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The Åland Islands captivated our airport manager from a young age: “The island is gorgeous all year round”

Article published
27.5.2021 at 15:00
Ahvenanmaan saaristoa
People & Aviation
Mariehamn is the first location to be covered by Finavia’s My Archipelago & Coast series. Airport Manager Tanja Sabel presents her favourite places on the island.

Tanja Sabel, the Airport Manager of Mariehamn Airport, is originally from Turku but came to Åland for summer work, fell in love with the place and ended up staying for good. Even her studies could not make her move away: she completed a master’s degree in service design and leadership remotely while living on the island.

“In Åland, places, people and decision-makers are only a short distance away, and beautiful diverse nature and the sea are always close by. It’s easy to find a good balance between work and leisure in Åland. The quality of life here is high.”

Saaristo mökkejä

Photo: Flatlight Films

Tanja has lived in Åland for nearly 20 years, both in Eckerö and in Mariehamn. Finavia has been Tanja’s workplace for 10 years. She says that her nice and highly competent co-workers and sufficiently challenging duties make her time at work feel like it’s flying by.

“The best thing about my job is the feeling of getting the best of both worlds while working for Finavia at Mariehamn Airport. You get the benefits of a small, local and friendly community here. We are doing important work to maintain the island’s infrastructure. At the same time, Finavia is a large professional organisation with the expertise, innovativeness, ambition and boldness to be a world-class airport service provider.”

Mariehamn Airport is undergoing renovation work to renovate the runway and update the runway lights, light control and power supply.

“We are already preparing for the future, when we will probably be serving electric aircraft. We are already taking steps towards Finavia’s net zero emissions target.”

Flights from Helsinki, Turku and Stockholm will resume at the beginning of July.

“I hope leisure travellers will find flights to Åland with Air Leap from Turku and with Finnair from Helsinki, as there is a lot to see and experience here.”


Photo: Visit Finland/Timo Nieminen

Tanja’s tips for Åland

Activities in nature

“My favourite place in Åland is Käringsund. It’s a naturally beautiful place where there is just the right amount of opportunities to be alone in nature or participate in activities. There are beautiful terraces and good restaurants, but also the opportunity to paddle to your own beach or go on an adventure in the forest on a mountain bike or fatbike. By the way, this place is on Finnish television right now: a part of the Mestareiden mestarit production was filmed there.”

“Activities in nature are the best thing in Åland: you can go hiking, paddling, mountain biking or tour skating here. One of my favourite moments was when I was able to get close to some seals while paddling on a SUP board near the airport. Degersand, on the other hand, has a beautiful, long sandy beach.”


Kuva: Visit Åland/ Daniel Eriksson

“I would also warmly recommend trying out disc golf, Åland’s new national sport. We invested in the sport last year and built the world’s largest disc golf park at record speed. It’s easy to fall in love with the sport, and you will see and experience many of Åland’s attractions and its beautiful nature when touring disc golf courses.”

Delicious local food

“Åland has many high-quality eateries, both in Mariehamn and in the countryside and archipelago. Here, we invest in locally produced food, and the range of options is surprisingly extensive. I recommend eating at Stallhagen, ÅSS Paviljongen or Smakbyn.”

Aamiainen Ahvenanmaalla

Photo: Visit Finland / Tiina Tahvanainen

Experience the 100th anniversary year

“Åland will celebrate its 100th anniversary for the whole year! We will begin celebrating in June 2021 and the festivities will culminate in the celebration of Autonomy Day on 9 June 2022. Various types of events will be held during the year. Come celebrate our 100th anniversary with us!”

“The island is gorgeous all year round: long, warm autumns are Åland’s hidden gem. Autumns in Åland provide the perfect setting for cottage holidays and getting your hygge on by the fireplace on a stormy day.”

“Other gems include the harvest and Christmas markets as well as some more physically challenging autumn activities, such as Åland Swimrun and Åland Marathon. Both events offer races for all levels.”

Finavia’s My Archipelago & Coast series continues from where Finavia’s My Lapland series left off. The series introduces readers to Finavia airports located by the sea and life by the water. Over the series, local airport staff will share their best tips for visitors.