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We travelled from Helsinki to Hanko by train and later also by car. Hanko is a place that should be visited at least twice. Read from our travel story about what to see and experience in this idyllic town.
Covered in the Article
- Hanko - The Sunniest and Most Southern Town of Finland
- Our Visit to Hanko
- What to See in Hanko?
- More to See in Hanko and Near
- How to Reach Hanko?
- Hotels in Hanko
- Restaurants in Hanko
- Bottom Line
Hanko - The Sunniest and Most Southern Town of Finland
Hanko is the most southern town in Finland with less than 10,000 inhabitants. Also, Hanko is regarded as the sunniest town in Finland. Despite Hanko's small size, the town is a pulsating summer destination that every traveller in Finland should visit. Due to its location, Hanko is a sunny but windy coastal town. Even though the summer is the best season in Hanko, we recommend visiting the town during the other seasons.
Hanko is located between Turku and Helsinki but a little souther. The closest neighbour, Raasepori is 35 kilometres away.
Our Visit to Hanko
We have visited Hanko twice. The first time was in October by train and the second time in May by car. During both visits, the weather was perfect as the sun was shining from a clear sky. Our visit in May may have been a little more rewarding because it was already summer in Hanko. In October, Hanko was preparing to face the coming winter. Hanko is a summer destination so we recommend scheduling a trip to Hanko between May and August.
Our first impression was that there was almost scary peacefulness in Hanko. Almost no one was strolling on the streets. On the other hand, it was already October which is no longer the visiting season in Hanko. Luckily, it was easier to sense the marine atmosphere of the town when the streets were not crowded. The sea, buildings and sights got the space they deserve.
Our first impression was limited and quite fast, we noticed that there is a lot to see in Hanko even outside the summer months. We can hardly imagine how lively Hanko will be during midsummer. Visiting the town outside the festival months is still a good choice because you can concentrate better on the town itself. And of course, everything will be cheaper.
What to See in Hanko?
We didn't have many expectations for our first visit to Hanko. The town is small so we were able to walk almost anywhere in the centre. On the second time, we came by auto which made moving further possible. There are no parking problems in Hanko because you can park almost anywhere free of charge.
We collected Hanko's best sightseeing spots in this article.
Hanko Water Tower
Probably the first thing you pay attention to is the water tower owned by the town. The granite-covered tower was finished in 1943 and now it is dominating the whole centre. In the summertime, people can climb up for a nominal fee.
Since we visited Hanko outside the season, we were not able to climb to the top of the tower. But only seeing how the tower dominates the scenery was a fascinating experience. Next time, we will surely visit Hanko in the middle of the summer and visit the tower inside.
What would be a Finnish town without a church? Also in Hanko, you will find a church in the centre next to the water tower. The church was rebuilt in the 1950s and nowadays it is a small but showy Lutheran church.
The church together with the Hanko Water Tower are the two main elements of the HankoCentree. Also the church has limited opening times and unluckily, we were not able to visit inside. Sitting in the park around the church on a sunny day was rewarding enough for us. Starting Hanko's exploration from the water tower and the church was an easy and natural choice.
Eastern Harbour and Harbour Street
In the Eastern Harbour of Hanko, a traveller can admire luxury boats while stopping by a restaurant for a drink or lunch. Along Harbour Street (Satamakatu), there are marine restaurants.
We ate a salmon menu in the Eastern Harbour. The food was quite pricey but tasty. It is good to understand, that outside the summer season, the opening times of restaurants may be limited. There may be only a few choices available.
Also on Hanko Boulevard, there are restaurants and bars. Idyllic restaurants in the Eastern Harbour may be more suitable for travellers.
Close to Harbour Street, there is the Hanko Museum in an old stone building. The museum was founded already 1909 and now it stores a collection of Hanko-related objects and pictures.
We visited the Hanko Museum during our first visit to Hanko but the visit was a disappointment. The atmosphere in the museum was sluggish and the museum was very small. People who prefer to know more about the history of Hanko may benefit from the museum but our interest in these details was not strong enough.
Tulliniemi Nature Path
On Tulliniemi Nature Path, you can reach the southern point of the Finnish contingent. It is possible to reach the path by driving first to the parking area of Freeport (Hanko Vapaasatama) and then walking 300 metres to the path's starting point. The signs will help in finding the right way. The nature path is 6.7 kilometres long and there are many interesting plants around the path.
In the Tulliniemi area, there is also a beach with dunes. The beach is on the southern side of Tulliniemi but also the northern side has a beach. The windy northern beach is popular among kiteboarders.
We visited Tulliniemi's Northern Beach in May. It was windy. This is why many talented kiteboarders were riding on high waves. The sea was not suitable for swimming yet in May as the temperature was still low.
Hanko Casino was earlier called as Hangon Seurahuone. The wooden building has been there already since 1878 but despite its name, the place is not for gambling. In Hanko Casino, there are restaurants and bars and the house can also be hired for private events. Hanko Casino is one of the most well-known buildings in the Hanko area.
