In paid collaboration with Visit Raseborg

Article & photos by Johanna Suomela @maisemaonnellinen

A short drive from Helsinki, Raseborg is an oasis for the history-fanatic cultural tourist. Travelling to the easternmost village of Raseborg, Mustio, is like teleporting yourself to another reality. Gustav I established Finland’s first ironworks in Mustio in 1561. Today, in this hidden gem of Raseborg, you can walk through a fairytale-like park in the shade of centuries-old trees, pamper your tastebuds with delicacies at Linnankrouvi, and climb to jaw-dropping lake and forest views at the heights of Korpudden cliffs.

How did Finland’s richest man live in the 1900’s? What attracted the tsars and kings to Mustio? Who sent a massive painting of themselves as a thank-you for hiding his love child’s mother?

Location on the map

The 230-year-old Mustio Castle provides visitors with scenic park views and delicious food, in addition to its fascinating history and touching stories of previous residents’ fates. 

Mustio Castle suits any celebratory occasion, from weddings to work events. Events here are enjoyed by couples, friends, and colleagues alike.

It’s no wonder – in its day, Mustio Castle was a central gathering place for socialites to party. And what a wonderful spot it is! Let time stand still and take in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Enjoyment of life is at the heart of Mustio Castle on every level. This hidden treasure is located in western Uusimaa, under an hour from Helsinki and Turku.

Mustio Castle’s enchanting park is always open

When arriving to Mustio via Hållsnäsintie, it is best to slow down once the church comes into view. The church is located on the other side of the road, directly across from the old gate and avenue of noble trees that leads to Mustio Castle.   

Mustio Castle park is accessible by foot through the old gate.

As I arrive in Mustio on a day in May, noble trees aged hundreds of years are only just budding, but small bulbs and wood anemone shimmer in the spring sun. I can only guess what the giant trees would tell us if they could speak!

The birds sing in the crowns of the trees. Among them you can hear the song of redwings and chirping of chaffinches. ‘Finland’s most common owl species’, the woodpigeon, hoots somewhere in the shelter of the canopy. Adding to the lively atmosphere is the buzzing of bumblebees under a blooming maple tree.

A persistent starling lurks patiently on the castle’s lawn, undisturbed by the hunting goddess Diana and her dog.

Mustio Castle’s park invites you for a stroll. The park’s meandering paths are best explored at a leisurely pace, listening to the sounds of nature and breathing in the fresh air while forgetting daily stresses and haste.

Mustio is made for seizing the moment and immersing yourself in your surroundings. Social media can wait, and phones should only be used for capturing memories of beautiful views.

Mustio Castle’s park offers a discovery trip to an enchanting English-style park that surprises even the more demanding guest with its elegant statues and ancient trees. 

Children and adults fostering their inner child will be delighted by the open-jawed crocodile waiting patiently still, the beach path lined with antique statues, the love bridge hanging over Mustio river, the stylish gazebo, and Flying Mercury in front of Linnankrouvi.

Throughout the summer as the river warms up, water lilies also begin to pop up on the surface on the water.

Mustio Castle’s park extends to at least 22 hectares of land and continues to the wild side of the love bridge.

It is definitely worth crossing the sturdy, gleaming white bridge: waiting for you on the other side are the concert of bird song, beautiful forest, and in the spring you’ll find carpets of wood anemone along the edges of the small paths.

Mustio Castle celebrates its 230th birthday

Ironmaster Magnus Linder II built Mustio castle in the years 1783-1792; this year the castle celebrates 230 years! 

Mustio Castle’s imposing yellow building is said to be Finland’s largest wooden building unaffiliated with the church. In style, the castle represents the transition period from rococo to neoclassicism, and the interior is Gustavian.

Guided museum tours are available in the castle. This time travel through history is a must!

Linder family coat of arms

The guide for my castle tour is Kerstin Ilander, who dominates the sovereign history of the castle. During the tour it becomes clear that Kerstin knows all the smallest details of information about the intricate history of the castle. Whatever I can think to ask – Kerstin has a ready answer. It’s no wonder that bespoke tours can be themed to focus on furniture, artwork, family history, or ghost stories and anecdotes.

