There are plenty of possibilities for outdoor activities in Vaasa especially when you are into hiking, snowshoeing, packrafting or outdoor photography. In this blog post, you will read about some of my outdoors activities while I was living in Vaasa for 2 years. Below you can see Northern Lights over Vaasa.
If you are interested in climbing, then you can give it a try in the water tower of Vaasa – straight in the city center next to the tourist office.
For those who like hiking trips, a ride to Björkeby or Öjen (40km north of Vaasa) might be an option to enjoy the Kvarken Archipelago – a UNESCO world heritage site. kvarkenworldheritage.fi is a good website to find more information about the Kvarken Archipelago. Unfortunately, public transportation is quite bad in the Vaasa region so having a car or taking a taxi is more or less the only way to get there (or with a bicycle if you are still in the mood to hike once you arrive there).
If you are more into packrafting, the Bothnian Sea or Pilvilämpi are great spots to inflate your boat.
To learn more about the area and in particular the Kvarken Archipelago, a visit to Terra Nova – a museum in the city of Vaasa is highly recommended. The entrance is free of charge on Fridays.
Packrafting in Pilvilampi
Joni, a friend of mine, and I went packrafting to Pilvilampi, a recreational area nearby Vaasa and a paradise for birdwatchers.
Joni and me agreed to meet at 9.30 pm at the Pilvilampi lake which was a 5 km ride from the city center of Vaasa. Mosquitoes immediately attacked us so we were in a hurry to get with our packrafts into the lake as soon as possible to get rid of those blood-hungry creatures.
On this trip I wanted to test how my new HMG Porter 4400 backpack is going to perform on the packraft since it will be essential that all gear is working properly for my trip to Sarek. The backpack became quite wet but stayed dry inside.
Joni was testing his new Canon 6D camera and decided to attach his bicycle on his packraft. We paddled till late in the night – at 23.30 it was still bright and we enjoyed the midnight sun and the silence of nature.
Hiking to a bird tower
Approximately 5 km south of the Vaasa city center there is a possibility to hike in Risö; (Etelainen Kaupunginselka bay) and observe birds from a bird tower (lintutorni) – GPS: 63.05774 N – 21.67732 E. The trail to the tower is quite easy. However, you have to fight with hundreds of mosquitos while walking in the forest. This was a good opportunity to test my new Arcteryx Squamish hoody wind jacket.
Those books where you can leave a note can be found at several constructions maintained by Metsähallitus, a state enterprise which administers state-owned land and water areas in Finland.
I also hiked to the bird tower during winter. The landscape is more grey but it’s still nice to go outside and to enjoy nature.
At a fireplace nearby the bird tower I prepared lunch – Fresh frozen sausages and green tea in my new Thermos bottle. I used my new Finnish knife – also called Puukko – to prepare a wooden stick to grill my sausages. It’s nice to sit by the warm fire, relax and enjoy the silence.
Hiking in Kajane, Maalahti
Kajane is located South of Vaasa. I hiked there just one month before the first mosquitoes should appear again.
You will almost always find firewood in places where you can officially lit a fire. This has been the case in all National Parks I have been so far in Finland and this seems to be also the case in Kajane (which is not a National Park).
The trail which leads to lake Lisansjön is called Lillträsket or in Swedish Lilla Naturstigen and went through a swamp area. Spruces and fir cones were spread all over the place. My trail runners were maybe not the best choice in a swamp without wearing waterproof socks.
We carried sausages in our backpacks and enjoyed a nice barbecue after the hike.
It was quite interesting to hike in Kajane since I would have never thought of this place without the recommendation of some local people who drove me to this place. You don’t need special hiking gear for this hike. Maybe waterproof shoes and a rain jacket if the weather is not stable. Depending on the time of the year you should also protect yourself against mosquitoes.
Skiing and Snowboarding in Öjberget
Öjberget is a small ski hill nearby the village of Sundom. If you are living in Vaasa and want to enjoy nice scenery or do some downhill, cross-country skiing or snowboarding then you should visit Öjberget.
The hill is 45 m high and has a length of 325 m. There is also an observation tower on top of the hill. Further, you can find a 5 km long cross-country ski run which is also lighted in the evening. 4000 years ago the hill has been an island 30 km away from the shore.
Obviously, you can not compare this hill to the Alps but it has the highest elevation in the area and is a great place to start learning Skiing and Snowboarding. I often visited Öjberget on my bicycle. The distance is approximately 10 km from from the city center.
The meteor crater in Söderfjärden seen from the observation tower. The meteor crater is also a popular place to observe migrating birds.
Hiking in Björköby
Björköby is located 20 km north of Vaasa and was originally an island before it got connected with the longest bridge in Finland to the mainland.
I went with the bicycle from Vaasa to Bjököby where I planned to visit the Kvarken Archipelago – an UNESCO World Heritage site. The distance to the Swedish mainland is just about 80 km and the depth of the water is max. about 25 meters. The area has been populated by human beings since 7000 years. I bicycled on the longest bridge of Finland (1.045 meters long).
