Years ago, during the Soviet period, the islands of Estonia were places with a restricted access or no access at all. To get to Saaremaa, one had to obtain a special permit. These days are over and everyone is welcome to the biggest island of Estonia either by ferry or plane.
On the way to Saaremaa, people usually pass Muhu island without stopping. Still, this idyllic small island is worth exploring. It is said that Muhu is the island where time stops. On Muhu island you can meet girls wearing shoes with Muhu national ornaments, you can take a walk in the park of Pädaste manor, ride horseback or say hello to ostriches and the only zebra in Estonia.
Abruka is located just 4 km south of Kuressaare and on this island one can visit a grove forest that is under protection and special since it is the only forest of its kind in Europe to be located this far north. The brave ones can go the two neighbouring islets of Vahase and Kasselaid on foot through the sea or climb on the boulders that “travelled” here during the Ice Age. Information on the boat connection to Abruka is available here.
Vilsandi National Park is a separate archipelago, the biggest island of which is Vilsandi. The national park is a bird reserve with very beautiful wildlife. Vilsandi is said to have the cleanest air in Europe. The national park is loved by migrating birds and seals who have made the islets their beach for sunbathing. Information on the boat connection to Vilsandi is available here.
Another special place is Ruhnu island that is not very easy to access but its seclusion and sense of difference can be felt once you’ve reached there. Here you can see the oldest timber building in Estonia, the Ruhnu wooden church from 1643, singing sands and a lighthouse designed by Gustave Eiffel.