Nagu is located in the middle of the Archipelago Sea, which has a great influence on the identity of locals, although the life in the main islands may look like in the countryside elsewhere. The fields are smaller, the shore is nearby and traditionally people have got their living in small pieces, such as from fishing, agriculture, sea fowl hunting – and seafaring.
A large part of the outer archipelago, and thus of the Archipelago National Park, belongs to Nagu. Minor inhabited islands, often with one or a few families, are connected to the mainland with mostly daily ferry services – conditions permitting. Living there means a quite solitary life in winter, but in summer there are lots of tourists, summer guests and some locals who escape the dark months to apartments in towns. This is the paradise for yacht sailors, many making the journey from Helsinki and back every year, more than a hundred nautical miles each way.
Nagu and its surroundings are traditionally Swedish speaking and still have a strong Swedish majority, while a quarter of the population and many summer cottage dwellers and visitors are Finnish speaking. Service is usually available in both languages, as well as in English. The language in which businesses market themselves says little about their own language.
Skärgårdsvägen ("the Archipelago road", Finnish: Saaristotie, regional road 180) starts in Kaarina (Swedish: S:t Karins) outside Turku (Swedish: Åbo) at national road 1 (part of E18) from Helsinki (Swedish: Helsingfors). On its way out to Korpo (Finnish: Korppoo) it connects the main islands of Nagu: Storlandet and Lillandet (and Biskopsö and Ernholm between them). There is a ferry connection from Prostvik in the east (on Nagu Lillandet) to Lillmälö in Pargas, mostly twice an hour, with a stop in the night. There are considerable queues when people head for their summer cottages or return, i.e. Friday and Sunday afternoons, respectively – sometimes for hours, with three ferries driving non-stop; there is a kiosk near the ferry pier. Another ferry goes from Pärnäs in the west (on Storlandet) to Korpo. The distance between Prostvik and Pärnäs is some 27 km, between Lillmälö ferry pier and Pargas centre some 17 km.
The main village, Kyrkbacken, is in the east end of Storlandet, some 14 km from Prostvik, 33 km from Pargas centre and 55 km from Turku. Like in many Finnish villages the view from the road is not too romantic: a petrol station and flat roofed grocery stores (you can get a glimpse of the church from the road, though). Older houses are preserved e.g. on the way to the marina. The village is actually quite large, interspersed with woods.
There are coaches from Turku (about €12, children 4–11 half price) along Skärgårdsvägen, via Nagu to Korpo and Houtskär six to eight times a day, operated by TLO (but usually in a white and green livery and labeled "Skärgårdsbuss"). There are a few direct connections also from Helsinki by Skärgårdsvägen Ab (owned by Vainion Liikenne), but usually you use coaches to Turku and transfer in Kaarina, see Pargas. The coaches have right of way to the ferries, as have e.g. local taxis. Timetables at Matkahuolto (use "Nagu" for Kyrkbacken, "Pärnäs (Pargas)" for Pärnäs; the names may get exchanged into Finnish ones).
There is a good bike route from Turku to Pargas. Some kilometres after the centre it transforms to a gravel path going up and down any hill, but continues to Lillmälö. In Nagu you mostly have to cope with the road traffic, one strategy is to get off when the batch of cars from a ferry is approaching.
You could also take a boat or ship from Turku (departures from Aura river between Föri and Martinsilta bridge):
- m/s Fanny from Turku to Kyrkbacken via Själö (2017: mid Jun–mid Aug: 10:00→11:55→12:30, back 16:00→16:35→18:30; adult one-way €25/20/12, child €14/12/3)
- m/s Aspö [dead link] going from Turku to Utö via Pärnäs (twice weekly, in summer only, 2016: 18.6–21.8; phone +358 2 240-5330; €25/person one way, children 4–11 years €12,50, restaurant on board).
Coming by yacht you have thousands of options. Most inhabited islands have at least a jetty for visiting yachts, although for more advanced service, such as washing machines, the marina at Kyrkbacken is where to head. There are lots of summer cottages, often not seen from a distance; do not land at private jetties or close to houses. See Archipelago Sea and Boating on the Baltic Sea for some destinations, yacht rental, charts etc.
The coaches drive along Skärgårdsvägen and will get you quite near most (but not all) places on the main islands. If you have a bike (or are willing to walk a few kilometres) this may be sufficient to get you to most destinations, but is surely impractical for getting around.
