Saaremaa - large holiday island with a long tradition
On Saaremaa, around 40,000 people live on an area of just under 2,700 square kilometres. It is by far the largest and most populous island in Estonia and the traditional tourist centre is Kuressare, a town situated in the south of the island.
Being formerly known as Arensburg, the spa and health resort has since 1840 been attracting local and foreign visitors looking for relaxation. The town of around 16,500 inhabitants offers lots of sights, hotels and restaurants – the most famous sight being the Episcopal Castle with its mighty walls.
But before you can start exploring the island, you have to cross the Baltic Sea. First, you have to go from the mainland port of Virtsu to the smaller island of Muhu. From there, one can easily access Saaremaa via a more than a 100-year old embankment, which will guarantee you dry feet throughout the journey.
At this point you might already notice that the island is not the best choice if you only have a short walk in mind. The journey from the coast to the centre of Saaremaa alone will take between three and four hours – an effort which is definitely worth the trouble, if you like.
Visitors go for long expeditions not only because of architectural and cultural highlights, but also the lovely landscape. They benefit from the well developed infrastructure and road network which makes every place accessible. This is only one of the many aspects which make Saaremaa very special, compared to some of the other smaller islands.
Numerous peninsulas and cliff lines are characteristic of Saaremaa’s around 1,000-kilometre coastline. One of the peninsulas is Sõrve. It stretches almost 30 kilometres into the Gulf of Riga in the south west and ends with a panoramic view of a 50 metre high lighthouse.
Another sight is to be found in the bay of Küdema. It is a steep coast called Panga Pank and it plunges down from a height of approx. 20 metres. In the “inland” you will find densely wooded areas as well as a number of beautiful lakes. There is Lake Karujärv near Kärla or Mullutu Bay near Kuressaare. Another steep coast can be found in the northwest on Tagamõisa peninsula.
As the island is big (the second biggest in the Baltic Sea, after Gotland) there is a great choice of different landscapes to see. Thus, it is advisable to plan your holiday on Saaremaa well ahead.
- Next isle: Hiiumaa