Best things to do in Aland Islands
Have you ever heard about Aland Islands? You must be wondering where are the Aland Islands and what are the things to do there, right?
Where are the Aland Islands? Sandwiched between Sweden and Finland, and located in the Baltic Sea - that’s where you are going to find the Aland Islands. With its unique climate and culture, there’s a lot to love about the Aland Islands.
Rich in history and natural biodiversity, the Aland Islands are an archipelago that consists of around 6,500 islands - and out of which, most of them are rocky islets, with only 60 of them inhabited by people. Even the Aland Islands population is not much - it’s only 30, 000 residents, though they make their living from banking, tourism, and maritime occupations. It’s interesting to know that Swedish is its only official language and it has its own postage stamps, its own taxation system, and even has its own Aland Islands flag! Did you know that they even have their own Aland Islands currency - it’s Euro by the way. One more thing to note is that out of the whole Aland Islands population; many businesses accept the other Aland Islands currency, Swedish krona unofficially.
What is even more interesting is that the size of the Aland Islands on the Aland Islands map is a bit exaggerated - that is due to a dispute, the main islands of the Aland Islands, Fasta Aland, despite being densely populated was dominated. With the skerries left out, the parties engaged in the dispute had no choice but to give an exaggerated appearance to the remaining smaller islands - this led to the Aland Islands’ appearing bigger on the Aland Islands map and looked closer to Sweden’s mainland, rather than that of Finland’s.
With such a unique background, it’s no wonder why do people visit Aland Islands. But, on the other hand, there’s the following question that you must be wondering.
What is the best time to visit the Aland Islands?
What is the Aland Islands weather like? This is one thing that you don’t need to worry about - the Aland Islands weather is pleasant throughout the year. Know what this means? This means that you can visit the Aland Islands at any time of the year! And you wondered, why do people visit Aland Islands?
Though, generally, the months of July and August are best to spend the summers at the Aland Islands, and the month of autumn (September) is even better at the Aland Islands - this is the peak season at the islands when life gets very busy. The months of June and August are also a great opportunity to enjoy a relaxing vacation on the Aland Islands. But wait, there’s one more thing - where to stay in the Aland Islands? Are there any Aland Islands hotels worth mentioning?
Take note that the Aland Islands doesn’t come cheap - the prices are almost similar to the ones in mainland Finland. But yes, there is a range of options for Aland Islands hotels - from a simple cottage to luxury indulgences. If you like nature and love to live near the sea, there’s “Fagelvik” for you - it’s located just 10km south of the capital of Aland Islands, Mariehamn.
There’s also “Anderssons Gasthem”, if you are more of the cottage-y type and enjoy open spaces. The Aland Islands are an all-year destination - there’s always something to do in the Aland Islands! The question of what to do in Aland Islands shouldn’t come to your mind when you are in the islands!
Paying a visit to the Kastelholm Castle
Kastelholm Castle - it is one of the best and top attractions in Aland Islands, Finland. Built in the 14th century, this medieval castle was once the abode of many nobles and royals, the most prominent amongst them, was the Swedish King, Gustav Vasa, who once put his own brother in prison. Paying a visit to this castle is one of the reasons why people visit the Aland Islands - not only it is beautiful, but it is also one of the best-restored castles from medieval times.
Take note that this castle is open from May to September, but still, you can enjoy its exterior beauty even if you visit the castle in the winters.
Admiring the majestic views in Karingsund
Karingsund is one of the most picturesque villages in the Aland Islands. In this village, the Baltic Sea is made more beautiful by rustic boathouses that line the sea - it is reminiscing of a time when fishing was the main occupation in the Aland Islands. A fun fact - Karingsund is also the location where you will find many recorded scenes in the TV series, “Seacrow Island” in the 1960s.
Learning history at the Bomarsund Museum
Now a museum, this fortress was once a military defence structure built by the Russians in the westernmost corner over the Swedes, after the 1808-09 war. This fortress was still under construction in 1854 when the Crimean War started, but it was heavily bombarded by a French-British naval force from the sea. The Russians seeing the condition of the fortress had no choice but to surrender it after 4 days. Even today, one can see the ruins of the fortress - facing the sea, it stretches for a few miles on the road.
Exploring the islands by kayak
With many islands making up the Aland Islands, one gets the chance to explore many islands - and the best way is either to rent a kayak or join a kayak tour group to travel freely between the islands. This allows one a chance to travel to the smaller uninhabited islands. The seas can be challenging, but kayaking is a great way to take in the landscape and enjoy the sea life such as sea eagles.
Dressing up at the Viking Market
There’s a place known as Saltvik, and it is at this spot that real-life Vikings settled there some 1000 years ago, and where the Viking Market is held every year, in the month of July. More than 5,000 historical recreationists come to the Aland Islands every year to participate in the Viking Market dressed up in authentic Viking attires - buying arts and crafts, role-playing, and joining in mock battles are a few of the recreational activities that have gained popularity. There’s also the children’s jester entertainers, and the Viking feast to look up to - and oh yes, not to forget, there’s also going to be a visit from the Viking ship, Borge Swyn.
Visiting Mariehamn, the capital of Aland Islands
Known as the capital of the Aland Islands, Mariehamn is a city worth mentioning - with a population of only 15,000 residents; this city is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Aland Islands, Finland. There’s a harbour located in Mariehamn city, and the entire scene made beautiful by a tower in the background with the Aland Islands flag - it was once the home to the ancient and largest sailing ships that roamed the seas. If you want to feel the mysterious charm of the sea from up close, then a visit to Mariehamn City is a must.
Soaking in the nautical history at the Maritime Museum
If you want to know the maritime history of the Aland Islands, Finland, then, nothing comes close to the Maritime Museum. Exhibits in the museum consist of models of naval ships from the 1700s. The museum also houses a pirate ship, complete with skulls and crossbones! The Maritime Museum is open all year round to the masses - it’s perfect for both a summer and winter trip.
Biking along the islands
One of the top things to do while at the Aland Islands, Finland, will be to bike along the islands. For a cyclist, nothing comes close to paradise than short cycling distances and enjoying the exotic views that the islands had to offer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about losing your way when cycling, since there are marked routes for cycling across the islands.
Tasting mouth-smacking “Craft Beer”
No visit to the Aland Islands is complete without stopping by at Stallhagen. Stallhagen is the oldest and the largest brewery that one can find in the Aland Islands. Built in 2004, the brewery aimed to offer the best Craft Beer to the people. And which they have succeeded - today, Craft Beer from Stallhagen is exported to both Mainland Finland and Sweden. A visit to Stallhagen is a must to enjoy the exquisite Craft Beer while on tour to the Aland Islands.
Going remote at Lumparland, Kokar
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, then, there’s a place for you. It’s Kokar - dubbed as one of the most remote locations in Finland; this destination is great for escaping the world for a short while and enjoy the serene atmosphere. Kokar also houses charming rustic wooden houses and the ruins of a medieval monastery.
Enjoying the unique “Jurmo Sushi”
If you have exhausted all of your options and wondering what to do in Aland Islands next, how about this? Did you know that the Aland Islands is a great destination to try your hand at fishing? That’s right - Aland Islands is a great spot for fishing, and trying out the inventive yet tasty seafood dishes. What’s interesting to note is that no islands have the same method for fishing. The same goes for their dishes - no dish is the same as the other.
Out of them is the “Jurmo Sushi” - an inventive dish, created by the residents of the island of Jurmo! Plus, the tourists are also given opportunities to catch their fish - a truly fun activity in which you also can cook your own caught fish in an open campfire.
A world filled with words, that's where Priyam wants to reside in. Living in an ethnically diverse nation, India, she has always been interested in travelling. She has been to more than 80 cities, before deciding that travelling has always been her call, and hence, a travel content developer. As a travel content developer, she has been a regular contributor to numerous travel blogs and magazines. When she's not smashing her keyboard for churning out new content, you can find her sipping coffee at her favourite old cafe with the latest travel magazine on her hand and a stack of the same by her side.