The roads are quite quiet and suitable for biking. Except for Skärgårdsvägen they may be gravel roads. On Skärgårdsvägen, look out for cars racing from one ferry to the next (and driving a car yourself: if you get off first, just park until the worst speeders have past). Renting a bike is possible at many accommodation businesses.
Some of the nearby islands, such as Högsar, are connected by road ferries, allowing you to drive there with car or bike, except in the middle of the night.
For islands at a distance, such as Nötö, you have to use the ship-like ferries, departing mostly once or twice daily, with timetables and routes differing depending on day of week. The complete route takes several hours. Most are there foremost to serve the local population and probably free (earlier free only to locals, but this made for too much bureaucracy), some are heavily subsidized and cheap, some are totally commercial.
The ship-like ferries part from Kyrkbacken (in the winter 2017 from a pier 2.5 km away on Ernholm) or Pärnäs (14 km from Kyrkbacken), both on Skärgårdsvägen, or from Kirjais Österby (reachable by bike, car, ferry or a special subsidised taxi that has to be ordered well in advance; 12 km from Skärgårdsvägen, 16 km from Kyrkbacken). Check whether you have to order the connection in advance (usually before 14:00 or 16:00 the preceding day) to have the ferry call at your pier, and make sure you are seen when you are to be fetched.
Nearly all ferries take bikes and most take a few cars (but there may be no parking lot or road to drive at the destination). Check separately for out of season; in winter there may even be hydrocopters or ice roads instead. Timetable information (Pargas tourist information) +358 400-117-123, firstname.lastname@example.org. The relevant ship-like ferries:
- The little ring road connection (m/s Östern): Kyrkbacken to Rymättylä via Själö; trice daily, €6, children (4–11) €3; summertime only
- The northern route (m/s Falkö phone +358 400-320-097): Kyrkbacken to Själö, Innamo and northern islands of Korpo
- The Utö route (m/s Eivor phone +358 44-500-0503): from Pärnäs to Berghamn, Nötö, Aspö, Jurmo and Utö.
- The transversal route (m/s Myrskylintu or m/s Cheri, phone +358 400-217-053 or +358 400-227-722): from Pärnäs to Kirjais Österby via many islands in the south, including Berghamn, Brännskär, Stenskär and Gullkrona, also calling at Krook and Mattnäs on Storlandet
- The southern route (m/s Nordep, phone +358 45-129-4779) from Pensar to Borstö and other islands far in the south, via Kirjais Österby and some of the islands on the transversal route
With a yacht all small islands are in reach. Be careful about islets with nesting birds: any disturbance may give crows and gulls a chance to eat eggs and chicks. For the main islands your best bet is to leave the yacht in a marina and rent bikes. The Kyrkbacken marina offers this service explicitly: bikes for rent, the yacht can be left Sunday afternoon to Friday afternoon for €40, except in peak season.
A rowing boat or similar is nice for getting a feel for the sea and to explore nearby islands. You get to rent or use one for free at some lodgings. If you cross larger bodies of water, you might get stuck though, would the weather change.
There are kayaks for rent at some lodging businesses, and from dedicated businesses (see Archipelago Sea). The latter are probably to be preferred at least for longer journeys if you need advice.
You are probably here to see the archipelago; get out of the coach at the ferries to feel the fresh air and enjoy the views.
- Nagu kyrka (church of Nagu), Kyrkvallen, ☎ . Medieval stone church.
- Sjöfartshuset (seafaring exhibition), Kyrkostigen 3 (by the church), ☎ . 4.6–12.8 Tue–Sun 11:00–18:00, 13.8–31.8 Tue–Sun 11:00–16:00. Exhibitions telling about the seafaring traditions of Nagu from early 19th century to these days. Many ship models and paintings. €3, children under 12 free.
- Själö (Finnish: Seili). Lush island near Nagu Kyrkbacken, with a former lepra hospital, later mental hospital, now the Archipelago Research Institute of University of Turku. Famous for its history. A wooden church remains. Reached by boat or by ferry (Falkö, Östern or Fanny). Guided tours (in English by request), restaurant and accommodation in rooms for 1–4 persons with shared bathrooms and kitchens (since 2017). Take precautions against the ticks. Östern and Fanny €6/3 single; Falkö free.
Fishing, boating, swimming.
