Wanting to discover more of Finland, I decided to try something new and unique and visited the city of Mariehamn on the Åland Islands.
With over 6,700 islands to explore that make up the Åland Islands, you will have plenty to see and do.
Mariehamn is the central capital city of the Åland Islands and has a domestic airport and ferry connections to both Stockholm and Helsinki.
The Åland Islands are part of the Finnish archipelago located between Sweden and Finland.
To best explain the Åland Islands, it’s a small state within a state and a Swedish speaking autonomous province within Finland. They even have their own flag and postal service too!
Here are some of my top suggestions that will help you discover Mariehamn and the Åland Islands:
Fly with Finnair to Mariehamn from Helsinki
Did you know you can fly to the Åland Islands? Mariehamn has an airport located around a 10-minute drive from the city.
Finnair operates a domestic route to Mariehamn from Helsinki with a possible connection in Turku along the way, making a connection to the main island via Helsinki a possibility.
Of course, you can also opt for the most frequent travel method and take the popular ferry connection from either Stockholm or Helsinki, but maybe flying might be a more convenient option.
Stay at Hotel Cikada in Mariehamn
Hotel Cikada offers a perfect location to base yourself during your stay in Mariehamn. It has a whole host of affordable rooms with breakfast included and access to a sauna and swimming pool facilities for guests to use.
The hotel is within a walking distance of the museum ship Pommern, and a 10-minute walk along Norragatan will bring you Strandgatan, the main city street. Perfect place to base yourself during your stay on the Åland Islands.
Dinner at restaurant ÅSS Paviljongen
If you’re looking for somewhere fancy to dine out in Mariehamn, be sure to check out restaurant ÅSS Paviljongen where you can get an excellent taste of the archipelago cuisine.
With a beautiful selection of locally sourced seafood dishes and fun cocktails, this is a perfect location to enjoy a meal with a sunset view over the marina.
You can start with the seafood soup and even order a larger portion if you wish to have it as your main dish. Highly recommended!
Enjoy lunch at Bagarstugan cafe
If you’re looking for a cosy fika spot in town, be sure to check out Bagarstugan cafe which is located in a charming old red wooden house. There you can find a delightful selection of cakes and pastries that can be enjoyed with tea or coffee.
They also have a lunch menu special with a salmon pie that’s smothered with tasty dill salad.
Take a Shipland Boattaxi to Kobba Klintar
Kobba Klintar, also known as the old pilot station island, is an iconic landmark on the Åland Islands.
It’s usually the first landmark visitors to the Åland Islands see as the ferry passes the island before reaching the Mariehamn port.
Many locals see it as a sign of returning home as they see the flag of the Åland Islands flying on the island.
You can still visit the old pilot station on the island as it’s been turned into a museum and art gallery. You can also find a cafe on the island that makes incredible doughnuts, so be sure not to miss out on the coffee shop.
You can take a boat to the island, or if you fancy exploring more of the 6,700 surrounding islands, I’d suggest taking a private tour with a local skipper.
I’d recommending booking with Shipland Boattaxi who can arrange a private boat tour for you, including a stop-off at Kobba Klintar.
The unwritten rule across the Åland Islands is, if no one else is on the island and it’s not private, you’re welcome to dock onto the island and enjoy lunch.
So why not order an archipelago pizza in Mariehamn and pick an island to enjoy your lunch?
With over 6,700 islands to choose from, you will be lost for choice, but by the time you make it, your pizza should still be nice and warm to enjoy as many of the islands are within a close range to Mariehamn.
Also, keep a lookout for seals that like to swim around and bathe in this area.
A boat tour is a great way to explore some of the Åland Islands’ many islands, within close distance to Mariehamn.
Go for a walk around Sjökvarteret
Sjökvarteret, also known as the Maritime Quarter, can be found on the east side of Mariehamn’s marina. This area has been kept well preserved and is rich in maritime design from its past heritage.
Here you will find a selection of cosy cafes selling food and drink, as well as gift shops selling locally made craft goods and food such as salt that was once produced here. Perfect spot for buying souvenirs to remember your time visiting the island.
Explore the new Mariehamn Wetland
If you’re looking for a light walk from the city, why not explore the Mariehamn Wetland?
On Nabben seashore, there’s a newly constructed conservation area to support the local wildlife.
It’s a peaceful walk around this swamp-like area, and you may spot a few birds and sheep along the way too.
