Many Finns, pronouncing the name of the city of Naantali, mean magical Mumilandia – the country of the Moomin trolls. After all, it is here that the theme park dedicated to the funny characters of the writer Tove Jansson is located. Most of the tourists are travelers from Turku who came for one day, in addition, in the warm season there are many tourists from Sweden. Naantali is also very fond of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, who spends his summer holidays here.
In the off-season, Muumimaailma (Moomin Park) closes its gates, and the quaint Old Town of Naantali descends into a melancholic and romantic look in its own way: toy, old-fashioned, cozy.
According to wholevehicles.com, the second specialization of Naantali is a spa. Here is the largest spa hotel in Scandinavia, which is called the Naantali Spa Hotel.
How to get there
Getting to Naantali is easy from Turku (18 km) by buses 11 and 110; departure every 15 minutes from the market square in front of the Hansa shopping center, 35 minutes on the way, fare 4-7 EUR.
SS Ukkopekka boats run between Turku and Naantali in summer, arriving on the south side of the bay. Finnlink ferries run three times a day to Naantali from Kapellskär, near Stockholm. On the road 8-9 hours, one way cost for adults – 39-60 EUR (including meals), for children 6-12 years old – 19-29 EUR, for children 13-17 years old 30-44 EUR, you will have to pay extra for the car another 35-80 EUR.
Weather in Naantali
The climate in Naantali is continental, it is quite humid all year round. The hottest month is July, the air warms up to +22…+24 ℃, in summer it often rains with thunderstorms and fogs. Most rain falls in August, and the driest and sunniest weather in May.
The coldest month is January, the air temperature at this time is about -10 ℃, on average in winter it is about -6… -8 ℃, there are often snowfalls.
Tourists usually come to Naantali for one day, but for those who decide to stay for a longer period, there is a good selection of hotels. In Naantali you can find hotels for every budget, from budget guest houses and campsites to five-star spa hotels. Tourist housing of the middle price category is usually apartments in the city center and cottages on its outskirts.
Campsites in Naantali are usually open only in summer, and some of them are open only on weekends. They are located near the center, as a rule, there are places for tents and houses. A tent site will cost from 10 EUR per day, a house for two – from 40 EUR per day, there are more spacious houses for a large family or company. A room in a guest house costs 30-40 EUR per day, the bathroom can be separate or shared by several rooms.
A double room in a 3 * hotel in the city center with a private bathroom, new furniture and sometimes breakfast can be rented in Naantali for 70-80 EUR per day, in high season the cost can increase by one and a half times.
Almost every five-star hotel has its own spa – this is one of the hallmarks of the city. The most famous of them is Naantali Spa Hotel 5 *, it is located on the shores of the Archipelago Sea. There are 5 swimming pools, a variety of saunas and spa programs. This is one of the oldest spa resorts in the country. It has been located on this site since the 18th century, and there is a legend that Russian Emperor Alexander III visited it. The cost of living is from 165 EUR per night for a double room.
Shopping in Naantali
There are no large shopping centers in Naantali, but there are many cute little shops where you can buy traditional Finnish souvenirs, local brand clothes (including a Snufkin costume), stylish bronze jewelry and Finnish delicacies.
The main thoroughfare is Mannerheim Street (Mannerheiminkatu), which also houses the popular Wanha Naantali Kauppa store selling amazing Finnish sweets. Here you can buy licorice candies with drops of resin, interesting home-made bottled drinks, postcards and souvenirs (a little expensive, but worth it).
In the Moomin Shop you will find everything related to Moomin: plush toys, hero costumes, dishes, pillows and much more. Everything here is so cute that it’s almost impossible to leave without a purchase. Moomin postcards and other souvenirs can also be found at the Brigita bookstore. The books here are mostly in Finnish, but there is a large selection of albums and souvenirs. Another nice store is Majapuu Design, which sells fabrics with ornaments made of cats, dachshunds and jam jars, owl pillows, but most of all here it is fabrics with designer prints and needlework.
For Finnish-made down jackets and oversized sweaters, go to Muotikulma Krisse, and Aurinkokoru for Scandinavian-style bronze and silver jewelry. It also sells clothes made of natural linen with author’s prints, and jewelry prices start from 5 EUR.
