Finland, the land of a thousand lakes but also of a ton of islands! Only in its Archipelago there are 40,000 islands and last weekend was the time to spend it in probably one of the most incredible ones in Finland, Bengtskär.
When it came to decide where to do a weekend trip this was a no-brainer. This one has a beautiful setting, easy to get there and the opportunity to sleep at a 110-year-old lighthouse in Finland’s southernmost inhabited place.
Let’s start with a bit of history and then go to the details on how to get there. Bengtskär is located in the southwestern part of Finland 25km away from the city of Hanko. The lighthouse opened in 1906 out of the need to guide ships that came to the Baltic sea in front of Finland. The Finnish archipelago is one of the most difficult places to navigate, add that to winter + darkness, it was a recipe for disaster. Many boats had accidents there so it was a good idea to build one.
To build it, it took half a million bricks, 120 men and just 9 months, even by today’s standards it is an outstanding accomplishment. A great fact is that it is the tallest lighthouse in the Nordic countries, majestic. The island has houses, war bunkers, cliffs, sea water natural pools with shrimps & colourful fish, an amazing wooden heated sauna and of course the lighthouse which is now a hotel. Don’t think that the lighthouse is useless, the reflector on top of the tower is still in use.
During many years after its construction, families lived there taking care of the lighthouse but then a dark chapter of its history came by. The war hit in 1941, the soviets wanted to conquer the island but the Finnish army put up a fight and won. However the infrastructure was really damaged, men died in the conflict and the lighthouse building partially destroyed.
Luckily by 1950 the building was restored and opened again. Time passed by, many renovations and owners later the lighthouse is currently in the hands of the Foundation for the Turku University. Since 1995 it has been welcoming about 10,000 visitors a year.
How do I get to Bengtskär?
If you own a boat then you can perfectly navigate there, here below are the coordinates:
If you are travelling like me without a boat, then your option is to buy a ticket and take a boat ride from the port of Kasnäs. The ride takes about 1,5 hours and makes a stop in the viking island of Rosala. To get to Kasnäs from Helsinki, you can either take a bus to the town of Taalintehdäs and then from Taalintehdäs to Kasnäs. For this trip, as we didn’t have too much time to spend in bus transportation, we used the car of a friend and drove there. You can also rent a car for the weekend, it is a short 2,5-hour drive with great scenery. (We even saw a moose on the way, how cool is that?)
What to do in Bengtskär?
Even though it is a very small island, just 2o,ooo square meters it has plenty to do for a day or 2. Actually one of the best things of this trip was how relaxing it can get. Sometimes when you travel to a place that has a lot to see you stress a little bit into seeing it all, not in Bengtskär. In there you can take it easy, spend the day walking around the rocks, taking tons of pictures, swimming, laying down in the sun with a local beer (oh yes they have their own local brew). Then get in the bunkers, climb up the reflector tower 2, 3, 4, 10 times if you want. In the evening, stick around to enjoy the almost endless summer sunset, during this time of the year sunset was at 10.30pm. Cherry on top: private sauna time with a view at 11pm.
Type of trip possibilities
If you don’t have your own boat, there are 2 types of trips you can do to Bengtskär island. 1) just a day trip in which you arrive to the island at mid day and leave around 5pm. 2) leave Kasnäs by boat at 11.30am, arrive to Bengtskär at 3pm after a tour in Rosala and then spend the night in the lighthouse to leave the next day at 5pm.
We went for option 2! The lighthouse hotel was almost booked by the time we decided to go. That’s why I suggest to start booking your trip as soon as possible if you want this option. You can access all the details from here: Bengtskär accommodation. This last option, even though it is a more expensive one (209€ per person) it is completely worth it and the overnight stay includes:
- Round trip by boat from Kasnäs including entrance fee, visit to the Rosala Viking Centre & lunch
- Accommodation including first day afternoon coffee, evening sauna & breakfast
- Dinner, second day lunch & afternoon coffee
- On top of this the hotel staff is incredible and joyful
One last picture this time of the 225 steps leading to the reflector room, which on a side note, it is open 24/7.
What do you think of it? Is it a place you would like to visit? Let me know in the comments!