Osmussaar lighthouseSource: Rivo Veber

TOP 10 islands to visit this summer

Estonia's 2,317 islands have played a crucial role in the country's history and culture. See which ones you should visit this summer!

1. Saaremaa

Estonia's largest island, Saaremaa, attracts visitors with its natural beauty, rich history and cultural heritage. Here you will find ancient spa resort traditions (Kuressaare has long been a renowned resort with a history dating back to Tsarist Russia). The capital of the island, Kuressaare has something to offer for everyone, regardless of the season. Visitors can relax and explore the local culture, admire art in different galleries, and walk in the historical episcopal castle. These aspects make Saaremaa one of the top tourist destinations in Estonia, attracting visitors from near and far.

What to see: Thule Koda, Kaali meteorite craters, Maasi fort castle ruins, Angla windmills, Kuressaare Episcopal Castle and Panga cliff. Plan a family trip to Saaremaa and enjoy its beauty.

How to get to Saaremaa: By ferry from Kuivastu Port (or Virtsu Port). For a quick and comfortable journey from Tallinn to Kuressaare, consider flying, with the flight taking around 30 minutes. 

Saarema coastline

Source: Evolumina

2. Muhu

Muhu's timeless village ambiance and landscapes, unchanged for centuries, beckon you to find solace on the island. Distances between attractions are short, making it ideal for exploration by bicycle, horseback, or boat. Muhu celebrates the coastal people's culture from ancient times to the present day. The island strongly values ecological balance and promotes a nature-centric mindset.

What to see: Pädaste manor, Liiva handicraft shop, Muhu Nature trail, restaurant Alexander, Muhu Ostrich Farm, Üügu cliff, St. Catherine's Church with its pagan tombstones.

How to get to Muhu island:  By ferry from Kuivastu Port (or Virtsu Port) or by bridge from Saaremaa.

Sheeps walking in nature

Source: Rivo Veber

3. Hiiumaa

Hiiumaa is the second-largest island in Estonia. In winter, when conditions are suitable, you can even reach it by driving on an ice road (incidentally, the longest ice road in Estonia). What sets Hiiumaa apart from other Estonian islands? It is the exceptionally clean and untouched nature, as well as the close-to-nature and natural lifestyle. Unlike Saaremaa, you won't find modern spa centers or health resorts here, because the island itself is like a spa—with plenty of sunshine in the summer, soothing sea waves, and long sandy beaches. The salty sea water is believed to be particularly beneficial for skin problems and easing bone pain. Hiiumaa is also home to the oldest operating lighthouse in the world.

What to see: Kõpu lighthouse, the oldest continually operating in the world, Ristna and Tahkuna lighthouses, Sääretirp point, Hill of CrossesTuuletorn, and Lavender Farm in paradisical Hiiumaa.

How to get to Hiiumaa: by ferry from Rohuküla To Heltermaa or the ferry line from Saaremaa (Triigi Port) to Hiiumaa (Sõru Port). For a quick and comfortable journey from Tallinn to Kärdla, consider flying, with the flight taking around 30 minutes.

Hiiumaa lavender farm

Source: Priidu Saart

4. Vormsi

During a romantic walk or bike ride around the island, you can still see the influence of Swedish seafarers who settled in Vormsi hundreds of years ago in the architecture and place names. Until 1944, the island was inhabited mainly by coastal Swedes, it has the worlds' largest collection of ring crosses. Nowadays around 450 people live on the island. Vormsi is a great holiday destination for those seeking untouched nature as well as for those interested in coastal Swedish history.

Vormsi juniper fields, seaside loops, boulders, and lighthouses are best explored on foot or by bicycle. 

What to see: the largest set of round crosses in the world at St. Olaf's church cemetery, Saxby lighthouse, Rumpo hiking trail, Vormsi Farm Museum

How to get to Vormsi: by ferry from Rohuküla or Sviby harbours.

Räbly windmills

Source: Priidu Saart

5. Kihnu

Kihnu is a unique treasure, as the lifestyle and culture of its inhabitants are part of UNESCO's extensive heritage list. The historical culture practiced by the island's residents is still very much alive - women wear traditional ancestral clothing daily, and men and children also dress in traditional attire. The islanders sing traditional songs, practice ancient crafts, and keep old traditions and rituals alive in wedding celebrations and various daily activities, such as making handicrafts or fishing. 

