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Pilgrim Trail Top Stage 1

St Olav Waterway - 1. Turku to Pargas

Pilgrim Trail · Turku
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  • Only 1200km to go! The start of St. Olav Waterway at Turku Cathedral (Nidaros = Trondheilm)
    / Only 1200km to go! The start of St. Olav Waterway at Turku Cathedral (Nidaros = Trondheilm)
    Photo: Iiris Kallajoki, St. Olav Waterway
  • / Turku Cathedral
    Photo: James Simpson, St. Olav Waterway
  • / St. Olav Waterway is marked with the logo and a red band in the forest
    Photo: James Simpson, St. Olav Waterway
  • / Rauvolanlahti nature reserve
    Photo: Harri Ahonen, St. Olav Waterway
  • / Turku in spring
    Photo: James Simpson, St. Olav Waterway
  • / The route is only signposted in the direction of Trondheim.
    Photo: Tim Bird, St. Olav Waterway
m 100 50 25 20 15 10 5 km VisitTurku Matkailuneuvonta / … Kuusisto Art … experience @EVA Vaarniemen laavu … tower) Kuusisto Bishop's Castle Ruins Turku harbour Solliden Camping Holiday centre Koivukankare
From Fascinating Turku to the Finnish Archipelago, these are the first steps of St Olav Waterway, a 1200km pilgrimage that takes two months to complete through 3 Nordic countries.
29.6 km
7:39 h
217 m
210 m

Today is a mix of urban and countryside, a contrast of peaceful nature paths and roads that connect the archipelago with the mainland. A worthy start for your journey is Turku Cathedral. The cathedral was consecrated in 1300 and is considered one of Finland’s most important historic buildings.

After less than 3 km from the historic heart of Turku you start to walk on soft tracks and nature trails. A great spot for a picnic is at the Vaarniemen look out point. Through Kaarina the route crosses fields, parkland and quiet suburban roads, Hovirinta has a sandy beach.

Following the archipelago cycle trail, you will cross three bridges, a taste of island hopping by ferry for the days to come. The views from the bridges are splendid, however, the main road can be busy and listening to good music or podcasts can help you enjoy some of the noisier parts. If you get tired, the local bus will take you to Pargas, which has plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants and beaches.


Author’s recommendation

Short on time? Stage 1 is perfect as a day trip from Turku. Walk as far as you like and hop on a local bus to take you back to the centre of Turku.
Highest point
58 m
Lowest point
2 m
Best time of year

Safety information

Today's route uses pavements, nature paths, quiet roads and cycle paths. When walking along roads without pavements or cycle paths, please walk on the left side, facing the direction of traffic and be aware of oncoming cars. The nature path in Vaarniemen is not suitable for cycling; there are boarded walkways, a steep stair and sections of bare rock that can be slippery especially after rain.

The route is marked with the square logo of St Olav Ways and arrows. The route is marked sparingly in the centre of Turku and although easy to follow, you should pay attention to route taken.

There are shops and supermarkets close to the trail in Turku and Kaarina although you will need to check the exact location beforehand, as they are not on the trail.

 The archipelago is a sensitive area; please respect the nature and inhabitants of the archipelago. You can read about your rights and responsibilities according to everyman's right. Fires can only be made at designated fireplaces when there are no active forest fire warnings. Please see:

Good to know! In the archipelago, the main language spoken is Swedish despite Finnish being the majority language in the rest of Finland. That is why we use two names for the same place; Turku – Åbo, Kaarina - St:Karins, Pargas – Parainen, Nagu –Nauvo, Korpo – Korppoo. In the route description, we will use the names of the majority language of the town: Turku, Kaarina, Pargas, Nagu and Korpo.  

More information:

Tips, hints and links

Nyt saat tilattua pyhiinvaelluspassin näppärästi kotiin jo ennen reissua.
Now you can order your own pilgrim passport before the journey.
Nu kan du beställa ditt eget pilgrimspass redan före resan.


Soratie/ Dirt road/ Grusväg                  1.6 km

Tie/ Road/ Väg                                        1.6 km

pyörätie / cycle path / cykelväg           14.6 km

Polku/ trail / stig                                     8.1 km

Luontopolku/ nature path/ naturstig 3.7km

Lautta/ ferry/ färja                                  0 km

Silta/ bridge/ bro                                    3




Turku Cathedral or AboaVetus in Turku (21 m)
60.452681, 22.278134
60°27'09.7"N 22°16'41.3"E
34V 570312 6702509


Pargas/ Parainen

Turn-by-turn directions

Local tourist information is found from Visit Turku's tourist information office, you can buy your pilgrim’s pass from Turku Cathedral or online .

  1. Walk downstream along Aura River from Turku Cathedral

  2. Cross Uudenmaankatu and pass Turku's old town square where The Declaration of Christmas Peace is pronounced each Christmas Eve, a tradition that has continued almost uninterrupted since the 1300s.

  3. You will pass The Aboa Vetus Museum of History and Modern Art where you can get information about St Olav Waterway and buy The Pilgrim's Credential (pilgrim’s pass). You can try to imagine the sounds and smells of crowded medieval Turku with boats arriving piled with exotic goods and groups of nervous passengers waiting to set sail from these very quays.

  4. Leave the river by climbing up the hill at Kaskenkatu at the traffic lights (signposting on the right side of the road). A memorial statue to the medieval St. Olav’s convent is seen to the right of the traffic lights.
    The Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum is very close-by and is the only area of Turku to survive the great fire of 1827.

