Discover Åland's beautiful winter landscapes
Celebrate the first Advent or welcome New Year in Åland, or spend a weekend in the archipelago on your winter holiday. Åland is best known as a summer destination, but there are plenty of reasons to travel here even during the low season.
Christmas time in Åland
Lillajul celebration on the first Advent is an old and popular tradition that launches the Holiday season. It’s celebrated with a Christmas tree, Christmas presents and a Christmas buffet. Basically, it’s like Christmas but on a slightly smaller scale. However, the atmosphere is as exciting and peaceful as at Christmas.
Lillajul also generally marks the start of Christmas celebrations and when the traditional Christmas market is on at the Jan Karlsgården open-air museum, the Christmas atmosphere really gets going. Then the whole month of December gets filled up with Christmas markets, concerts and buffets in restaurants. A visit to Åland in December is certain to bring the Christmas spirit to life.
Hiking in early winter
Thanks to the mild sea climate autumn is often warmer and longer in Åland than in the neighbouring mainland. Most years, the landscape is free from snow until late autumn and gets covered with snow not earlier than in January. Thanks to that, hiking is a perfect outdoor activity during the whole autumn. Did you know you can explore more than 30 nature trails in Åland?
Wear some water resistant outerwear and proper shoes, pack your backpack with something to sit on and a warm drink and head to a hike in the beautiful archipelago nature. Have a picnic at a lookout or by the water and enjoy the peacefulness.
Unique archipelago treats
When was the last time you saw a sky full of stars or could distinguish the Milky Way? When there’s no snow and the darkness falls in the autumn, the nordic darkness is really intense. Light sources are few, especially in the countryside and in the outer archipelago, so a night sky full of stars is a magical sight.
The sea is a central element in Åland and being close to it gives you a calming feeling whether it’s windy and the waves are high, or when the surface of the sea is bright as a mirror. Wherever in Åland you are, go down to the water and focus on it for a moment. It’s pure mindfulness!
If you long for an activity on the sea, Åland offers great angling all year round. With a local fishing guide you can enjoy the sea safely on a boat.
Life on the ice
When the sea freezes the archipelago landscape is transformed to a winter paradise. You can make your way over the bays in a completely new way using long-distance ice skates and poles. There are regular excursions with experienced guides, and provided you have the right instructions and safety equipment, you can safely get around on the ice.
Would you prefer an ice rink to have fun on? The ice skating centre Islandia in Mariehamn has free skate times, and the Olympic sport of curling is a popular group activity at the curling centre in Eckerö.
Ice-fishing is fun and an exotic activity to many. It’s exciting to drill a hole in the ice, jig for perch and pike perch or set up a fishing rod and wait for the little bell to ring, telling you that a pike has taken the bait.
Cross-country and downhill skiing
If you enjoy skiing, at Åland’s Skiing and Biathlon Centre you can head out on the cross-country track. You can hire skis on the spot and in winters when there isn’t much snow, artificial snow is provided. Some of Åland’s golf courses also have ski trails running through them when the winter is cold enough, and people who like to slalom and snowboard can enjoy some excellent winter days on the little but fun Germundö Alpin hill. Children of all ages love to go sledding. In Mariehamn there’s a nice downhill track called Gnisten.
After hours in the crisp winter air, you mustn’t forget to have a sauna, relax when you give wilderness bathing a go, or have a dip in a hole in the ice.
Popular indoor activities
Winter is the high season for indoor activities as well. Go to the cinema on Bio Savoy, have fun at disco bowling and visit Mariehamn’s town library. You can indulge in your choice of fun in the water at the Mariebad bathhouse and Åland’s Sports Centre swimming pools. Are you up to physical exercise? There are gyms and workouts from yoga to CrossFit to fit all tastes.
Spend time in the Åland museums to learn more about its exciting history. The Åland Maritime Museum, the Cultural History Museum of Åland and The Åland Island Art Museum have generous opening hours even during the winter season.