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Not to be confused with Öland, a Swedish island in the southern Baltic Sea.

The Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea have extensive maritime history, warm, sunny weather (compared to the rest of the region), and popular outdoor activities. Although the islands are a part of Finland, they are a self-governing, autonomous territory. The 30,000 islanders (2021) mostly speak a local dialect of Swedish.

Municipalities[edit]

Åland, in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland Proper
Aerial view of boathouses in Eckerö

Åland is divided into 15 municipalities and one city, Mariehamn. Most municipalities consist of an island group and surrounding archipelago, though a couple are on Fasta Åland, the "Åland mainland", which in fact consists of a few larger islands, separated by narrow sounds and connected by bridges.

  • 1 Mariehamn (Finnish: Maarianhamina) – the capital of the islands

Reachable from Mariehamn without ferry:

  • 2 Eckerö – ferry port in the west, with a giant post office house
  • 3 Finström
  • 4 Geta – famous for its hills, gorges and caves
  • 5 Hammarland
  • 6 Jomala – home of Mariehamn Airport and the oldest church of Åland
  • 7 Lemland
  • 8 Lumparland – Långnäs harbour, important transportation hub
  • 9 Saltvik
  • 10 Sund – Kastelholm castle and Bomarsund fortifications

Archipelago municipalities:

  • 11 Brändö – bordering the northern part of the Archipelago Sea in Finland Proper
  • 12 Föglö – important fishing hub
  • 13 Kumlinge
  • 14 Kökar – island in the south-east, along the ancient fairway; monastery ruins
  • 15 Sottunga – smallest municipality in Finland, with about a hundred inhabitants
  • 16 Vårdö (the main island is counted as part of the mainland)

Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Kobba Klintar is an island with a old pilots station. Transfer boat from Pommern ship to the island in the summers.

Understand[edit]

Nordic countries
Denmark (Faroe Islands, Greenland), Finland (Åland), Iceland, Norway, Sami culture, Sweden
BoatingCuisineFolk cultureHikingMusicNordic NoirRight to accessSaunaWinter
Nordic history: • Vikings & Old NorseDanish EmpireSwedish EmpireMonarchies
Capital Mariehamn
Currency euro (EUR)
Population 30.1 thousand (2021)
Electricity 230 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Schuko)
Time zone UTC+02:00, Eastern European Time, UTC+03:00
Emergencies 112
Driving side right

The Åland Islands (pronounced [ˈoːland]) are a group of small islands that belong to Finland. They were awarded a wide degree of autonomy by a League of Nations decision in 1921, which settled a dispute between Sweden and Finland. Among other things, Åland has its own parliament, issues its own stamps, and maintains a special tax status in the European Union. Many Ålanders have tighter ties to Sweden than to mainland Finland and there is a movement for even greater autonomy, although the majority is quite content with the present situation (and some municipalities in the east market themselves on the Finnish mainland to counter rural flight and emigration to Sweden).

Mariehamn, the capital city of Åland

The archipelago consists of around 80 inhabited islands plus around 6,000 uninhabited islands, islets and rocks. The total population is only 30,000 (2021), 90% of which lives on the main islands, known as Fasta Åland, which includes the capital Mariehamn. These are connected by bridges over narrow straits (and for one island, a slightly longer passage by cable ferry). In local documents "the archipelago" does not include them.

Use care when planning activities or relying on community services. Outside Mariehamn the communities are tiny; what looks like a town on the map may be a village of only a few buildings at a cross roads!

In winter many guesthouses, cottage villages and sights (such as Pommern and Kastelholm) are closed. There is not much snow; opportunities for winter sports are limited.

The barque Mariehamn, bought 1880, was the first ship of Åland to circumnavigate the globe.

Since a long time seafaring has been important for Åland. In old times trade with the capital Stockholm dominated (beside ships visiting on their way to Finland or Russia), but when regulations were eased, the Ålanders, who are quick to entrepreneurship, built bigger vessels – probably the densest ship ownership worldwide – and in the late 19th century they sailed out on the ocean with ships built with the accumulated wealth. Impressive "Captain's/shipowner's mansions" all over the islands remind of the epoch.

Around the turn of the century, when the rest of the world was converting to steam, many shipowners made bargains, buying good sailing ships for scrap prices. The last and most well-known, Gustaf Erikson, owned most ocean-going sailing ships left in the world in the 1930s. When the age of sail definitively was over, there were several shipowner companies, some of which still remain.

