On a long sandy peninsula, adorable little Hanko (Swedish: Hangö) retains the past grandeur of a Chekhov play. It blossomed as a well-to-do Russian spa town in the late 19th century, and its opulent seaside villas, built by wealthy summer visitors, are a star attraction. Locals refer to them as ‘the old ladies’, as many were named for Russian sweethearts (although newer ones have nautical names).
The population doubles in summer when Finns flock here for the sun and sand. While birdlife like the grey Canada goose summers here, and seals are regular visitors, human guests arrive for the huge Hanko Regatta, which is as famous for its ‘spring break’ wildness as for its feats of sailing.