Features from the Ice Age are brought into the limelight

Visitors to the Kvarken Archipelago can bear witness to a truly extraordinary geological play, where the usually invisible and slow-acting underground forces fast-forward the transformation of the landscape.

The ongoing land uplift after the last Ice Age still creates one hundred hectares of new land in the Kvarken Archipelago each year. Changes are obvious in a low-lying landscape. In just a few years, new islets rise from the sea and old ones grow into islands. In addition, the gaps between islands are filled, while bays shrink into flads (lagoons) or become completely closed bodies of water, known as gloe-lakes.

The landscape that rises from the sea is rocky and uneven. The moraine ridges accumulated by the retreating continental ice form maze-like labyrinths. These rock-strewn formations resemble an asteroid swarm in space until sprouting vegetation is able to soften the landscape.

The varied and changing terrain provides habitats for numerous plants, birds, and fish that find shelter in the shallow bays and convoluted shorelines.

 A small stony island reflects on the sea surface in calm weather
Most of the Kvarken islands are narrow moraine ridges with high peaks rising above the surface.

The Kvarken Archipelago is a changing maze of islands and skerries

Although the unique Kvarken Archipelago is best seen from a bird’s-eye view, wingless visitors should make their way to Saltkaret observation Tower in Svedjehamn to admire the various moraine ridges. From the top of the tower you can see the new islands which are slowly rising from the sea, as well as the Bodvattnet flad lake, including its old port harbour sitting on the opposite shore.

When the rising land closed the fairway linking Bodvatnet to the sea, the harbour was moved to its present location at Svedjehamn. However, land uplift still continues, and nowadays even Svedjehamn is only accessible with small pleasure boats. Large fishing boats have moved to a new, deeper fishing port.

 Gradually overgrowing archipelago formed by the De Geer Moraine during the Ice Age.
The magnificent World Heritage Landscape viewed from the Saltkaret Observation Tower.

The diverse archipelago is full of wonderful experiences

The Kvarken World Heritage Site is made up of countless islands of various sizes. The largest of these, which include Börssäret and Björkö, have villages and year-round settlements. By comparison, the smallest are mere islets which have only just appeared above the surface.

The largest islands can be reached by car via bridges, the most famous of which is the Replot Bridge, which is an impressive sight in its own right. Smaller and more distant islands such as Mikkelinsaari, Valassaari, Rönskär, and Molpe are popular destinations for boat cruises. Regardless of whether you travel by private or rented boat, there is plenty of adventure for all age groups in the archipelago. This is especially true in the Kvarken Archipelago since the sea routes often change and even the rocks can also occasionally move.

 A long bridge stands in the horizon over the water
The longest bridge in Finland, i.e. Replot Bridge, measures 1,045 metres in length. From the highest point, spectacular views open to the surrounding sea.

Visiting the Kvarken Archipelago

The Kvarken World Heritage Site is easily accessible by land and sea, by both private and public transport, as well as using rental vehicles. Many destinations can be reached by road, but the outer archipelago and the open sea areas also offer wonderful experiences for those interested in sea adventures.

Read more about the transport links of the Kvarken Archipelago.

 Several small red cottages stand on a stony island
Along with its buildings, Strömmingsbådan's picturesque lighthouse almost fills the entire rugged outer island.