When Finland and Sweden joined the European Union in 1995 Åland was left outside the EU VAT area. Åland's special tax status, and the high taxes on alcohol in Sweden and Finland, make it a favourite stop for Ferries in the Baltic Sea. If the cruise ship call at Åland they are allowed to sell alcohol and other items onboard tax-free! Two of the companies in this trade – Viking Line and Eckerö Line – are based in Åland.

At the end of the Crimean War, when Finland (including Åland) was still under Russian sovereignty, a treaty was concluded between Russia, France and the United Kingdom, by virtue of which the islands were demilitarized. Finland assumed the same obligation upon achieving independence. Ålanders are exempt from Finland's mandatory military service, and Åland is eager to tell about the "Islands of Peace" on the international scene, offering their status as a solution to conflicts.

Åland aims to become one of the first self-governing territories in the world which produces all its energy from renewable sources and thus you'll see a lot of windmills and a surprisingly high amount of solar panels for such a northerly location. There are also some experiments with energy storage, among others using abandoned mines.

Holidays[edit]

Åland has mainly the same holidays as Finland, but there are also a few of their own. The most notable of these is Åland's Autonomy Day (Ålands självstyrelsedag), which is celebrated every June 9 in memory of Åland County Council's (since 1993 Åland's Parliament) first meeting in 1922.

Talk[edit]

Siddu barra!

The Swedish dialect spoken in Åland – the Åländska – is somewhat archaic, just like all Swedish dialects spoken in Finland. It completely lacks the tonality of mainland Swedish and some words quite abandoned in Sweden are still in everyday use here. Remarkable features are use of double genitive, use of int or inga as negation, and extensive use of old Russian loanwords. An iconic phrase in Ålandic speech is siddu barra, which roughly means "really" or "just watch".

And the most important: in Ålandska the pannkaka is a thick pastry. In Sweden it means a crêpe.

The islands are monolingually Swedish, a point of some contention in otherwise bilingual (or, in practice, frequently Finnish monolingual) Finland. This goes both ways: the Ålanders did not choose to be part of Finland and are often upset by the way their language is forgotten by mainland authorities.

Although Finnish is optionally taught in schools, many Ålanders choose not to study it and some may not want to speak it even if they know it. English is very widely spoken, even by many elderly people, and would be the primary choice if you can't speak Swedish or something closely related to it.

Signs are sometimes bilingual in Swedish and English or Swedish and Finnish, but English or even rudimentary Swedish usually make a better start than Finnish. If your Swedish and English are weak and Finnish seems a good choice, start with Swedish anyway and let the local make the choice about changing languages. Tourism is big, many of the tourists are Finnish and Ålanders know service in Finnish is a bonus, so many struggle to be able to offer it.

Get in[edit]

Just choose your ferry! Port of Mariehamn in midday

Åland is part of Finland, and thereby the Schengen Agreement. There are no border controls on the islands for most visitors. Ships and yachts arriving from outside Schengen can still take care of their border controls in Mariehamn (check procedures).

Åland does not belong to the EU customs union. This means, e.g., that wine (exceeding the allowed free import quantity) brought from France on ferries via Åland for private use elsewhere in Finland might require paperwork. Check details for any goods that may interest customs.

There are plenty of ferry connections between Åland and mainland Sweden and Finland. Primarily to allow duty-free shopping, ferries plying between Turku, Helsinki or Tallinn and Stockholm all stop off at Mariehamn or the jetty of Långnäs 30 km east, making this the easiest way to get in. The night ferries to and from Turku usually call at Långnäs, i.e. in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night (don't miss the bus!) In extreme weather or ice conditions sometimes also the ships that should call at Mariehamn call at Långnäs instead, or pass by without stopping in any port, which happens a few times yearly.

There is a shorter and cheaper ferry from Grisslehamn in Norrtälje, Sweden, to Eckerö in the west, and from Eckerö harbour there is a connection bus further to Mariehamn.

There are also ferries via the Finnish archipelago, which can be a nice option, but these connections are more convoluted and not necessarily cheaper, and if you have a vehicle they may require you to stay overnight on the way. The routes include Kustavi via Brändö to Sund and Korpo via Kökar to Långnäs, both on mainland Åland with bus connection to Mariehamn.