The word of Kerstin’s knowledge has in fact spread far, which is why guided tours in summer months should be booked in advance to secure your place.

Mustio Castle’s history tells of great men and beautiful women. One of the castle’s most beautiful – and simultaneously least conventional – women was Aurora Karamzin’s niece, Marie Linder. Marie was said to be so beautiful that when she entered a room that the rest of the party fell silent.

Not only was Marie the most beautiful, but also the most intelligent, and she refused to conform to women’s standards of the time. Marie enjoyed her share of wine, beer, and cigarettes, and it is said that she also enjoyed the company of other men when her husband was away.

As if this wasn’t enough, Marie also caused quite a stir by riding astride and in breeches, men’s riding garments, nonetheless.

Castle tour guide Kerstin Ilander tells of Marie Linder’s life.

Marie’s not so happy marriage to Constantin Linder resulted in the publication of a book in 1867. You can find Finnish and Swedish versions of the work at Mustio Castle, named Qvinna af vår Tid – Aikamme nainen (woman of our time).

Unfortunately, Marie’s first book was also her last, since her colourful life was cut short. Marie Linder died at the family-owned Kytäjä estate at only 29 years old. What might she have accomplished, had she had more time to live?

Marie’s sad fate aside, her and Constantin’s son, Hjalmar Linder, grew to be Finland’s richest man. Owning a whopping 64 000 hectares of land and three factories, he also enjoyed spending money and living extravagantly.

During Hjalmar’s time in 1902, one of Finland’s first cars was acquired and imported to Mustio – along with the chauffeur and his wife. Other firsts include Finland’s first hand-blown, double-glazed windows.

Hjalmar hosted impressive parties at the castle and entertained guests lavishly. Champagne glasses clinking, many cultural personas such as Jean Sibelius and Louis Sparre were known to enjoy their time there. Sparre immortalized the castle’s scenery in oil paintings, which you’ll see during the museum tour.

Another influential beauty of the castle was Hjalmar’s stepsister Kitty Linder. Kitty was said to have been courted by marshal Mannerheim, but she eventually refused the already once divorced suitor.

Kitty Linder with a stuffed bear cub that was used to collect calling cards, a Russian style. The bear’s story is revealed during the Castle tour.
The original Diana statue on the castle staircase. Nowadays, a copy is on display on the front lawn.

During the Mustio Castle tour, attention is paid not only to portraits of the beautiful women of Mustio, but also to all of the other intricate details.

Though most of the interior décor came to the castle later, a few original gems have been preserved.

In the castle owner’s study and guestroom, the king’s room, the original parquet floor remains, made from four different types of wood.

It is said that Gustav III and tsars Alexander I and II all stayed in the king’s room.

”The king’s room” elegant bed
In the old days, only the richest could afford a proper selfie.

The original hand-painted tile stoves are also still intact in the main building of Mustio Castle.

In today’s world of ever-rising construction costs, we can only imagine what such hand-crafted beauties could cost today – if you could still find such craftsmen!

Hjalmar Linder’s final fate was particularly touching. In the style of his mother Marie, he also refused to behave to the standards of his class.

Hjalmar was forced to leave all the elegance of Mustio behind him because of his good heart, as he questioned the senseless bloodshed and white atrocities of the 1918 civil war in his writing.

It is only right that the story of Mustio Castle ended well. Magnus Linder bought the castle back in 1985. The castle was by that time badly damaged and run-down. The roof leaked, and insulation was rotten through. The beautiful parquets were buried under plastic rugs.

The three-year emergency reconstruction work on the castle was a cultural endeavor, partly funded by the Finnish National Board of Antiquities.

After the death of Magnus Linder, the castle was made into a foundation where owners cannot make profits. The goal of the business is preserving the worth of the historic attraction for future generations, as Magnus Linder wished.

Magnus Linder at the edge of the dining room tilestove.

Every guest who uses the castle services supports Magnus Linder’s wish and the preservation of this cultural heritage site, since the funds are used for maintenance of the area and premises, restaurants and development.

Special arrangements can even be made for an evening of fine dining in the castle’s extravagant dining room.

The fun pig figure at the end of the table – a bell to ring the kitchen staff – does not see much use lately.

