The Sustainable Bike & West Finland Shores

By Guest Blogger Mr. Ilkka Kauppinen.

West Coast of Finland by Bicycle

Oulu, Siika, Pyhä, Kala, Lesti, Perho, Ähtävä, Lapua, Kyrö. These are the rivers on the west coast of Finland, which all lead to the Gulf of Bothnia by the Baltic Sea. It is also a jingle every Finnish school kid had to learn in the 80´s geography lessons back in time.

As I have grown up in the southern part of Finland, lived in the north and as my relatives are mainly located at the eastern part of the country, these rivers and western Finland were an unfamiliar, terra incognito to me. This motivated to hop on the bicycle as the easiest
transport for seeking new areas by coastal routes.

The Journey Through Finnish West Coast

With my wife, we begun the trip by first taking the train from our hometown Rovaniemi to Oulu, which is conveniently situated by the coast. We decided to follow the small roads as close to the shoreline as possible – to avoid the main E8-road with its traffic the same time.

We were ready to follow small paths as our bikes were so called gravel bikes which can handle all kind of terrain.

For accommodation we had our tent with us. It was nice to then enjoy the wonderful everyone’s right. It permits to camp almost anywhere in Finland for couple of nights, be land private or publically owned. We were also prepared to use the official camping places and different kind of shelters next to the firepits. They can be found from the Tulikartta- service.

A couple of nights we even slept in our sleeping bags under the sky on the shore of the Baltic Sea.

The bicycle trip included many regional highlights like the seven bridge archipelago road between Uusikaarlepyy and Kokkola, the best beaches of Finland in Kalajoki, many picturesquely old wooden towns like Kristiinankaupunki and Kaskinen and unique old fishing community Reposaari. After about 800 kilometres we arrived to the former capital of Finland, the City of Turku.

I have lived the last couple of decades in Lapland where I have got used clean river and lake waters. In fact, they are usually so pure that you can drink straight out of them. After cycling over the first couple of rivers on the west coast, I started to notice something wasn’t right. The river water was brown and looked so dirty that I would not have even thought of swimming in it – not even to mention drinking the water.

Since this part of the country is well known as a bread basket of Finland, it is also a major source for loads of nutrients to the Baltic Sea. Approximately 90% of the human-induced phosphorus load and 80 % of the nitrogen load come from diffuse sources, including cultivated fields, commercial forests, scattered settlements, and atmospheric deposition which run to the sea on with the rivers.

Luckily regenerative farming has become more and more popular and there has been a lot (but
not enough) other initiatives to reduce nutrients in these rivers. One of the organizations doing really good job especially in regenerative farming is the Baltic Sea Action Group. Regenerative farming is a way to produce food to benefit both farmers and the environment . It improves soil health, boosts carbon sequestration, and supports biodiversity.

Finland is officially a bilingual country. That is the reason all of us have to learn Swedish at school. Unfortunately, if something is mandatory, it’s many times rejected. At least if you are 12 years old. This has happened to most of the Finnish teenagers in their Swedish classes.

Most of the areas in Finnish west coast are Swedish speaking. That and the omnipresent sea made us feel like we had been in a foreign country. This also made us realize that you don’t always have to travel far. Why fly and emit tons of CO2s when you can get into the same feeling and get to know new interesting places within a short train ride?

Cycling along the Finnish west coast offered us unforgettable memories: small coastal roads,
endless swimming spots, beautiful small villages and towns, excellent camping and many
memorable sunsets.

Experience the West Coast of Finland

The best way experiencing the west coast of Finland is to make a road trip with a vehicle of your choice. When planning your route remember to choose the small roads and leave time to explore the small towns and villages along the way. If you are a Finnish, do not be afraid to practice your Swedish. Many times, you will notice that your Swedish is much better than you think!

Excellent ready-made cycling routes for all different levels and means of cyclers all over Finland can be found from

About the author:
Mr. Ilkka Kauppinen is an invited guest blogger for as a unique nature lover and conservationist from Finnish Lapland. He is also a keen cycler who has cycled all over the world. Ilkka is in addition an internet marketing specialist and entrepreneur.

You can follow his adventures on Instagram and TikTok.


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