Mariehamn also has a small airport that serves flights to mainland Finland and Sweden.

By plane[edit]

Ferries from Estonia[edit]

Ferries from Finland Proper and Helsinki[edit]

Village in the archipelago, Sottunga.
The archipelago ferry Ejdern with a Finnferries ropax ship in the background
  • From Turku to Mariehamn or Långnäs by Viking Line and TallinkSilja (in Turku local bus nr 1 to the harbour, first terminal Viking, last stop Silja; also some coaches and trains from Helsinki and Tampere go there, until 2025 the Helsinki connection by bus for the last kilometres), departures every morning and evening.
  • From Naantali to Långnäs by Finnlines. Pedestrians are welcome on day services outside the summer season, in the night you need a vehicle for arrival in or departure from Långnäs.
  • From Helsinki to Mariehamn by Viking Line and TallinkSilja (terminals near the market square, on each side of the bay), departures in the afternoon. The ships call at Mariehamn at night.
  • From Vuosnainen/Osnäs (Kustavi/Gustavs) to Åva (Brändö) by Ålandstrafiken ("Norra linjen"), connections by road to Torsholma (23 km) and ferry from Torsholma to Hummelvik (Vårdö), with cable ferry connection to the Åland mainland. Vuosnainen is 70 km from Turku, 1½ hr by car. Bus connection from Turku to Torsholma June to middle August, otherwise bus to Kustavi centre and taxi arrangements onward (check and book in advance). Brändö, Kumlinge and Simskäla of Vårdö qualify as archipelago. Vehicles have to stay one night in the archipelago to not get charged through fare, usually more expensive than other lines, for campers and caravans/trailers this can be up to 760 euro!
  • From Galtby (Korpo) to Kökar by Ålandstrafiken ("Södra linjen"), connections by same or other ferry via Sottunga and Föglö to Långnäs. Bus connection from Turku to Galtby (Skärgårdsbuss/TLO, 2 hr) and from Långnäs to Mariehamn. Kökar, Sottunga and Föglö qualify as archipelago. Vehicles have to stay one night in the archipelago to not get charged through fare, usually more expensive than other lines, for campers and caravans/trailers this can be up to 760 euro!
  • From Houtskär (Näsby or Roslax) and Iniö (Norrby or Kannvik) via a host of minor islands to Torsholma (Brändö) a few times a week. Booking at latest the day before, M/S Karolina +358 40-717-3455 and M/S Satava +358 40-849-5140. These vessels are free, but fairly small and mainly take pedestrians. M/S Satava has capacity for a few cars but might not take yours. Bus from Turku to Näsby (Skärgårdsbuss/TLO, 3 hr, usually with transfer in Galtby). Kannvik is reachable by ferry from Kustavi (Heponiemi), in summer also from Houtskär (see Archipelago Trail).

Ålandstrafiken ferries are free to pedestrians but quite expensive for motorists, especially if not staying overnight in the archipelago (i.e. smaller islands not counted as mainland Åland), see Archipelago ferries below. Also, you may not be allowed to book two passages without an intervening overnight stay, There are parking lots at the harbours in each end, for those continuing by foot, bike or bus. Bus lines 4 and 5 go from Hummelvik and Långnäs to Mariehamn (€4–5).

Ferries from Sweden[edit]

The ferries going via Mariehamn or Långnäs may skip calling at Åland (or may call at Långnäs instead of Mariehamn) because of storm, ice or other special conditions. This happens only a few times a year, and passengers to Åland are taken care of, but check with the info desk if it seems you might be affected.

