A Lot to Discover Near the Åland Guest Harbours 

A mediaeval castle, challenging disc golf courses, and fascinating museums. Summer-open restaurants, flea market stalls, and scenic hiking trails. Once you've moored your boat, it's time to explore the surroundings. Read about what you can discover near the guest harbours in Åland.

1. Käringsund

Käringsund is a popular area in Eckerö attracting locals, boat guests, campers, and vacationers, especially families due to various activities for all ages. The guest harbour features a picturesque natural harbour with charming boat houses along the shore. Nearby, you’ll find Åland's Hunting and Fishing Museum and Käringsund Wildlife Safari, which offers close encounters with animals. The Geostigen trail leads to Käringsund's inlet, showcasing different rock types. Eckeröhallen, 300 metres from the guest harbour, offers fun activities with bouncy castles for children.

Within walking distance is Käringsund Resort and Conference with numerous outdoor activities, including kayak rentals, disc golf, mini-golf, paddle tennis, and hiking on the Träsket nature trail. Bikes can also be rented to explore Eckerö further. Within 5 km are the 18-hole Eckerö Golf course and the family park Smart Park. Åland's finest beach, Degersand, is about 10 km away.

Gastropub Bodegan and Restaurant Käringsund serve food and drinks right by the water. There are two child-friendly beaches, and a third beach is in Sandviken near the grand Eckerö Post and Customs House, accessible via a short nature trail from Käringsund.

2. Havsvidden

Havsvidden is secluded in the impressive archipelago nature of northernmost Åland, offering a remote and nature-close location. The red granite cliffs are washed by fierce storms every autumn and winter, creating a rugged landscape dominated by steep mountains and low, wind-swept pine trees higher up from the shore. There is plenty of space for walks and explorations on the cliffs.

The guest harbour is located next to the Havsvidden tourist facility, which includes a restaurant and accommodation. There is a nice bathhouse with a sauna and pool by the water. If you book well in advance, you can also experience a genuine smoke sauna.

To discover more of the area, a bike or car is needed. One of Åland's main natural attractions, Getabergen, is located 13 km from the guest harbour. It is one of the highest peaks in Åland, and with its height of almost 100 metres above sea level, it offers a wide view to the north. At the top, the Grottstigen hiking trail and the shorter Trollstigen trail start. There is also a disc golf course.

The church in Geta dates from the mid-1400s, and the 3.2 km long Medieval Trail starts here. It passes by a burial mound field from the late Iron Age. In the village of Västergeta, there is the Geta nostalgia and motor museum with vintage cars and motorcycles. In the village of Dånö, there is also a small museum.

3. Hamnsundet

Hamnsundet is a small guest harbour in a picturesque setting. While the nearest village is several kilometres away, there’s an interesting sight right outside the guest harbour on the seaside. The nearby island of Boxö is part of a nature reserve and offers history enthusiasts an intriguing day trip.

On the island, you can hike along an approximately 6.7 km long nature trail and explore what was once a coastal battery. The battery on Boxö was the largest Russian facility in Åland during World War I and, along with other coastal artillery, was intended to defend the Gulf of Finland. Before the battery was demolished in 1919, there were powerful cannons and even a railway on the island! 

Boxö also boasts Åland's largest cave with an opening that is almost 8 metres wide, stretching 12 metres into the rock. You can either reach Boxö by your own boat or book a boat excursion with or without a guide from Marina Hamnsundet, which also rents kayaks.

4. Kastelholm

Kastelholm's guest harbour Marina Melina is situated in a narrow bay amidst Åland's richest cultural region. It's within walking distance of the mediaeval Kastelholm Castle, dating back to the 1300s. In summer, guided tours, exhibitions, and cultural events are held at the castle.

Adjacent to the castle is the Jan Karlsgården open-air museum, showcasing 19th-century Åland building culture. The official Åland midsummer pole is raised here, and summer craft days and children's activities are reoccurring. Nearby is the small prison museum Vita Björn, which operated from the 1700s until 1974.

Visit the restaurant Smakbyn, which also houses a shop for Åland crafts, the candy workshop Karamelleriet, and a ceramics workshop with a store. Food enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to nearby Åland Distillery, which produces gin and liqueurs.

Opposite the guest harbour is Ålands Golf Club with Finland's best golf course, Slottsbanan. Bicycles are available for rent at the harbour for further exploration, such as the historic Bomarsund fortress, about 10 km away.

5. Vargata

Vargata is located on the island of Vårdö, best explored by bicycle. At the harbour, Hamnmagasinet serves bistro food and coffee. It's about 1.5 km to the village of Vargata, known for its shipowner's houses, grand homes built by farmers who became wealthy through investments in freight shipping with schooners in the 19th century.

