The first day of our biking adventure in Åland was a tiring, yet enjoyable one. Instead of the first leg of our journey taking 1 hour and 55 minutes as Google says it should, it ended up taking us almost 8 hours! But still, the roads that we travelled on that day were some of my favourites in Åland – they took us through small villages with traditional Swedish-style houses and tiny red mills, lush forests and colourful fields full of flourishing flowers.

We got up at around 8 AM, packed up our tent, had some breakfast and said goodbye to our perfect camping spot at Tullarns Äng, before walking into the center of Mariehamn, where we spent a few hours in the tourist information center getting everything sorted for the next four days of biking around the islands. The staff there was brilliant and a great help to us. We then went to Östra Hamnen (the east harbour), where we rented our bikes from Ro-No Rent. It cost us 60 euros each for a standard bike with three gears and a basket. Nothing outstanding, but pretty decent for four days on the road. It wasn’t the easiest bike to control to begin with, but I soon got the hang of it.

The tourist information center in Mariehamn
The tourist information center in Mariehamn
Renting the bikes in Östra Hamnen
Renting the bikes in Östra Hamnen

At about 12 PM, we embarked on our four-day journey with the first destination being the island of Eckerö in Western Åland. According to Google Maps, this short 34,8 km. ride should take just under two hours. Well, let’s just say that a lot of things had to go wrong for it to take eight hours instead!

While on the road, we stopped every five minutes or so to fix our bags back onto our bikes, as they were either too heavy, too uncomfortable or too loosely fitted. We also had a one hour food shopping stop before even getting out of Mariehamn, but we needed to stock up on food as we didn’t know when we’d see a shop again. And then there was the butt situation. Just half an hour into our ride, we both started to feel butt pains as the seats on our bikes were really hard, and it only got worse as the days went by! I soon realized that it wasn’t a good excuse for a break though – sometimes you just have to get on with it, no matter how painful and uncomfortable things are!

All ready to go!
All set and ready to go!

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But despite all of the above, it was an enjoyable ride through the beautiful and peaceful countryside of the municipalities of Jomala and Hammarland. I loved the tiny, idyllic villages that we passed, where life is simple and slow-paced, just like our transportation around the islands was.

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When we had crossed the bridge to the tiny island of Öra, which connects Hammarland with Eckerö, we decided to have a late lunch before continuing to the village of Käringsund on Eckerö. At this point, it was already past 5 PM, so we had spent over five hours riding from the capital, which just seemed ridiculous.

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Crossing over to Öra
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Our perfect lunch spot

Over lunch, we discussed what the best option for camping was, and decided to set up our tent on Öra instead of Eckerö, which was the original plan. This allowed us to explore Eckerö without our heavy bags and it would make the next day’s journey 10 km. shorter.

We set up our tent in a little forest area next to the main road, hidden away by the trees. After locking up the tent with our heavy bags inside it, we set off on our now very light bikes to Käringsund, which didn’t take long to reach. Käringsund is the tourist destination on Eckerö, where the camping place and other facilities are located. For some reason, I was expecting it to be a big village almost the same size as Mariehamn, but I was surprised to see that there was almost nothing there. Still, it was a nice place to hang out for a few hours and play a game of minigolf, despite a few heavy rainfalls. Thankfully, that was the only rain we had during our time in Åland!

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After the game, it was time to explore the area some more. We decided to bike to the nearby island of Mellanön, which is connected by a bridge. There were some really beautiful spots on the island, and it was very peaceful as there were hardly any people there at that time of the evening.

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While Steve decided to ride a bit further on a gravel road, my sore butt and I decided to head back to the bridge to wait for him, where I watched the sun set behind the trees while writing in my journal.

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When we were reunited, it was getting cold, so we decided to bike straight back to the tent, where we had a really late dinner and then had a comfortable night’s sleep in the silent forest. We had successfully completed the first leg of our journey, and were looking forward to what the next three days had in store for us.

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6 thoughts on “Åland Bike Journey – 1st Leg: Mariehamn to Eckerö”

  1. It looks very pretty and scenic and hopefully made up for the long hours and the sore muscles!
    I love the last two photos and the sight of your tent nestled in the trees in the forest.

    Peta

    1. Thank you so much Peta! It was definitely worth all the long hours and sore body parts, no doubt!
      I just took a quick look at your blog, you’ve been to some amazing places! I can’t wait to read your posts! 🙂

  2. ÅÅÅÅHHH hvor er det bare himmelsk fint!! Vi må simpelthen bare på cykelferie derop en dag – det er der ingen tvivl om. Føler virkelig med jer omkring “the butt situation” – jeg siger dig Melissa, jeg havde SÅ ondt i tissen (undskyld mit sprog) på den sidste strækning tilbage til civilisationen, at vi blev nødt til at stoppe op flere gange for at jeg lige kunne køle af. Det gjorde nas, men var et godt grin til de sidste kilometer på cyklen 😛

    Ps. Jeg skal nok snart svare tilbage på fb!

    1. Jeg er sikker på, at i også vil elske Åland! Det er noget så idyllisk og smukt!
      Hahaha, ja den havde jeg også ondt i, dog mest ballerne! Jeg skal bare cykle noget mere, så det ikke sker igen haha 😉 Jeg har også virkelig fået blod på tanden til at tage på cykelferie i fremtiden, det er jo en fantastisk måde at rejse på!

      Det er helt i orden! 😉

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