for more tips for spending a sunny day in Naantali.
Naantali Church and the viewing tower
The Medieval Stone Church of Naantali is decorating the landscape in the town centre. The church is also an iconic part of the story of the town. Naantali was founded in 1443 around the Catholic Bridgettine Monastery and Naantali Church is the only part of the Monastery that has survived until this date. After Turku Cathedral, Naantali Church is also the biggest medieval church in the whole of Finland.
On the marina side, right in front of the church you’ll find a beautiful, wooden viewing tower that was once built to hide the water tanks of the historic Naantali spa. Luckily so, as the scenic views to the sea and marina, Kultaranta and also to Moominworld will open from the top of the tower – and it’s only a few steps climb away!
You must go to say hi to the Moomins!
Very near the viewing tower you’ll find a bridge that is leading to an island. I have exciting news for you; The island of Kailo is the official home for Moomins, those funny white chubby trolls that are well-known worldwide! Walk along the bridge to get to Moominworld, even if you are travelling without kids. I promise you, Moominworld is the place to go when visiting Naantali.
Perfect closure for a perfect day: Sunset from the Ukko-Pekka bridge
In case you took the hint of the free parking spot on top of the Copper Mountain, you’ll be happy about my very last tip for Naantali: To have a perfect closure for a perfect summer day, you want to admire the sunset from the front seat. For that I will provide you with two different options!
When returning to the Copper Mountain along the Love Trail, your first option is to stay on the rocks I told you earlier about. If you feel like you could walk a little bit more, then I recommend you to walk to the Ukko-Pekka bridge where the sunset really stands out. On the map you can find the bridge as ‘Naantalinsalmen silta’.
I hope you enjoyed the free walking tour in the beautiful town of Naantali. You can easily spot more amazing places to visit by searching social media with the hashtag #MySideOfNaantali.
Where are you going to or where would you like to travel this summer? Would you consider Naantali being one of your summer destinations?
I have great news for you! You can now download this article for free and take it with you when you travel to Finland and visit the sunny Naantali! Go to GPSmyCity to download (at the moment available only for iOS). If you pay a small fee to upgrade ($1.99), you will be able to use the offline map and tracker without any roaming charges. I’ll receive a few cents, and you will be able to enjoy Naantali without getting lost and wasting money on data. Have a lovely trip!
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