In a house near the village store, Fruns, author Sally Salminen grew up. She is best known for her novel Katrina, one of the best-selling Swedish-language novels in Finland of all time. Vårdö is also the home of author Anni Blomqvist and her character Stormskärs Maja (Stormskerry Maja). Anni Blomqvist's childhood home lies on the island of Simskäla in northern Vårdö.

Vårdö Church is one of Åland’s 16 churches and dates back to the late 1400s. The old Postal Route, established in the 1600s by Queen Christina, passed through Vårdö, and parts of the original route remain. On the island of Lövö, you can visit the Åland School Museum in a school from the late 1800s. Along the way, you can enjoy lines of apple trees on the island's many orchards. Stop for dinner at the cosy Kallas Skärgård restaurant, whose garden offers many lovely oases for a break with a good meal and drinks. Continue further to Sandösunds camping with kayak rentals and a beach sauna. Right next door you’ll find Flowpark with its high ropes courses.

6. Kumlinge

Kumlinge guest harbour is located about 2.5 km from the village of Kumlinge. At the harbor, you can enjoy a meal at Restaurant Kastören and have coffee or ice cream at the terrace by the harbour office. From here, you can rent bikes to explore the island or start hiking along the 12.5 km long nature trail that goes partly through the forest and partly along the main road all the way to the village centre.

A short walk from the harbour, on the way to the village, lies a child-friendly beach. You will also pass Fälberget with a memorial stone for brave villagers who, in May 1808, defeated a  Russian troop stationed in Kumlinge. Many visitors also take the opportunity to visit the Kumlinge Pharmacy, which has a well-preserved interior and equipment from the past.

In the small village centre, there are services such as a shop, café, and bank. Continuing past the village’s midsummer pole, you reach Kumlinge Church, known for its beautiful murals from the 1480s. The island also features a farm museum and an aviation beacon from the 1930s.

7.  Seglinge

The friendly service at Seglinge guest harbour brings many boaters back to the island. There is a spot for barbecue, often freshly smoked fish for sale, games and toys for children to borrow, and local crafts for sale.

In the old Mangelboden stall, centrally located in the village by the main road, there's an exhibition of old household items. The old smithy, also in the village, displays an exhibition of old tools. The smithy can be found by following signs to the hiking trail. Both are always open to visitors.

On the western side of the island, there is the 7 km long Stangnäs-Sandvik hiking trail, one of the most varied among Åland's trails. It takes you past so called giant's kettles, over rugged coastal cliffs, through dense juniper bushes, and down to two small sandy beaches where you can cool off with a swim. The last stretch goes along narrow gravel roads through an idyllic landscape with old grazing pastures.

The island's disc golf course is located on the eastern side, about 1 km from the harbour. The little grocery shop welcomes those who want to stock up on provisions for their boat or perhaps stop for ice cream. Near the shop, there is also a short nature trail that leads through an enchanting hazel forest to the small Norrträsket pond.

8. Enklinge besöksbrygga

The guest harbour on Enklinge island is a simple visitor’s jetty with a small sauna raft and a pleasant barbecue area. There are also a few bikes available to borrow, to get to the island's shop for example. A couple of kilometres from the visitor’s jetty lies Hermas farm, Åland's oldest and last preserved fisherman's homestead. The farm has remained virtually unchanged since the 1700s and consists of several buildings for various purposes. Here, you can see how self-sufficient islanders used to live. The residents of Hermas were fisher-farmers who kept livestock and cultivated land for their own needs. Their direct income came from fishing. They lived according to the principle of self-sufficiency, producing almost everything they needed on the farm, including food, clothing, bedding, tools, and other equipment.

9. Glada Laxen, Bärö

Bärö is a fairly untouched archipelago island with a focus on nature. The island is best experienced along the 5 km long hiking trail or on the orienteering course, suitable for both beginners and more experienced orienteers. The guest harbour is located in a former coastguard station, where the old coastguard tower remains. Those who climb all the stairs up to the tower will get a nice view of the archipelago, 40 metres above sea level.

Restaurant Glada Laxen serves dishes with a taste of the archipelago - fried perch is a favorite of many. After a trip out in nature and a good dinner, it's nice to relax with a sauna bath in the floating beach sauna.

10. Lappo

On Lappo island, there's an idyllic little village core perfect for exploring on foot after a day on the boat. With about 30 permanent residents, the island boasts a shop with postal services and a summer restaurant, Galeasen, both located at the harbour. There’s also a small beach with a bathing jetty and an outdoor gym, and a stone's throw away, you can enjoy tranquillity and admire the sea view in the small cabin up on a nearby hill.

