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Pargas centre seen from the market square.

Pargas (Finnish: Parainen) is a small town in Finland Proper, the only real town in the Archipelago Sea. The town regards itself as the capital of the south-west part of the archipelago. There is a wooden old town, a giant limestone quarry by the centre (origin of Nordkalk Corporation and its siblings), industry and rural country-side.

Understand[edit]

This guide is only on Pargas proper. The municipality consists of the former municipalities Pargas ("Pargas proper"), Nagu, Korpo, Houtskär and Iniö.

Pargas is in a traditionally Swedish speaking area. Because of the industry (later: proximity to Turku) there are nearly as many Finnish speaking in the town, though. The municipality is officially bilingual and you get service in both languages nearly everywhere.

As in the rest of Finland you get along in English with most people.

Get in[edit]

See also: Archipelago Trail
Pargas centre seen from the turnabout on Skärgårdsvägen

Pargas centre is some 25 kilometres from Turku by road.

The only road to Pargas is Skärgårdsvägen ("the Archipelago road", Finnish: Saaristotie, regional road 180) from Kaarina through Pargas to Korpo (Finnish: Korppoo), starting at national road 1 (E18) and crossing regional road 110, both leading from Helsinki to Turku. There is a bike route all the way from Turku, mostly following the road).

The bridges between the mainland and Pargas centre will be replaced 2022–2025; the construction work and the state of Rävsundsbron cause (mostly minor) traffic disruption. Bikers are well catered to at the worksite detours. However, the Rävsundet fairway is closed until April 2025.

There is a ferry connection from Långnäs on Åland to Galtby in Korpo. You can continue by Skärgårdsvägen to Pargas, with two shorter ferry passages (5 min + 20 min; ferries each half an hour in daytime on the longer passage).

There are connections also from the north, at least in summer, via Kustavi and Iniö to Houtskär and via Rymättylä to Nagu, and from there to Pargas along Skärgårdsvägen. The most convenient route is via Kaarina any part of the year, unless you are visiting some of the islands en route.

By bus[edit]

Since 2016 most services to Pargas are by TLO (timetables). Livery for buses to Pargas centre (lines 801 and 802) is the same as for buses in Turku, but Föli tickets are not valid for Pargas. TLO also operates coaches going farther (lines 901–903) with a different livery (Skärgårdsbuss, "archipelago bus"). All these lines depart from Turku bus station. Except 802 they are "regular" services, stopping on either all local bus stops (801) or all coach stops (9xx). The Föli route planner can be used, although it ignores some lines for some stops (if you have no 801 or no 9xx in the list, you could try some other stops). Also, some coach stop signs have got changed into bus stop signs with no change in where coaches stop, check in the route descriptions if relevant; all services except 802 stop at all stops in Kaarina and Pargas.

Vainion Liikenne retains the (few) weekend services directly from Helsinki to Pargas and the archipelago farther out.

The fare Turku–Pargas is €5.50 for adults, half for children (4–12 years). A person with a baby and pram gets their journey free (as in Turku). Bikes can be taken on the bus if there is room, for a fee (€5).

Services from Turku:

  • 801 to Pargas centre every hour, except for a few hours in the night, every half an hour daytime except Sundays, some more in rush hours. It uses stops for local buses and drives along Uudenmankatu and Uudemaantie in Turku and via Oskarinaukio in Kaarina centre.
  • 802, a rush-hour express service to Pargas, along Highway 1 and Skärgårdsvägen. The stops in Turku are at the bus station, by the cathedral, by the university and by the railway station Kupittaa.
  • 901903 via Pargas to Nagu and Korpo, mostly with a transfer option to Houtskär, four to eight times a day; from Turku bus station, using stops for coaches. They drive along Uudenmaantie (road 110), Paraistentie and Skärgårdsvägen.

There are direct connections from Helsinki a few times a week, via Kaarina and Pargas to Nagu and Korpo, by Vainion liikenne (possibly in Skärgårdsvägen livery). Otherwise you have to transfer in Kaarina or Turku. You might be able to avoid paying for separate tickets by buying the tickets from Matkahuolto (make sure the ticket seller knows about the transfer). Check the transfer arrangements: some coaches from Helsinki bypass Kaarina centre along the motorway, so transfer is at the cathedral or the bus station in Turku, others leave the motorway in Kaarina, allowing transfer by Kaarina centre or in Piispanristi (or in Turku like for the others).