  5. From here, it is only a half hour walk until you reach quiet forest paths that will take you to the suburbs of Kaarina. Follow Kaskenkatu, cross the traffic lights at Sirkkalankatu and Itäinen Pitkäkatu

  6. At the traffic lights at Kunnallissairaalantie turn right

  7. Follow Kunnallissairaalantie

  8. At Luolavuorentie turn left

  9. Follow Luolavuorentie for 1.2km until Luolavuoren tennis courts. Cross the road and walk along wide jogging tracks, which are well marked for about 2.2 km. For the adventurous, you can explore the cave at Luolavuori, one of the biggest in Finland. You should have suitable protective clothing to do this and can read about the cave in Finnish on Retkipaikka.

  10. At the end of the jogging path in Katariina take the underpass under the road and carefully follow the signs of the winding path through the park for about 1km passing over a few small roads.
    Cyclists should leave the path at Eteläkaari and cycle East before continuing on Kataraistentie, Haritun puistotie and Pyhän Katariinan tie. You can join the trail again in Kaarina. The duckboards at point 11 are difficult with bikes. At Vaarniemi there is a steep wooden stair.  

  11. The nature paths at Vaarniemi are sometimes narrow but lovely. They can be slippy and wet in rainy weather.  It is not suitable for bikes.

  12. A good two hours walk from Turku centre is Vaarniemi lookout tower with lean-to shelter, fireplace and picnic tables; a perfect place to make real Finnish “pannukahvia” (brewed coffee) on an open fire. The views from the rocks and lookout tower are impressive and a reward for the steep climb up the stairs. You get a great overview of the inner archipelago and today’s walk from Turku to Pargas. Try to spot Turku harbour, castle and cathedral. You should also be able to pick out the tall chimneys from the limestone quarry in Pargas to the south. 

    NOTE: The path from Vaarniemen laavu (lean-to) to Mastotie is marked with red bands and the St. Olav mark in addition to the blue paint markings There are a number of blue marked paths here so be sure to choose the correct one. 

  13. In the town of Kaarina you walk along paths and peaceful suburban roads. Here the trail is well marked. If the weather is nice, stop for a swim at Kaarina beach. A kiosk is open here in the summer. Once you join the main archipelago cycle trail there is only one kiosk before you reach Pargas centre, there are shops fairly close to the trail throughout Turku and Kaarina.
    The roads through Kaarina are; Mastotie, Torppalantie, Lemuntie, Kasarminmäentie, Yli-Lemuntie, Hantuntie, Auvaistentie, Koristonrantatie, Uimarannantie, Käjentie, Tapparakatu and Paraistentie.

  14. Turn right onto the cycle path of Saaristotie and cross the bridge to the island of Kuusisto.

  15. It is possible to divide today’s route into two by staying the night in Kuusisto. This would make a deviation to Kuusisto Bishop's Castle Ruins and Kuusiston Art Manor and nature paths possible. lists accommodation alternatives like Koivukankare and Lyhdyn Tila.   

  16. You will now follow the cycle path beside the main archipelago road for 11km, the path twists from one side of the road to the other through underpasses and is partly away from the main road. The local 801 bus travels along this road and can shorten your walk to Pargas. There is a small kiosk after 7km but no other services before Pargas/Parainen centre.

    You can listen to the music and sounds of St. Olav Waterway when preparing for your pilgrimage or when walking on the cycle paths beside the busier stretches of road in Pargas/ Parainen on Soundcloud.

  17. After the roundabout, the trail turns left along Kalkvägen and then immediately right after the store Tokmanni down Österbyvägen.

  18. Follow the cycle signs and you will soon reach a large K supermarket. Solliden camping site with rentable cabins is close and found by following Norrby Strandväg on the right. There is also a public beach here.  

  19. After the supermarket, you can turn immediately left and follow the channel without crossing the bridge on the northern side until you reach the church.  Today’s section ends at Pargas Church. The Church is a typical example of coastal stone churches, the wooden statue of St. Olav is considered to be of national importance and is now held in the collection of the Finnish National Museum in Helsinki.

There are charming cafes in Pargas centre for cakes or meals. Otherwise buy a well-deserved ice cream and sit beside the channel “sundet” watching the pleasure boats go by.


all notes on protected areas

Public transport

Public transport friendly

It is possible to do this stretch as a day excursion from Turku by returning to Turku by local bus. 

Getting there

Turku is easily accessible from Helsinki, Tampere and the rest of Finland by both coach and train. Four daily sailings connect Turku with Stockholm and the Åland islands. The operators are Vikingline and TallinkSilja. Turku has an international airport with regular flights operated by Finnair, SAS, Air Baltic and Wizz Air.

Along most of today’s section of trail, there is a frequent local bus service, twice an hour during the day. You can hop on the bus and carry on until the centre of Parainen/ Pargas using Bus 810. Buses 901-904 take you further out into the archipelago. The timetables are only available in Finnish or Swedish.

In Kaarina a service bus K2 can help you to visit Kuusisto Bishop's Castle Ruins



60.452681, 22.278134
60°27'09.7"N 22°16'41.3"E
34V 570312 6702509
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

The official pilgrim’s credentials for St. Olav Ways to Trondheim (pilgrim’s passport) can be obtained from Turku Cathedral or in advance from our online shop: 

A Guide book is available in Finnish only at the moment
Pyhän Olavin retkeilyreitit, Harri Ahonen, Aada Ala-Tala,

Available from our online shop   

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29.6 km
217 m
210 m
Public transport friendly Refreshment stops available


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