E8 through Finland and Norway

E8 is a 1,410 km (880 mi) European route through Finland and Norway, from Turku in south-western Finland to Tromsø in the Arctic of Norway. Along the route you see most of the Finnish landscape types, except for the larger lakes and deep forests, and some of what is typical for Norway.

. . . E8 through Finland and Norway . . .

The road in Ostrobothnia

The route goes along the west coast of Finland, through the mostly flat Ostrobothnia and Western Oulu regions, by the Swedish border along the Torne river and its tributaries in Finnish Lapland, continuing along the border through remote fell landscapes, through a mountain pass in Norway and the last stretch along the Norwegian fjords to Tromsø, which although not very big is one of the main Arctic cities globally.

There are archipelagos all along the coast, the extensive Archipelago Sea in the south until Uusikaupunki, the World Heritage Kvarken by Vaasa, and at least some islands nearly everywhere. The sea and the archipelagos have been important for the population along the coast, and you should probably make some sidetrips there, although the modern route mostly goes a little more inland. Some minor roads close to the coast are suggested below, but taking a boat tour farther out could certainly be worthwhile.

Most of the coast is traditionally regarded part of Ostrobothnia, but there is one official region carrying the name. It is a mostly Swedish speaking area. All of Ostrobothnia is characterized by large plains traversed by rivers. By the coast there are large fields, farther north large mires dominate. There is also much forest, as everywhere in Finland.

The route along the coast has been historically important. Until the 1960s the route was mostly along roads traditionally used by foot and horse. As the route was straightened, stretches of the old route remain as local roads, which may be your best option if you travel by bike or otherwise want to explore the countryside.

The first stretch of the old route is part of the historic Great Post Route (see King’s Road) leading from Stockholm to Turku. Farther north it provided access by land when the sea was frozen, possibly all the way around the Gulf of Bothnia already in medieval times, driveable by carriage from the 1550s to Korsholm (Vaasa), to Tornio by the 1750s. It worked as postal route all the way from Stockholm from 1644. It is marketed as the tourist route Pohjanlahden rantatie. To the northern inland most transport was traditionally by rivers.

The valley of Tornionjoki and Muonionjoki are in Finnish Lapland, in the reindeer husbandry area, with wilderness not far from the road, but still with villages quite regularly and few fells visible. Recreational fishing is big here. The road continues along the border river but the environment becomes more wild, and before entering Norway there are not only the rounded fells typical for Finland, but also some more Alpine landscapes. In Norway you have the fells and fjords that make that country famous.

There are a few stretches of motorway, but mostly the road is undivided two-lane. It is paved and generally in good condition.

In Finland the roads used are also signposted by their national numbers (mostly national roads 8 and 21), and by street names in some environments, and these are usually better known locally. Addresses are given with the “street” name whether signposted or not. The E8 sign is however used throughout.

. . . E8 through Finland and Norway . . .

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. . . E8 through Finland and Norway . . .