The territory of Saaremaa has been inhabited for about eight thousand years. The people of Saaremaa have seen many battles and been ruled over by Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Russia.
Saaremaa has retained its uniqueness due to its location and isolation. In the villages there are still stone fences and houses with thatched roofs. Dolomite, windmills and the famous local home-brewed beer are considered the symbols of Saaremaa.
The capital (and only city) in Saaremaa is Kuressaare which started as a market trading place. In Kuressaare town park stands The Episcopal Castle which is unique in being the only intact medieval fortress in the Baltic countries. The castle is now a museum where you can see several exhibitions about the history of Kuressaare, explore the well-restored interior of the castle and “enjoy” eerie details such as torture instruments and the dungeons.
In 1840 the first spa opened in Kuressaare and since then Saaremaa has been well-known as a resort area.
Because of its mild maritime climate and lime-rich soil, Saaremaa has very rich flora and fauna. Each year hundreds of thousands of migratory birds visit Saaremaa including many protected species e.g. the barnacle goose and mute swan.
Besides Viidumae Natural Reserve and Vilsandi National Park, there are over two hundred single nature objects under protection. The meteorite crater at Kaali is the biggest in Europe and easily accessible to visitors. The best-known windmills of Saaremaa are located in Angla - a higher place open to stronger winds.
Cultural events bring thousands of visitors to Saaremaa each summer. You can take your pick from Kuressaare Opera Days, Kuressaare Maritime Festival , Kuressaare Castle Days and many more. Those interested in sports are welcome to Saaremaa in June for the Cycling Tour or in October for the Saaremaa Rally.
Saaremaa is addictive and visitors often keep coming back over and over again. Visiting spas is an ideal choice for a family vacation. Those tired of city hassle might choose to relax on the tourism farms in Saaremaa and, on the neighbouring island, Muhu. Kalaküla, Pähkla and Pidula are ideal for fishing with the whole family.
Things to see and do in Saaremaa and nearby
- The Old town of Kuressaare
- Kuressaare Castle
- The Massilinn Order Castle
- Koguva village
- The medieval fortified churches of Muhu, Pöide, Karja, Kihelkonna, Kaarma, Valjala and Püha
- Windmills at Angla
- Kaali Meteorite craters
- Panga Cliff
- Sõrve Peninsula and its military objects
- Mihkli farm museum
- Järve beach and sand dunes
- Jööri Village Museum
- Kõljala Manor
- Kübassaare broadleaf forest