  • From Grisslehamn (Norrtälje, Greater Stockholm) to Eckerö by Eckerölinjen, three times daily (€5 for an adult, €10 for a car). It takes two hours from Grisslehamn to Eckerö. From there the line 1 bus (€2.50) connects to Mariehamn.
    • By local bus from Stockholm: Take the 676 bus from Stockholm Eastern station (Tekniska Högskolan) to Norrtälje and change to line 637 to Grisslehamn. Tickets can be bought from the SL app, at SL Centres or at local kiosks, but not on board.
    • By dedicated bus from Stockholm or Uppsala: Eckerö Linjen's buses to Grisslehamn depart from Stockholm (Cityterminalen) 2 hr 15 min before ship's departure, and from Uppsala (Hjalmar Brantingsgatan) 2 hr before ship's departure. The buses return at the ship's arrival. The Bus+Ferry Combined Ticket can be bought in Cityterminalen (Stockholm), from the bus driver or at the ferry terminal.
  • The Viking route from Kapellskär to Mariehamn by Viking Line came to an end in January 2023, as Rosella was sold. A replacement may be arranged for the summer.
  • From Kapellskär (Norrtälje, Greater Stockholm) to Långnäs by Finnlines. Pedestraians are welcome in the day (check whether also in summer), in the night you need a vehicle to disembark in Långnäs. A more quiet passage than on the other cruise ferries.
  • From Kapellskär (Norrtälje, Greater Stockholm to Långnäs by Silja Line (Tallink)
  • From Stockholm to Mariehamn or Långnäs: Tallink/Silja with departures in the afternoon (possibly more departures in summer), Viking with departures morning, afternoon and evening, the ships (mostly) continuing to Turku, Helsinki or Tallinn (check special offers, often much cheaper than regular tickets).
    • by Silja Line (Tallink) (subway to Gärdet, walk to Värtahamnen).
    • by Viking Line (get off local buses at Londonviadukten or take dedicated buses from Cityterminalen to the terminal at Tegelvikshamnen, Södern).

By bike[edit]

The cruise ferries take a surcharge for bikes, perhaps €5–10. Check boarding details; you mostly board before or after the cars and leave the bike at the car deck (fasten it so that it doesn't damage cars when the ship shakes and rolls).

The Ålandstrafiken ferries from Galtby and Kustavi take bikes. A ferry ride to or from the "archipelago" of Åland costs some €5, while a through journey to the Åland mainland, without overnighting, costs €15–25 (off/in season). Likewise, fasten the bike.

There are some services that can be used for getting from Houtskär or Iniö to Brändö (not run by Ålandstrafiken). These should be free, but check that your service allows bikes. The service should generally be booked the preceding day, and the ferry calls at many islands.

By small craft[edit]

See also: Boating on the Baltic Sea, Boating in Finland, Archipelago Sea, Cruising on small craft

The passage from Sweden over the Sea of Åland is short enough for nearly any boat in nice weather (but check forecasts!). Coming from Finland, there is just a small gap in the archipelago (Skiftet). Gotland requires overnight sailing. Having a boat will allow you to fully enjoy the archipelago.

If you are coming from a Schengen country, you need not follow customs routes or visit border controls unless you need customs clearance. As Åland has a special tax status in the EU, some goods may need to be declared. From outside Finland also pets etc. may require clearance. For immigration (in practice: from Russia) call (VHF 68 or 16, or phone) and visit the border guard station in Mariehamn using the customs fairway. For customs, call them well in advance and ask for directions, coming from Finland before you leave port.

Typical first ports include Eckerö and Mariehamn. From Finland Kökar, Föglö and Sottunga, or Brändö are on the way to mainland Åland.

Get around[edit]

By bike[edit]

Åland is perfect for cycling; the distances are short, nature is varied and the sea is always close.

A combination of ferry between the islands and a bicycle on the islands themselves is the most popular option. There are well developed facilities for bicycles including dedicated cycle paths along many roads and a few ferries exclusively for bicycles and pedestrians. Book your crossings to ensure you can get on board, get return tickets if returning.

By car[edit]

Typical highway on Åland

There is a good road network and the main island can be crossed by car in less than an hour between furthest points. Traffic is very light all over the island including in Mariehamn. Car rental should be arranged in Sweden or mainland Finland although it might be possible to rent a car at the airport. Fuel is widely available at organized points around the island and is similar in price to say mainland Sweden. The ferries to the archipelago are not free, check fees and arrangements. Åland has its own traffic law, but differences from the Finnish and Swedish ones are minor, except that parking on the left hand side of a street is not allowed.

By bus[edit]

There are bus connections to most parts of the main islands, served by Ålandstrafiken[dead link], Google Maps route planner includes most routes. Most archipelago municipalities have kommunaltrafiken: a scheduled taxi which takes passengers from and to the ferry harbour. Using kommunaltrafiken is free if your destination is on the island's main road. Departing the main road costs few euros. Kommunaltrafiken must normally be booked one day in advance.

By taxi[edit]

Ålands Taxi has online booking form.

