Written by Lina Abrahamsson
Do you want to explore some of the best places and cafés Åland has to offer? Then keep on reading. Here are a few tips on where to go if you want to experience the authentic and less known gemstones on the island.
If you’re looking for a place to grab a coffee and something sweet, you should absolutely not miss “Stickstugan”. It’s a gentle 20 -minute drive from the city center of Mariehamn out to the stunning region of Järsö, and the scenery along the way is not too shabby either. It’s highly attainable to get there by bike as well, but it will take you a good two hours instead.
Stickstugan consists of a cafe, a garden alongside a greenhouse that breathes creativity and colors, and a small hand craft shop where the owner herself, Lotta Gustafsson, sells her hand made products (and other craftswomen as well). The surroundings are perfectly imperfect, nature meets rustic materials in a beautiful harmony, the smell of roses meet the scent of freshly brewed coffee and the cakes, oh, they’re wonderful!
You can easily spend an afternoon in the garden, simply soaking in the stillness together in good company, just as well as by yourself. Although you’ll never really be by yourself, as lot of butterflies and other also like to hang out in the garden and feast on the flowers.
Tucked away among the cliffs on the far north of the main island you’ll find Havsvidden Hotel. As soon as you enter the doors you’ll feel the stillness and the Earth’s elements come together in a breathtaking symbiosis. In the foyer you’ll find a fireplace, calmly playing its crackling sound. From the big windows facing the sea you’ll see the majestic blue open up as far as the eye can see, broken off by the cliffs in red granite which are characteristic for the Åland landscape. The hotel’s exclusive houses make sure the guests have an exclusive visit and a view beyond anything you’ve seen before. If you’re not in a need for a place to stay, you might just like to step by to indulge in their traditional cake buffet which is served around tea time every afternoon during the summer months.
Bagarstugan is possibly the most renowned cafe in the city of Mariehamn. And it’s easy to see why. They serve both sweet cakes and savory dishes, and the old house built in 1866 is still breathing its genuine charm until today. In the summertime the outdoor seating is open in the courtyard, which you access from a pathway at the front going beneath a hedge of roses.
The menu ranges from salads, to pies and sandwiches, but for curing the sweet tooth they have a wonderful selection of cakes, needless to say it’s always home baked.
This is even for many ålanders the no.1 meeting spot for grabbing a coffee, so be prepared for a crammed place in the afternoons!
The western harbor
The western harbor is an absolute must during the lukewarm summer evenings. When the breeze has settled for the day and the waters in the bay has calmed, Pub Albin is the perfect spot to grab a pizza and a beer and enjoy the sunset from first row. If you’re in for a bit more fancy piece of food you should take the stairs one level up to ÅSS, where the sparkling wine and toast Skagen flows from the kitchen to the tables with hungry guests in a steady stream.
Just a few steps away behind the museum ship Pommern you’ll find Nauticaltan which offers you lounge-y vibes from early afternoon ’til late evening. The name is a play with words between the name of the restaurant, Nautical, which is situated on the top floor of the building in the same house, and altan, which means terrace in Swedish. And that’s quite literally what it is. You’ll find yourself sipping on a refreshing drink from the terrace bar in one of the sofas among palms and soft lounge music in the background before you can even say ”archipelago”!
If you have access to a car, then Café Humlan should definitely be on your bucket list. Situated a bit further away from the Lemland church, this garden oasis opens its doors during the summer months. The café is set in a greenhouse and the cozy ambience is almost tangible. With geraniums in the windows and miscellaneous furnishings, the setting really makes you feel like you are on the idyllic countryside and is a fantastic venue to spend your afternoon in. Here you will also find a small flea market, and the main house ”Mormors Gröna hus” which has a small restaurant, open all year round.
Bodegan in Eckerö
If you happen to be in Eckerö you should step by Bodegan close to the Käringsund resort. Nested among the boat houses in the little fishing harbor, you’re able to enjoy a good piece of food close to the water. This is a perfect place to enjoy the sunset after having spent the day at any of the attractions the municipality of Eckerö has to offer, such as the mail and customs house from 1828, the wilderness safari with deers and wild boar among others, or maybe the Smart Park if you’re a whole family who is out on adventure.
If you want a touch of the archipelago, a visit to Kobba Klintar is a splendid alternative. The old pilot station has been out of use for decades but is during the summer months open for tourists and serves as a café. The islets are just in the inlet to Mariehamn, and is a 10 – minute boat ride from the city. The boats leave from the western harbor and you’re able to book a time of departure that suits your preference.
The islet is small and you won’t find much else than the house, the foghorn and the surrounding sea, but the serenity that comes with it is hard to beat. It’s well worth a visit on a warm summer’s day.
Åland’s Hidden Gems
Written by Lina Abrahamsson