What better place to spend a week in the middle of summer than an island in the middle of Baltic sea! We’re going to do exactly that and visit not one, but three islands in Estonia, fisnishing the trip in the capital – Tallin.
Estonia has over 1,500 islands (2,222 according to some sources), all of which offer unique beach experiences due to their picturesque atmosphere. One of the most interesting is Ruhnu, located in the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea. It covers only 11.9 km2 and currently has fewer than 100 permanent inhabitants. The island can be reached by plane (there are weekly flights from Pärnu and Kuressaare) or by ferry service.
Until the Soviet occupation began in 1944, the island was populated by ethnic Swedes who were forced to relocate to Sweden after the war. When Estonia regained its independence in 1991, the buildings, land, and other properties on Ruhnu were given back to their original owners or to their descendants. While most of them did not return to the island, they still occasionally visit the land of their forefathers.
One of the most impressive structures on the island is the tower lighthouse which stands atop Haubejerre Hill, the highest point on the island. The most interesting fact about this tower is that Gustave Eiffel designed it himself. The structure was then prefabricated in France and shipped to Ruhnu for assembly in 1877. Besides the Eiffel tower, Ruhnu is also famous for its beaches with singing sand (so called because when you walk on the sand, it emits a kind of a high-pitched tone). Limo is one the most beautiful and popular of the island’s beaches for tourists; it is also the best place, if you pay a little attention, to listen to singing sand.
Source and photos: medium.com
Saaremaa, located in the Baltic Sea, is the largest island in Estonia and one of the 4 inhabited islands of the Moonsund Archipelago, where there are more than 500 islands. It is located just north of the Gulf of Riga and about 200km southwest of Tallinn. A little more than 30,000 people live in Saaremaa, half of whom reside in Kuressaare, the capital.
Although it is a huge island, the population density is very low, the roads have little traffic and the towns are really quiet. It is a very pleasant place to spend 2 or 3 relaxed days visiting mills, small villages and some curious places, such as the crater where a large meteorite hit.
Kaali is a set of 9 craters formed by the impact of meteorites more than 3,000 years ago. The largest of them measures 110m in diameter and is 22m deep. You can go down to the small lake that the crater houses and walk around the perimeter to see it from all angles. The other 8 craters can also be visited. In fact, they are scattered here and there without anyone paying too much attention.
The Kuressaare Castle is without a doubt the greatest tourist attraction of the island and, surely, the reason why many people decide to visit it. It is a historic fortification of the late fourteenth century built by the Teutonic Order in its efforts to turn the ancient region of Livonia to Christianity. The outdoor spaces, even within the fortification, are freely accessible, but entrance fees are paid to visit the interior, which houses the magnificent Saaremaa Museum.
Naissaar is located about ten kilometers from Tallinn and has a beautiful sandy beach, hiking trails, military heritage and summer cultural festival.
The east and south coasts of the island have beaches of clean sand and natural beach roses. Most of the island is covered with forests, where you can pick fresh blueberries in July and roe in August-September. Also explore the large boulders brought by the glacier ice. The whole island is under nature protection.
There are three 10-13 km hiking trails on Naissaar Island: the Military Trail, the Cultural Trail and the Nature Trail, all marked with signs. Instead of hiking, you can get a guided tour on a bike, in a Soviet box truck or on an SUV.
Due to its location, Naissaar has been an important defense function for centuries. Peeter Esimese battery was first built to close the cannon fire access to Tallinn from the Gulf of Finland. In the southern part of the island you will find an abandoned Soviet mine factory, as well as a legacy of narrow-gauge railroads from the time the island was under Soviet control.
There is a regular ferry service to Naissaar from late May to mid September from Friday to Sunday. You can also visit the island with your yacht or launch.
Every summer, the Omar Bar is the venue for the traditional Nargen Festival, hosting concerts and theater performances. There is a camping area near the harbor, you can also stay overnight in camping and comfortable holiday homes.
Our trip finishes with a visit to the capital of the country – Tallin. Visitors from all over the world come around to admire the beauty of Tallinn, the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe boasting Gothic spires, winding cobblestone streets and enchanting architecture.
Once a home to wealthy merchants settling from Germany, Denmark and beyond, Tallinn Old Town today is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, with restaurants, bars, museums and galleries bringing much life to this historical city centre.
Unlike many other capital cities in Europe, Tallinn has managed to wholly preserve its structure of medieval and Hanseatic origin. Due to its exceptionally intact 13th century city plan, the Old Town was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, joining the ranks of the world’s most recognised landmarks. Here you’ll find original cobblestone streets dotted with medieval churches and grandiose merchant houses, barns and warehouses many of which date back to the Middle Ages.