The buses terminating in Pargas drive along Kalkvägen and through Pargas centre, the ones going farther keep to Skärgårdsvägen, except the short detour to the bus station.

The electronic displays on some stops show minutes before passing (or departure) of the next 801 bus, not of the coaches to Korpo, nor of the school buses.

  • 1 Bus station (Bustis) (by the roundabout on Skärgårdsvägen, by the north end of the centre). M–F 06:00–18:00. Café Bustis with burgers, sandwiches, etc. Matkahuolto and Post Nord service. Unmanned fuel station. Light meals €8–10.

By boat[edit]

The sound through Pargas
See also: Boating in Finland, Hanko to Uusikaupunki by boat

Pargas is a good destination also by yacht, but note the bridges. Getting to Turku via the centre of Pargas is somewhat awkward with sailing vessels, as there are long passages along narrow sounds. The nice Kyrksundet sound through the town, providing a short route to Turku, is accessible only with motorboats of moderate size (low bridges; max draught 0.8 m).

Marinas:

  • 2 Kalkholm (at the south end of the centre, by Kyrkfjärden), +358 2 458-1300. €20/night.
  • 3 Airisto Strand (Stormälö, in the south-east end of the Erstan/Airisto body of water), +358 2 458-5945. Marina near the big fairways to Turku and popular boating routes, by hotel Airisto Strand and a large cottage village, but otherwise in the middle of nowhere. A mile – by sea – to Skärgårdsvägen with some coach connections (the Turku–Korpo ones). Get lift by boat, car or taxi if you want to get anywhere by land and don't have bikes. €20/night.
  • Accommodations by the shore usually have moorings for visitors. Check the listings below for some of those, and your chart for more options. Natural harbours can be used, but convenient ones are sparse near the centre, or in general where you can get by road.

Moorings for shorter visits:

  • 4 S-Market quay (in the sound, north of the Skärgårdsvägen bridge; max draught 1.2 m, max height 11 m). Groceries from the S market and Lidl. Fuel. Visits max 3 hr. Accessible by the fairway from middle Erstan/Airisto via Vapparn, from the north (Turku) and from the east (e.g. rounding Pargas Kyrklandet along Hässundet). Free.
  • 5 Reimari quay (in Kyrksundet, close to Skärgårdsvägen; max draught 0.8 m, low bridges). Quay by the K-market Reimari and the adjacent fuel station and spares shop. Free.

By bike[edit]

Main article: Archipelago Trail

There is a good and well signposted biking route from Turku and Kaarina. The Archipelago Trail route leads on cycleways and quiet local roads from Turku via Kaarina and Pargas to the ferry to Nagu (farther on it mainly uses narrow road shoulders). Regional biking route 22 leads through Kaarina from the north and merges with the Archipelago Trail at the first bridge.

Get around[edit]

The town is not big. Most services are by the Strandvägen road or nearby, especially in the pedestrian street Köpmansgatan. Strandvägen goes along the Kyrksundet sound (in the north end separated from it by the park Centralparken) from the roundabout on Skärgårdsvägen (the one with masts) to the marina in the south. The old town is across the sound.

There is a zone with residential areas around the centre. Some services such as sport venues, beaches and the health care centre are here, in a radius of about one kilometre.

For the area outside town the options are more or less bike, car or taxi. The buses and coaches from Turku can be used along their routes. There are also school buses and other arrangements, which you might be able to use with some detective work. Timetables for coaches, ferries, shared taxis etc. on the municipal pages.

A boat is handy for some destinations, and e.g. some recreation areas are unreachable without one. The waters of Pargas proper are sheltered, so any boat will do, except along the shores towards Erstan in the west and Gullkrona fjärd to the south.

Bikes are for rent at Hotel Kalkstrand, Café Hallonblad and Solliden Camping. At these places and at the tourist office, there is a free biking map available, with 12 km of routes to nearby destinations such as the quarry lookout, Bläsnäs beach and the church. More comprehensive biking maps are probably for sale. There are cycleways in the town area and along Skärgårdsvägen, elsewhere you share the road with cars; the traffic is light on most roads, but speeds may be quite high (50–80 km/h) on roads leading farther.

