Naantali is a small town in southwest Finland, it has a population of just 19,000 but is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

A brief history of Naantali

Built on the site of a mediaeval Brigittine convent called Vallis Gratiae, Naantali is one of the oldest towns in Finland, the remains of the original convent are still visible today. The convent was a sacred place for protestant pilgrimage, and after obtaining trading rights in 1443, a settlement began to develop around it. In the 16th century, the convent closed because Catholicism took over from Protestantism in Finland, and the town subsequently went into decline, which lasted until the mid 18th century, when the Naantali redeveloped the economy by building a tollgate and customs chamber. A spa also opened in 1863, which generated tourism in Naantali and has attracted visitors ever since. This economic model has worked well for the town, and today Naantali has the second-highest income per capita of all the towns in Finland.

What to do in Naantali

Naantali is a great place to bring the family and is well set up for visitors. If you remember the cartoon The Moomins, then in Naantali you can visit Moomin World! A theme park based on the Moomin books by Tove Jansson. Located on the little island of Kailo and connected to Naantali by a footbridge, this is not a typical theme park! It does not feature rides; instead, there are the fantastical places featured in the books and cartoon to visit. Take a stroll along weird and wonderful paths to experience it with the whole family. It was voted the world's fourth-best theme park for children and features lots of educational content too! If you and your family prefer something more physically active, then the island is also home to Adventure Land, an activity park with five fascinating adventure worlds, where children can test their mental and physical skills. There is Pirate harbour, where kids can capture a ship, Smuggler's fortress where they can ride along the zip wire. At the Fishermen's village, they can visit the animals and the village shop, and at Hermit's hut, they can try panning for gold or learning archery. There is also Kultaranta, the summer residence of the President of Finland.  Surrounded by 560,000 square meters of parkland, this beautiful granite house is open to the public, featuring a greenhouse and a rose garden to explore. 

Beaches around Naantali

If you take a 25-minute drive, a little bit inland and around the coast, you come to lovely Saaronniemi Beach, a beautiful sandy beach with places for BBQs, volleyball or badminton pitches, a café and also a camping area, for caravans and tents. There are also ferries to the Turku Archipelago from Naantali, the little islands have lovely beaches and are popular with cyclists. The archipelago is made up of 20,000 islands and skerries (rocky islets) it is considered one of Finland's most spectacular natural attractions and is perfect for island hopping, kayaking and enjoying the birdlife.

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