St Olav Waterway

St Olav Waterway

P2 Sustainable use of common resources

2.1. Natural and cultural resources developed into sustainable tourist attractions

Archipelago and Islands

01.09.2016 - 31.03.2020

€1 503 194

€1 127 395

Project Summary:

The aim of this project is to create a pilgrim route, "St Olav Waterway", from Turku Finland to Åland Islands and Hudiksvall city in Sweden via the Archipelago. The route will be incorporated with other St Olav routes in Sweden and Norway. This itinerary is unique as it is the only pilgrim route that also include water pathways. The scope of the project is to increase the attractiveness of the region, especially off-season. Because the popularity of other parts of this route in Norway and Sweden is steadily increasing, it is expected that new services, jobs and an earning capacity for local entrepreneurs will increase as well.

To support the concept of sustainable tourism, paper brochure and signs/posters will be replaced by Digital solutions as often as possible. Discussions about applying for inclusion into the network "European Cultural Route of St Olavs Ways" have already started. 

Because at the same time other organisations are implementing projects to recreate the St Olav Way from Turku to the east it seems possible that within some years the ”Route of Saint Olav Ways" will be expanded. Hopefully one day there will be a St Olav route all the way from Novgorod to Nidaros and Trondheim as there was 1000 years ago.

Lead Partner

Åbo Akademi

Country: FI

Partner budget: 297.897 EUR

Amount of ERDF funding: 223.423 EUR ERDF

Project Partners

Pargas stad

Country: FI

Partner budget: 284.417 EUR

Amount of ERDF funding: 213.313 EUR ERDF

Yrkeshögskolan Novia

Country: FI

Partner budget: 158.351 EUR

Amount of ERDF funding: 118.763 EUR ERDF

Föreningen Franciscus

Country: FI

Partner budget: 107.000 EUR

Amount of ERDF funding: 80.250 EUR ERDF

Pilgrimstid Sverige

Country: SE

Partner budget: 89.228 EUR

Amount of ERDF funding: 66.921 EUR ERDF

Sottunga kommun

Country: FI

Partner budget: 106.147 EUR

Amount of ERDF funding: 79.610 EUR ERDF

Östhammar kommun

Country: SE

Partner budget: 190.452 EUR

Amount of ERDF funding: 142.839 EUR ERDF

Söderhamns kommun

Country: SE

Partner budget: 269.702 EUR

Amount of ERDF funding: 202.277 EUR ERDF

Associated Partners

Nordiska skärgårdssamarbetet

Country: FI

Gävle kommun

Country: SE

Hudiksvalls kommun

Country: SE

Jomala församling

Country: FI

Achieved results

Project result in category -
Joint tourist attraction

St Olav Waterway created 600 km pilgrimage route through the archipelago

One of the biggest global trends of today is outdoor tourism, and specially wandering. St Olav Waterway wanted to create The Nordic Camino, a peaceful alternative crossing three countries. Olav Haraldsson (995-1030) was the King of Norway, and after his death he became one of the most important medieval Nordic saints. There are very many St Olav’s churches in the north of Europe.
St Olav Waterway created a 600 km pilgrim route for wandering and sailing from Turku Finland across the archipelago area and Åland Islands to Hudiksvall city in Sweden. The route shows Nordic history combined with culture and nature. St Olav Waterway represents sustainable tourism because slowly hiking and walking is sustainable. One important objective from the beginning was to extend the tourist season and attract visitors to these rural areas and islands also off-season.
There are a lot of attractions along the route, and the project made some of them more visible (ancient monuments, medieval churches, stories, etc). The project was successful with many partners and a lot of external and media interest. Thanks to the project the route was certified by Council of Europe as (the eastern) part of the "European Cultural Route of St Olav’s Ways" in December 2018. The route opened in May 2019 with a seven-week pilgrimage walk from Turku to Trondheim with a message from the Finnish archbishop to the bishop in Trondheim.
The route is in use, maintained by cities, parishes, and volunteer groups. A new association called ”Olofsleder I Finland - Suomen Olavinreitit” will maintain the route in Finland and Åland Islands after the project. Many Visit-organisations in Sweden, Åland and Finland are marketing the trail.
The project inspired others to plan for new/more St Olav related routes and tours in Finland. The overall plan is that there will be a St Olav route all the way from Novgorod in Russia to Nidaros and Trondheim in 2030, as there was 1000 years ago.
As a result, there is also an ongoing project for the first pilgrimage centre in Turku since medieval time, to be a meeting place, highlighting all existing routes in Finland, being a link to the European pilgrimage routes and answering to the increased interest of walking and reflecting.

There were also students involved in many ways, doing market research, testwalks and assignments.
There is a website in three languages with digital maps available. The website is maintained by one of the partners, city of Parainen.

The maps for Vikingaleden, teh Swedish part of St Olav Waterway, are avilable here and maintained by VisitRoslagen.
The first Pilgrim from abroad walking all the way from Turku to Trondheim was from Portugal and he started in April 2019. After that people from many countries have visited parts of the route.

2 min video following a group of local pilgrims along the pilgrimage route St Olav Waterway on the island Sottunga

Project page in database
At a glance
  • 600 km new pilgrimage route from Turku to Hudiksvall
  • Certified as part of European Cultural Route of St Olav Ways
  • Inspired to more pilgrimage routes in Finland 
  • Inspired to the first pilgrimage Centre in Finland, in Turku

Internet presence





"The Premiere Walk 2019 from Turku, Finland, to Trondheim, Norway - 1200 km" (in Swedish)

Other media visibility

Scandinavian Outdoor DEVELOPMENT AWARD, 2020, St. Olav Waterway - A Nordic pilgrimage, Finland

St Olav waterway seminarium (2020)

"Tack alla initiativtagare och boende efter S:t Olofs sjöled" (2019)

Fem svenska pilgrimsleder att vandra, 2019

Ester deltog i premiärvandringen av St. Olav Waterway, 2019

Olavinreitti seuraa viikinkikuninkaan jalanjälkiä ja on pohoismainen pyhiinvaellusreitti, 2019

Ny vandringsled kan ge liten förening stort lyft, 2019

Åländsk galeas inviger pilgrimsled – besökte Söderhamn, 2019

Olavinreitti, Podd 2019

På pilgrimsvandring i Svenskfinland, Podd 2019

Ålands första kulturrutt invigdes, 2019

Portugisisk pilgrim på Helgonleden genom Hälsingland, 2019

"En helt ny turistattraktion har skapats", 2019

Vandra från Åbo till Trondheim – anmälningstiden har börjat, 2019

Turku saa oman pyhiinvaellusreitin – Pyhän Olavin merireitti merkitään, keväällä vaellus, 2018

St Olav Waterway är nu officiell pilgrimsled, 2018

Olofs pilgrimsväg testvandrad, 2018

Skärgården vårt nya Lappland, 2018

Project videos

Vikingaleden – En vandringsled med pilgrimsstatus, 2019
St. Olav Waterway on Finland's smallest municipality, the Island of Sottunga
PIlgrimstids utställning i Storsjö kapell, 2019
Rex Olavus, Medieval song by Jan Lekare in Enånger, Sweden, 2019
Företagares studieresa till Trondheim längst St Olav Waterway, 2017

Social Streams