We stopped by the garden of Hanko Casino to admire the building and its fountain. The building looked amazing under the sun just next to the sea. During summer days, having a drink on the terrace must be a great experience. In May, it was still too cold for that.
No one visiting Hanko should miss the love path. The path is located on Puistovuori close to the centre. It is 1.5 kilometres long and originally the path was built for spa visitors in the 1800s. Hanko Casino is a practical starting point for visitors heading to the Love Path and a sign helps them head in the right direction. The Love Path is easy to walk as it goes on the rock inside the forest. On a sunny day, the view of the Gulf of Finland is fascinating. The trees also protect visitors from the wind which makes walking more satisfying.
We visited the Love Path in May and October. Even though both days were windy, we were surprised by how calm it was on the path. The path felt like the warmest place in Hanko and we could have easily spent hours there. Having a picnic on the rocks is a perfect idea in summer.
Bellevue Beach is near Hanko Casino and the Love Path. This sand beach is shallow and peaceful and compared to other beaches in Finland, it is one of the best places to swim in the country. Unfortunately, the sea temperature rarely exceeds 20 degrees so we can't still call it a paradise. If cool water does not matter, this is the best place to swim in Hanko.
During our visits, no one was sunbathing on the beach but many people were strolling. In springs and autumns, the beach is suitable for peaceful walks while the trees are giving protection from the wind and it feels warmer than it is.
More to See in Hanko and Near
On day trips, you can't see everything which leaves many interesting things for coming journeys. We have at least two things that we would like to experience on our next trip to Hanko.
We didn't visit any spa in Hanko even though Hanko is well-known of them. We recommend having a look at Hanko Regatta Spa Hotel and its sea spa. Hanko is a perfect place to enjoy spas, massages and treatments.
If you spend many days in Hanko, you can widen your perspective by making a day trip from Hanko to Bengtskär Lighthouse about 25 km away.
The Bengtskär lighthouse is the tallest in Nordic countries. It was built already in 1906 and the top reaches 52 meters above sea level. It takes 252 steps to reach the lightroom but the view atop will be rewarding for every visitor.
How to Reach Hanko?
It is easy to reach Hanko by various transportation methods and the travel duration from southern Finland won't be too long. We arrived at Hanko on two different occasions by train and car.
From Helsinki, you can reach Hanko from any commuter train station. You need to connect to a long-distance train at Pasila Station and later to a rail bus at Karjaa Station. Hanko can be reached practically from Turku, too.
A one-way ticket from Helsinki to Hanko costs less than 10 euros if booked early. Many daily connections make going and coming back during the same day possible.
You can drive to Hanko by car in 2 hours from Helsinki or Turku. The roads are in good condition. In the beginning, you drive on a highway and the last miles on a regular road. The road from Helsinki ends at Hanko so you can't accidentally miss the destination. There are many parking places in Hanko and the majority of them are free.
Cruises to Hanko
In summer 2021, Eckerö Line made affordable day cruises from Helsinki to Hanko and Viking Line arranged a few overnight cruises. For travellers not on a tight schedule, a cruise to Hanko is a pleasant option but it takes longer. Cruise ships have many services onboard so they are almost like hotels.
Hotels in Hanko
As Hanko is a small town, there are not many hotels. Airbnb is popular among travellers because you can then feel like living in Hanko for a few days. A traveller who is seeking more self-pampering services should head to Hanko Regatta Spa. This hotel has a luxury spa and a long history.
People who are looking for hotel accommodation in Hanko are recommended to check the following well-located hotels:
- Hotel Bulevard just in the centre
- Viking Motel close to a beach
- Holiday Home Surf and Turf close to the centre and a beach
Restaurants in Hanko
Despite Hanko's small population, the town has many good-quality restaurants. It is advisable to look for restaurants close to Harbour Street and Boulevard. Distances are short so you can easily find a nice restaurant on foot. Also, the Hanko Casino has a restaurant.
- Where is Hanko?
- Hanko is at the southern end of Hankoniemi about 2 hours drive from Helsinki or Turku.
- What is the best way to travel to Hanko from Helsinki?
- It is practical to arrive at Hanko by train or car. Sometimes, there are also cruises to Hanko.
- What is the best way to travel to Hanko from Turku?
- From Turku, you can reach Hanko practically by train or car.
- Is one day enough for a visit to Hanko?
- The main sights of Hanko can be seen in one day but if you wish to try a spa or visit the nearby areas, a few days may be a better choice.
- What are the sights of Hanko?
- We recommend HankoCentree, the Eastern Harbour, Hanko Casino and the Love Path.
Despite Hanko's small size, the town is a must-see destination for people living or travelling in southern Finland. Hanko is famous for its yearly festival, Hanko Regatta, happening on the first weekend of July. The event is an internationally well-known summer festival where people from Finland and overseas gather together in a marine environment. At that time, the town has also more activities. However, visiting Hanko outside the festival is cheaper and maybe even more rewarding when everything is peaceful.
Have you been to Hanko? Tell us about your Hanko experiences below! You may also ask Finland-related questions in our Facebook group: Travelling and Living in Finland.