Island hopping the Bothnian Coastal Route

Spending time on an island and in the archipelago is a part of the life style in the Nordic countries as Sweden or Finland and in Scandinavia in general. Coastal history, nature and heritage are waiting to be discovered on the islands of Bothnian Bay. You will encounter both historical and nature sights and feel the modern-day relaxed archipelago lifestyle. This tour is for the adventurous travelers who put experience and nature first.

  • The itinerary is designed for FIT travelers. 

  • Kindly note that most guided activities have a minimum of 4 persons

  • The mentioned opening hours, tour times apply for summer 2024 and are due to changes. 

  • See Distance table for driving distance between destinations.

Day 1: Arrival in Skellefteå

Arrival at Skellefteå airport (SFT)

Several flight connections via Stockholm/Arlanda are available from Europe.

Rental of electric or hybrid cars is available at Skellefteå airport.

A one-hour drive takes you to Kinnbäck, from where you will start your island hopping tour.

You leave your car on the mainland, there is no charging station in Kinnbäck. 

Boat transfer to Pite-Rönnskär. Today, this island is primarily a summer paradise with an interesting past as a fishing village, pilot station and lighthouse.

It is easy to explore the island on your own and get settled into the Nordic archipelago life.

Return to the mainland where dinner and accommodation at Byske Gästgivaregård.


Day 2: Luleå

After breakfast, you return to the mainland and continue towards Luleå.

There is a charging station in Jävre and several in Piteå. There are several charging stations in Luleå, close to the harbour. 

The scheduled boats depart from Luleå southern harbour (Södra hamnplan) taking you around Luleå archipelago. Snacks and beverages can be bought on board.

Brändöskär is an idyllic island with a chapel and many red cottages. Most cottages are privately owned, but Luleå municipality has a couple that can be rented. In case you opt for spending a night at Brändöskär you should book the accommodation well in advance.

In case you stay on the island, bring groceries and beverages, as there are no shops or restaurants on the island.

You can return to Luleå the next day.


Day 3: Luleå

The first departure from Brändöskär is around noon. Continue exploring Sweden’s northernmost archipelago by visiting Sandön.

On Sandön you can relax on the beach and enjoy the beach restaurant. The last ferry to Luleå city center departs at 18:30, on some days at 20:00.

Dinner on your arrival at Hemmagastronomi on the jetty of the southern harbour in Luleå.

Make sure that the car is being charged overnight. 

Accommodation at Quality Hotel Luleå.


Day 4: Kalix

After breakfast, the drive to your next island destination is one hour by car and then continuing by boat.

There are regular transfers from Norrkust Marina in Båtskärsnäs, check the accommodation’s website for timeschedule per weekday.

The closest charging stations are in Kalix City. 

The island Malören arose from the Bothnian Bays as late as 1500 years ago and developed into an early retreat for the Bothnian fishermen. It later became a pilotage area, a lighthouse spot and finally a holiday location.

Accommodation in the lighthouse watchers cabin or the pilot house.


Day 5: Hailuoto

Enjoy breakfast and maybe a stroll on the island before moving on.

After the boat transfer, you have a 2 hrs drive ahead of you. You cross the border to Finland on your way. Remember to switch the watch to Finnish time (EET) from Swedish time (CET).

Charging stations on the route: Haparanda and Tornio and in Oulu. No charging stations on Hailuoto Island. 

The island of Hailuoto is reached by a car ferry and it is the largest island of Bothnian Bay. Once you get off the ferry and drive through the island you feel like time has been turned back around 50 years.

There is plenty to do on Hailuoto and Ailasto is a good base for excursions on the island.


Day 6: Hailuoto

After breakfast, you can rent bikes from Ailasto and explore the island on your own.

The island is home to many artists, so there are art pieces in nature, e.g. the acoustic organium. You should also visit the exhibition on Luotolainen Tikkuri, the special woollen pullovers that the locals swear by. Of course, you can add a lighthouse to your collection on Hailuoto too. One further recommendation is Hailuoto Brewery.

Accommodation in a glamping tent in Ailasto is an alternative to regular accommodation.

 


Day 7: Raahe

Car ferry back to the mainland after breakfast. Once on the mainland, drive 1 hr to Raahe.

Charging stations: Kempele and Liminka

Meriraahe transfers you to the island of Iso-Krasseli, which once was an important place for seal hunters on the Arctic coast. Naturally, the island has a pilot station with a wooden lighthouse.

The only accommodation is in the pilot cabin. For this overnight one needs a bit of wilderness skills and also a social mind, as their premises are shared by other travellers (max 10 persons).

The island can also be experienced on an island hopping cruise and then accommodation can be on the mainland, at Katariina’s Chambers.


Day 8: Kalajoki

After breakfast you have only one hour to the next destination, Kalajoki. The beloved sand dunes of Kalajoki will not be your goal this time, we pass the resort and drive to Rahja.
In case you need to stop for lunch in Kalajoki, we recommend Lokkilinna Restaurant, where you can enjoy the view over the dunes and the open seafront.

It is recommended to charge the car in Kalajoki, there is a fast charging station at ABC. 

Rahja archipelago is best explored by canoeing. The islands are not inhabited, so it is a pure nature experience.

Accommodation in a floating glass igloo in the archipelago. There is a barbeque by the igloo, so you can prepare your dinner (brought by the accommodation providers) while admiring the sunset.


Day 9: Kokkola

After a well slept night and breakfast at the igloo, it is time to continue the journey towards Kokkola and its Tankar island.

Tankar lighthouse island’s history dates back to the 1200’s as the island rose from the sea. Originally it was a dwelling of seal hunters and later it became a lighthouse and pilot island that attracted fishermen too.

Charging stations are found in the Kokkola centre. 

M/S Jenny takes you to the island, where you check in to Tankar Inn Hostel. Café Tankar takes care of your nurturing while you are here.

Visit the island’s lighthouse and stroll along the shores looking for perfect stones and – in case of right time of the year – sea buckthorn.


Day 10: Vaasa

Back on the mainland from Tankar, you continue to the next destination, Kvarken.

Experience the beauty of Kvarken Archipelago, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Start by visiting the World Heritage Gateway Visitor Center and continue to Svedjehamn where you can go hiking and admire the archipelago from above from the watchtower.

There is a charging station in Svedjehamn. 

After a nice dinner and sauna at Kalles Inn Resort, you will fall asleep accompanied by the sound of nature.


Day 11: Umeå

Early morning at Kalle’s Inn, as you have app 1hr drive to the terminal.

Wasaline’s ferry Aurora Botnia takes you partly along the beautiful Unesco World Heritage Site Kvarken Archipelago and further to Umeå in Sweden.

The sea journey is 4 hrs and you change from Swedish time (CET) to Finnish time (EET) during the trip.

We recommend this connection for this itinerary
08:00-13:00 Thu-Sat

Echoes from the past and dizzying adventures. Discover this exciting island of Norrbyskär about 45 minutes from the ferry terminal.

Picnic on the rocks or archipelago buffet at the museum restaurant, the choice is yours!

The museum guides you through what it was like to live in a sawmill community.

Last night’s accommodation is in Lotsstugan right by the sea.


Day 12: Departure from Umeå

Breakfast at Levar Hotell (organized by Pilot cabin Järnäsklubb).

Drive to the airport is 1hr.

Departure from Umeå airport (UME)