Mustio Castle Linnankrouvi

Though the castle dining room radiates ambience, Linnankrouvi restaurant has its own magic, located in a Gothic revival carriage house.

The sturdy brick walls, plank floors, and wrought iron chandeliers give the restaurant an elegant atmosphere.

As we were travelling in May before the start of the actual summer season, the castle was open only to groups.

Mustio Castle is a fantastic location for conferences, meetings, and parties, as the over 100-year-old event facilities provide an atmospheric setting.

A few years ago, the airy pavilion designed by architect Filip Linder was finished. A continuation of Linnankrouvi, it is now possible to host up to 200 guests here.

The hall is comfortably spacious, and the service is seamless and friendly.

We enjoyed a tasty four-course meal at the window table, marveling at the evening sunlight of early summer that lit our plates.

The food at Linnankrouvi is aesthetic, distinct, and delicious. Exactly as good food should be.

Get a good night’s rest in Mustio Castle’s hotel room

Mustio Castle is not only a historic museum and refined restaurant, but also a comfortable hotel offering distinctive rooms.

Here, you can spend a night in the classic chic white Edelfelt-building next-door…

…. or on the other side of the river, a short walk from Linnankrouvi.

Merlin’s tower stands on the edge of the river, serving in a past life as an ironmaster’s two-story suite in its past life.

Merlin’s tower has a brand new terrace and will soon boast its own sauna for river swim opportunities!

There are in fact already three saunas in the area available for groups.

Orangerie saunas are located on the other side of the river, and tucked away in Linnankrouvi is a traditional lakeside log sauna. The brave who dare can also book this in winter.

In order to experience the atmosphere of Mustio Castle at leisure, you should spend at least one night here.

The evening mood of the park is magical with giant, ancient trees glistening with the evening light. During a late-night walk in the park, you can peek through the trees into the castle windows, in case you see the movements of any previous residents. The castle’s rooms are said to have seen countless guests who have long since passed.

For someone wanting to break their daily routines and celebrate life, there are also Bon Vivant experience packages for sale at the castle. These include accommodation, a four-course dinner, and a scrumptious breakfast.

Korpudden in Mustio – a stunning nature destination

When you start to crave wilder landscapes than the castle’s scenic park, you’ll find what you’re looking for around six kilometres away. Korpudden trail, maintained by the Uusimaa recreation area association, boasts striking rock cliffs. It is one of the more significant cliff areas in Uusimaa in terms of landscape and nature conservation.

Korpudden has fantastic scenery, and due to high altitude differences is considerably demanding. The dirt road leading to the starting point parking lot is not maintained in winter.

Immediately at the start next to the parking lot you’ll find an information board, woodshed, and latrine. A neat fireplace awaits a stone’s throw away.

The trail should be walked counter-clockwise, as the starting point brings you from the cliffs along Lohjanjärvi shore, rewarding the return journey with breathtaking views. Life, an ankle fracture, and countless traversed trails have taught me that the steepest, potentially slippery altitude differences should be ascended rather than descended if you have the choice.

Good shoes are necessary for this adventurous route! Especially for damp weather, it is worth investing in durable shoes.

Right after the first fireplace, the trail dives into the forest, just touching the lakefront.

The yellow paintmarks on the trees are easily distinguishable at the start, but as we go further into the woods, we have to focus a little more on finding them.

The graceful cliff rises next to the trail, so close you can touch it. In a few spots, trees fallen by the wind lean against the cliff, and walking becomes weaving.

Scented Solomon’s seals grow above my head.

An assortment of ferns peek out from crevices along the cliff.

Nature comes close, even without breaking away from the trail.

The water calls nearby, but the trail starts to rise slowly and distances me from the lake’s surface.

High above on the shelf of the cliff awaits a picnic table.

Steps ahead climb even higher up.

The trail is already fairly high, the water glistens far below the cliff.

Small blue splashes appear here and there, and they aren’t water.

As the top of the cliff approaches, the blue splashes cover the ground entirely. Viola tricolors bloom in large blue clusters!

The trail gains even more altitude, for the first time I observe the blooming of bird cherries from above the canopies.  

Nearby ferns roll open for the start of summer. Below, a large maple opens its bright green leaves, next to it a common hazel.

