Eight things you must do in Åland
1. Take a walk round Mariehamn’s charming neighbourhoods
Mariehamn, the capital of Åland, is the starting point for most visits. This little maritime town welcomes you with its charming wooden houses and lovely cafés with summer terraces. Mariehamn is best explored on foot. Don’t miss the Pommern, a four-masted sailing ship, anchored in the western harbour by the Maritime Museum.
2. Get away from it all on Kökar
The archipelago ferry will take you on the two-and-a-half-hour journey from Lumparland to Kökar, an isolated island with hardly any trees. What you will find, however, are the remains of a medieval Franciscan monastery. With around 250 residents, Kökar is the second-smallest municipality in Finland.
3. Explore the ruins in Bomarsund
The Russian tsar’s granite fortress was destroyed by the British and the French in the Crimean War before it was even completed. Nowadays, visitors can explore the ruins for free, making for a fun family adventure. The nearby campground has a café-restaurant directly adjacent to the ruins.
4. History in Kastelholm Castle
First mentioned in historical records dating back to 1388, Kastelholm Castle was where Swedish kings, including Gustav Vasa, spent their time. For centuries, the main east-west route across the Swedish Empire passed through Åland. Now the castle, with its art collection, is open to the public from May to mid-September.
5. Golf in Åland
Åland has three 18-hole golf courses. Åland Golf Club, a lovely facility with two 18-hole courses, is located very close to Kastelholm Castle. Eckerö Golf has a large driving range and is located in the westernmost part of Åland, just five minutes from the harbour where the Eckerö Line ferries arrive from the mainland.
6. Seaside luxury at the Havsvidden
The Havsvidden Hotel in Geta is a luxurious little hideaway by the sea. It has its own small harbour, a helipad and gourmet restaurant offering outstanding cuisine. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, the food – including local specialities such as Åland fish soup – is worth the journey itself.
7. Strike it lucky at the Paf Casino
At the Paf Casino, you can try your luck at poker, roulette, or the Vegas-style slot machines. The casino also regularly hosts international tournaments. The Paf Casino is located in the Arkipelag Hotel, where you will also find the biggest nightclub in Mariehamn. Beginners are welcome in the Paf Casino, and the casino can arrange poker classes upon request.
8. Uninhabited islands and peaceful seascapes
Enjoy the beautiful archipelago scenery from the water. In Åland you can spend all day canoeing or kayaking without encountering another boat. Canoeing and kayaking are excellent ways to experience the natural beauty of Åland. You might even catch a glimpse of a sea eagle. Maps and information on canoe and kayak hire are available from Visit Åland.