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The Amazing Åland Islands

The Amazing Åland Islands

The Åland  Islands may be one of the best kept secrets in the Nordic. A collection of islands between Sweden and Finland in the Baltic sea, this archipelago is a paradise for bikers, hikers, and kayakers. I was surprised at how much bigger the archipelago was than I expected, but our 12 hour visit was just enough time to explore downtown Mariehamn have an adventurous (and tiring!) biking tour. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend planning a trip exclusively to see these islands, if you ever find yourself in Stockholm or Turku, the islands are just a ferry ride away and are definitely worth seeing if you’re in the mood for some tranquil beauty. Hopefully the tips below will help you make the most of your amazing Åland Islands adventure.

Bike from Mariehamn – Mariehamn is the capital and main ferry port of the islands, and the perfect starting point for a long bike ride. Hire from Ro-No Rent for only $10-20 USD for the entire day depending on the bike, and choose your route! There are paved, well-marked bike paths around most of the islands. Pick up a map from the bike shop- the green lines indicate bike paths. Sometimes the bike path is just a small section of the road, so be careful and remain as visible as possible. My favorite route was southeast from Mariehamn toward Lumparland. Keep an eye out for signs with a swimming icon along the main route. These indicate that a beach or swimming area is nearby, and the clear blue waters of the Baltic are definitely worth getting off the beaten path for. The northwest route towards Godby is also beautiful, and you’ll see some traditional Dutch windmills and a bridge with an incredible view.

Kayak the Baltic – unfortunately we did not have enough time to kayak ourselves, but when researching the Islands I read rave reviews about renting kayaks and exploring this network of little islands and inlets. I am by no means a kayak expert, so remember to gather all the information you need to stay safe before embarking on your adventure. The kayaking page VisitAlands website is a great place to start.

Eat with the locals – downtown Mariehamn is small and quaint, but there are plenty of local cafes and restaurants to choose from. If you arrive early in the morning before the tourists, you’ll have the pleasure of people watching some of the locals that call Åland Islands their full-time home. I recommend window shopping the cafes to find the pastries and coffee that look the most delectable that day.

Enjoy the views from the ferry boats – one of my favorite parts about the Åland Islands was actually getting there! We took the Viking ferry line from Stockholm that departed at 18:00 and arrived the next morning at 07:15. If you can manage to stay up, the sunset and sunrise from the upper deck is vibrantly beautiful. Grab a bottle of wine or your favorite beverage from the duty-free shop on board, pour yourself a glass, and watch the numerous tiny green islands pass by as you sail toward those amazing Åland Islands.

Note to readers: Many of the Viking ferry cruises dock briefly at Åland Islands, but passengers can’t get off for a full-day. If you want to explore the Aland Islands, I recommend booking two one-way ferry boats and exploring the Tallink Ferry Line time tables in addition to Viking.

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