The drop is steep, almost forming a pit in my stock. Coming here with children would require constant alertness. Dogs must in any case be kept on-leash in nature conservation areas for safety reasons.

We rise to the peak, and what a beautiful sight!

And what vegetation!

I stay by the cliff for a long time marvelling at the landscapes and flora. It was definitely worth the climb.

The actual route is short, only around one kilometre, but much more significant in its physical height. This is exactly what makes Korpudden a fantastic daytrip. You don’t need to walk many kilometres or rush onward. All of your attention can be channeled to the scenery and lush nature.  

I continue down the path, lost in my own thoughts. The ground is covered, the lush forest bordering the trail. Just before the route circles back, on the downhill I come across a sheltered fireplace. This would be an ideal place for a break if the rain happened to surprise you.

Mustio also has a ski slope

On the way back to the castle, I stop by IK Trissan’s Härkävuori ski slopes. The ski centre in all its buildings looks pristine. It stuns me that the mere 1500 residents of Mustio have such a grand ski centre!

The information board states that in winter you can ski several illuminated ski tracks. At Härkävuori the skiers – and in summer, hikers – have a kota and laavu at their disposal for grilling sausages.

Endless experiences at Mustio Castle

I have visited Mustio Castle several times, but my enchantment with the place has yet to fade. If the guided tour, park scenery and delicacies at Linnankrouvi aren’t enough, sauna evenings and hiking in Korpudden are just the tip of the iceberg in glamorous experiences available at Mustio.

Mustio Castle rents out rowboats and Jopo bicycles from the hotel reception (must bring your own helmet). The reception also lends badminton rackets and petanque balls. At Mustio Castle you can go SUP boarding or paddling, or even join a champagne tasting. For passionate home cooks, the castle also offers a cooking school in its own learning kitchen! The summer boasts an abundance of other entertainment options.

According to the old Chinese saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

The same applies to Mustio Castle.

If you haven’t had the chance to marvel at the castle’s elegance yet, now is a great time to start thinking about next summer!

Translation: Karolina Salin

Read also

VisitRaseborg.com

Mustionlinna.fi (in English)

Three ways to rise to new spheres at Raseborg castle

Billnäs ironworks is now 380 years old – the beautiful village is a great destination for a summer trip

The Antskog Ironworks in Raasepori – a historical idyll by the river

One of the most beautiful hiking areas in Raseborg hides among the reed beds and hazel groves – hiking on the trails of lake Lepinjärvi at dawn

Culture & cardio – experience the Embankment route from the capital region to Fiskars on a train and bike

In commercial collaboration with Visit Raseborg

Article & photos by Johanna Kleemola @outdoorfamily.fi

Sneaking around Raseborg castle on a foggy November night, we might have heard two ghosts playing hide-and-seek in the castle ruins. Had we gone in Mid-July, the arcadian village Snappertuna would have been bustling with medieval markets and wild tournaments. However, our visit to the castle ruins on an ordinary day in early summer was still certainly fascinating, surprising, and rewarding.  

Raseborg castle is already a captivating attraction in itself, but a guided tour provides the opportunity to immerse yourself even more in the environment. Or what do you think about the following experiences?

A medieval castle surrounded by green countryside

Sunlight reflected on the surface of the road that winded through the countryside. The fields were ready for the coming growing season and bird song filled the forests, indicating the start of summer.

Flowing river views could already be seen from the car park, and the couple hundred-metre walk from the parking lot to the castle ruins already boasted the verdancy of Raseborg. More was to come.

Bug safari – entomology with professional tools

We began our family day with a Bug safari. First we caught small insects with sweep nets. Then we got to study our catches under a microscope. We also managed to fish a few different types of bugs from the riverbank.

Catherine Munsterhjelm introduced us to the world of spiders, water striders, and other insects in an interesting and compassionate way. She gave us the chance to test professional tools and observe bugs, each even more interesting than the last – while respecting the insects.

Through the microscope, miniscule organisms grew gigantic. The smallest details stood out.

There were dragonfly nymphs and caddis larva. Centipedes! And a giant snail! And a beetle that jumps in the air at an explosive speed!