Go for a swim at Mariebad
If you’re after a traditional Finnish sauna experience and want to have a swim with a view looking out to the sea, then be sure to check out the public Mariebad swimming hall.
Book yourself a relaxing pool time session. The perfect way to spend your time in the city when the sun is shining outside.
Walk around Lilla Holmen
You can find many walking, cycling and hiking routes around Mariehamn and the Åland Islands.
All the routes are well signposted and suited for different abilities, so you can choose a longer hike or take a shorter walk, whichever suits you best.
You can pick up several different maps from the Åland Island tourism office before you head off.
One leisurely light stroll around Mariehamn starts from Lilla Holmen and brings you around the coast in a loop.
It’s also a popular spot amongst locals to enjoy a lunch picnic, sunbathe and go for a slight dip. Perfect for relaxing after walking around the city coast.
Cycle to Godby on a rental bike
Mariehamn is a perfect base to go on an adventure to explore the rest of the Åland Islands. I would recommend renting a bike from RO-NO Rent for the day and heading out towards Godby.
You can find many fun day trips that you can do from Mariehamn to explore the rest of the island on a rental bike. Here are a few suggestions:
Visit Uffe På Berget Cafe and view tower
Along your cycling route to visit Kastelholm Castle, be sure to stop off at the Uffe på berget cafe and view tower, which is a perfect halfway point along the way.
Park up your bike and have a relaxing fika break with coffee and a bun from the charming cafe whilst enjoying the stunning surrounding area from this high observation point.
Stopover at Taffel Factory Shop
Any fan of Finnish snacks should do a visit to the Taffel Factory. It is located along the road that takes you to Kastelholm Castle.
You can find a gift shop open to visitors as well as scheduled factory tours. Be sure to stock up on snacks for later.
I highly recommend the dill flavoured ones (Taffel Kartanon tilli), and the cheese puffs (Taffel Juustosnacks) are a classic!
Visit Kastelholm Castle
Kastelholm Castle is a Swedish medieval castle steeped with history and has been around since it was built in the 14th century.
It’s one of the very few castles in Finland to be still standing. Along with Hämeenlinna, Olavinlinna, Raasepori, and Turku, Kastelholm is one of only five surviving Finnish medieval fortresses.
The castle has always been of strategic importance, located within the Baltics and between Finland and Sweden. Several Swedish monarchs visited the castle throughout its history.
For most of its later years, the castle was used to store grain stock but has since been transformed into a top visitor attraction on the Åland Islands and is a must-visit historical museum.
Dinner at PubStallhagen
The Stallhagen brewery gastropub, PubStallhagen, takes you on little detour from the main road. Still, if you have enough cycling power remaining, I highly recommend this spot for dinner before heading back to the city.
Stallhagen is the most popular locally brewed beer on the Åland Islands, and you must try the classic lager. It’s fantastic!
Here at the brewery restaurant, you can find a selection of beer on tap and a menu with loads of dishes containing locally sourced ingredients.
I went for the beefsteak, salad and peppercorn sauce, and it was outstanding. Would highly recommend dining here if you have the time.
Museum ship Pommern and Åland Maritime Museum
Connected to the Åland Maritime Museum is the well-preserved museum ship Pommern (which requires two tickets for each attraction).
One of the star visitor attractions that can be found in Mariehamn.
Discover what life was like by exploring the captains’ cabin and cook’s quarters, and don’t miss an opportunity to experience a unique audio-visual show down in the cargo hold. Walk around the Åland Maritime Museum and see the extensive collection of historical maritime items that they have on display.
Enjoy a game or two of Mariehamn disc golf
Did you know that around the Åland Islands, you can find over ten disc golf courses and a few of them can be found in the city centre of Mariehamn?
If you didn’t bring a frisbee with you, don’t worry, you can either buy your own as a memory of the island or borrow a set from the Visit Åland Tourist Information office in town.
Have fun playing disc golf, a popular sport amongst the island locals and a great way to explore the outdoors.
Enjoy your visit to the Åland Islands
Thank you for passing by my blog and reading the latest post about my visit to Mariehamn and the Åland Islands.
I hope you’ve found all this information helpful and you’re looking forward to visiting the Åland Islands in the future.
Have a wonderful trip!
Feel free to also check out this video I created about my trip to the Åland Islands on YouTube: