Västra hamnen

Strolling around Mariehamn

The regional centre of Åland, Mariehamn, with its almost 12 000 inhabitants is a small town that feels larger than its actual size. The town centre has a great service and supply in a small area all year round – shopping, restaurants, culture and experiences are always nearby and you’ll find everything within a comfortable walking distance.

It’s easy to discover the maritime town of Mariehamn on foot. It is only a ten-minute walk from the harbour in the west to the eastern shore of the town. The town livens up in the summer and settles again in the autumn – the season when you get the best chance to experience the town like a local.

All the services lie close to each other in the quaint, small town centre which is not only picturesque but takes account of pedestrians in a way many visitors appreciate.

The Western harbour and the park Badhusparken

If you arrive at Mariehamn by ferry, it’s the western harbour you’ll see at first. Here is also where one of the most astonishing Åland sights, the four-masted sailing vessel Pommern can be found. The museum ship is open for visitors during summer until the end of September. The Åland Maritime Museum, once awarded as the best museum in Finland, is open all year round.

The park Badhusparken on the northern side of the Maritime museum is a popular area for strolls and recreation but it has a Disc golf course as well. At the turn of the 20th century there was a charming seaside hotel in the park. The youth centre Pub Bastun, the Doctor’s premises and pavilion down by the ÅSS Marina still remain from that era. 

From here, a trail leads up to the hill Badhusberget, from which there is a magnificent view over the sea and the Western harbour.

The Esplanaden Boulevard and the picturesque streets

The Esplanaden boulevard, an avenue lined with lime trees, runs from the Western harbour to the eastern shore and the Eastern harbour with a parade down the middle. In the autumn, the park is full of colourful leaves, in the spring you’ll be surrounded by thousands of crocuses and other spring flowers. 

St Göran’s church is located halfway along the boulevard. On the north side several old shipowners’ houses remain and the Tourist Information Office is located diagonally opposite the church.

Leafy Södragatan, with its fin-de-siècle wooden houses designed by Hilda Hongell, runs parallel to the Esplanaden boulevard, from the Högskolan’s easily recognisable Maritime Studies buildings on the west side to the town hall in the east. Norragatan is another delightful parallel street where you go past the beautiful Åland upper secondary school main building.

The Torggatan pedestrian precinct

Most of the town’s shops, restaurants and cafés are located in the Torggatan pedestrian precinct in central Mariehamn. A couple of times every year, eg. during late November and early December, parts of the street turn into a market with a cosy Christmas atmosphere. Here you can purchase local products like sustainable handicraft, archipelago delicacies and home made bread and pastry.

The nearby town square includes the seat of power, the Åland’s parliament and provincial government, the town hall of Mariehamn and the state government building. On the slope up to the town hall there is a statue of Maria Aleksandrovna, Empress of Russia, who gave her name to the newly founded town in 1861.

Here you’ll also find The Cultural History Museum of Åland and Åland Islands Art Museum, two museums open all-year-round conveniently in the same building.

Östra utfarten

The road Östra utfarten by the eastern shore of the town begins by the Åland parliament and continues past the Hotel Arkipelag, to the culture and congress building Alandica, a popular venue for culture, concerts, fairs and conferences. 

Further on comes the blue town library and Mariebad public baths by the bay Slemmern. Mariebad suits perfectly when you want to relax by swimming and bathing in a jacuzzi and sauna, especially when the weather is cold outside. Although here you can bathe outside too despite the weather, thanks to the warmed outdoor pool and the hole in ice during wintertime.

Another popular spot for those who like to bathe outdoors all year round is the hole in ice at Lilla Holmen beach at the southern part of the eastern shore.

The Sjökvarteret Maritime Quarter

The Maritime Quarter Sjökvarteret with its boatbuilding and craftwork is a maritime oasis in the middle of the town, right next to Mariebad. Here you’ll find beautifully blasted boathouses, old wooden boats, boat builders and other craftsmen. A little seafarer’s chapel welcomes you to enjoy silence at the end of a pier.

In December the Maritime Quarter gets filled with a touch of Christmas as traditional Christmas markets are held here with local handicraft made from eg. wood and wool and homemade food like bread, jams and sea buckthorn products. There’s also a café where you can slow down by a cup of mulled wine. 

During winter the area is quite sleepy but when the sun starts warming the air in the spring and it’s time to start fixing the wooden boats for summer, the area lives up again. Every year there’s a tar market where boatowners and other craftsmen can buy tar, linseed oil and other material that is needed when repairing wooden boats. With the flavours of tar and sea, it’s the perfect place to get tuned for the upcoming boat season.

Here you’ll also find the local handicraft shop SALT which has a wide assortment of local handicraft and design, from wooden cookware to textiles and from ceramics to wool accessories. The nearby Guldviva sells locally designed and crafted jewellery.

 South Mariehamn

The street Ålandsvägen-Västernäsvägen runs through the town in the north-south direction towards Järsövägen in the south, as far as Sleipners riding club and Espholm recreation area. 

On the way you have Lervik marina and Fiskehamnen harbour, from which you can enjoy a glorious walk that winds its way alongside the shoreline and rocks back towards the ferry terminal in the Western harbour.

If you time your stroll to around 2 PM you’ll get the chance to see ferries pass by quite close on their way to and from the Western harbour.

Town of many restaurants and cafés

After a nice day strolling in Mariehamn you might find yourself longing for a nice meal. And that is something Mariehamn easily can supply. There are many cosy cafés in the town centre where you can enjoy a coffee break with freshly baked pastries in old fashion interiors.

Mariehamn is also famous for its wide range of restaurants. From Monday to Friday many of them serve lunch. There are many course alternatives and the quality of the food is high.

In the evenings you can choose among many restaurant’s á la carte menus as well as pizza, hamburgers and other street food. What’s more, one of the best parts of eating out in Mariehamn is that it’s never a long walk back to your hotel, or if you should be too exhausted after the day’s stroll, it’s always easy to get a taxi in Mariehamn. 

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