Over the Easter holidays my boyfriend’s family came to visit us to Sweden. We always try to explore new places instead of taking our visitors to places we already know (with exceptions). This time we thought it would be interesting to explore islands inbetween Sweden and Finland. Not knowing anything about the islands, we planned our journey for 3 days, hoping to have good weather.
The Åland islands are an autonomous territory officially belonging to Finland. They are also a demiliterized territory full of history. It is a very interesting place since the inhabitants are trying hard to protect their land and property. They have their own government and apparently for example if you are not an Åland national or in a marriage with one, you cannot run a business or buy a property. They also have their own plates on cars 🙂 Since the islands officially belong to Finland, the currency is euro.
So we rented a car and took a ferry from Grisslehamn to Eckerö which took about 2 hours. We booked an airbnb close to the capital city Mariehamn with a beautiful garden and boat house. The next day we started the exploring in the capital city. In the port we came across an old boat which serves as a museum, so it is possible to walk inside and see how the life on board looks like. Unfortunately, since we visited outside the season, it was closed. Next, we visited a maritime museum and quarter where you can see old houses where the ships were, and still are, restored. Then we decided to drive towards the west to Kungsö to see ruins of an old Russian fortress. We continued along the coast and visited an old fishing village Käringsund which was charming. Driving back, we decided to drive further to the east to a viewpoint to the sea. We had a refreshing walk and enjoyed the view from a look-out tower.
The next day we decided to explore the northern part of the islands, where we visited Kastelholm castle which used to be a residency of Karl Gustav Vasa with a skansen with beautiful wooden mills. Further to the east we visited another ruin of a Russian fortress Bomarsund. This was supposed to be a grandiose project which would show the strength of the Russian empire but during its construction the French and German marine came and defeated Russian soldiers. Since then, the islands are demiliterized. On the way to the northern-east part we came across a beautiful café in Godby with a stunning view and a look-out tower. I recommend having a fika there! It is built over a first road tunnel in Finlad. Then we continued driving and exploring.
The next day in the morning we went back to Sweden by an early ferry. Overall, the island were beautiful and I can imagine myself returning in the summer for camping, cycling, fishing and enjoying the peaceful islands. To summarize it I would say that the islands are full of different museums and look-out towers, with beautiful views over the sea. I highly recommend going there for a few days in the summer as I read there are many events happening on the islands and there are plenty of interesting things to explore which we couldn’t since we visited the islands out of season.