There is something special on this area: The land is rising at about 1 cm a year (as there was a Glacier 10.000 – 24.000 years ago).
Unfortunately, there is no good bus connection from Vaasa to Björköby, so I had to come by bicycle as I do not have a car. The distance to Björköby is about 40 km from Vaasa. During the summer months, there is one bus going on Saturdays only but you have to make a reservation.
It took me about 2 hours from Vaasa to Björköby by bicycle. I passed the longest bridge in Finland, small villages and cycled next to the sea. There are also plenty of hiking possibilities e.g. the nature trail Bodvattnet runt which passes Bodback – an old harbor – but some require to a arrange a boat beforehand. There are also boat museum and an annual sailing race event called Postrodden.
Once I arrived there I climbed up the Saltkaret observation tower and enjoyed the scenic view.
The local community should maybe think of better transportation possibilities and arrangements for hikers which I found personally very poor for a World Heritage site. However, I can recommend the Terranova museum in Vaasa which describes quite well the Kvarken Archipelago.
Once you reach Björköby watch out for a sign to Kalasatama – a fishing harbor where you can park your car.
From here you can hike 3 km until you reach a hut where you can make fire and grill your sausages. The hut is locked so you need to get the key beforehand. On this trip, I saw the remaining of stoves from the Russian Army when they were fighting against the Swedish Army somewhat before 1809 when Finland became a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. After we parked our cars and hike for a while we found stoves which have been used by Russians during the war. They are under protection. There was also a monument for the people who drowned since the 19th century and a hut which can be used if you get a key beforehand. There was also firewood and a fireplace.
Packrafting in Replot
Having had no plans for this Sunday, I spontaneously went out with some friends to Fjardskar – a recreation place just before the Replot bridge – the longest bridge of Finland (1.045 m). At Fjardskar you can do water sports, having a barbecue or go for a short hike.
My guess is that you can let boats into the water from this place. The tall building on the right-hand site signals boats that the water is deep enough to cross. Many ships were stranded in the Kvarken Archipelago in the old times due to the shallow water in this area.
I was paddling 30 minutes towards an island (and 30 minutes back) where birds were nesting. However, I tried to keep some distance as the seagulls became quite nervous when I got closer to the island.
Hiking in Öjen
Autumn is the best time to go hiking in Finland. The leaves are changing their colors and mosquitos have finally disappeared. Öjen is located between Vaasa and Sundom and can easily be reached by car or bicycle. The trail has a length of 5 km and there are around 130 different nesting species.
Well maintained trails and destination signs are part of the hiking experience in Öjen. I have spotted a huge anthill on the trail. I was wondering how long it takes for ants to build such a huge anthill. A well-maintained fireplace with the firewood to grill Makkara (sausage) welcomed us in Öjen as well.
There are several beaches in Vaasa. The one below is on the way from the city center to the football stadium. Since this picture has been taken during spring, people are not that eager to go swimming yet (that’s why the beach is empty).
Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking
Temperatures went up from -21C to -4C on this winter day when I decided to try out my new snowshoes in the forest around Pilvilampi with hiking trails ranging from 2 – 8 km and on the shore in Vaasa.
The area is covered with boulders which have been placed here after the last ice age some 10.000 years ago when the area was covered with a 3 km thick ice layer. The Pilvilampi lake is covered with ice and some people did ice fishing here too. I followed the trail towards Aurinkolaavu. Again the trails are very well marked with signboards on the crossroad. Then I was crossing a bridge to Aurinkolaavu to a very well maintained refuge with firewood.
Another day in Vaasa – the sun was shining and I discovered interesting shapes of ice while walking along the shore with my snowshoes.
With the bicycle you can reach almost any place – It’s just a matter of time. I went several times to the Kvarken Archipelago – a UNESCO World Heritage site – with my bicycle. The distance to the Swedish mainland is about 80 km and the depth of the water is about 25 meters. The area has been populated by human beings for 7000 years.
Here you can also find the Replot bridge, the longest bridge of Finland (1.045 meters long). Unfortunately, there is no good bus connection from Vaasa to Björköby, so you need to come by car or by bicycle. The distance to Björköby is about 40 km from Vaasa. During the summer months, there is one bus going on Saturdays only but you have to make a reservation.
It takes you 2 hours from Vaasa if you want to go by bicycle but it’s quite nice to pass the bridge, small villages and cycle nearby the sea. You can also take a map with you if you plan to do some hiking in the area around Bjököby. You may also need to make some arrangements with boat transportation if you want to hike the Björköby – Panike Trail.
There are also plenty of hiking possibilities e.g. the nature trail Bodvattnet runt which passes Bodback – an old harbor – but some require to a arrange a boat beforehand. There are also boat museum and an annual sailing race event called Postrodden.
Another trip which I did with my bicycle was a visit to Old Vaasa, where you can also find the old court of appeal and a monument from 1808 when Vaasa was occupied by Russian forces. Another option is also to visit the Söderfjärden plain which is about 10 kilometer south of Vaasa and a meteorite crate.