- 1 Stone labyrinth (jungfrudansen) in Finby (near Kyrkbacken). Take a short hike along a nature trail that leads to an old man-made stone formation or labyrinth, also called jungfrudansen. The map of the trail can be downloaded from  (with description in Swedish and Finnish only). Free.
- 2 MS Estonia Memorial (at Pärnäs). When approaching the ferry terminal in Pärnäs, take a little path across the street just opposite the bistro. After a few hundred meters you will reach a rocky shore with a memorial to the victims of m/s Estonia sinking. Free.
- Nagu kammarmusikdagar (Nagu Chamber Music Festival), e-mail: email@example.com. 6–10.7.2016, mostly 19:00. Classical music, mostly in the church. Mostly €18/15/10.
- Grocery stores by Skärgårdsvägen in Kyrkbacken, summertime also in Kirjais (perhaps last summer 2017) and Nötö
- Clothes by Svanhild Åbonde, shop at the Kyrkbacken marina
Out of season many of the restaurants are open only either at lunch on workdays, in weekends or at request. Check beforehand.
Smoked fish can be bought at the Kyrkbacken marina, with some luck. Try your luck also at other guest harbours.
Restaurants also at most accommodations.
- L'Escale, Nagu Strandvägen (at the marina), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Nice restaurant. €20–30€, pizzas €10–12, lunch €9,50.
- Grill House Biffi, Sommartorget 2 (by Skärgårdsvägen), ☎ . €15–30.
- SEO Nagu (by Skärgårdsvägen). Petrol station. Enjoy the local atmosphere.
- Westerlundi. 9:00–23:00. Grill kiosk. Minigolf.
- Restaurang Bystrand, Kirjaisvägen 579, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Restaurant by the shore in the Kirjais village. €17–24, hamburgers €10–16, children's menu €8–10.
For nightlife, check in the marina of Kyrkbacken and nearby restaurants. Certain weekends, such as Midsummer, there may be events also at other places.
There are B&B:s and cottages for rent at many locations.
- Hotell Strandbo, Nagu strand 3 (by the marina), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open 31.5–14.9 (2014). Belongs to Strandbo Group, which is a big organizer of activities for tourists and others. Charter tours etc. available. Closed in winter. single €95, double €125.
- Lanterna, Parkvägen 5 (by the marina), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Old house. Ceramics (of hostess?) for sale. Bikes and canoes for rent. single €50/55, double €70–100/90–125 (off season/in season), breakfast €7.
- Gästgiveri Martha, Kyrkvallen 4 (by the church), ☎ . Check-in: 14–18, check-out: 12.00. 19th century house. Good food, but possibly only by agreement. Also programme: fishing, bird watching, berry picking, kayaking, hunting, cycling and mushroom picking trips. single €47/55, double €74–84/97–110, family €95–110/130–160 (off season, breakfast €7/in season, breakfast included).
- Grännäs, Uttisvägen 27 (3,5 km westwards from Kyrkbacken, 750 m towards Högsar, 250 m to the left), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also cottages. Bikes for rent. €10/tent+€5/person, caravans (1–4 persons) €30.
- B&B Västergard (In Nagu Gyttja village), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Small and intimate accommodation in the countryside that also offers outdoor activities like cycling and kayaking.
- 1 Kirjais kursgård, owners: Sarviksvägen 31, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Main building and cottages. Guest harbour and restaurant in the village half a kilometre away. Small motorboats for rent, e.g. for fishing (€60/day). B&B €40/pers, including linen, children 3–12 half price; cottage with four bedrooms (10 pers) €350 one night, €900 one week, linen €10/pers (cited prices in season except Midsummer, open year round).
Postal code: 21660 Nagu (main island), 21650 Lillandet, 21680 Nötö, ...
- Pargas to the east and Korpo to the west, obviously. You could also complete the Archipelago Trail.
- A tour to one of the more distant islands of the Archipelago Sea, such as Gullkrona, Nötö, Jurmo or Utö, is a nice adventure. There is accommodation available in winter as well as summer on at least the three latter islands.
- The Åland islands, reachable from Galtby in Korpo.
- Kimitoön, which is the other municipality in the southern Archipelago Sea, to the south-east. There is a ferry connection to Örö and Kasnäs in summer.
- The Archipelago Trail, which continues to Pargas and to Korpo