As many of you might already know, Finland is not a small country: with its 337,030 km2 (130,128 sq mi) Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe after Russia, Ukraine, France, Spain, Sweden and Germany. So I knew a journey like that might require some time.
I gave myself three months of time, although I already knew I was going to have two long breaks for the Midnight Sun Film Festival (June, Sodankylä) and the Espoo Ciné International Film Festival (end of August, Espoo).
The plan was to have a quick tour in Lapland and then move to Southern Finland, which I had never visited properly before. The journey in Lapland however took a bit longer as at certain point I noticed to have got so far in the north that I decided to reach Norway.
The journey began in Oulu on the 6th of June 2010 and ended in Helsinki on the 5th of September 2010 for a total amount of 4353 km, bringing me from mid of Finland to the mountains of northern Norway and then down to Helsinki in the south, passing through the beautiful lakes of Savonia and Finnish Karelia, and from there east towards Turku, with some days spent in a regatta by sailing boat to reach Helsinki, from where I cycled back to the Turku Archipelago. After a few legs towards Kotka, the journey ended with the participation to the cycling competition of the Tour de Helsinki.
The tour can be roughly divided in parts as follows:
- Lapland (day 1-18): from Oulu heading north towards Rovaniemi and Sodankylä, and then reaching Ivalo and Inari heading towards the Finnmark in Norway. After visiting the Norwegian/Sami town of Kautokeino back in Finnish Lapland to go along the Torne Valley, border between Finland and Sweden, through Muonio, Kolari and Pello to reach Tornio, at the mouth of river Tornionjoki
- From Nothern Ostrobothnia to Karelia (day 19-25): from Oulu this time heading south-east through lake Oulujärvi up to Kuhmo and then straight south to Lake Pielinen with the mountains of Koli. After crossing the lake, the journey continued towards Joensuu, capital of North Karelia
- From Karelia through Finnish Lakeland (day 27-34): heading east towards the orthodox monasteries of Valamo and Lintula, the journey continued to Varkaus, Pieksämäki and Mikkeli to get into the lakeland of Saimaa, from Puumala to Savonlinna, and then touching the Russian border passing through Punkaharju, Imatra and finally Lappeenranta in South Karelia.
- Along the Salpausselkä towards the sea (day 35-41): following the ridge left by the ice age in Southern Finland I crossed the towns of Kouvola, Lahti, Hämeenlinna and Forssa to Yläne and Uusikaupunki to reach the port of Raisio, next to Turku, for another surprising part of the journey
- Sailing across the Archipelago Sea towards Helsinki (day 42-45): bike well fastened on the deck and going with the wind on a sailing boat heading south-east towards Helsinki
- Cycling back to Turku through the archipelago (day 46-49): as I was supposed to cross the Turku archipelago and continue towards Helsinki, getting to the latter by boat I decided to cycle backwards. Leaving the crew of the sailing boat in Barösund I cycled through Kemiö and Kaarina to get into the Archipelago Route in direction south-north towards Kustavi, and from there down back to Turku
- The south-eastern coast (day 50-52): after being back in Helsinki by train, I headed east along the coast to visit Porvoo, Ruotsinpyhtää, Loviisa and finally Kotka, with its beautiful Maritime Museum of Vellamo
- Tour de Helsinki (day 53): and for the grand finale I participated to the cycling competition of the tour de Helsinki
See the detailed maps with the full route of the tour.
See the pictures of the tour.
Blog posts related to each leg of the tour
[catlist name=tour-de-finlande-2010 orderby=date order=asc numberposts=-1]