Serving as the capital of Åland, Mariehamn is an atmospheric ferry port in the Baltic Sea, partway between Finland and Sweden. It was named after the Russian empress, Maria Alexandrovna, when it was founded in 1861 and is clustered with beautifully preserved, 19th-century wooden houses. While Mariehamn is largely Swedish speaking, it is under Finnish sovereignty.
Things to do in Mariehamn
Learn about the history of the Åland Islands from prehistoric times to the modern day at the Cultural History Museum of Åland, which houses artefacts related to local festivals, wildlife and industrial activities. Housed within the same building is the Åland Islands Art Museum, where you’ll find paintings, sculptures and video art by names such as Joel Pettersson and Karl Emanuel Jansson.
Also not to miss is the Åland Maritime Museum, which is home to the 1903-built “Pommern”, a four-masted barque that has become the symbol of Mariehamn. Designed to resemble a ship’s prow, the museum houses a fascinating array of artefacts related to the local fishing industry and the town’s history with merchant sailing ships.
North of Mariehamn is the Badhuset Mariebad, a family-friendly leisure centre that offers magnificent views across the Baltic Sea. In addition to its various pools, there’s a 65-metre-long water slide and a relaxation zone with a steam room, a sauna and a whirlpool. In the summer months, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the salty waters from the bathhouse’s sandy beach.
Getting around Mariehamn
Mariehamn Airport is around 10 minutes’ drive from the town centre and receives regular flights from Helsinki, Turku and Stockholm. Ferries also connect to Mariehamn from Turku, Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn. Buses travel from Mariehamn to villages across Åland while the town centre is compact enough to explore on foot.