I have been debating with myself: should I or should I not write about this paradise, unknown yet to the crowds of tourists?
On one hand, it was so special, beautiful and lovely that I feel the need to tell my 2 readers about it. On the other hand, I feel like maybe I should just keep the secret to myself, to preserve the hidden treasure feeling of the place. Anyway, after this intense debate (something that does happen frequently in my mind, I have bipolar traits and I am embracing them as much as I can), I decided I should indeed write, because I am writing for myself here, I do not have enough readers who can potentially invade and conquer this place. 🙂
Back to the point, I think it is getting more difficult, at least for me, to find less crowded summer holiday places. I am not saying that the renowned travel destinations do not have their charm, but I always preferred the investigator´s role in this area. This (by weeks of searching) is how I discovered this little piece of heaven also: Saaremaa Island.
It is actually not that little, being the largest island in Estonia and we did not even visit everything it has to offer.
For complete info on the island I used this site, I found it very useful.
We got there by bus, from Tallinn (the fares are really affordable, around 16 eur for 4 hours of travelling, including the ferry, which is modern and quite enjoyable). You can buy bus tickets for your Estonian adventures here The bus network and the roads in general are amazing.
The bus was modern and had a full range of utilities, including bathroom, Internet access, a touchscreen with movies, a lot of space for your legs, in less words it was more practical and confy than our Vueling plane 🙂 We traveled to Kuressaare which is the capital of the island and the county. The road was truly beautiful, I cannot describe it with my limited selection of words, therefore I´ll let some photos do the trick:
As for the accommodation, I found a stunning boutique hotel on Booking, the price was not as low as AirBnb or the general range of prices in Estonia, but it was worth it, one of the most special stays ever. The staff was amazing, the breakfast was simply delicious (pancakes, omelettes, fruits, champagne, the whole package 🙂 ), the room was a delight and the cherries on top were the view of the castle and the library upstairs. I highly recommend it and I wish to someday go back: Ekesparre Boutique Hotel. We payed around 100 eur per night, just check prices on multiple sites apart from their own, of course 🙂 Access to spa (From another hotel, but very close) is also included and you receive 1 welcome drink in their restaurant. Some photos:
Important information: The raspberry jam on this island was de li ci ous, not even close to anything I ever tried before.
The city is quite small and does not have many points of interest, but is does have a special vibe. The main point of interest is the castle:
My photos don´t do it justice, it is surrounded by water and the views to the sea are quite spectacular. Speaking of water, beware of mosquitos and other insects, there are plenty around.
I understand that the city will be European Cultural Capital in 2020, so now they are doing all sorts of upgrades and the center is work in progress, but, still, it can be visited.
I did not see anybody swimming, because hey, the Baltic Sea does not invite you too warmly to take a long bath, but the views and especially the silence impressed me. I came across some sort of Marina Festival, but I have to admit I have not seen such a silent festival in my life. Also, it was outstanding for me that everything was clean even if there were so many people. I had the luck to watch some traditional dances. I did not understand a single word, but there were goosebumps, smiles and just positive vibes involved:
I think one day is enough to enjoy the city, just do not miss a walk around, like this you can discover traditional wooden houses (just by walking from the bus station to the castle you can see many of them).
Regarding food, if you prefer fish (And I suggest you try it at least once, you´ll be on an island 🙂 ), the best offer is the Kuu Kuu Restaurant. There are multiple other culinary offers in the city, we dined twice at the same Italian (but also Estonian) restaurant, which was very good quality for price: La Perla I suggest trying the salmon soup and salmon in general. 🙂
The tourist info point in the city is very helpful and you can find maps, recommendations, bikes to rent, everything. We were worried about renting a car, because between credit card, insurance, language of the contract etc. it is always a big fuss. However, from the tourist info we received a tip to go here : English is not very good, the person attending is a bit grumpy, but in a nice way and is a bit far from the center, but we got a car with 25 Eur per day and no type of other guarantee needed from us excepting I.D. I think that was quite a deal and the car was also really nice (Seat Leon, I think).
If you don´t wish to rent a car, there are some group tours every day, for the main attractions. Duration is 3 hours and the price around 25 Eur.
We spent a day touring the Northern and Eastern part of the island and also crossed to the Mahu Island. The roads were empty and smooth, it was such a joy to travel that day, I treasure it as one of my best memories from a holiday ever.
There are 3 main points of interest in that part of the island (Again, use the map you can find at the hotel or at the tourist info, it provides very relevant info on local manufacturers, restaurants, place to see etc.).
The road gets really close to sea in some points and it is magical. Words are really not enough to describe the beauty around there.
Panga Cliff – one of the most spectacular places ever seen by my eyes.
Angla windmill hill You have to pay a small entrance fee. It is a nice visit.
and the Kaali field of meteorite craters which gives you quite a shocking sensation, because this meteorite is supposed to have fallen there about 7000 years ago, so you can´t help but start wondering about, well, everything 🙂
Afterwards, we went to the Mahu island (passing from one island to the other is another wonderful moment, since there is the road and just water on both sides, although it is not a bridge as such). There you can find a village said to include the oldest buildings in Estonia, where the main trait is the stone fences: Koguva. It is just charming, so peaceful and quiet. There are still inhabitants in the villange and also a marina where you can grab something to eat (mainly, fish and the special bread of these island. I must confess I hated the bread, but you have to try it since you are already there 🙂 ).
We only stayed a few days on the island, but I felt that we could have enjoyed it more staying about a week. There are still places we did not see and corners waiting to be discovered. I usually dislike repeating destinations, but I put this magnificent place on my wish list. I hope I´ll inspire at least one inclusion in someone else´s travelling wish list. 🙂