At the Archipelago Museum, you will find one of the most extensive collections of wooden boats in the Baltic Sea. Typically, each farm had several boats of various sizes and purposes, ranging from a small rowboat to larger galeases used for trips to markets in places like Helsinki. Adjacent to the museum is a small blacksmith shop displaying old utility items.

A nine-hole disc golf course winds through open rocky areas and forest in the beautiful archipelago landscape, occasionally intersecting with the 5 km long hiking trail that takes you to, among other places, the island's maypole. If you have access to a bike or want to take a long walk, why not head to the small archipelago village on the neighbouring island Björkö, where a cable ferry operates as needed.

11. Gullvivan

The guest harbour, with 25 berths, and the year-round open Hotel Gullvivan are situated on Brändö island. The hotel's restaurant boasts a lovely outdoor terrace overlooking the water. A sandy beach is perfect on warm summer days and a grill hut for outdoor cooking. Sauna bookings are available.

At the guest harbour, you can enjoy mini-golf, boules, or disc golf and rent rowboats or motorboats for short water excursions. How about exploring the numerous coves and islets of Brändö by kayaking? Kayak rentals are available, and you can order a packed lunch from the restaurant to make your paddling trip even more luxurious. 

For nature enthusiasts, the 3 km long nature trail on Jåsholmen offers diverse terrain - cliffs, deciduous forests, and meadows. In summer, you might encounter grazing sheep on the island. Brändö spans several islands connected by bridges so it’s ideal for exploring by bike.

12. Jurmo

Jurmo may be small in size and have few permanent residents, but here, you can experience genuine archipelago life and get close to nature. The guest harbour's café and restaurant Kvarnen strive to use local ingredients like Highland cattle meat and fish caught in nearby waters. The island's store offers many Ålandic products, including soft drinks, beer, honey, and meat from local farmers. The harbour store sells local handicrafts.

There's a football field and a boules court, and a public beach lies only a few hundred metres away. Wander around the idyllic village and see Highland cows and Ålandic sheep grazing in old pastures. Nature lovers can join seal safaris, rent a kayak for a paddling excursion, or book a fishing trip with a local guide. If you want to try your luck fishing from shore, you can rent a fishing rod. 

About 1 km from the harbour, a 3 km long nature trail begins. To learn more about the island's flora and fauna along the trail, you can book a guide for the hike. The path winds through the forest, over hills, and down to the beach where you can take a dip. Don't miss the chance to admire the views from the observation tower.

13. Rödhamn

For all sauna enthusiasts, here's a tip: The wood-fired sauna on Rödhamn is considered one of the best sauna experiences in Åland by many. The sauna can be booked by the hour, and slots tend to fill up quickly. So, it's a good idea to start by booking a sauna slot and then continue exploring the rest of the island.

Rödhamn was named Finland's Guest Harbor of the Year in 2023. The group of three islands was once the last weather shore before sailing across the sea to Sweden. Sometimes sailors had to wait a long time for suitable weather, and some carved signatures into the rocks during the wait. Some of these carvings are still visible today.

From the 1820s to 1928, pilots and their families lived on Rödhamn, and a replica of the former pilot's cabin stands on the hill. From the guest harbour, a narrow gravel road leads to the radio beacon, which stands at the top of the hill on the southwest side of the island. The technical equipment remains, and the building is open to visitors. The views of the open sea and sunsets here are breathtakingly beautiful.

The summer-open café serves homemade baked goods and light meals in one of the beach huts, where you can also admire art. The small sandy beach with toys next to the harbour office is a favourite among children.

14. Degerby

Degerby with its charming wooden villas and gardens surrounded by picket fences is perfect for relaxing walks. In summer, the guest harbour fills with boats and visitors, hosting various events throughout the season. You’ll find a well-stocked store and a small square serving as the village's focal point right at the harbour, featuring a playground, an ice cream stand, a café, and quaint flea markets.

Historically, Degerby was one of Åland's most important ports, boasting several 18th-century buildings, including the Customs House and Enigheten, a courthouse and inn now offering accommodation. Across the village lies Restaurant Seagram, hosting the annual July Dance Band Week, a popular event for dance enthusiasts. Adjacent is the charming Carlsro Spa Hotel, a stylishly renovated shipping magnate's villa from the 1920s, offering high-class lodging, spa and dining.

The Föglö Museum and the small pilotage museum showcase local history, while occasional art exhibits are held at the library. Three kilometres from the harbour stands Föglö Church, dating back to the 14th century.

Rent a bicycle from the village store and cycle to Hummersö, where you can visit Galleri Berghäll showcasing art and the local heritage farm Matsmårs. Föglö offers three nature trails and a seaside disc golf course in Hastersboda. The public beach in Degerby, called Sinting, is located a kilometre from the village centre. It's child-friendly with changing rooms, a playground, and a diving tower.

