I just spent the weekend visiting the Åland Islands and guys, I can’t remember when I’ve been so excited to tell people about a trip! I actually hadn’t even heard of the Åland Islands until a few months ago, and while I thought it would be interesting to visit this small autonomous area in Finland, I hadn’t expected to fall as hard as I did for it.
I’m going to be totally honest here though – part of what I loved about Åland was how little I had known about the islands before visiting. I constantly felt like I was discovering hidden gems while on my visit to Åland, and I left with a long list of reasons why everyone needs to visit – and why I need to return!
Åland is a short ferry ride from Helsinki and Stockholm
For a place that feels so hidden and remote, Åland is surprisingly easy to get to. You can choose to fly into Åland or, better yet, take the ferry! It’s only a few hours from both Helsinki and Stockholm.
Visiting Åland is a bargain
A night in a cabin on the ferry is actually cheaper than a hotel in either Helsinki or Stockholm, so you’ll be saving money by going to Åland!
You know how much I love island hopping, so I was excited to find that Åland consists of 80 inhabited islands, and then over 6,000 uninhabited islands.
I mean, that makes for a lot of gorgeous island views, and a lot of secret spots to discover while on your trip.
You can rent your own island
Maybe you thought you’d have to win the lottery to get your own island, but on Åland this luxury isn’t only reserved for the fabulously wealthy. In fact prices for renting a private island with a cottage on Åland start at around 160 euros/night for four people.
Anyone want to join me for a weekend on a private island this summer? My treat!
Ålanders are incredibly proud of their local produce. In fact I think every single meal I ate, including the hotel breakfast, was made from at least some local produce. Apparently Åland even grows 70% of Finland’s apples!
As someone who lives in Norway (we’re not known for having tons of fresh produce up here), I hugely appreciated all the delicious vegetables and fruit I had in Åland.
Åland brews their own beer
If fruit and vegetables aren’t totally your thing (um, what happened to that New Year’s resolution though?) then maybe this will excite you: Åland also produces beer. Apparently the Stallhagen Microbrewery is sort of a big deal.
I had dinner here and sampled a few different beers and all I can say is, you need to try Stallhagen if you haven’t already! And of course it’s extra cool to get to try it where it’s actually made.
Those island views
Locals told me I should return in the summer, but I can’t imagine it looking any prettier than this:
You can ski or bicycle everywhere
Ålanders are incredibly outdoorsy, and I can see why. With beautiful paths for cross-country skiing in the winter and bicycling in the summer, Åland is an outdoor lover’s paradise.
In fact just being on Åland gave me so much energy and all I wanted to do while there was explore the outdoors.
You will finally understand Finland’s history
Am I the only person who has been totally confused by Finland’s history? Like, it was Swedish and then it was Russian, and when did it even become known as Finland?
Lying between Sweden and Finland with a Swedish speaking population, Åland has actually played a key role in Finnish history. Speaking with Ålanders about their relationship both to Sweden and Russia in the past, as well as their dual identities as Ålanders and Finns, I finally began to understand the complexity of the Finnish heritage.
the remains of a Russian fortress at Bomarsund
Finland’s best museum is in Åland
Okay, so I’m not a museum person at all, but even I can get excited about visiting a museum where you can climb a mast and see an original (!) pirate flag. It’s no surprise that the Åland Maritime Museum was voted Finland’s Museum of the Year in 2016.
The world’s best diving is in Åland
An Ålander proudly told me that Åland has the best diving in the world!
Now, I don’t actually know anything about diving, so I have no idea if this was an exaggeration. But I do know that some local divers once discovered a shipwreck containing five bottles of beer and 145 bottles of excellently preserved champagne from the 1840s.
I’m guessing most divers would agree that that’s like, not the worst.
And if that’s all not enough to convince you that Åland is amazing, here is a little video I made of my time there!