In my opinion, the best gem of the Finnish Archipelago is the island called Utö. Being part of the Turku Archipelago, it is the most southern inhabited island in Finland. Utö has only 40 people living there, so the atmosphere is very preserved and authentic.
There are two ways to get to Utö; you can either drive to Nauvo or take a bus from Turku. Nauvo is another island in the Turku Archipelago and a starting point on your way to Utö because this is where the boat leaves from. This is a longer but also cheaper version of a trip to Utö. The other way to get there is by boat from Turku, but I enjoy more the first one because that way, you will drive through the Archipelago Trail and discover other islands on your way.
Nauvo is a cute place for a brief stop and maybe lunch; you will see many private boats on the bay, many cafes and restaurants, and a small market place. It seems like a place for chilling and taking a rest; there are not many attractions on the island. You can find an old church with a small cemetery uphill from the center. I like to have lunch in a place called L' Escale; it is a restaurant right on the seashore, overlooking the sea and colorful harbor. The big terrace and upper balconies are the best places to eat in the summer. If you are in L'Escale during lunchtime, you can enjoy a tasty and healthy buffet. As you can guess by the name of the restaurant, it is incited by the French kitchen, which perfectly suits the local riviera.
There is just one boat connection throughout the day, so make sure to check the timetable in advance in order not to miss it. The boat trip from Nauvo will take 4.5 hours; it is not possible to reserve tickets in advance! It is always useful to be first in line to get a good seat. The boat has a toilet, electrical sockets, and a restaurant with coffee and lunch options. Many times, one can find onboard folk artists entertaining the travelers on their way. The boat stops on a few islands that you can admire from the deck and, finally, arrives at the long-awaited Utö.
The only hotel on the island is the Utö Sea Hotel, so that is where most of the people will be going. Utö has been used by the military for years and still has an area that is forbidden to visit. The hotel is situated in the barracks that were used to serve the military. Do not worry, it looks better than it sounds; there are many houses spread to the outskirts of the seashore, which give you the right atmosphere for a magical stay. You can choose a cheap option with your own room but with shared bathroom and kitchen, or you can have a room in the main hotel building with your own bathroom and breakfast included in the price. The restaurant in the Utö Sea Hotel is awesome, and its terrace overlooks the rocky shores.
Now when you have arrived at the island and got yourself a place to stay, you are free to walk around the small but very homey Utö. Utö has a cute harbor, a beautiful rugged shore, and very kind people. The church on the outskirts of the village looks like it was taken from a Tarantino movie: stranded, standing far from everyone in the field. Do not miss the local bread named ”saaristoleipä.” You can buy a fresh loaf of it right on the island; it is sweet, dark, and soft and tastes way better than the city-version of it. I advise you to buy at least something you will find on your way! The island is rather small, and the local industry is in the hands of a few locals, so it is always good to support it when possible.
The Utö island is not as stranded as you would think, it has a small grocery shop and even a museum. The opening times are, of course, limited. Most of the houses are concentrated in the center of the island, so the empty shores are there for you to explore.
Make sure to walk up the small hill: not only for the pretty view but also to discover the symbol of the island: the Utö Lighthouse. The cliffs around it are my favorite place to walk in Finland. From here, you can see the small stranded houses around the island and the endless sea. As the sun goes down, you can spot tourists with cameras here and there waiting for the sunset of their lives. Utö is famous for its beautiful sunsets, so visiting it is a perfect way to end the day!
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