Catherine organizes hour-long bug safaris in the courtyard of Raseborg castle on-request for families and other groups (€100 / max. 10 people / English, Finnish, or Swedish). There are also general safaris that anyone can join for €10. Availability can be found on Visit Raseborg’s website, and tours are suitable for all ages.

Catherine can also arrange longer bug safaris – as well as something completely different…

Wild herb walk – dive into the exciting world of free natural treats

This something different is immersion into the world of wild herbs. We got a brief taste of Catherine’s wild herb walk, but the half hour was enough to get the family super excited about wild herbs. My first-grader wanted to write down all of the herb names that we tasted so that none of them were forgotten at home. At home, it was imminent that we immediately start going through stinging nettles to gather the free superfood.

When you can taste tens of herbs and hear plenty of tips on preparing them within half an hour, one can only imagine how much a 2.5-hour wild herb walk has to offer.

There’s ground elder, viola, and rosebay willowherb. There’s alder, birch, and rowan. There’s greater plaintain, spruce tip, and polypody roots. You’ll taste licorice flavours and asparagus-like delicacies. Best of all are the stories, recipes, and ideas.

Catherine guides her guests around Raseborg castle while giving tips, advice, instructions, and taste samples. You can’t gather just anything from anywhere, but many common plants can be used to create more delicious and healthy treats. Catherine always offers small samples of these herbs at the end of the walk. It was an incredible experience! Thank you Catherine!  

You can book a wild herb walk from Catherine for your own group. Shorter and longer walks are also possible. Additionally, wild herb walks are organized at all open events during the summer. Participation costs €25 and availability can be found here.

Catherine Munsterhjelm

Biologist specialized in underwater research

Has worked as a nature school teacher in addition to research work

Instructed courses and guided tours at Raseborg castle for c. 5 years

More info about guided tours: catherine.munsterhjelm(at)gmail.com

Guided castle tour – a unique theatrical experience on historical ground

After the bug safari and wild herb walk, we were ready to learn about the castle itself. This is definitely not your average guided tour! From the moment Dan Idman steps into the castle yard clothed in full medieval garments, the most unique 1.5 hours of your life begins.

The tour is full of life and emotion. Dan explains facts from the castle’s construction in the 1300’s, abandonment in 1558, and vacancy of over 300 years. However, the facts are mixed with details, feelings, and strong visions. The Raseborg castle tour is an energetic theatrical performance that you can attend for an extra €5.  (Children under 7 years €0, 7-15 years €2. Castle has a separate entrance fee.)

On Dan Idman’s tour, beer kegs rattle, jokes are flung, and emotions flood. We walk along corridors of the castle ruins, climb up stairs and explore the scenery. We see how flocks of eider circle the ruins and hear about life in the castle during its time. The stone walls are bursting with intriguing secrets, stories, and phases throughout the castle’s lifetime.

Built on a sheepback surrounded by water, the castle has gone through some rough wear in its time. Dan guests from the 2020’s through this one-of-a-kind journey through history to hundreds of years back in time. This is definitely an experience worth participating in – if you dare!

Guided tours are organized throughout summer (see raaseporinlinna.fi/en/) and are suitable for all ages. The tour lasts c. one hour, but you should be prepared for enough stories that it may last longer.

Dan Idman

Theatre performer

Summer 2022 is Dan Idman’s 25th year as a guide at Raseborg castle

Up to 90 guided tours per summer

Tours can be found from raaseporinlinna.fi/en/

Lemmenpolku trail and more

When the time comes to say goodbye to the historic ruins and leave the ghosts behind, there’s still more to see before heading to the car. In addition to the guided tours there is plenty to see and do nearby the castle, such as the restaurant/café Slottsknekten, the Swedish-speaking summer theatre that has operated for over 50 years, and kayak rentals.

One particularly fantastic experience is the short Lemmenpolku trail, starting from the castle to Forngården outdoor museum. The trail is only 500 metres in one direction, but on the way you’ll find sheep pasture, grove, riverbank, and even a scenic bridge.

The verdant trail and charming old buildings are enchanting. Raseborg’s river flows freely under the wooden bridge and a sea of windflowers bloom beautifully. To top off the wonderful day, on our way back the sheep come within petting distance.

