Information about the project
The St. Olav Waterway is a unique international project aiming to create the first Nordic pilgrimage route that utilises sea passages.
The project started in 2016 and the route will be ready by the end of November 2019, when the project comes to an end. The project is a collaboration between eight partners: Åbo Akademi (coordinator), Novia University of Applied Sciences, town of Pargas, municipality of Sottunga, Franciskus på Kökar association, Pilgrimstid association, municipality of Östhammar and municipality of Söderhamn.
The total budget for the project is 1 522 133 euros, of which the Interreg Central Baltic programme is financing 75 % (1 141 599 euros). Other investors include the Regional Council of Southwest Finland, the Regional council of Åland as well as project partners.
Grand opening in 2019
This 625-kilometre route will be opened ceremonially on Friday May 24th, 2019 in Turku. After the opening a maiden voyage will be arranged from Turku to Trondheim. Different kinds of events will take place along the route and people interested in pilgrimages have the opportunity to take part in the events according to their own schedule.
A versatile route
The routes can be travelled in many ways. In addition to walking, visitors can kayak, sail, ride and bike. It is important that there are different options available. During autumn 2018 passages located in Finland will be examined in order to figure out visiting options available for special needs visitors.
Spring (April to June) and autumn (August to October) are the best times to travel around the St. Olav Waterway. Weather is usually nice and suitable for backpacking. Ferries are not too crowded, and lines are short. You are free to enjoy the feeling of open spaces, quietness and untouched landscapes. The project extends the travel season of the archipelago, which is positive for locals as well. Pilgrimages are recommended outside travel season.
There is an attempt to certify the route as part of EU’s cultural routes (Culture Route of the European Council) during the project in 2018. Prior visitors can be used to efficiently market the St. Olav Waterway. The route will be marked as soon as certification has been granted. Most of the route’s passages are currently existing paths, bicycle routes and old forest roads. In addition, some completely new paths will be created as well.
Route maintenance is important also after the project ends. Therefore, a bilingual association operating in Finland and Åland called Olav routes in Finland (Olavsleder i Finland rf – Suomen Olavinreitit ry) has been founded. The association is part of the Nordic umbrella association called Association of St Olav’s Ways that was founded in 2015.