By boat[edit]

See also: Boating in Finland

Åland is an archipelago, so a boat is a good way to get around. There are an adequate number of guest harbours, and nothing hinders you from anchoring in some suitable place away from people. You should be able to charter a suitable boat, or hire a sea kayak. There are also taxi boat services, which often can arrange fishing tours or guiding and small-scale catering for your intended destination.

Archipelago ferries[edit]

The archipelago ferries are administered by Ålandstrafiken. The trip to Åland through the archipelago is something you will never forget. Choose a route through either the southern or northern archipelago. Pedestrians travel for free, others have to book and pay their journey on the longer routes. By car, you should book all crossings well in advance: a month before is recommended, two months for July, half a year for Midsummer (you can try to change the booking later, if needed). No-shows are frowned upon (and billed to the double fare), so cancel in time.

Bookings can be made for trips to and from an "intermediate" port, but not from one "destination" port to another. This means you can not make booking between mainland Åland to "mainland" Finland unless you stay overnight somewhere in between (except possibly for some departures with low traffic). Also the transit fare for vehicles is much higher than if travelling to some of the islands (e.g. motorcycle/car in season €70/140 vs €20+20/30+30). Spending a night on some of the smaller islands is probably worthwhile anyhow. You will need the receipt or a similar document to get the reduction.

Difficult? Not really. For example:

  • Direct trip from Galtby in mainland Finland to Långnäs in mainland Åland with single car: no booking option. Transit fare €122.
  • Same trip from Galtby to Långnäs with intermediate stop in Kökar: bookings Galtby–Kökar and Kökar–Långnäs are possible if they are not within same day. Archipelago fare €38 and if booked online you'll get 20% discount. The ferry ticket applies to any continued journey. Just show the receipt for the accommodation with it.

There are parking lots at Hummelvik, Långnäs and Svinö, so you can leave your car unless you need it at the destination.

The Vårdö main islands can be reached from the mainland by free cable ferry, for other archipelago municipalities you need the archipelago ferries. As a cable ferry is regarded as a bridge in Åland this means that Vårdö is counted as mainland Åland in Ålandstrafiken fare system!

See[edit]

Most major tourist spots are only open during late spring and summer; off season they can only be viewed from the outside.

Kastelholm castle

Pommern and the Åland Maritime Museum, at the West Harbour of Mariehamn, is the most visited museum in Åland. The ship Pommern serves as a memory of the great fleet of sailing ships that once had the town as their home port. The Maritime Museum has a huge collection of different seafaring related items.

Kastelholm Castle in Sund is a medieval castle that was founded in the 1380s. Nearby is the Jan Karlsgården Open Air Museum, which has traditional buildings moved here from other parts of Åland to form a late-1800s agricultural farm. Vita Björn served as Åland's prison for 200 years until 1975. It is now a museum that exhibits cells giving a glimpse of how prisoners' treatment changed from the 1700s to 1950s, the residence for the warden and his family, and some prison related items like chains and a whipping pole. The Bomarsund Fortress is a huge fortress that was built by the Russians in 1830–1854, but did not get finished before it was destroyed by a French-British navy detachment in the Battle of Bomarsund during the Crimean War in 1854.

In Eckerö, the Åland hunting and fishing museum is a museum about everyday life on the fishing villages as well as hunters and fishermen in Åland. Exhibition has extensive collection of fishing and hunting equipment. The Eckerö Mail and Customs House is a historical building that served as a mail and customs office. Built 1828 it is considered as one of the most impressive work of its architects and together with the Bomarsund fortress as most important buildings from the Russian era in Åland. Märket lighthouse sits on the world's smallest sea island with an international border, divided between Sweden and Finland. Trips are available from Eckerö in good weather.

The Franciscan monastery ruins near Kökar are the ruins of a once powerful medieval Franciscan monastery.

The Geta Hill observing tower provides views across the mainland Åland and to the Bothnian Sea.

Orrdalsklint in Saltvik is a hill that rises 129 metres above sea level, the highest point in Åland, with an observation tower at the top.

Do[edit]

Åland is great for outdoor life; hiking, swimming, and enjoying the silent countryside. The right to access is not as liberal as in mainland Finland or Sweden, as the risk of wear is bigger. If you want to camp wild you should try to ask for permission, and you should be more careful in keeping to trails, especially in nature reserves.

