Island ambience by the Finnish capital

Espoo, west of Helsinki, runs summer ferries to coastal islands where you’ll find cafés, observation towers and campsites.

Espoo, the municipality just west of Helsinki, runs summer ferries to the islands along the coast, where you can find archipelago ambience complete with cafés, observation towers and camping areas.

Three scheduled ferries operate from early June until early September from seven different harbours on the Espoo coast. One of the boats goes to Iso Vasikkasaari (Big Calf Island), while the other two each visit four different islands.

Iso Vasikkasaari forms the largest of the islands, a great place for swimming and trail walking, complete with a restaurant and a café. The other islands are mainly intended for camping, with facilities to overnight stays and outdoor cooking. You can admire the magnificent views from the island perimeters or ascend observation towers on two of the isles, Iso Vasikkasaari and Stora Herrö.

Espoo residents Tuomas and Elina Lindroos think highly of the ferry service. “The price is quite decent, and this is practically the only way to get to the islands if you don’t have your own boat,” says Tuomas. They are heading for the small island of Gåsgrund. After their trip they report back by email that it turned out to be a nice, peaceful camping location.

Juha Nyberg, captain of the boat M/S Aurora, says that most of the passengers come from nearby, but many foreign tourists also visit the beautiful archipelago. “People go to all of the islands for various reasons; camping, berry picking or just for a daytrip with the kids to enjoy the Finnish summer.” He says that numerous people have told him that the ferry season should be longer than three months – they would be willing to visit the islands even in a bit rougher weather.

Atmospheric archipelago

A glimpse of the archipelago: Ferries offer an excellent way to get to know the islands off the coast of Espoo. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Nikola Tomevski, chef at the Gula Villan Restaurant on Iso Vasikkasaari, decides the specialties of the day just before opening time. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

You might run into a sheep on Iso Vasikkasaari, even though the name means “Big Calf Island.” Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Alexander and Ella are enjoying the view from the observation tower of Iso Vasikkasaari. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Picturesque wooden houses can be seen on some of the islands. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Juha Nyberg, the captain of the boat M/S “Aurora,” is happy with the increasing number of passengers. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Sun and surf: A ferry brings visitors out to the islands. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

While on the island of Iso Vasikkasaari, you can hang out on the beach and go for a swim. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Tuomas Lindroos looks forward to camping on Gåsgrund Island. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Elina Lindroos admires the sea and the islands as the ferry churns along. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Playing board games makes for good entertainment during the ferry ride, as shown by passengers Pekka (left), Selina and Hanna. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

With views like this, the small island of Gåsgrund forms a perfect place to relax. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma

Photos by Emilia Kangasluoma, July 2013
Text by Kasperi Teittinen