The island of Abruka lies in the Gulf of Riga, off the southern coast of Saaremaa. With a surface area of 8.8 square kilometres, it is surrounded by a further sixteen small islands which are home to a wide variety of aquatic bird life.
Growing on the island is a lush, seemingly ancient broadleaf forest which is diverse in species. Adding a touch of mystery to the forest is its unusual, gnarled lime trees. The flora in its cool groves includes ferns that form a blanket of sturdy bracken and, in June and July, a wash of yellow irises is added to this. Wild apple and walnut trees are also common. Abruka also is a true pearl for orchid lovers: the meadows on the island are home to around ten protected species.
Goat, elk and deer are amongst the animals you might spot in Abruka's forest. You're also likely to spot the Scottish highland cattle who take care of the grass in the meadows!
In addition to the ancient forest, visitors will be stopped in their tracks by the amazing sea views. You can also do a spot of bird-watching: the island's viewing tower is the perfect place to keep track of both aquatic birds and sea eagles, as well as the autumn and spring migrations.
Abruka was and still remains home to a number of well-known writers. There is a saying among the locals that if you run into anyone on Abruka, it’s either a fisherman or a writer! The thatch-roofed Abruka House at the island’s centre has a modest exhibition that covers the island’s history. Today there are only around twenty people left living permanently on Abruka.
Getting to Abruka
You can get to Abruka from Kuressaare, which is on Saaremaa, and the gap between the two is only five kilometres, making it the perfect distance for kayaking in summer or hiking across the ice in winter. Between spring and autumn (this being when there's no ice) there are also regular boat connections between Kuressaare and Abruka.
Abruka also makes an ideal place to stay for those travelling by sea: it has a proper harbour for both motor boats and yachts.
Recommendations for those visiting Abruka
Abruka's information centre, library and internet point are located at the harbour. You'll also find a camp site there, and if you'd like to you can make use of the outdoor kitchen to cook your own food, which you'll need to bring with you as there are no shops on the island!
Hikers can set out directly from the harbour, which is the starting point for all of the island's hiking trails.
Although the island is small, you don't have to spend the night in a tent. If you don’t fancy camping, there's also a cosy tourist farm for visitors!