Åland Islands are the westernmost part of the Finnish archipelago reaching towards Sweden. It is a self-governing Swedish-speaking, demilitarised, region of Finland, and has for several years been the home of Åcon, the small relaxacon uniting the fans from Nordic countries.
The Åland Islands consists of an archipelago with a main island, called Fasta Åland in Swedish, and a total of 20,000 islands, islets, and skerries of which 6,700 are named islands.
The main island is the 3rd largest island in Finland with an area of 685 square kilometers (264 square miles). It’s about 50 km (31 miles) north to south and 45 km (28 miles) east to west.
The population of Åland is about 28,500 persons, 90% of these live on the main island and about 11,300 in Mariehamn, the capital of the islands and also the only town on Åland.
Even though Swedish is the main language of Åland, you will have no problems managing in English. Most people, especially in shops, restaurants, hotels and museums talk perfectly good English. Restaurants often have English menus and many museums have information also in English.
Getting around on Åland and in Mariehamn
Mariehamn is a beautiful and welcoming town with a brand new congress centre (our venue), dozens of restaurants from fast food to fine dining, and lots of opportunities to spend your money on local delicacies and handicrafts.
You’ll easily walk from the venue or con hotel to the main centre. The distance from the venue to the main shopping street is only about 300 metres (330 yards).
The town buses cost only 2 euro one way, and they are an easy and pleasant way to take a tour around the town if you don’t want to walk.
The perfect way to discover the Åland Islands is by bicycle. You can rent a bike in Mariehamn and use the public transport ferries to get from one island to the next for a small fee.
If you aim to see more of the islands, or biking is not your cup of tea, renting a car or going by bus or taxi is of course also a great option.
Click here for maps on Åland courtesy of Visit Åland, go directly to their detailed map of Mariehamn (pdf) or take a look at the Archipelacon Google map.
Things to see and do outside Archipelacon
The Åland Islands have a lot to offer in the way of history, culture, nature and of course good food.
Åland, and Finland, were a part of Sweden up till the start of the 19th century. On the main island you can get a taste of the Swedish reign by visiting the medieval castle Kastelholm. While at the castle you could visit the Smakbyn restaurant, distillery and shop to get a taste of Ålandic gourmet.
Under the Treaty of Fredrikshamn, in September 1809, Åland was ceded by Sweden to Russia, together with the rest of Finland. Visit the Post and Customs House in Eckerö to get a feel of the time under the Russian empire. The Post and Customs House was built in 1828. During the Russian rule this was the most western part of the Russian empire. The Post and Customs House is now home to an art gallery and the fabulous Mercedes Chocolaterie, makers of delicious hand made chocolate pralines seasoned with local ingredients.
One of the museums in Mariehamn is the Åland Maritime Museum. Among the exotic things on view in the museum is a genuine 18th century Jolly Roger. While at the museum you can also visit the museum ship Pommern, a Glasgow-built four-masted barque used to carry grain from Australia to Europe in the early 20th century.
For more tips on what to do and see in Mariehamn and the rest of the Åland Islands click here to visit the official tourist guide of Åland, Visit Åland, or pick and choose from these links (all in English):
- Official site of Åland Islands
- Wikipedia article on Åland
- Article in The Guardian on having a holiday on Åland
- Direct links to parts of the Visit Åland site:
- Archipelacon google map
Please contact us for more information!