The capital of the Åland Islands, Mariehamn is the administrative center of a region that is quite unique. The islands are self-governing, but, at the same time, constitute a part of Finland. Even so, Finnish is not the language spoken here: The islanders all speak Swedish, and the local culture is Swedish (but should you want to address the people that you meet in Finnish, most of them are okay with that too).
If you’ve heard of these islands before, chances are that you have been told about the characteristic nature of this island community. You need only spend a couple of hours here to experience how nature seems to change in unpredictable ways. Particularly if you see the area close up, for example, from a kayak.
With only 28,000 inhabitants spread over an area of 5,219 square miles/13,517 square kilometers there are plenty of opportunities to experience undisturbed moments while cycling, fishing, kayaking, or enjoying other outdoor activities.
At the same time, the town of Mariehamn is within easy reach of some of the largest cities of this region of the world. Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is only hours away. The same goes for Helsinki, Finland’s capital. Turku, Finland’s fifth largest city, is even closer. St. Petersburg, Russia, is not far away, either.
Over the years, the proximity to both Finland and Sweden has left its marks on the Åland Islands – as exemplified by the mixture of nationality, language and culture. In fact, when Sweden was a state of some power in the 17th century, Finland was a part of the kingdom of Sweden.
Factors like these have left the inhabitants of the Åland Islands with a heritage that they are quite proud of – and one that they are rather careful of.
If you cruise to (or arrive from) destinations such as Stockholm, Helsinki and Turku, you will likely find that the characteristic archipelago provides the natural link between Mariehamn and the larger cities. Sometimes referred to in connection with the Åland Islands – then branded as the Scandinavian Islands – the neighbouring Stockholm and Turku archipelagos not only provide impressive sceneries but also numerous opportunities for outdoor activities.
Cruise ships dock at Mariehamn’s Western Harbor. The distance to the town center is about 0.3 miles/500 metres. Mariehamn is situated on an isthmus between two bays. It is possible to walk from one side of the isthmus to the other in about 15 minutes. For passengers who prefer not to walk, the town of Mariehamn offers a complimentary shuttle service in connection with cruise ship calls.
Outdoor experiences. Whether you’re into kayaking, fishing or mountain climbing: when it comes to the great outdoors, Åland has everything that you might wish for.
Shore excursions in and around Mariehamn include:
Mariehamn being situated on an island, you will probably need a boat to get from here. That’s no problem at all, should you wish to depart by other means than with the cruise ship that you arrived on. There are several ferry routes connecting Mariehamn with some of the most well-known destinations in the Baltic, such as Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn and Turku.
Link to Åland Official Tourist Gateway for cruise.
[googleMap name=”Maarianhamina” directions_to=”false”]Maarianhamina, Finland[/googleMap]
Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Mariehamn & the Aland Islands.