Lemmenpolku trail was established in the 1960’s when local biology teacher Einar Öhman, who was interested in the area’s history and culture, wanted to create a direct path from the village’s hostel to the castle ruins. The man started calling it Lemmenpolku (”amorous path”) due to the lovelorn birds that filled the air with mating calls each spring (source: luontoon.fi).

At the other end of Lemmenpolku, Forngården outdoor museum transports you to life as it was in the archipelago during the 1800’s. The museum includes the main building as well as different sheds, fences, and lofts from the 1700’s and 1800’s that were brought from Halstö island. You can read about Forngården’s opening hours and more here.

The area around Raseborg castle is a fascinating combination of enchanting history and mesmerizing nature, living culture and culinary experiences. A fantastic summer daytrip for the whole family, you can enrich your experience of the area by joining these unique and unforgettable guided tours. Who’s ready to go?

You can read more about Raseborg castle on its webpage: raaseporinlinna.fi/en/ as well as Visit Raseborg’s page: Visit Raseborg – Raseborg Castle.

Translation: Karolina Salin

Beautiful places nearby

Ekenäs’ serenity and autumn colours are fit for a postcard – only one hour from Helsinki

Billnäs ironworks is now 380 years old – the beautiful village is a great destination for a summer trip

The Antskog Ironworks in Raasepori – a historical idyll by the river

One of the most beautiful hiking areas in Raseborg hides among the reed beds and hazel groves – hiking on the trails of lake Lepinjärvi at dawn

Culture & cardio – experience the Embankment route from the capital region to Fiskars on a train and bike

In commercial partnership with Visit Raseborg

Ekenäs old town, a colorful array of quaint houses and passageways, looks like something out of a painting. Given its picturesque appearance and proximity to the nature paradise of Ramsholmen, as well as the reasonable travel time for most Finns, the area is surprisingly quiet outside of the summer season. As summer fades, the streets of Ekenäs grow silent. Yet, it’s hard to imagine this hidden treasure more stunning than in this moment of peaceful bliss. This scenic spot is just a train or bus ride away!

Ekenäs on a map

Villa Skeppet is visible from the parking lot and starting point of Ramsholmen hiking routes. It is currently owned by the Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation, and you can learn more about its history by booking a guided tour. The building was designed by Alvar Aalto as a home for his friends Christine and Göran. Read more.

As we set off on our Ekenäs sightseeing trip, the cool October day was already turning to dusk. A sunflower peeking out from behind a wooden fence caught my attention. It seemed to be gazing at the sun and sea, and turned out to perfectly encapsulate the evening ahead: the scenery of our Ekenäs trip was fit for a postcard, filled with sunlight and lovely shades of “ruska”, Finland’s autumn colours!

Walking through Laivuri park, we marveled at what might be the thickest trees I have ever seen. In the other direction the blue sea glimmered beautifully, yet another view fit for a postcard.

My adventure buddy Karoliina turned her gaze up from the roots of the gigantic trees and spotted a bell hanging high up. The bell is a monument to the artist Helene Schjerfbeck, made for anyone to ring by pulling the string handle that hangs on a pillar. The sound travels far with the sea, even to Ramsholmen forest where the artist was said to enjoyed painting. Schjerfbeck lived in Ekenäs during the year 1925–1941, even having a nearby street named after her.

In one step we had left the park and were surrounded by the charming passageways of the old town. My mind was already somewhere much further, as far as Åland or even a storybook, with quaint houses and polished alleys. The magnificent features of the landscape contained captivating intricate details, such as the blocks named after sea animals. Among them were shark, whale, seal and many more, in Swedish.

The streets and alleys had revealing names such as “glove-maker’s” street and “hatter’s” street – the latter immediately brought to mind Alice in Wonderland. The names actually signify the town’s history, which is deeply rooted in the working class of the past. Nowadays the old working-class homes are mostly vacation homes. For those tickled by the thought, there were a few houses with “For Sale” signs in the windows!

Read more here about Ekenäs old town and other guides.

We stopped by the church. The current church building was completed in 1842. The original church was a small wooden building built in 1600, and in between there was a stone church that was burned down in a fire. The current church looks like a white stone giant towering over the low-lying wooden houses of Ekenäs old town.