The fishing law is different from that of mainland Finland. For fishing, you need a permit from the owner of the waters, available for many locations by paying a fee. Many small businesses arrange fishing excursions or rent boat and equipment. They can probably handle the permits and show where to fish. Some fishing far from privately owned islands is free for Nordic residents.

Postvägen, the Postal Route, dates back to Queen Kristina's days in the 17th century, when the Swedish postal service of that time was organized. Today the Postal Route looks different but it is still very much alive. The 65-km-long route goes through the Åland province between the Mail House in Eckerö and Brändöby village in Brändö. The historic route is suitable for cycling and is marked by postal horn signs. There is a free-in postal route history info in Kastelholm, next to the Jan Karlsgården.

Käringsunds Viltsafari is a game safari zoo near Eckerö.

Make a day trip to a lighthouse. During the summer season there are guided tours to 1 Lågskär lighthouse in the south, 2 Sälskär lighthouse in the north, and 3 Märket lighthouse in the west. The Åland birdwatching society +358 40-588-1478, arranges birdwatching tours to Lågskär and Sälskär. Skarpnåtö Turistanläggning in Hammarland arranges tours to Sälskär. Tours to Märket are arranged by the guest harbour in Eckerö.

Buy[edit]

Exchange rates for euros

As of January 2024:

  • US$1 ≈ €0.9
  • UK£1 ≈ €1.2
  • AU$1 ≈ €0.6
  • CA$1 ≈ €0.7
  • Japanese ¥100 ≈ €0.6

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com

Åland has stamps of its own, which may make nice gifts for the right acquaintances.

The official currency is the euro (€). Swedish krona (SEK) is usually accepted in most shops and restaurants during the peak season, but the exchange rate is typically not very good, so it is significantly cheaper to pay in euros or by card. Compare rates with local banks first.

Shopping in Åland is expensive. Due to import of most goods, prices in most stores are in the EU highs, mostly 10–50% higher than in the Stockholm or Helsinki metropolitan areas. Prices on some groceries can be even higher, with oatmeal and gruel selling at more than double the price in, say, Stockholm or Helsinki.

As in other Nordic countries, credit cards and debit cards from Visa and Mastercard are accepted.

SALT in the maritime district of the east harbour of Mariehamn has a selection of local artisan crafts including textiles and glassware made in Åland, next to a maritime museum and local jewellery shop.

Åland has its own postal service and stamps unique to the island, these make excellent inexpensive souvenirs. There are post offices in several villages and in Mariehamn.

In general, souvenir shopping in Åland is difficult. The island is not well presented for international tourists and there are often only small displays of the typical souvenirs such as keychains, postcards and mugs. A few of the stores along Torggatan in Mariehamn's centre have these, as well as museums and some of the larger grocery stores. Some museums offer more special things, and local handicraft can be found at some locations.

Local beer, apple juice and apple liquors are tasty and available (Åland produces a third of Finland's apples).

Eat[edit]

Åland pancake with stewed plums and whipped cream
See also: Nordic cuisine

Some food items to look for:

  • Smoked flounder with potato salad and fish dishes in general.
  • Svartbröd, blackbread, as the name implies the bread is almost black. It is a round and quite flat rye bread. Its most characteristic feature is the taste. The blackbread is sweet. The sweetness originates from the treacle that is added to the dough and from the manner in which the bread is baked in the oven (baking blackbread is a time-consuming procedure). Stored cool the bread stays good for weeks, even months. It was originally used (in a less sweet version) on long fishing, hunting or seafaring expeditions.
  • Åland's pancake (ålandspannkaka) is a traditional and delicious Ålandic dessert. The pancake is made from semolina porridge, flavoured with cardamom and sometimes vanilla, and is served with stewed plums (usually raspberry jam is available as an alternative) and whipped cream. Available in somewhat every café.
  • Cheese from the local ÅCA dairy is of high quality. The Kastelholm cheese is particularly recommended, and works well with blackbread. Its roots can be traced back to the 16th century.
  • Taffel chips are available in any store both in Åland and mainland Finland. Their potato chips are manufactured in Åland from local potatoes. The outlet shop is by the factory in Saltvik.
  • Ålands Senap in Godby produce mustard, ketchup, salad dressings etc. Their products are widely available in grocery stores.

