The freedom of a self-guided kayak tour with a convenient network of island camping locations
The archipelago areas around Helsinki contain hundreds of islands and offer wonderful opportunities for a flexible sea kayak adventure.
With your paddle tour beginning just 40 minutes from the city centre and suitable for any duration from 2 days/1 night up to several days, this is an ideal experience both as a stand-alone sea kayaking holiday or as a shorter tour when staying in Helsinki in combination with our other experiences in Finland.
Despite its accessibility from the city, Self-guided Sea Kayaking in the Helsinki Archipelago is very much an outdoor experience. There is a network of camping locations with fireplaces (firewood provided) and outdoor toilets - within a 10km radius of the start point there are 10 possible islands to choose from.
There is a network of camping spots to spend the night with fireplaces and outdoor toilets. Photo: NV.
Choose your route and duration to suit your time and ability
You can vary the route and distance covered to suit your own abilities, experience and of course the weather conditions.
You can choose to end your tour back at the kayak centre, or, for a "point-to-point" expedition, arrange pick-up from an alternative end point (available as an optional extra).
Camping equipment is included as standard, and the tour is suitable for a wide range of participants from beginners to experienced paddlers. For novices, an instruction course is available as an optional extra and is highly recommended to improve your confidence and enjoyment of your tour.
For a true Finnish experience as part of your trip, there are two possibilities to have sauna during your tour - one public sauna, which is free to use, approx. 3km south of the start point, and one sauna available to hire on an island approx. 16km to the north east.
The archipelago offers opportunities to paddle in sheltered and more open waters. Photo: NV.
Explore the archipelago from spring through to autumn
The main summer season, when the water will be warmest and the daylight hours longest, runs June-August, but tours are also possible from early May until late September.
Autumn can be a particularly good time for paddlers with greater experience - the water will be colder, but you may feel like you have the whole archipelago to yourselves, and from late August onwards, the tastes and colours of autumn are in the air.
If you are beginning your experience with an instruction course (strongly recommended for beginners or those with limited experience of kayaking), you will need to overnight in Helsinki the night before. Start time for the course is by arrangement (please let us know your preferred time on booking). Course duration is approx. 6 hours including break.
If you are beginning your kayak tour directly (without instruction course), start times are by arrangement between 10.00 and 16.00. Please let us know your preferred start time in advance.
You begin paddling directly from the kayak centre, paddling east towards the Sipoo archipelago area.
The region offers great flexibility to make your kayak tour as relaxing or challenging as you wish, as you explore the islands of the archipelago at your own pace. You should be prepared to adapt your route depending on wind and weather conditions to take advantage of the shelter provided by the islands. For more experienced kayakers, there is the opportunity to paddle in a more open sea landscape.
Accommodation is wild camping along the way (using the network of designated camping spots) on all nights.
End arrangements depending on whether you have chosen to end your kayak tour back at the kayak centre or if you have added pick-up from a collection point as an optional extra.
In either case, planned end time must be advised in advance. End time back at the kayak centre is by arrangement between 10.00 and 16.00. For collection, available timings for pick-up may be more limited.
If having pick-up, you will have discussed a suitable pick-up location with your local hosts at the kayak centre before beginning your tour (possibly revising this in contact with the kayak centre during the tour depending on how your tour has progressed).
Once back at the kayak centre, please allow around one hour to clean your kayaks and return your camping equipment, etc, before departure.
Dates & Prices»
Any day by arrangement from 1st May to 30th September (latest tour end 30th September) between 10.00 and 16.00. Please let us know your planned start/end time in advance.
Minimum duration 2 days/1 night, but the area is suitable for paddle tours of several days.
|Standard Prices (per person)|
|2 days/1 night||GBP|
|Extra nights (per night)||GBP|
|Optional Extras (see description below)|
|Instruction course (base price for up to 2 persons)||GBP|
|Instruction course per extra person when 3-8 persons (in addition to base price above)||GBP|
|GPS (first night)||GBP|
|GPS (each extra night)||GBP|
|Sleeping bag (first night)||GBP|
|Sleeping bag (each extra night)||GBP|
|Pick-up from alternative end point (per pick-up max 8 pers max 50km from start)||On request|
- Instruction course: A one-day course, duration approx. 6 hours with break. Start time by arrangement (please let us know your preferred time on booking). Strongly recommended for participants with limited kayaking experience. The course will cover basic paddling techniques, tour planning, navigation, and safety including rescue practice. After the course, you can either stay locally to begin your tour next day or begin your tour directly after (normal day's hire charge applies if beginning your tour that day). The closest location to camp is around 800m from the start point.
- GPS: Garmin eTrek 20 loaded with a map of the area in which you will be kayaking. The main islands, possible pick-up points and facilities in the archipelago are marked (note that map and compass are also included as part of standard equipment).
- Sleeping bag: A range of sleeping bags are available, rating 0 to -10 degrees C. Suitable bags will be provided depending on the time of year you are paddling. Please bring own liner if required - the bags are washed after each use.
- Pick-up from alternative end point: Tours normally begin and end at the kayak centre. However, if you wish, subject to availability it is also possible to arrange pick-up from alternative end point east of the kayak centre (price on request, but typically around €125 for groups of up to 8 persons for distances max. 50km from the start point), allowing you to explore further along the coast without needing to allow additional time to paddle all the way back to the kayak centre. The most suitable location for pick-up will be discussed with your local hosts at the start of the tour depending on wind and weather conditions. Please specify preferred time for pick-up on booking.