By taxi[edit]

The 6 taxi station is in the southern end of the centre, by the market square and Kyrksundet. There is a taxi rank also at the bus station, empty most of the time. Don't rely on getting a taxi late in the night, unless you have an agreement with an individual taxi business or driver. In late 2023, an on-call-around-the-clock system was reintroduced.

See[edit]

The church, seen among graves in the winter
Heavy industry by the marina, hard to imagine in the otherwise picturesque townscape
  • 1 Pargas kyrka. Medieval church. Pargas Church (Q1258802) on Wikidata
  • 2 Gamla malmen (the old town). Wooden old town by the church. Pargas kyrka och Gamla Malmen (Q30505844) on Wikidata
  • 3 Pargas hembygdsmuseum (the local history museum), Storgårdsgatan 13, +358 2 458-1452, . Jun–Aug: Tu–Su 11:00–16:00, other times by request. €4, children under 12 free. Pargas Local History Museum (Q10620372) on Wikidata
  • 4 Pargas industrimuseum (the quarry museum), Gruvvägen 1, +358 2 458-1452, . 18 Jun–18 Aug: Tu–Su 11:00–16:00, other times by request. €4, children under 12 free. Pargas industrimuseum (Q84305620) on Wikidata
  • 5 Qvidja manor (Kuitia), Qvidja 19 (on the Lemland island east of the centre, 7.5 km from Skärgårdsvägen). Privately owned manor with medieval keep (four storeys left). The owners are involved in regenerative agriculture. Not open to the public. Occasional public events. Qvidja (Q1769109) on Wikidata
  • 6 Kalkgruvan (the limestone quarry) (view e.g. from the designated place near Pajbackavägen). 24 hr daily, except around 14:00. Free. Partek (Q4356911) on Wikidata
  • 7 Art Bank, Köpmansgatan 24, +358 400-524-177, . Tu–F 15:00–18:00, Sa 11:00–16:00, Su on request. Private fine arts gallery, certified vendor of Dalí furniture. The permanent exhibition has a collection of sculptures, furniture and paintings by Salvador Dalí and you can get a dinner in his spirit (groups, advance booking). The varying exhibitions are about contemporary art. €8.

Do[edit]

The Bläsnäs beach, with swim jump tower

Most accommodation businesses also arrange activities.

Outdoor sports options include swimming, beach volley, golf, disk (frisbee) golf, horseback riding, boating, canoeing and fishing.

  • 1 Beach volley courts (by the bus station). 24 hr daily. Free.
  • 2 Bläsnäs beach, Åsuddsvägen 4 (a kilometre north of the bus station). Beach, shallow and deeper part separated by pontoon. Swim jump tower (5 m), beach huts, toilets. No guards. Quay for visiting yachts (mind the power line!), ramp for trailered boats. Feel free to eat some wild raspberries, growing by the footpath from the far end of the beach. Likewise, feel free to eat a few apples from the trees by the pond before the beach. Free. Kayak/board €10/hr, canoe €20/hr, with teacher €50.
    • 3 Bläsnäs Sport (opposite the bridge to the beach), +358 400-531-641. Sailing board, sup boards, kayaks etc. for rent, but a call in advance is needed. Also with teacher.
    • 4 Dog beach (across the peninsula, beyond the parking at the end of the road). Marked area where your dog can enjoy the sea.
  • 5 Archipelagia Golf, Finbyvägen 87, +358 50-452-5300, . 18-hole golf course. Restaurant. Greenfee in season (late Jun–early Aug) €55/40/25.
  • 6 Finby jogging/skiing route, Finbyvägen 87–89. 24h daily. 2.1-km jogging/walking route in the woods. Cross-country skiing tracks in winter (early in the season: stored snow and snow cannon), 1–10 km. Lights in evenings. Free.
  • 7 Finby disc golf (on both sides of Finbyvägen). 24 hr daily. Disc golf (frisbee) course through the woods – nice way to get a walk through them (if you don't want the complete course, take the eastern half), but you need your own discs, unless you hire ones from a business near the short course by the bus station (where you could ask). Free.

For renting yachts, smaller boats and canoes, see Archipelago Sea.