Porcelain statues, teddy bears, and special mirror installations were on display in the house windows, which I figured were “gossip mirrors”. These allow those inside the house to see what’s happening on the street and who is walking there (with who!) without being seen. A great method of observation, and probably a spectacular source of gossip back in the day.

I liked that bulletins had been put up on the streets about people who influenced the area. Some were familiar, but most were completely new to me. One of the new names included Olof Bäckström (below), but I learned that he was the one to invent Fiskars scissors! These bulletins were scattered around town, a great addition for independent travelers.

Karo and I walked around solely on intuition, choosing to take whichever street or alley looked inviting. The setting sun of the October evening cast moody shades of light on the landscape only seen at this time of the year. The late autumn light is a magical sight by the sea of the south coast, and it beautifully complimented the nature and old town of Ekenäs. The rays of light refracted by windows and colourful shades completed the scenery with contrasts and effects.

We arrived at Raippatori. It was a small, cobble-stoned square between the old town and beach. The spot’s gloomier history aside, I enjoyed the sparks of colour: the yellow, red, and green shades from the buildings, trees, and vines were almost too much against the blue sky!

Raippatori is reminded of its history not only by its name, ”whip market”, but also by the still standing pole of shame in the market. There was a time “when crimes were punished by public whipping”, as mentioned on Visit Raseborg’s website. The current atmosphere here does not at all give away its past.

Our journey continued from the pole of shame to another narrow passageway. The colours of the houses and fences continued to intensify, competing for saturation in different shades of red. The sunny weather forecast for the evening did not disappoint; the place would be stunning in any weather at any time of year, but on our trip it felt like nothing could be better than a sunny autumn evening in Ekenäs.

The city of Ekenäs was founded in 1546. Four years before Helsinki! Back then it was a small fishing village and Sweden’s king Gustav I gave it city rights. Most of the preserved buildings to this day are from the 1700’s and 1800’s. To think! But if you look around you, the charming houses speak for themselves. 

Though the houses are not quite as old, it’s mind-boggling to think that the same passageways we were walking have been there since the 1500’s. It’s difficult to imagine what the world looked like back then, it feels so distant. At the same time, my heart is filled with warmth and comfort by the thought that my ancestors might have walked these same streets on their daily errands. 100, 200, or even 500 years ago – these streets already existed.

The air was calm. There were few other pedestrians, some passageways were totally empty. It was peaceful and clean; I noticed that the only “trash” on the streets were shriveled leaves from the trees, which were swept by the gentle sea breeze and rustled softly against the cobblestone asphalt.

Even without a map, it felt like were always exactly where we needed to be. Next we arrived completely by chance at a square, Raatihuoneentori, lined with cafes and restaurants. Café Schjerfbeck was already closed, but it looked cute and the windows mirrored the park’s autumn colours wonderfully. I walked a small round in the park (bottom right picture below) and noticed some city bikes. It would have been a great option for sightseeing the area if I had noticed early. You can read more about city bikes here

Market days at Raatihuoneentori are year-round on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I will have to come back when there’s snow to see the area in a totally different way!

Ekenäs old town hall below. So magnificent!

At the edge of the square was a map of the old town. This map is a great guide of the area if you prefer more organized sightseeing than Karo and me. We were more tempted by the freedom of letting our thoughts and feet guide us instead of the map. Laivuri park, which we passed through in the beginning of our trip, is seen on the bottom right of the map (Laivurin puisto).

Karo luckily noticed that cafe Cafferien at the edge of the square was still open. The time was quarter to five, so we had 15 minutes. The café was bustling with teens spending time together, mothers and children, as well as older folks. We ordered coffee and cake – the vegan raspberry pie with oat vanilla sauce was delicious – and we had just enough time to enjoy them peacefully. It was the perfect pitstop before the next leg of our journey, as our city break was about to be swapped out for a nature hike.

After the coffee, we meandered through the town to our starting point, from where we would start heading in the opposite direction. First we wandered for a moment on the silent Kuninkaankatu (“king’s street”), which was full of brick-and-mortar stores that had already closed for the day. I already knew the story behind this, as I read beforehand that this was the first pedestrian street in our whole country, and the stores still close in the “old tradition” at five o’clock.