On one hand, Kihnu is the 7th largest island in Estonia with much to see, yet it is small enough to be the perfect place for walks, fishing, cycling, and getting to know the friendly islanders. In the 19th century, most islanders converted to Russian Orthodoxy, which is another distinctive feature of the island and its inhabitants.

What to see: Kihnu museum, St. Nicholas Church, Kihnu's Own Handicraft Shop, Kihnu lighthouse, fishing tours and bike tours

How to get to Kihnu: by ferry from Pärnu or Munalaiu harbours.

Kihnu children dancing

Source: Priidu Saart

6. Ruhnu

The sixty-inhabitant island community raises horses, sheep, and cows and, despite its small size, has a weather station, airport, post office, doctor, library, and two shops. The southernmost island in Estonia, Ruhnu is called the pearl of the Gulf of Riga. Until 1944, the island had a strong Swedish community, but during World War II, they left for Sweden. Ruhnu is home to the oldest wooden building in Estonia and also our oldest surviving wooden sanctuary, a church built in 1644.

What to see: St. Madeline's church, the oldest standing wood building in Estonia, Ruhnu lighthouse and Ruhnu museum

How to get to Ruhnu: by ferry from Pärnu, Munalaiu or Roomassaare (in Saaremaa) harbours

women walking in forest

Source: Stina Kase

7. Vilsandi

During high times, Vilsandi was home to over 200 people including fishermen, sailors and seal hunters, but today is home to only one permanent resident – an island guard. The island itself is believed to be over 2000 years old.

Today Vilsandi National Park is Estonia's most marine national park and the most island-rich region. The national park was established as early as 1910.

What to see: Vilsandi Kiipsaare lighthouse, built in 1809, Harilaiu peninsula and the National Park information point.

How to get to Vilsandi: A visit to Vilsandi National Park should be planned ahead. There is a boat connection organized by the local municipality that runs from Papissaare (Saaremaa) to Vikati (Vilsandi) and back. 

Vilsandi Kiipsaare lighthouse

Source: Mati Kose

8. Aegna

Located right at the gateway to Tallinn, Aegna once belonged to Sweden and Imperial Russia. When World War I began, all the island's inhabitants were evacuated from Aegna, and it became a military base. The railway was rebuilt for military purposes. Ship traffic to the island was restored in 1961, but only for those with special permits. It wasn't until 1991 that the island was opened to a wider range of visitors.

What to see: On the island, there are 12 mysterious circles across the cliff - in ancient times, people referred to them as the City of Jerusalem, beautiful beach with spetacular view.

How to get to Aegna: From May to October a high-speed catamaran reaches Aegna from Tallinn Linnahall harbor. Buy a ticket in advance.

Aegna island view

Source: Kätriin Huttunen

9. Naissaar

Naissaar lies off the coast of Tallinn and all residents were evicted in 1913 when the military took control. Nowadays only one person lives on the islands and a national park has been established. The whole island is under nature protection. Located about 10 km from Tallinn, Naissaar attracts day visitors with its beautiful sandy beach, hiking trails, military heritage, and pop summer festival Nargen.

In the southern part of the island, you will find an abandoned Soviet-era mine factory, as well as a legacy narrow-gauge railway from the time when the island was in the possession of the Soviet army. 

What to see: central hiking route, Naissaare tuletorn and Naissaar War Museum.

How to get to Naissaar: By boat from Pirita harbor or Tallinn Fish Market port. There is a regular ferry connection with Naissaar from the end of May to the middle of September from Friday to Sunday. You can also visit the island on your own yacht or boat.

Naissaare harbour

Source: Madis Rallmann

10. Piirissaar

Piirissaar is not located on the Baltic, but in lake Peipsi, on the Southeastern border of Estonia.  Its area is only 7.8 square kilometers, but what makes this island particularly interesting is the Russian Old Believer community and its living culture. Piirissaar has two sanctuaries protecting rare species of frogs, birds and plants. In Piiri village, the villagers grow vegetables, special onions, and they fish very well. There are two holy places on the island.

What to see: Old Believers' House Museum and the Old Believer cemeteries, of which there are three in total, are a sight to see. 

How to get to Piirissaar: by ferry from Laaksaare harbour to Piirissaare.


People cycling in the nature

Source: Rivo Veber

See and for ferry route information.