Most restaurants are in Mariehamn. Do not expect to find fast food outlets elsewhere on the islands. Some restaurants have limited hours of service and some are not open every day. Guest houses can usually arrange dinner, but you might have to book it beforehand.

Drink[edit]

While ships docking at Åland offer duty-free shopping, alcohol prices on Åland itself are on par with Sweden and Finland. As elsewhere in Finland any products having over 5.5%-vol alcohol are available only through Alko, local producers, bars and restaurants (but the latter are not allowed to sell it out). There are just two Alko stores in Åland, but some grocery stores act as delivery points for pre-ordered items. If you arrive by a cruise ship and expect to need some booze, it is by far easier and cheaper to buy it from the ship's tax free store.

Brewery Stallhagen near Finström has guided tours, an own pub and an outlet store. The Stallhagen beers are available in any grocery store, and in most bars and restaurants on the islands. Åland Distillery make spirits and gin from the fruits at the vineyard near Sund. Peders Aplagård in Kökar makes cider.

Sleep[edit]

There are hotels in Mariehamn, but otherwise you will probably sleep at some kind of guest house, cottage or camping site. The host can often offer activities special for the site, such as fishing trips, deer watching, game dinner or guiding at the local sight.

The right to access is not really regarded to include camping on Åland. Overnight camping at one place is limited to one night only due to the islands' small size, fragile nature (and extensive private landownership). In general, for camping in the nature it's always a good idea to get landowner's permission first. There are several camping areas on the main land, and there is a camp site on Vårdö, on Kökar and a very basic unmanned camp site on Snäckö (Kumlinge).

Overnight camping is always forbidden in the nature conservation areas.

Respect[edit]

The Parliament of Åland (Ålands lagting) in Mariehamn

Åland has its own parliament, its own executive government and is generally autonomous from Finland. The cultural heritage though is mostly Swedish.

Speaking Swedish and being a part of Finland, the people of Åland regard themselves as a separate and autonomous nation, and appreciate if you refer to them as one.

Connect[edit]

Calling prefix for land lines: +358 18. For telephony Åland is regarded a province.

Internet top domain .ax (formerly aland.fi). Some local companies use .com or .net domains, but .ax dominates.

Postal service is independent from that in mainland Finland.

They also have their own mobile provider, Ålcom, while Finnish-Swedish Telia has a network also on Åland. If coming from mainland Finland, be aware that DNA and Elisa have a domestic roaming agreement with Ålcom instead of having their own networks. You will need to turn on data roaming for this to function. If coming from Sweden or another EU country, roaming agreements with Telia or Ålcom will generally be in place, and subject to your provider's EU roaming policy. All new Swedish Telia SIMs will work in Åland on the same terms as in Sweden except unlimited offers, which are subject to a 50GB limit for the duration of the offer; older SIMs that have not been registered with BankID or photo ID and still have an active service plan or balance will not work in Åland. It's not generally advised to get a SIM from Ålcom due to their high prepaid pricing, limited use, and no 4G/LTE access (with a Finnish SIM you get 5–7 days of limited data for €5, 30 days "unlimited" for €20–30, and with a Swedish SIM you get 50 GB monthly for 329 SEK or 8 GB monthly for 249 SEK, and 4G access available from either as of 2023).

Stay safe[edit]

Crime is rare and on shore there are few risks.

In the bushes ticks are very common and they carry both Lyme borreliosis and the tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) more often than in mainland Finland. Permanent residents of Åland get vaccinated against TBE for free. For travellers the TBE vaccination is recommended if you intend to move extensively in nature. Lyme borreliosis is treated with antibiotics at first signs of infection (a week or so from the bite). Regardless, find any ticks on your body before going to bed, which will mostly avoid getting infected.

Usual warnings apply to the sea and possible sea ice.

A less obvious risk is the shore of islands close to the cruise ferry lanes: the currents caused by the ships passing are dangerous, with water quickly rising, and then withdrawing like before a tsunami – which will follow.

On the bigger cruise ferries to and from Åland alcohol can cause problems, including drunk brawls and sexual harassment. Do not go alone with strangers to private areas unless you are sure you can trust them (and do report any serious incidents, immediately if you can, they will be taken care of).

The hospital in Mariehamn has round-the-clock general emergency care. Elsewhere medical services are very limited. Critical patients will be sent to university hospitals in Turku or Uppsala by helicopter.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Åland is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.