15. Sottunga

Sottunga, with just over 100 residents, is Finland's smallest municipality. During the summer, the island is visited by many summer residents and boaters. The guest harbour is located at the ferry dock, about 3 km from the small village centre, where you'll find the island's shop and library.

Restaurant Salteriet down in the guest harbour attracts boaters with its famous schnitzels. Not far from here lies the charming Sottunga Church. The current wooden church was completed around 1730 after the previous church from the 16th century had burned down.

At the ferry dock, a disc golf course begins, and nearby is the starting point of the 2.5 km long hike, where information signs tell about the island's history. Closer to the village are two shorter hiking trails where you can learn about nature, vegetation along the path, and life on the island both in the past and modern times.

At the local heritage farm, you can see an old-fashioned schoolroom with desks and posters, and visit a teacher's residence. There's an exhibition featuring dolls from around the world, and you can purchase local handicrafts and souveniers. The heritage farm is open in the summer and showcases exhibitions related to local history.

16. Kökar

On Kökar island, in Åland's outermost archipelago, there are three guest harbours: Sandviken, Karlby, and Hellsö. Distances are short on the small island, and it's easy to get around by bike. The island is full of fascinating history, and whichever guest harbour you choose for your stay, the sights are within convenient reach.

Sandviken Guest Harbor offers its guests a small oasis on northwestern Kökar. Adjacent to the guest harbour is a campground with rental cottages. On-site, there's a mini-market, a little bistro offering smoked fish, a barbecue area, and two saunas by the beach. The bathing pier is perfect for refreshing swims, and the short sandy beach is said to be the only one of its kind on the whole island. In the service building, you'll find board games and books available for borrowing from the lounge's book corner. Rowboats and kayaks are available for rent for those who want to explore the surroundings on the water. Bicycles can also be rented for longer excursions on the island.

Karlby Guest Harbor is located at the end of a narrow bay, accessible along the fairway from the island's southern side. The guest harbour, with the year-round open Hotel Brudhäll and restaurant, is in the heart of Kökar near the island's grocery store and school. Hotel Brudhäll has a cosy outdoor terrace by the quay and a nice sauna with an outdoor hot tub overlooking the harbour inlet.

Hellsö Guest Harbour is situated on Kökar's northwestern side, in a bay sheltered from all winds except northwest winds. The fantastic view from the Havspaviljongen restaurant high up on the hill above the harbour extends across northern Kökar. You can rent kayaks, motor and rowboats, and bicycles. From the harbour office, you can buy the most necessary provisions for the boat or grab an ice cream to enjoy in the sun by the quay. A sauna is available for booking right by the water. There's also a flea market with glassware, porcelain, and various curiosities. Kökar Museum, with over 3,000 photographs in its collections, lies within a short walk.

One of the island's main attractions is the church on Hamnö, dating back to the 13th century. Next to the church are the remains of a Franciscan monastery from the 15th century. The area is rich in birdlife, and a platform for bird watching with information about the most common bird species has been built.

Traces of much older settlements can be found in Otterböte, where seal hunters lived 2,800 years ago. In an area called Kalen, there's a 7 km long hiking trail with magnificent nature and ancient remains.

On the island's eastern side lies Peders aplagård with a café and a disc golf course. On the same excursion, you can visit Skinnars bird tower, a platform for bird watchers. From Karlby, excursions are organized to the island of Källskär, known for its beautiful rock formations and an imaginative garden environment.

17. Mariehamn

Åland's two largest guest harbours are located on both sides of Mariehamn, MSF in the east and ÅSS in the west. The distance between them is just over one kilometre. The third guest harbour is a bit smaller and located in the Maritime Quarter in the east.

All guest harbours are within a walking distance from all the services you could wish for on your boating trip: restaurants, shops, entertainment, as well as amenities like banks and pharmacies. There are several restaurants at the harbours, with additional options available in the town centre.

For anyone visiting Mariehamn, the museum ship Pommern and the Maritime Museum, Åland's Cultural History Museum and Art Museum, as well as the Maritime Quarter, are absolute must-see attractions. The grand Esplanade and the park areas of Badhusparken, Stadshusparken, Tullarns äng, and Lilla holmen are charming green spaces in the heart of the small but lively town with impressive maritime heritage.

Enjoyable walking paths, beaches, outdoor gyms, the Äventyrsgolfen mini-golf park, the disc golf course at Badhusberget, and the Mariebad bathhouse are only some of the activities available in Mariehamn.

To explore the surroundings outside the immediate town centre, you can rent bikes at ÅSS and MSF. You can also easily take excursions a little further afield, such as to Ramsholmen nature path in the west, Nabbens wetland in the north, Lemströms Canal in the east, and Nåtö-Järsö nature path in the south.

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