Örö Fortress

Turku & Finland's South Coast

Örö was long a military island, first containing a defensive fortress built under Russian rule and later serving as training grounds for the Finnish military. The island's barracks, heavy artillery battery (complete with guns) and fortifications on the northern tip were opened for exploration in 2015. The MS Ejskär makes the 1¼-hour trip between Örö and Kasnäs once or twice daily in summer and at weekends in September. Book ahead.

Because the island was closed for so many years, it's home to unique birds and butterflies, as well as rare plant species, such as pasque flower and sea kale. Birders will have a field day, as many migrating Arctic species stop here. The island is also a nesting place for the icterine warbler and the barred warbler (both can be seen in June).

There's a variety of accommodation, including a hostel (dorm beds/twins €35/110) in the old barracks, and a restaurant in the canteen.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Turku & Finland's South Coast attractions

1. Rosala Viking Centre

4.27 MILES

Rosala isn't just a museum but a Viking village, complete with homestead, chapel and moored Viking ship. An introductory video provides an informative…

2. Bengtskär Lighthouse

8.68 MILES

Towering 52m above the waves 25km offshore from Hanko, the Nordic countries' tallest lighthouse was built in 1906 to protect ships from the perilous…

3. Hitis

8.85 MILES

About 8km south of Kasnäs, the island of Hitis (Hiittinen) harbours a charming wooden church. The free ferry MS Aura runs up to eight times daily from…

4. Söderlångvik

15.79 MILES

The beautiful manor house Söderlångvik belonged to local newspaper magnate and art collector Amos Anderson. There are paintings, furniture and special…

5. Dragsfjärdin Kirkko

18.8 MILES

Dating from 1755, this yellow wooden church with marine-blue interior is a charmer. The church's oldest artefact is the crucifix, which dates from 1689.

6. Hauensuoli

20.46 MILES

This narrow strait between Tullisaari and Kobben is a protected natural harbour where ships from countries around the Baltic Sea once waited out storms…

7. Water Tower

22.59 MILES

Zip up the lift to the top of the 50m-high water tower on Vartiovuori Hill for sweeping views across town and out to sea.

8. Hangon kirkko

22.59 MILES

Originally built in 1892, this neo-Gothic church was damaged in WWII but has been thoroughly renovated.