- Drysuit: High-quality, comfortable drysuits are available to hire for your tour and are highly recommended for comfort and safety, especially if kayaking during the cooler months early or late in the season. Drysuits are Ursuit AWS/AWS Lady. Price €29/first day, additional days €20/day. Drysuits must be reserved in advance (please provide size information) but are paid locally on arrival.
What's Included »
- Sea kayak with all necessary equipment including paddles, spray skirt (from Seals) and buoyancy aid (from Palm). Single kayaks (kayaks include models from Valley, Wilderness Systems, and Prijon) are provided as standard. Double kayaks are also available on request (please note that this does not affect the price). A number of kayak models are available to suit your preference and level of experience and options can be discussed at the start of your tour. Please provide height and weight for all participants in advance.
- Cooking stove with kettle and pans (provided one per 2 persons). Fuel (gas) is included as well as camping plate/mug/cutlery and washing up liquid/sponge.
- Bilge pump and paddle float (if required).
- Map and compass (GPS is available to hire as optional extra if required - compass provided may be deck compass or traditional map compass subject to availabiity)
- Tent (provided one per 2-3 persons depending on tent size). Tents provided include models from Hilleberg, Helsport, Marmot, Jack Wolfskin and The North Face.
- Sleeping mat (may be foam or inflatable).
- Dry bags (number provided as required).
- Container for drinking water.
- Wetsuit and/or storm cag (see image below, not supplied as standard but available to borrow free of charge on request - please advise in advance).
- Waterproof case for your own mobile phone.
- Daily weather forecast sent by SMS to your mobile phone.
Storm cag available to borrow on request (wetsuits are also available to borrow as an alternative, drysuits are available to hire)
- Travel: We do not arrange flights or domestic travel, but are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey. See under "Getting There" for general travel information.
- Sleeping bag: Available to hire as optional extra.
- Food: Provisions can be purchased in Helsinki or in Rastila before beginning your tour. When kayaking in high season (late June to early August), there are also possibilities to purchase provisions en route. During low season, many archipelago facilities will be closed and you should bring all provisions with you from the start.
Good To Know »
Suitable for novice and experienced paddlers. Distance covered and route taken is flexible depending on your level of experience/fitness and wind/weather conditions.
Able to swim. We strongly recommend that participants with limited experience add the one-day instruction course before the tour as an optional extra.
This experience is suitable for active families, provided you are comfortable travelling independently in a marine environment. Minimum age 10 years (sharing double kayak with adult), minimum age to paddle own kayak 15 years.
What makes this "Medium"?
The tour is a self-guided experience in a marine environment with wild camping each night. There are no significant tides/currents in the Baltic, but in windy conditions the water can be choppy and the water can be very cold if paddling early/late in the season. As there is no fixed distance to cover, the level of challenge can easily be varied from accessible to hard.
NB: Perception of difficulty is very subjective. What is hard to one person may be easy for another and vice versa, depending on factors including level of fitness, age and previous experience. Weather conditions/temperatures can also dramatically affect the actual level of challenge encountered.
Ticks and TBE:
Note: Ticks occur mostly in grassy areas.
As in the UK and other areas, there are ticks in the Nordic forests which can carry diseases such as Borrelia. You should check for ticks at the end of a day in the outdoors. If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible by pulling the tick out straight, carefully and slowly, with the tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Ensure that you do not leave any of the insect's mouth parts attached to your skin. Wash the bite area with soap and water. In the unlikely event that you feel unwell or notice anything unusual around the area of the bite in the coming days, consult your doctor.
As in large areas of mainland Europe, in some small, localised areas of the Nordic countries (mostly in the Stockholm Archipelago), the ticks are known to carry TBE, or Tick-borne encephalitis, and locals spending extended periods in affected areas often choose to vaccinate themselves. For more information and latest updates, please see Zecken. For current advice on TBE and inoculations for the area you are visiting, please consult your doctor or see Travel Health Pro.
For information on any equipment and/or clothing included as standard for this experience, please see under "What's Included".
A detailed recommended packing list for personal items to bring will be sent with your booking documentation.
NB: We advise you not to buy equipment or clothes for your trip or to incur other non-refundable expenses such as flights until you have received confirmation of your booking from us in writing. Note of course that the most appropriate clothing to use as well as the level of challenge experienced during any outdoor activity may vary significantly depending on factors such as the time of year and the particular weather/temperature conditions during your trip.
Preparing for your trip:
For further reading, we also have a number of general information articles to get you ready for your trip, covering a wide variety of topics from what to do on a city break before/after your tour, advice on packing, eyewear for winter and considerations for female travellers.
Combine This With
This experience makes a good combination with any of our other summer experiences in Finland, as you will need to travel via Helsinki to reach these.
This experience is ideal for groups. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.
This provider has a written environmental policy.
For overnight locations, it is recommended to use the network of designated spots, where fireplaces and outdoor toilets are provided. At some locations, firewood is provided. Should firewood not be available, it is not permitted to gather wood. Further guidance on camping and fires will be given at the start of your tour.
Getting There »
See below for a summary of travel options. To learn more about how to travel to this experience, please get in touch!
Detailed information on travel will be provided in response to your enquiry. We are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey.
NB: Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.
Fly to Helsinki for metro or train + bus to Rastila (approx. 40 mins from Helsinki city or 1 hour 20 mins from Helsinki Vantaa airport), from where it is about 20 mins on foot or by bus + short walk to the kayak centre.