Situated snugly in the heart of the Archipelago Sea that lies between Turku and the Åland Islands, the town of Pargas is comprised of the five previous municipalities of Pargas, Nagu, Korpo, Houtskär and Iniö. This region is one of unparalled natural beauty, its fauna and flora often unique. The Archipelago Sea wherein it lies covers over 5,500 square kilometres, and contains over 10,000 islands and skerries as well as the Archipelago National Park in the south.
An ideal travel destination for nature lovers and those who prefer such water activities as sailing, diving, kayaking and fishing, Pargas also provides ample opportunities to enjoy golf, horse-riding, cycling, hiking and birdwatching, among others.
The five municipalities which joined forces were Hourskär, Iniö, Korpo, Nagu, and Pargas, and they now make up an utterly charming town within a network of thousands of islands and skerries, an area of contrasting landscapes and great natural beauty. In an area of almost 5,500 square kilometres, 80% of which is the sea, the town covers much of the Turku archipelago, a scattering of over 20,000 islands and islets.
Pargas / Parainen holds the distinction of being the only town in Finland that is totally surrounded by water, and is famous for its lime works and ginger biscuits! A popular tourist destination, it has services all the year round, with excellent hotels, holiday villages, a holiday island, and numerous cottages available. The guest harbour is located in the centre of the town and has its own mini-golf course. The history of the town is provided in the District Museum, the Industrial Museum, and indeed within the narrow alleys and streets of Gamla Malmen, the old town. There are ferries and cruises available that allow further exploration of the islands and bays, where you can play golf on the Archipelago Golf Course, or visit the numerous stone and wooden churches.
Nagu / Nauvo has always been a popular tourist destination comprised of two main islands and some 3,000 smaller islands and skerries, accessible by ferry from Pargas. Visitors can chose to stay in the main town in a top class hotel, or aboard their own vessel in its excellent guest harbour, or they might prefer to enjoy the Old Manor House, the Saga guest house, holiday cottages, holiday villages, or camping services. While here visit the medieval stone church, the Gytta District Museum, and Själo island which was once a leper colony but now houses the Archipelago Research Institute. Or enjoy a cruise, an archipelago safari, some canoing, or a spot of fishing.
Houtskär / Houtskari combines lush forested islands with rugged skerries in the outer archipelago. The islands of Jungfruskär, once a prohibited military zone, are now open to the public and are among the most beautiful in the Archipelago National Park. On the main island there are excellent facilities for tourists, including fine restaurants and holiday villages, guest harbours at Näsby and Korsnabb, with the District Museum and Boat Museum providing some cultural distractions. There is a ferry service out to the Archipelago Trail route to Iniö, and from there on to Kustavi.
Korpo / Korppoo is located in the middle of the archipelago, with most of the population settled on the islands of Kyrkland and Norrskata, making it the ideal place from which to explore the Archipelago National Park by water taxi. The main attractions are the old grey stone Korpo Church which dates back to the 1200s, the wooden church of Norrskata, the chapels of Aspö and Jurmo, the lighthouse on Utö which is the oldest in Finland, the District Museum of Korpo, and the lookout tower on Rumar which has a Solateria and affords the visitor some wonderful views of the National Park.
Iniö is a small municipality with a population of around 250, with a shore line of 700km. The natural beauty of this part of the archipelago has made it a popular destination with travelers, and there are some unique sights here, like the Sofia Wilhelmina Church, the old picturesque village, and the wind mill and saw mill on Åselholm. There are fine guest harbours on Norrby and Keistiö, and village harbours at Söderby, Jumo and Åselholm.
Pargas's cultural heritage is as rich and varied as you would expect from such a diverse mixture of towns. Within the archipelago you'll discover a wealth of museums, ancient stone churches, the oldest lighthouse in Finland, and of course the Archipelago National Park. There are numerous events held during the year, most prominent among them being the Rowlit Music Festival, and Pargas Organ Days, both of which attract international performers annually.
Being a collection of islands in the midst of an archipelago means that water activities make up the majority of options here. Sailing, diving, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing are the most popular reasons for visiting, but there are also some excellent opportunities to hike through unique landscapes, go horse riding, cycling, enjoy some bird watching, or explore the unique Archipelago National Park.
There are plenty of restaurants scattered among the numerous towns and villages on the many islands, and suitably enough seafood is the speciality here. Pargas is also famed for its local lamb and the vineyard there provides visitors with the chance to sample their wines and liqueuers.
As one of Finland's top holiday destinations, Pargas offers an abundance of accommodations for the visitor. With excellent guest harbours, holiday villages, guest houses and bed & breakfasts, camping and caravan facilities, as well as top quality hotels, you will be spoiled for choice.
The main towns of the municipalities have more than enough shops, boutiques, and local stores with arts, handicrafts and even antiques to pique the interest of even the most seasoned shopper.
Situated midway between Helsinki and Stockholm, and connected by road to Turku on the mainland, Pargas is easily accessible by land or sea. Once there the visitor will find it very easy to travel among the islands of the archipelago, with numerous water taxis, ferries, cruises, and rental craft available for tourists.