For those who enjoy shopping and dining, I recommend Ekenäs as a day trip in the sense that shops and cafes are mostly open during the daytime. My introverted heart was less interested in the services available but could have burst from joy at the quiet and exquisite views that provided endless photo opportunities.

As we once again passed Laivuri park’s giant trees, Helene’s bell, and Villa Skeppet, we were soon back at the parking lot where our car was waiting. The car could wait a little longer, however, as we went past and found the starting point for the hiking paths of Ramsholmen. The guidepost effectively displayed the main features of the area, and we took a picture as a backup on our journey.

Though Ramsholmen is most often spoken of, the entire area also includes Hagen and Högholmen. Wooden bridges connect the islands, and the route’s charm comes from the European-style grove’s magical atmosphere and the sea views. The views are best admired by choosing paths that occasionally escape the forest’s shade to open shores.

The sun approached the horizon, producing a jungle of cool shadows and warm rays of light. The main track was solid and wide, but smaller paths strayed here and there. We once again allowed our feet to guide us. We crossed paths with dog walkers, photographers, parents with their children, runners, walkers, and cyclists. Many smiled and greeted us.

At the first bridge, we stopped to take in the scenery so elegantly painted by the sun and the running water below us.

I must shamefully admit that I am unfamiliar with the tree species in the area. Some trees seemed to reach the sky, at the least. The few I could recognize were maple and common hazel. Many spots on the ground were covered in a carpet of maple leaves, their colour enriched by the refracted light.

The refracted sunlight is a reason why I recommend Ramsholmen specifically as an evening stroll destination. Why not a morning walk as well! The thick shade of the grove is in striking contrast with the bright sunlight on the shores, and in many places we felt like were shifting between worlds as we stepped from light to dark and vice versa.

The next bridge is longer than the first, and the scenery totally different. The bridge stretched across reeds openly while water flowed narrowly beneath it. The gold-tinted reeds swayed in the wind and gave the archipelago an authentic touch.

As we moved onward, the route narrowed and was totally covered in leaves in some places, but it was still easy to follow throughout the trip. Our surroundings switched between blue-green pines of the coniferous forest and grove filled with green foliage and yellow-orange leaves on the ground.

Most of Ramsholmen is wheelchair-accessible, but the area of Högholmen is not suitable for wheelchairs. The coniferous forest was particularly uneven.

On the way back, we had one last cherry on top of our Ekenäs cake. This was watching the sunset on the beach, and it was timed perfectly! The passage shaded by the common hazel led us to the beach, where the bright orange light awaited us.

As we arrived to the beach, it was empty. It would have been an amazing spot to go swimming if we had brought swimsuits and towels. There was even a changing cubicle conveniently there. Next time!

The sun gives off the most intense rays and fullest colours just before it dips beneath the horizon. We were able to enjoy the breathtaking view of the final orange rays shining on the forest floor. Dusk began to descend on our way back to the car, and had just about taken over as we arrived.

We were given one final goodbye from Ramsholmen on our way back. Above, the light of the setting sun shining through the treetops set the autumn colours into blazing flames.

In addition, I noticed a small movement from a bush on the side of the road. A deer crossed the road, seemingly quite tame as it let us pass quite close by it once it had made its way to the shelter of the forest.

Though I had guessed that Ekenäs old town and Ramsholmen were beautiful destinations, I have to say that the trip exceeded my expectations. The area is also so close to Helsinki metropolitan area that most can visit relatively easily. It’s vital to remember your camera, as a more photogenic place is hard to even imagine! There is plenty of accommodation available in the region, so I would warmly recommend a mini-vacation here for those who have the chance.

Learn more

VisitRaseborg.com

Travel to Raseborg without a car (VisitRaseborg.com)

Ekenäs Old Town (VisitRaseborg.com)

Helene Schjerfbeck (VisitRaseborg.com)

Alvar Aalto architecture in Raseborg (VisitRaseborg.com)

Beautiful places nearby

Billnäs ironworks is now 380 years old – the beautiful village is a great destination for a summer trip

The Antskog Ironworks in Raasepori – a historical idyll by the river

One of the most beautiful hiking areas in Raseborg hides among the reed beds and hazel groves – hiking on the trails of lake Lepinjärvi at dawn

Culture & cardio – experience the Embankment route from the capital region to Fiskars on a train and bike