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While you may have never heard of the Aland Islands, it is a gorgeous Nordic destination with activities for all kinds of travelers. Aland Islands is an autonomous region of Finland, so don't expect to go sunbathing!
Nevertheless, since it boasts around 7,000 islands, you'll have plenty to explore. Most of these islands are unpopulated making the sights magical and utterly pristine. There are plenty of activities you can enjoy, especially if you are feeling adventurous: cross-country skiing, hiking, and (cold) swimming. Or be like a real Scandinavian and go Nordic walking and hit the sauna after!
Do I need a visa to go to Aland Islands?
The visa requirement depends on your nationality as there are some visa-exempt nationalities. For example, if you are a Swedish national or Norwegian, you need only an ID card to visit. The same rule applies to people who come from the Schengen Area. An ID card grants access without the need for a passport or a visa.
The situation is a bit different for the rest of the world. With some international accords in place, not all non-EU nationalities need a visa to go to the Aland Islands, but some of do, which is why you need to check what visa category you fall under.
Some useful tips when visiting Aland Islands
Going to the Aland Islands requires that you do research and plan long before your trip. For one thing, people in Aland Islands speak Swedish, the islands' official language, both on the street and at work. This is a bit surprising since the Aland Islands are a Finnish territory. Don't to worry though! Many residents speak English, although we still recommend you learn a few Swedish phrases, just in case you need directions or just want to make small talk. Learn simple expressions like "Hej hur mår du?" and you'll be sure to impress.
As for money, Euros are universally accepted. Payment by credit card is not always available in more remote locations. On average, the prices for food and accommodation can seem high for Westerners, but it can be markedly cheaper than Norway. You should check hotel rates before departure so that you know what to expect.
Moreover, you'll need to prepare yourself for is the weather even though the Aland Islands aren't as cold as the rest of Finland since it is located in the South. The winters are cold, and the summers are hot. In January, for example, the usual temperature is somewhere around -2 degrees Celsius. However, one should expect are sudden temperature drops, especially in winter, down to -20 degrees Celsius. Pack warm clothes and wear many layers - and don't forget about warm and waterproof shoes.
Three airports in Scandinavia, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Turku, offer flights to Mariehamn, the capital of the Aland Islands, however, tickets can be expensive. If you are on a budget, take a boat rides to the Islands. If you take the night ferry, you'll have transportation with accommodation included. It costs about 100 Euros which is much less than a plane ticket.
A trip to the Aland Islands requires some research, but you are sure to have a lovely time. Just don't forget to bring the right equipment if you decide to take your trip in the wintertime.