The Åland archipelago consists of around 6500 picturesque islands in the northern Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden. Sunny summer days, rocky shores, sandy beaches perfect for swimming and sunbathing, pine forests and meadows and boat trips around the mostly uninhabited archipelago make Åland a fantastic summer holiday destination.
Åland is a Swedish-speaking, autonomous part of Finland and has its own flag. Just 65 of the thousands of islands in the archipelago are inhabited. Finns call Åland Ahvenanmaa.
Things to See and Do in Åland
The only town in Åland is Mariehamn (Maarianhamina) on the main island. Visitors can stroll around the narrow lanes in this old shipping town, shop for arts and crafts in small boutiques or watch the world go by in a café. For history lovers the most impressive attraction on the main island is the 16th century Kastelholm castle, built by the Swedish King Gustav Vasa. Another famous Åland sight is Pommern, a museum ship that was built in the early 1900’s and has been preserved in its original condition.
Cycling is one of the best ways to get around Åland and bicycles are available for rent. A wide selection of bicycle routes crisscrosses the islands and cycling is the perfect way to discover quiet beaches, small villages and the pretty countryside. Spring and early summer see Åland’s forest meadows in full bloom with colourful flowers and this is one of the times when the islands are at their most beautiful. Some parts of Åland are rockier and drier and red granite is a typical sight in Åland: it is even used for paving the roads.
Ferry Travel to Åland Islands
The best way to travel to Åland is a trip by ferry from Finland or from Sweden. Ferries travel through the beautiful Finnish and Swedish archipelagos and the journey to Åland by ferry is one of the best parts of a holiday on the islands.
Ferries operate several times a day and tickets can be very affordable. Eckerö Linjen, Viking Line and Tallink Silja all operate ferries to Åland. The Åland tourist office website has more information about ferry travel to Åland.
Places to Stay on Åland Islands
Places to stay in Åland include hotels, bed and breakfasts, beach cottages and campsites in some very scenic places. Thanks to the small size of the islands, most places to stay are close to the sea. There are also several guest harbours in Åland.
The summer months are the high season in Åland and as the islands are popular with Scandinavian holidaymakers, the best accommodation is often fully booked and advance booking is highly recommended. The Åland tourist office has a list of accommodation options on its website.