How to Travel to Åland – Ahvenanmaa
All corners of the country are well connected. Transport networks by air, rail, road and water are smooth, comprehensive and reliable, despite that fact that Finland is a large sparsely populated country.
When travelling to Finland, you’ll be most likely taking the plane and landing in Helsinki, the main airport of the country. In total, there are 27 airports in Finland, five of them international. You cannot travel directly to Åland by plane, but you can go to either Helsinki or Turku’s airports and then take a connecting ferry. The Finnish national airline is Finnair, part of the One World alliance. Several airlines that operate international flights in Finland. On top of that Finnair, Norwegian, Flybe and SAS take care of domestic traffic.
Given that Finland is a seaside country, it is easily accessible by boat. In the Southern region, Helsinki offers three mayor ports which regularly receive passenger boats from Germany, Russia, Sweden and Estonia. In the West Coast region, there are three mayor ports which regularly receive passenger boats from abroad: Naantali, Turku and Vaasa. From those ports you can take a ferry towards Åland – Ahvenanmaa. Sailing is an excellent way to discover the Finnish Archipelago.
Finland has an excellent road network, well serviced with petrol stations and rest areas located quite close to each other. When driving in Finland, you must take into account that the traffic flow is right-handed and headlights must be used at all times. Also, one must pay attention to potential wild animals crossing the road, mostly at dusk.
In general, drivers are polite and the driving culture is stress-free. Driving in winter can be tricky, specially for unexperienced drivers, as roads get slippery and snow tires are legally required from December to February.
If you want to rent a car in Finland, besides the small local companies you can find most of the international networks operating in the country: Avis, Budget, Hertz, Sixt, Europcar. It is possible to board your car in almost all the ferries that connect Åland to the mainland.
Getting to Finland by train is a bit more complicated than by other means of transport give the Finnish geography. The capital, Helsinki, is connected by train to Russia but that is pretty much it for international connections. There are no direct trains connecting Finland with the other neighbouring countries of Sweden and Norway but there is a bus which covers the gap from Boden/Luleå (Sweden) to Kemi (Finland) which is free with a Eurail pass.
Once inside Finland, the rail network is very comprehensive, and covers all the country mainland from a central departure point in Helsinki all the way to Kolari in Lapland. However, given its particular geography and location, there are no train in Åland.
Finland’s rail system is managed by the public company VR, rated one of the best in Europe.
Getting around Åland
All mayor towns and cities in Finland are perfect for exploring on foot and the Åland region is no exception. The scarce urban layout is mostly flat, with plenty of pedestrian zones and wide sidewalks. There are also plenty of hikingg routes available, most of them conveniently signalled. They can be walked without trouble, however, access to some remote areas can be slightly challenging for inexperience walkers.
Cycling is also a very popular form on transport. Bike lines are available in almost all cities, often separated from the road traffic. In the Archipelago main towns, private companies offer rental city bikes for locals and visitors alike. It is possible to bring your bike along with you in most ferries.
By electric scooter
In the recent years, electric scooters have also become a very popular means of transportation. Located around the city, an app must be downloaded to operate them. The fares vary from one company to another, although so slightly. When riding one of these scooters, safety must be observed. It is forbidden to ride them on the sidewalks and bike lines, and the use of a helmet is advised.
On Public Transport
Public transport is scarce in this part of the country, although always reliable. Busses are available, but the frequency is lower. Ferries are also present, and some of them run 24/7. Fares depend on the route and the age of the traveller and can be bought by a mobile app or sometimes from the driver. Card payments are generally accepted.
Tips to move around Åland
- Bus – The most present means of transport. Marienham has its own internal public bus service. travelling both northwards and southwards in the town. Besides that, there are private companies that operate on scheduled and charter busses to the countryside departing from Mariehamn. You can choose between five different routes that take you out into the municipalities on the main island of Åland.
- Bicycle ferri – A perfect option for those moving around by bike, the bicycle ferry creates a connected network together with the cycle paths that allows visitors to complete their tours around the islands. The bicycle ferry between Geta and Hammarland operates according to a comprehensive schedule during the summer months and once a day from Skarpnåtö and Hällö.
- Ferry – Åland offers an excellent ferry network service between the main islands, and between those and the mainland. Where the country roads end you can continue your journey with the Ålandstrafiken’s archipelago ferries. People travel for free but you have to pay for a ticket for your vehicle and/or bike.
- Taxi – Available in all parts of the region and the country. The different taxi companies that operate in Finland are bookable by phone, on a taxi stop or via an app. Uber and other shared ride services are available in the bigger cities. From a restaurant or hotel you can have them call a taxi for you.
- Bike – The best way to get around, other than walking, is by bike. There are public bikes for rent in almost all main towns of the region, plus some private companies also offer special bike rentals (such as VTT or Fatbike). Most big hotels in Turku also offer their own bikes to their customers, either free of charge or for a small fee.
- Travel planners – Perille is a trip planner that makes traveling with public transportation easy and fast. With Perille, you can search for all transportation options between destinations, plan your trips and get your ticket in one place. The app or the webpage allow you to compare schedules and fares for trains, buses, taxis, flights, and ferries within Finland, and also between Helsinki and Tallinn, a popular excursion destination in Estonia.