If you are interested in visiting an island, which has been a military area and nowadays is part of Archipelago National Park, and is actively preserving endangered species and ecosystems and is promoting sustainable tourism, then you have to visit Örö.
Traveling to Örö from Turku
Örö is relatively close to Turku. Therefore, one can easily realize a day or a weekend trip to the island. In our case, we did a weekend trip, leaving Turku on Friday, July 31st at 3:29 pm.
Due to covid-19, boats to Örö are not carrying full passenger capacity and many Finns are enjoying their own country, so it is recommended to book the boat in advance. Note: if you take this trip, include in your schedule some time to walk from the parking lot to the corresponding pier. The distance is short, but the parking might be full, and therefore take some time before one leaves the car.
Here is a view from the marina in Kasnäs:
Our boat, Sissel, had different areas for sitting. We were mainly at the upper deck as the view was wonderful. I was surprised to realize we were few travelers (approximately 11 people) in this leg of the journey.
The archipelago is just STUNNING!.
In less than an hour, one arrives to Örö.
Once in Örö
Örö’s marina is petit. When we arrived, there was a line of visitors waiting for the boats to return them to Kasnäs. Apparently, many travelers visit Örö for a day trip.
Once on the island, we needed to locate ourselves.
Next to the harbor and before the information “building” there are some info boards.
After analyzing the map, we visited the information “building”. There one could rent also bikes. During our time in the island, we didn’t see motor vehicles except of one 4×4 motorbike, which helps to transport heavy items.
Örö has an interesting history. Actually, in my opinion, there could be thematic routes in the island. One can:
- enjoy the nature,
- learn from the history enclosed in this island. If I understand well, over a century, it has been a military base.
- learn from the endangered species and ecosystems, which Örö is aiming to protect.
This combination allows us to discover different topics while walking outdoors.
After checking in – we camped for two nights – and understanding the sauna organization (this is very important when one is traveling in Finland), we walked to the camping ground.
It is important to mention that the roads were well kept across the island.
The first road, close to the information building was full of raspberries!
Here is our final setup once we were installed.
Next, we should get our first sauna. For the time of the day, our turn was at the “Kasern – Varusmies Sauna” which is located at the “center” where most of the tourist services are located e.g. a restaurant, a small museum, and a hotel.
The morning sauna is close to the marina. This sauna is smaller than the “Kasern Varusmies sauna”, however it has a pier which allows us to swim in the sea. Beautiful!
Piers from Örö’s marina’s sauna:
What can you discover in Örö?
The island is full of history. As the location was a military “base” until 2015, you can find old cannons, barracks, shipyard and a rich history behind these artifacts. Additionally, these artifacts are easy to find while one is enjoying the walking routes. All this history is besides the rich explanation of the unique ecosystem of the island and the explanation of the different endangered species.
Öro has a total of 10.5 kilometers of marked trails. There are mainly two routes, which are easy terrains to walk and are very well indicated.
a) The blue trail, which covers the south part of the island, is 4.8 km long. The blue trail is entitled: 6” trail.
b) The red trail is 5.6 km long and it covers the north part of the island. The red trail is entitled 120mm. I assume the red trail is called as such as in the path one can find the 120 mm battery.
While walking Örö one can learn about threatened species and habitats, e..g. sandy beaches, treeless coastal meadows and sunny grassland areas. Therefore, one should keep walking only in the well indicated paths, to protect these ecosystems. Along the trails, one can find info board in Swedish, Finnish and English, allowing the visitor to understand the environment and the history of the island.
It is worth to walk both trails, enjoy the landscapes and learn from nature and history which is enclosed in Örö. However remember, always taking care of the nature.
There are areas, where history and environment merge nicely, an example is the old riffle range where indigenous plants are recolonizing this location. Additionally, because it is protected from cold sea winds, the riffle range is popular among butterflies.
Another nice detail that one finds in these trails are the dry toilets. It is not uncommon to find dry toilets in trails across national parks in Finland. However these toilets were cute and seem modern inside.
The map offered by the national park indicates clearly the different points of interest, including the picnic areas. Remember: one cannot make fire in the island. However in a sunny day, one wishes the camping tables were under the shade.
REMEMBER: , whenever you eat while you are enjoying this wonderful place, bring your litter back with you.
There are many interesting points, such as these:
Old phone cabin is a rarity. It is worth to remember that the last public phone booth was retrieved in Finland in early 2007.
One can see real bunkers:
One can see Heavy Obukhovskii 305 mm guns (a rarity even in international terms). Each one of the shells of this cannon weights almost 500kg, with a range of 45 km. Today they are not in use any longer and they are part of the exhibition. From this point, one can see Bengtskär, which is located 13 km from here.
Can you see Bengtsär? If not, we aim to use the zoom from the phone camera, so the photo is not so sharp.
There is more to share, however this post focuses on Örö’s general aspects as a location to enjoy outdoors. Below you might find some other surprises.
To finalize, we returned to Turku on Sunday at 20:27 hrs. It is amazing how much we learn while enjoying outdoors!
Directions to Örö
To reach Örö from Turku, one first drives departure port in Kasnäs, parks the car and takes a boat to Örö. The boat schedule and prices are specified in their website.
Address to departure port:
Kemiönsaari / Kimitoön