The Åland Islands is an archipelago in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden. It is an autonomous province of Finland whose capital is Mariehamn, home to almost 40% of the total population.
Åland consists of more than 6700 islands of varying sizes, with Fasta Åland being the largest of them all, representing 70% of the total area of the province.
Things to see and do on the Åland Islands
The Åland Islands, especially the larger towns such as Mariehamn and Eckerö, have many interesting museums, churches and medieval castles to visit.
In addition, the islands are an ideal place for outdoor activities and sports, surrounded by nature.
Åland Maritime Museum and the Museum ship Pommern
The Åland Maritime Museum is the most visited museum in the whole province. It has a large collection of items related to seafaring and its history on the islands.
Next to the museum is the Pommern ship, located in the harbour of Mariehamn. It serves as a tribute to the huge fleet of ships and sailing vessels that the town once had.
The museum is accessible all year round, while the ship is only open during the summer season.
The medieval Kastelholm Castle is a Swedish-built castle located in the south of the village of Kastelholm in the centre of the peninsula.
The medieval castle, founded in the 1380s, retains only parts of its structure, which can be visited, either on your own or on guided tours.
Bomarsund Fortress is a huge fortress built by Russia between 1830 and 1854, which was never completed due to damage to the structure during the Crimean War.
Next to the fort is a small museum which displays some images and artefacts from the period when it was built.
Jan Karlsgården Open Air Museum
The Jan Karlsgården Open-Air Museum is located very close to Kastelholm Castle. The museum is made up of different traditional buildings from the islands of Åland that have been moved from different islands to form the museum.
This open-air museum represents a 19th-century agricultural farm, the main building being Jan Karls’ farm, after which the place is named. The museum is open all year round, although the buildings are only accessible during the summer season.
Prison museum Vita Björn
Prison Vita Björn was Åland’s prison for more than 200 years, until 1975. The museum displays the different cells used from the 18th century until 1950, showing the changing treatment of prisoners over the years.
A visit to the museum also includes the residence of the prison warden and his family, as well as several rooms displaying objects used in the prison.
Åland’s old postal route
The old postal route was established in the 17th century, during the reign of Christina of Sweden. At this time the Swedish postal service was organised, which included the Åland Islands.
The route, which is about 65 kilometres long, runs through all the islands, with the Eckerö Post House being one of the highlights of the entire route.
The Eckerö Post Office was built in 1828 as the main post and customs office for the entire province. This building, which is considered one of the most important Russian works in Åland, has a small exhibition museum.
Sports and nature activities
The Åland Islands are ideal for outdoor activities and sports surrounded by nature.
Hiking and cycling are some of the most popular activities during the summer. While in winter, winter sports such as skiing are possible.
How to get to the Åland Islands
The easiest way to reach the Åland Islands is by ferry. You can take a ferry from a number of Finnish cities, including Turku, Naantali and Helsinki, as well as other small towns along the west coast. Estonia and Sweden also have ferries to the islands.
How to get around the archipelago
The different islands of the archipelago are connected by the archipelago ferries. Pedestrians can travel for free, while vehicles and other means of transport have to pay.
Besides the ferry, bicycles are the most common means of getting around the islands. Many roads have well-maintained cycle paths for getting around. Cars and buses are other means of transport that you can also use in Åland.
Where to stay on the Åland Islands
There really isn’t much choice of accommodation on Åland. The city of Mariehamn has a few hotels to choose from, but elsewhere you’ll have to opt for a cabin in the wilderness or a campsite.
It’s also worth noting that Åland does not have a camping right, so if you want to camp at a site, you can only camp for one night. However, there are official camping sites in all the villages of the archipelago.
Where to eat on the Åland Islands
Åland offers some of the most unique gastronomic dishes in the whole country, due to the culinary influences of Sweden and Finland. Svartbröd or black bread, ålandspannkaka or Åland pancakes, or Taffel fries are some of the most typical dishes of the region.
The islands’ main restaurants are in Mariehamn. You won’t find any fast food outlets, so you won’t be spoilt for choice.
We hope our tourist guide to the Åland Islands will help you prepare for your trip to the province. We invite you to share this article on social media using the buttons below. And if you have any questions, you can use the comments section to ask them.