Two out of every five Ålanders live in the village-like capital Mariehamn and the lagting (parliament) and landskapsstyrelse (Åland’s government) are located here. The town was christened by Alexander II after the Empress Maria, and its broad streets lined with linden trees recall its Russian heritage.
Northern & Southern Archipelagos
Åland’s tiny granite outer islets are strewn with silver birches, and offer great walking, cycling and kayaking and winter ice skating. Bring cash as none of the islands have ATMs. Fuel is limited, so fill up before travelling here. The northern and southern archipelagos are served by the archipelago ferries.
Situated 30km from Mariehamn just east of the main island group and connected to Saltvik by bridge, Sund is Åland’s action hero, with a muscular medieval castle, mighty open-air museum, and battle scars in the ruins of a Russian stronghold. Finby is the largest town, with all services.
Little-visited Kumlinge, population 343, is a haven of peace. Its biggest attraction is a walking path from the Remmarina guest harbour to the beautiful church Sankta Anna Kyrka, 2km north of Kumlinge village, with astonishing 500-year-old Franciscan-style paintings. The best place to stay is Hasslebo Gästhem, 3km outside Kumlinge village.
About 1¼ hours by ferry from Vårdö, Kumlinge municipality isn't exactly a thrumming tourist hotspot. The main island, Kumlinge, is flanked by Enklinge island to the north and Seglinge island to the south. All services can be found on Kumlinge, and a bank is on Enklinge. There is no accommodation on Seglinge and no restaurant - only a shop in the main village.
When the occupying Russians needed a shipping route in the late 19th century, their prisoners of war dug the Lemström Canal. Today it remains one of Lemland’s defining sights. Lemland lies between Lumparland and the canal, 5km east of Mariehamn on Rd 3, with Norrby village at its centre.
Lumparland is home to Åland’s oldest surviving wooden church. Sankt Andreas Kyrka was built in 1720; its curious cross is actually a weathervane that was once attached to the steeple. The large altarpiece was painted by Victor Westerholm of the Önningeby colony. From Mariehamn take bus 5 to the ferry harbours Svinö (€3.80, 30 minutes) and Långnäs (€4.30, 40 minutes).