A tiny little block in the middle of Mariehamn is surrounded by two restaurants with bars and outdoor terraces, a cosy café, two pizzerias, a kebab stand and a nightclub. It is cramped and cluttered, but oh so nice. There’s something for everyone here.
Located at Nygatan/Strandgatan, the block surrounding Lilla Torget dates back to 1865 and, considering that Mariehamn was not founded until 1861, this is impressively old. In the 1870s, shipowner and merchant Victor Starck commissioned the construction of a residential building, storehouse and bakehouse on the plot.
Today, Starck’s stone storehouse is the city’s oldest remaining stone structure, which is now home to Indigo, the biggest draw on the block. Indigo has dubbed itself “your other living room”. Truer words have never been spoken. With its bar on the upper floor and outdoor dining in the summer, the restaurant is a natural gathering place for Ålanders and visitors alike. Here you’re sure to find something tempting, from a delicious lunch to a late night mingle.
The old Kinoteatern cinema from 1920 is located just next door to Indigo. Once upon a time, it was an entertainment mecca for film, theatre and cabaret. Today, it is a seasonal nightclub with a year-round pizzeria. You can easily access it through Indigo. Or, head over to the The Calypso Bar at the south end of the stone building for a festive atmosphere, fine cocktails and amazing music.
Every bit as relaxed, but considerably more rock-heavy is Dino’s, which is just catty corner from the others. Dino’s serves delicious food, while the bar and outdoor terrace offer billiards, music, a glint in the eye and a general edge of oomph. On occasion, Dino’s hosts singer-songwriters and other live music - in the summer, artists perform on the outdoor stage.
Much quieter, but equally worth a visit is the cosy Bagarstugan Café. Tucked away behind the blue door of the red wooden house are flowery cups, crocheted doilies and all manner of cakes, each tastier than the next. Don’t forget to explore the secret little passage to the outdoor terrace, where you’ll almost need to bend down to slip under the rose trellis. Bagarstugan is just as popular for lunch as for a coffee and pastry. And, if you want to try the classic Åland pancake, we wholeheartedly recommend trying it here!
But, that isn’t the end of the culinary journey here in Lilla Torget. Fast food connoisseurs also sing the praises of Kotipizza and Draken Kebab.
The rest of Mariehamn awaits outside this lively little quarter. Grab a bench on the pedestrian street Torggatan and admire the lovely plantings, with everything from the spring magnolias to the rich autumn colours of the leaves, or take a stroll among the small shops to find that something special. Whether or not you’re a fan of handicrafts, clothes, second-hand, jewellery or books, there’s no shortage of things to choose from in the city centre.
Or, you can visit a museum, go for a swim at the beach on Lilla Holmen or eat at one of the city’s many restaurants, such as Compagniet, which is perfect for just hanging out. Surrounded by draperies and Oriental rugs, you and your gang can eat well, savour some exciting gin drinks and play a round of shuffleboard, boule and billiards. Who’ll win?