Ruhnu lighthouse on the island RuhnuSource: Ruhnu Vallavalitsus

Ruhnu Island

Isolation has made Estonia's southernmost island different from the mainland — most notably, as the saying goes, "Smile and people will smile at you!"

Ruhnu is an ideal destination for peace and quiet, as only the waves interrupt the silence. 

Ruhnu has been inhabited for centuries; the first Stone Age settlement dates to about 5200 BCE. The Bishop of Courland first mentioned Ruhnu Island in his Letter of Freedom of 1341, granting the island's population the right to live as free peasants. The island was inhabited mainly by Estonian Coastal Swedes, who escaped to Sweden in 1944.

Nowadays, approximately 60 people live on the island year-round, though the population rises to about 150 in the summer. 

Despite the island's tiny size and population, if you keep an eye on its cultural calendar, you may encounter a lively event. Otherwise, wander and explore and don't forget to say hi to the locals!


Architecture, history, and culture

Ruhnu is just under 12 square kilometers. There is only one settlement on the island, so it is impossible to get lost. Start your visit at Ruhnu Museum, which is open from April to October and only by prior arrangement during the winter. Perhaps the most fascinating items on display are the rare quartz tools used by seal hunters almost 7,200 years ago.

Just outside the village, on the island’s highest point, Haubjerre Hill, stands Ruhnu Lighthouse. Made out of iron sheets and standing 40 meters high, the lighthouse has been operating for over a hundred years and is still operating today.

St. Madeline's Church, built in 1644, is the oldest surviving wooden building in Estonia. A new church, completed in 1912, is located just a couple of meters from the historic wooden church. Both churches are still in use and host religious services, concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and other events.


How to get to Ruhnu

Ruhnu is the southernmost island in Estonia, sitting just off the coast of Latvia. The closest point on the mainland is Cape Kolka in Courland, Latvia, 37 kilometers away. Kuressaare is about 70 km away, Kihnu Island is 54 km away, and Pärnu and Riga are each 96 km away. 

There are two ways to get to Ruhnu Island. You can take a small prop plane from Pärnu or Kuressaare from October to April. From May to October, you can reach Ruhnu by ferry from Pärnu, Roomassaare Harbor on Saaremaa, or Munalaid Harbor on the mainland. No cars are allowed on the ferry, but there is room for bicycles. Ruhnu Marina is open to visitors who come to the island on private boats. 

RuhnuRahu (RuhnuPeace)

23. aug 2024 - 25. aug 2024

RuhnuRahu (RuhnuPeace) is the smallest culture festival in Estonia, which combines music, art, film, theatre, nature, and good company to say...

RuhnuRahu (RuhnuPeace)

Source: RuhnuRahu festival

What to see on Ruhnu Island

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