Accommodation in the Åland Islands: from Eckerö and Kökar to Mariehamn

What to expect of accommodation in the Åland Islands as a digital nomad? These are the places we booked to both have adventures and get some work done. We were in Åland between the 24th of September and the 9th of October. Åland is part of Finland, so read about accommodation in Finland here.

Eckerö (Couchsurfing)

We spent our first two nights in Åland couchsurfing with a local in Eckerö. It’s quite unusual for us, but a friend of mine brought me into contact with the guy she couchsurfed with in Åland a few months prior and he invited us to come to stay for two nights. It was a lot of fun, but I’m of course not going to post pictures of his house. So instead, enjoy this sunset picture from Eckerö!

1 Eckerö sunset Åland Islands

Karlby, Kökar Island ⭐

From Eckerö, we traveled by bus to Mariehamn and then by bus to the ferry to Kökar in Lumparland. You can watch a video of that ferry journey here:

As you can see at the end of the video, we had a taxi ride pre-arranged to bring us to Karlby in Kökar. The location on such a remote island outside of the high season is quite important since Karbly hosts the only (excellent!) supermarket on the island. We did bring some food over from Mariehamn on the main island just in case.

We stayed one full week in this lovely two-story house. It has many bedrooms, two bathrooms, and also a sauna. The deck was lovely when it was sunny, but usually, it was too cold to sit outside. The living room doesn’t have a TV, but we set up Jonas’ laptop on his laptop stand and watched movies and Borgen. We worked at the big table in the living room and ate at the one in the kitchen. The WiFi worked quite well. The both of us were quite productive. It’s a tranquil place.

It had a washing machine and a dishwasher, but the dishwasher was broken when we were there. We tried to get a small refund for this missing amenity, but the hosts offered us something we didn’t want instead (a sauna visit elsewhere on Kökar). There was also no working freezer, which threw us quite a curveball as we’d brought over frozen food to cook. The room with the (working) washing machine was also the Room of Broken Appliances as there were various machines there.

The kitchen was both well-equipped and underequipped, somehow. There were lots of cooking ingredients beyond the basics such as salt and oil. Some basic tools were missing and there was an abundance of others or very niche kitchen appliances. We managed to cook all our meals at home.

As for the location, it really couldn’t be better! It’s right next to the only year-round working supermarket. Everyone knows where it is and it’s really easy to hitchhike here after a long hike in a remote part of the island. Most people knew which house we were living in based on the description. One driver told us it usually houses the staff of the nearby Brüdhall Hotel/Restaurant/Marina. If it houses eight random people in the summer, it’s not surprising there are so many random items in the kitchen. It also explains the broken dishwasher.

All in all, this was my favorite accommodation in the Åland Islands. Kökar is lovely and the house would work very well for a digital nomad workation group of up to eight people (pushing it). But you can only rent it outside the high season (June – August). The sauna was awesome and was perfect for just the two of us relaxing after a long hike on the red granite.

Mariehamn, Fasta Åland

After Kökar Island, we returned to the main island Fasta Åland. We wanted to stay for a few days in the capital as well and join the daily protest against the genocide in Ukraine at the Mordor Consulate in Mariehamn. The Airbnb we chose was quite central and close to the shops and bus stops to travel to Bomarsund and Getaberg.

The first thing I noticed is that it feels like this Airbnb is in the basement of a building. This is because there are a few steps down from the main door and there are very few windows. The entryway is next to the bathroom access. There’s also a door-shaped canvas thing that actually hides a door and secret room. It can apparently also be accessed from the outside since we heard someone (presumably the host) mess around inside it twice. We were fine, but this might freak out a solo female traveler and make her feel unsafe.

This hallway leads to the kitchen, which also felt very cobbled together; the sink area was in a separate little room across from the stove. I hit my head on the cabinet corner pretty hard once. There was very little space, so while we usually enjoy cooking together, we decided this is a one-person kitchen to avoid conflicts. They didn’t provide baking paper, which was a problem since we like making riisipiirakka. There was also neither a dishwasher nor a washing machine. The dinner table was big enough for us to also set up our work area in one corner so we wouldn’t have to put away our laptops each time we ate.