Events[edit]

View from the Vårdkasberget hill on the Saaristo trail cross-country running competition; Pargas centre is between the Bläsnäs bay and Kyrkfjärden far to the right
  • Call of the old town (Gamla Malmen kallar). Festival in the old town, with garden sales, theatre and general merrymaking.
  • Pargas orgeldagar, +358 40-596-8505, . 2022: 22–25 August. Organ and chamber music festival, concerts at varying locations, some in churches. Some concerts free (program leaflet €10), others 20,–/15,–. Pargas orgeldagar (Q106345797) on Wikidata
  • Boundbirsen. Biannually, early August , next is in 2024. Farmers invade the town. Caress pigs, sheep and cows. Watch tractors and forestry machines. Jump or glide in the hay. Plus normal market/fair action. Free.
  • Saaristo trail, Finbyvägen 87 (start at Finby skiing centre), . 2022: 27 Aug 08:00–16:00. Cross-country running competition, with 6-, 12- and 20-km routes (and 1 km for children). Late sign-up is possible on the day, 08:00–09:30. €30–45. Saaristo Trail 2019 (Q106345738) on Wikidata

Buy[edit]

Most shops can be found in Köpmansgatan, a few near the church, some by Strandgatan or farther away.

  • There are three large grocery stores (K-market, S-market and Lidl) by the north part of the centre and a smaller (M-Market) in the south.
    • 1 K-Supermarket Reimari, Kyrkoesplanaden 32 (by Skärgårdsvägen, 400m east of the turnabout), +358 2 454-6220. M–Sa 07:00–21:00, Su 10:00–21:00 (check, might be longer now). Customer quay on Kyrksundet, accessible by moderate motorboat (low bridges). Pharmacy (shorter hours, but a few hours even in Sundays). Otto ATM. Fuel station 200 m from the quay.
    • 2 S-Market Parainen, Vapparvägen 3 (150m north of the turnabout). 24 hr daily; café M–F 07:00–15:00, Sa 08:00–14:00, lunch M–F 10:30–14.00 Sa 11:00–14:00. Café in the store, with lunch. Nosto ATM. Fuel station by Kyrksundet, with quay for boats (north of the bridges, but a power line restricts height: 11 m; max draught 1.2 m).
    • Lidl (adjacent to the S-market). M–Sa 08:00–21:00 Su 10:00–21:00. Grocery store. Posti and Post Nord service.
    • 3 K-Market, Strandvägen 2 (in the south end of the centre). Smaller supermarket.
  • R-kioski, Strandvägen 12. Kiosk. Also fishing permits and post services,
  • Fiskis, Strandgatan 1 (in the hotel, street level). Fish shop. Fresh, frozen, pickled and smoked fish. Some is imported, but most is domestic, even local.
  • 4 Torget (Market square by the taxi station), +358 40-589-1748. Saturday mornings, summertime also Wednesday evenings. Market. Not many sellers, but often some fish, berry and mushroom.
  • Hamntorget (Kalkholm, by the guest harbour in the south end of town). Summertime Th 16:00–20:00. Market.

For souvenirs, consider e.g.

  • Gullkrona, Strandvägen 16 (at the Köpmansgatan/Strandvägen fork), +358 2 454-4065, . M–F 10:00–17:00, Sa 11:00–14:00. Handicraft shop. Summertime a shop also in Sattmark.
  • 5 Stentorp, Skråbbovägen 222 (6 km from the centre towards Turku, 2 km from the Archipelago road), +358 2 458-8711. Summertime 12:00–18:00, otherwise mostly by agreement. Sheep farm with quite pricey but excellent products from yarn and mittens to sheep fur coats and art. Coffee served in nice surroundings. Sheep available for caressing. Herding dog performances at some occasions.
  • 6 Tammiluoto, Tammiluoto 255 (on the Lemland island, east of the centre, 12 km from Skärgårdsvägen), +358 400-227-298 (mobile), +358 2 458-6899, . Café open daily in summertime, except during private events. Apple farm with winery, shop and café. Wines and sparkling wines from apples, pears and berries, cider, other local products. Their liquors have to be bought via Alko, although teasers may be available in the café.

Eat[edit]

Most restaurants are in the centre, in the pedestrian street Köpmansgatan or nearby. Consider also cafés and restaurants in the See, Buy and Sleep sections.

