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Introducing Saltvik

Vikings have been sharpening their horned helmets here for centuries: Kvarnbo, the central village of Saltvik, is thought to have been their capital on Åland. Many relics have been unearthed around the municipality, though few signs of longhouses remain.

Southeast of Kvarnbo is the Iron Age fortress of Borgboda, built in the mid- to late 1st millennium. Some stone outcroppings remain but the only structure is Ida’s Stuga (Ida’s Cottage), the home of folk singer Ida Jansson in the 20th century.

Kvarnbo also has the red-granite Sankta Maria Kyrka, which dates from the 13th century and contains a fine clover-shaped baptismal font and fragmentary frescoes of the period. Around the church, it’s possible to discern ruins of Vikings’ homes.

At 129m above sea level, Åland’s highest ‘mountain’ Orrdals Klint is really no more than a big hill. Two short, well-marked walking tracks (1km and 2.5km long, respectively) lead to the top, where there’s a viewing tower and a simple four-bed camp hut.

The best chance to see Viking heritage is at Saltvik’s annual Viking Market, a three-day festival of eating, drinking and costumed merrymaking in July.

Kvarnbo Gästhem is a neat little guesthouse with eight top-notch rooms renovated – with love and attention to period style – to fit with the 19th-century building. All have private bathrooms, and a brilliant breakfast is included. You can also admire/dabble in the friendly owners’ hobbies: Ella is a sommelier who runs wine-tasting courses in the guesthouse, and Martin restores old Indian motorbikes in the workshop out back!