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A Swedish speaking region of Finland, Aland is made up of 6,500 islands and islets; the largest island is home to 90% of the population, and is known as Fasta Aland or main island.
Located in the Baltic Sea, Aland is the smallest region of Finland, and while there are thousands of recorded islands, only roughly eighty are actually inhabited. With a population of around 28,500, this might not be the busiest place in the world, but it still has a great deal to offer for both residents and tourists alike.
When it comes to activities and attractions, Aland has something for everyone. Featuring the stunning typical Finnish landscapes and scenery, keen walkers and hikers will love exploring the forests, mountains and coastal areas, while anyone who enjoys taking in a little culture and the arts is well catered for with numerous museums, points of interest and shops selling local handicrafts.
Anyone wanting to discover more about Aland's rich history should start by visiting a few of the local monuments, museums and attractions. Jan Karlsgarden is a typical farm from the 1800s, and shows visitors what life was like on the islands before modernisation and technology, while the twelve medieval churches are great examples of historical Aland architecture. One of the finest historical attractions, however, has to be the Castle of Kasteholm, which was built in the 1300s and has a rich and exciting past.
The journey to Aland by sea is renowned for being one of the most pleasant in Scandinavia. The islands are located at the halfway point between Stockholm and Helsinki, and the ferry journey passes several other islands and majestic coast lines; many people choose to take the ferry rather than to fly in for this exact reason.
The ferries themselves are incredibly large and extremely well equipped; they run several times a day, and passengers can take advantage of various facilities such as restaurants, tax-free shopping and on-board entertainment.
There are several different ferry routes from various countries including Sweden, Estonia and Finland available with the major ferry companies in the region - Eckero Line, Tallink Silja and Viking Line.
The Aland islands are incredibly accessible; there are numerous inter-island ferries which are free for passengers, and every one that is inhabited has roads and ferry ports. Getting around each island is also easy, with options such as town and country buses, taxis and car rental companies making exploring a simple and stress-free pleasure.