  • 1 Kajutan, Kalkhamnsvägen 2 (by the guest harbour), +358 50-439-9500.
  • 2 Kamu, Skräbbölevägen 2 (near the guest harbour), +358 50-452-4049. M–Th 11:00–21:00, F 11:00–22:00, Sa 12:00–22:00, Su 12:00–18:00; lunch M–F 11:00–15:00. Lunch €9.50–10.50, pizza €15–19, à la carte €15–30, children €9–10.
  • 3 Matmalmen, Köpmansgatan 4, +358 40-576-4976, . M–F 09:00–15:00 Sa 17:00–21:00. Personal and cosy restaurant. Book your table for the 3-course meals. Also B&B. Lunch €12–14, coffee with desert €11, 3-course lunch €35, 3-course dinner €45; may be closed some weeks off season.
  • 4 Pargas kebab-pizzeria, Strandvägen 10, +358 2 458-8880. A fast food joint.
  • 5 Hunger och törst, Strandvägen 1 (by the guest harbour), +358 2 458-5555.
  • 6 Venezia Pizzeria, Köpmansgatan 7, +358 2 458-5112. M–Th –20:00, F–Su? –21:00. Pizza, kebab, salads etc. Large servings. The pita kebab rolls are huge. €10.
  • 7 Suntti, Strandvägen 3 (by the sound), +358 400-829-892. Closed in winter. Bar and grill.

Drink[edit]

There are a number of pubs or similar. Some nightlife may be found at the hotel. The real nightclub is Frendi:

  • 1 Frendi, Strandvägen 12, +358 400-418-777, . F Sa 20:00–04:00. Nightclub. Early evenings are more pub-like, with karaoke on Fridays. DJ or live music Sa nights. The first Friday each month is a special night for those over 40 (sic!) until 01:30, with also some (1980s and 1990s) nostalgia music.

Cafés[edit]

  • 2 Fredrikastugan, Fredrikaplan (by the church), +358 40-177-3020, . June and July: Su–Th 11:00–16:00; other times by request; large groups should announce their arrival beforehand. Museum café. Former home of Fredrika Tengström (later Runeberg; 1807–1879), writer and wife of the national poet.
  • 3 Café Hallonblad, Storgårdsgatan 1 (in the centre). Lunch weekdays 11:00–14:00. Nice café with several individually furnished rooms. Lunch €10, lunch soup €8.50.
  • 4 Café Nathalie, Köpmansgatan 7 (in the centre). Tu–F 10:00–17:00 Sa 10:00–14:00.

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Hotell Kalkstrand, Strandvägen 1 (in the centre, by the marina), +358 2 511-6200, . Check-in: at Harry's pub when reception closed. Hotel in Pargas centre. Single room €80, double €100.
  • 2 Sattmarks Stuga (Sattmarkin Tupa), Sattmark 1 (9 km from the centre westwards along the Archipelago road, just after the high Sattmark bridge), . Nice café, marina for guests, fresh and smoked fish, nature path. Cabins for 1–4 persons. €20+€12/person, linens €10/person.
  • Pensionat Aron, Pjukala (4 km from the centre), +358 2 651-01891 (?). Single room €59, double €85, family room €121.
  • 3 Camping Solliden, Solstrand 7 (north of the Archipelago road, before the turnabout of Pargas centre if coming from Turku), +358 40-758-4708, . Check-out: 12:00 for cabins, 15:00 for tents and caravans. Camping, cottages for 2–10 persons, café, beach, bikes and rowing boats for rent. Tent or caravan €14/day + €4/adult, €2/child (0–15), Midsummer €40 total; electricity €5; cabin €60/night (4 persons 1.6–31.8, €45 off season); bike 7,50 half day; orienteering map €5.
  • 4 Björkholm (Granviksvägen from Sattmark (8 km south-west from the centre along Skärgårdsvägen), ferry from Granvik (7.5 km further) to Björkholm, last ferry about 18:00–19:00). Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00/11:00. Cottages, dinghy sailing, SUP-boarding, fishing trips, hire of rowing boats and small boats with outboard engine. Cottages for 2–6 persons, with sauna, shower and indoor or outhouse toilet. Self-catering. No check-in or check-out on Saturdays. €70–150/cabin.

Connect[edit]

Area code 2. Good GSM coverage in the town. In the outer archipelago and some rural areas there may be local lack of signal.

Postal code 21600 Pargas for the town with surroundings (the area of the former municipality).

Go next[edit]

  • The Archipelago Trail, which comes from Kaarina and continues to Nagu and beyond. A good way to see the archipelago without boat, using the ferries instead. By bike, car or bus.
This city travel guide to Pargas is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.