Friday, November 1, 2013

Leisurely at the Lighthouse

Most lighthouses in Finland have been automated but luckily not abandoned, with many now serving as tourist destinations boasting restaurants and accommodation. The distant locations guarantee visitors peace and quiet, save for the sounds of the sea.

Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse, a pearl off the coast of Rauma

Built in 1953, this lighthouse is one of few in Finland that has rooms located in the tower itself. A 45-minute boat ride from the mainland, this charming little island serves gourmet lovers, retreaters and nature buffs equally well.

The exquisite restaurant alone is worth the trip, and for those staying overnight, a steaming sauna followed by a cooling drink on the cliffs is a must. Watching the sun set on the horizon with only birdlife for company is a cinematic experience.

Tankar lighthouse watches over the coast of Kokkola

The picturesque island of Tankar is dotted with traditional Finnish summer cottages that are still used by locals. A daily boat service allows visitors to enjoy the homely atmosphere and salmon soup served in the family run café restaurant.

Walking the nature trail, paying a visit to the cosy little 18th century wooden church and the seal hunting museum are all highly recommended. The lighthouse itself, built in 1889, is of the classic shape and style, and makes for terrific photos.

Bengtskär, the historic beacon of Hanko

One of the best-known lighthouses in Finland, Bengtskär turned 100 years in 2006. It is the highest lighthouse in the Nordic countries and is rich in history, making a guided tour just about obligatory.

The majestic stone brick lighthouse has stood through it all: wars, extreme conditions, and decades of decay until reconditioned in 1995. The tourism services are family run; the restaurant offers traditional local courses and the six lighthouse keepers’ rooms now serve as accommodation.

Söderskär in the Porvoo Archipelago

The 150-year-old Söderskär lighthouse is served by three cruises a week from central Helsinki. Located in the middle of a nature preserve, landing on the island is prohibited to protect rare sea bird species. However, guided tours make an exception.

Day trippers can enjoy the café and history tours, while overnighters can stay in the lighthouse tower suite with old-fashioned decoration. The wood-heated sauna, built in 1876, should definitely not be missed.


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