The bathroom was really the best part of this Airbnb. It was spacious and had a rather large sauna with a sitting-down area next to it with a little table. We enjoyed taking a sauna and drinking wine there. The sauna was the best we’d had in Åland and all of Finland. It missed the little wooden ‘protection’ fence around the sauna stove which usually takes up a lot of space. The shower came with some provided shampoo, which I appreciate. One downside: the bum gun was leaking and could only do hot water.

Lastly, there’s the couch and TV area and the bedroom. The latter was also tucked away behind some drywall and didn’t have any side tables. This setup for a bed area reminded us of the accommodation we had in Norway, where the bed was often skinny and the sleeping area was a complete afterthought. The couch and TV were good enough to watch some Borgen. Besides the front door and the bathroom, this is the only other part of the house with a window to the outside world. Too bad it wasn’t usable because they put this blurry sticker thing over most of the window and I couldn’t look over it. The lack of light made it difficult to work and affected my mood badly.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad place. It was clean and I guess they did the best with the space that they could. But it wasn’t my favorite place and I’d look for an alternative in Mariehamn if I’m ever coming back.

Cruiseferry Åland to Estonia

The final accommodation in the Åland Islands I’d like to showcase is the room we had on the overnight ferry to Tallinn, Estonia. The ferry departs at a reasonable time in Stockholm, Sweden, and stops in the Åland Islands after midnight. That’s when we and a bunch of (Estonian?) russians boarded as well. The price for a room with two people is €99 and the cruiseferry makes this trip twice a week.

The process is extremely smooth. At the ferry terminal in Mariehamn, you get your tickets from a machine with your booking number. This ticket is also your room key. There’s also a human if you need help, but you need to be there well in advance as she closes up shop 20 minutes before the ship departs. That’s because she runs the entire landside part of the ferry terminal by herself at night. She needs to connect the bridge to the ship to let y’all board. The ship only docks for 10–20 minutes depending on cars driving on/off.

Anyway, once you’ve boarded, it’s time to find your room. Ours was on the 8th floor at the stern of the cruiseferry at the end of a long, soulless hallway. That’s right above the nightclub. This is a true booze cruise for Scandis and Balts, so the party continues for a while and we could sing along with some 90s bangers. Before sleep, I watched some of my own videos in peace with my noise-canceling headphones. When slumber came, Jonas and I both fell asleep in mostly silence because we have these amazing wax earplugs that do a very good job of blocking out The Backstreet Boys.

You could spend more money on a better room away from the nightclub, but why would you if you’re boarding halfway in the Åland Islands?

To my surprise, the room thankfully had a private bathroom. Not sure why I was expecting shared bathrooms, but it made me happy. One of the beds is a couch, but you roll out a fully-made bed with some maneuver. There was even a window, so we didn’t need to set an alarm in order to wake up.

Technically, it would be possible to get some basic work done from the little table in the room. The WiFi worked just fine. The next morning, we bought some overpriced Starbucks coffee from one of the other floors of the ship and watched us roll into Tallinn from the windows. Meanwhile, less than 24 hours before we cruised over it, China broke the Balticconnector gas pipeline and data cable between Estonia and Finland by dragging its anchor. A little treat for Mordor.

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Couchsurfing: free (duh). Two nights = €0 per night.

Karlby, Kökar Island: €601 total for one week on Airbnb (25% discount for a week-long stay applied!). That’s €86 per night.

Mariehamn: €534 total for six nights on Airbnb. That’s €89 per night.

Cruiseferry to Estonia: €99 for one night but it includes transportation for two people. The alternative way to travel to Tallinn would be flying via at least one other airport (usually Stockholm Arlanda) which costs upward of €159 per person!

So on average, we paid a little over €82 per night for the whole 15 nights in the Åland Islands (and on a boat to go to our next destination).

If you’ve done the math and see that we’ve paid for 16 nights in the Åland Islands and not 15, you’re correct. The last night in Mariehamn our checkout was after midnight. So we decided to just book another night instead of begging the host for a super late checkout.

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