Situated on the main island of the Ålands, roughly half way between the Finnish mainland and Sweden, Mariehamn has coasts on both sides, about twenty minutes walk apart but a long way by sea right round the South of the island.
The ferry quays are on the west and near them is the Nautical Museum and the Museum Ship, Pommern, a now unique four-master made in Clydeside and formerly used on the Australian wheat run. Between the coasts lies the centre of Mariehamn with many green spaces and tree-lined roads reminiscent of France.
On the east side there is a fine marina, the Åland Assembly building and the Åland Museum. Town transport is limited but free and the five island routes, not free, start near the library. Two of these go to the ports of inter-island ferries that are free to pedestrians. To the South on the east side are the Town Hall and a park merging into open country.
It's barely possible to separate the town from the province in your imagination and one favourite lies on the bus route 4 at Kastelholm where there is not only a fine old castle but a free open air museum, a prison museum and a walk to the old church of Sund. The partcularly scenic island of Køkar [pronounced Chirke with the e very soft] is better used for a night en route between Mariehamn and Turku, Finland's second city. In Mariehamn itself, favourite sights are the Pommern, mentioned already and the elevated park near it with a panoramic view and the west coast going south.
Pommern - lower deck
The spring flowers on the last named coast path were fabulous, cowslip, the island flower, taking pride of place but with shows of violets, wood anemones, wild geranium and a host of others. Apparently later in the season the orchids are splendid. The cleanliness of the town and the informality of its attractions for children were also pretty impressive, particularly a 'pirate ship' that seemed to have a child swarm over it.
The church, Kokar
There are so many sights that it is difficult to select particular ones. The old Post House and the village at Eckero are impressive. We particularly liked the church and its immediate area in Kokar.
Viking Line and Silja Line ships travelling between Finland (Helsinki, Turku) (5 h to Turku and 8 h to Helsinki) and Sweden (Stockholm) (6 h) dock briefly at Mariehamn or Långnäs (in the night) for tax reasons. If the stop is at Långnäs, there is usually a bus or taxi connection to Mariehamn, costing as much as the boat ticket.
Tallink makes a stopover in Mariehamn on the Tallinn - Stockholm route, though it is not permitted to use this route to go from Mariehamn to Stockholm.
Birka Cruises runs daily from Stockholm, using their own terminal in the Western port, facing the Adlon hotel and pizza restaurant.
The Stockholm boat is extremely slow and should be avoided if travelling to/from Stockholm. Instead, you should take the line 676 bus from the Stockholm Eastern Station to Norrtälje, then 631/631X to Kapellskär, and from there a Viking Line ferry to Mariehamn.
Viking, Silja and Tallink all use the same terminal in the Western port. The terminal is open 24 h. Tickets can be bought when a boat is due to leave. Facilities are limited. There are several lockers, a money exchange machine (EUR-SEK), toilets and a customs office. Just outside, there is a café and a small kebab restaurant.