Finnish delicacies can be bought in S-market and Valintatalo supermarkets, in the second the prices are slightly lower.
Cuisine and restaurants
Restaurants and cafes are concentrated in the historical center of the city. Most establishments are located in the harbor, even two or three cafes can be located at one address, some of which are combined with mini-hotels. The most popular restaurant in the harbor is Merisali, which has a very democratic atmosphere and the best seafood in the city, which is served as a buffet. Dine here will cost from 20 EUR per person, not counting drinks.
For pastries, you should go to the Antonius cafe, which is also located in the harbor area. They serve the famous Naantalian gingerbread and cakes according to special recipes. Finding a cafe is easy – there is almost always a line here. Another good cafe with pastries is Naantali Aurinkoinen, a chain coffee shop, the most popular one is located near the Old Market Square.
Entertainment and attractions in Naantali
Naantali grew up around the Catholic monastery of the Order of Saint Brigid, which was founded in 1443. However, in 1527, Finland adopted Protestantism, the monastery was abolished, and Naantali had to fight for its existence, since it was the numerous pilgrims who “fed” the city. After the closing of the monastery, all of Naantali unanimously undertook to knit socks, which not only fed and saved themselves, but also began to earn good money by exporting cozy woolen goods to other cities.
The sights of Naantali are concentrated in the Old Town. At one time, it was built randomly around the monastery, new houses were built on the ruins of old wooden ones, cobbled streets meandered between them, and today this disorderly development has developed into a very photogenic urban landscape.
Most of the buildings in the city center are craft workshops with souvenir shops, art galleries, antique shops and cafes.
The main attraction of the city is, of course, the Moomin Valley theme park on the island of Kailo, where both children and adults love to visit. There is a blue Moomin house here, where you can climb up to the attic and go down to the basement, where Moomin keeps jars of jam. Near the house there is a Hemulen’s house and Moominpappa’s boat, and funny performances are held in Emma’s summer theater. Moomin Park is open in summer from June 8 to August 25, and in winter it is open only for a week – from February 16 to 24.
Next to Moomin Park, on the neighboring island of Vyaski, there is another children’s amusement park – Adventure Island, which is also open only in summer (until August 18). By the way, you can buy an entrance ticket for two parks at once. It will be most interesting here for children of primary school age, both boys and girls. The most interesting thing here is a route-quest on a pirate theme: you have to solve logic puzzles, get out of an intricate labyrinth, walk on stilts, shoot from a bow, etc. There are five play areas in the park with sunken ships, fishing boats and other marine romance.
Architecture and museums
The Naantali Museum occupies three old wooden mansions of the 18th century at once. The exposition is devoted to the history of the city and tells about the disappearing crafts that Naantali was so famous for in the old days – blacksmithing and knitting socks. In the main building called “Hiilola” you can see the interiors of the 19th century, in which the Finnish bourgeoisie of the century lived, as well as archaeological artifacts found on the site of an ancient monastery.
The summer residence of the President of Finland, Kultaranta (Kultaranta, translated into Russian as “Golden Coast”) is a quaint stone castle on the island of Luonnonmaa, whose powerful tower is visible as far as the port of Naantali. The castle building, designed by Lars Sonck, was built in 1916 and is surrounded by blooming rose gardens. The residence can only be visited during organized tours that start from the main gate (at 14:00 and 15:00), or by sightseeing bus from Maariankatu (departure at 13:40). Guided tours are in Finnish, except at the end of August, when there are “English speaking” tours once a day.
Monastery of Saint Brigid
Medieval Naantali grew up around the Catholic monastery of the Order of St. Brigid, which was closed after the Reformation in 1527. The only building that has survived to this day is the massive monastery church overlooking the harbour. The entire temple was built in 1462, and the baroque stone tower dates from 1797. The interior is surprisingly diverse: there are elegant vaults, and a very beautiful pulpit of the 17th century with the image of the apostles and evangelists. Worth noting is the 15th century carved wooden triptych behind the altar.
Archaeological excavations around the church have unearthed over 2,000 pieces of jewelry, coins and other items, which are today on display in the Naantali Museum.
During the summer, organ music concerts are held in the cathedral, the schedule can be checked at the information office. And at 20:00 every summer evening, the evening service begins in the temple.