A few years ago we left home for a short overnight ride (hence the open face helmet and sunglasses in the picture) with my wife and a few friends. Only to end up leaving our friends behind and touring Lapland and visiting Nordkapp in Norway by the Barents see, altogether some 4500km. The picture has a glue of where it was taken😀.
Now that covid-19 has seriously fu**ed up everyone’s riding plans for the summer, it is time to visit Lapland and the north again.
Well, Lapland is no second prize, it is a great destination on its own and well worth visiting even several times.
Some of the roads leading to the nordic countries from central Europe may not be a rider’s dream but they are efficient in taking you from A to B. As always with a new destination, you enjoy the new scenery, but after once or twice, these arteries are rather dull. This goes with Via Baltica and riding through Denmark and southern Sweden. All nice destinations on their own, though.
To add interest to my ride, I took a slight detour and stayed in Kaunas in Lithuania – a very nice town with a beautiful old town and some fantastic food and trendy people. Recommended stop en route.
I also set my camp in Gdansk in Poland for a few days to explore the surroundings a bit more. Gdansk, Sopot, Gdynia, Hel. This corner is really not on any route unless you go there specifically or go for a ferry from Gdansk to Sweden – Which is exactly what I did.
A few words about Gdansk and its close neighbours. Gdansk really is a nice town and worth visiting. A large Prague-like old town. I like Prague but I liked Gdansk even more, nice small restaurants – Berlin-meet-Praque – and really excellent food and drink. It is very touristy but has a local feel as well. And very good street performers!
If you want some more space for yourself and like it quieter, close by is the town of Sopot. Made famous by its music festival during the Soviet era. A lovely town with fantastic beaches. And it is really close to Gdansk to enjoy both towns
Next west is the port town of Gdynia and north-west the peninsula in the sea with Hel at the end. Although the road to Hel looks like a scenic one, the road really just runs between bushes. Traffic may also be hellish and you are better off on a motorbike. Not much to see. Unless you count the local public transport bus.
Not often do you see a bus to Hel numbered 666!
But this was suppose to be about the ferries…
Polferries sail from Gdansk to Nynäshamn just some 100 km south of Stockholm. This is a roro ferry for trucks but also takes passengers with their vehicles. Check the timetable but my ferry sailed from Gdansk at 6PM and arrived in Nynäshamn 12 noon the following day. I assume it does about the same to the opposite direction.
The ferry is clean and comfortable to travel. It has options from airline seats to shared and private cabins for your night sleep. Several restaurants and also outside seating to enjoy the sea.
Food onboard is not quite what you could expect after the fantastic food in Gdansk. I even opted for some prepaid meals in the a la carte restaurant for dinner but assume the canteen would have been better. For breakfast, a la carte was decent.
A small detail is that my pre-purchased dinner included a drink. Turned out it was coffee or soft drink. On the other hand, if you pre-purchase just a drink coupon, it is for beer and wine as well. But they are all drinks, I guess. With the coupons, service was quick and efficient.
Make sure you check which terminal the ferry departs from. You may see some conflicting information from different sources, so be careful. The terminal seems to change at times. This time (Summer 2019) we sailed from Westerplatte port.
Kapellskär – Naantali
Another roro route, this time with Finnlines. Note that all meals are included in your ferry ticket as standard. Plenty to eat and good quality, much better than Polferries anyway. The restaurant is large and there is enough seating for all.
The ferry is clean and has the usual seat and cabin choices and it even has a sauna with a jacuzzi bath. Also a nice bar area with a view and outside seating also from the sauna.
My ferry sailed around 8PM and arrived to Naantali 7AM.
Most ferries from the Stockholm region also make a stop in Åland and you may want to take the option to explore the island as well.
Well, now you are in Naantali, ready to explore the south-wester corner of Finland or to head north or east. Both good choices with very different things to offer. Enjoy your trip!
PS. The Costs
Both ferries about the same – under €150 each. Thats one person, motorbike and a bed. Shared cabin on Polferries, private cabin on Finnlines. On Finnlines also all meals. Check offers available.
… that elusive day we keep putting good things off to…