Life on the island is special! Islanders depend on the weather and because of that, there are various ways to reach the biggest island in Estonia.
The most common way to arrive in Saaremaa is by ferry and it takes approximately 27 minutes. The ferry goes between the harbours of Virtsu (mainland) and Kuivastu (Muhu island). We kindly suggest you to book your ferry ticket in advance online. Buying the ticket in advance will give you an advantage in the ferry queue and it's necessary especially in the high season - the ferry queues can get very long. You can find an instruction how to buy a ticket from a e-service from here.
From Tallinn to Virtsu the car ride lasts approximately 1h and 45 minutes (135km)
From Kuivastu harbour to Kuressaare the car ride lasts aproximately 50min (76km)
It is possible to fly from Tallinn to Kuressaare. The flight takes approximately 30 minutes. On weekdays the airoplane leaves twice a day, on weekends once a day. Kuressaare airport is located approximately 2,9 kilometers from Kuressaare city centre.
You can find the flight timetable and book your ticket from here
Those, favouring a public transport over a private one, can start a trip by a direct bus line from Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Paide or Valga. Those who would like to continue towards Riga after visiting Saaremaa just have to change buses in Pärnu. To make travelling more comfortable, coach tickets can also be bought in advance online.
Now, that you have successfully reached the biggest island of Estonia, you probably ask how to move around on the island. Well, there is a variety of possibilities to do so. Public buses in Saaremaa are mainly meant to meet the needs of local people and therefore they do not go to all places of interest for tourists (e.g. Sõrve peninsula). Still, the main attractions of the island are accessible by bus (Kaali meteorite craters, Angla windmills, Panga steep coast) but one should be aware that all routes start and end in Kuressaare and there is no route taking you to different sights. It is also necessary to mind the time required for visiting the sights by bus. All local busses in Saare county are for free for everyone (even for visitors).
You can find the in county bus timetable here.
TO HIIUMAA ISLAND
To take a West-Estonia tour, one can travel form Saaremaa to the island of Hiiumaa and from there to the mainland city Haapsalu. Ferries are sailing between Triigi (Saaremaa) and Sõru (Hiiumaa) harbours all the year round but during a low season, there is a connection every other day. In high season, on the other hand, are several connections a day.
Tickets can be bought online up to 30 days in advance at www.veeteed.com
Should you prefer a more peaceful pace, take a bike to discover the island. If you have not brought your own bike, it can be rented in Kuressaare or ask your hotel about renting a bike. Kuressaare is one of the few small towns in Estonia that is surrounded by a bike path. Asphalt paved paths allow biking the distance of 20 km. Also an asphalt paved path takes you from Kuressaare to the best sandy beaches of the island in Mändjala (12 km). Taking in consideration the low traffic intensity and the flat landscape, main roads are also suitable for cycling. About 40 km long bicycle trip from Kuressaare to Kaali and back is not too tiresome. Should you choose longer distances, be aware that bikes cannot be transported in public buses, so you should spare strength enough to get back to your starting point.
All in all, to enjoy yourself in Saaremaa, there is no need for any transport at all. You can just walk around, enjoy the surroundings and relax. Kuressaare Tourist Information Centre is at your service. Visit us for tips on how to move around or what to see and what events to attend on the island.
When arriving on the island, one should consider that this is a place ruled by the sea – time goes at its own pace and you can’t go back at any given moment. In autumn, days may occur when even ferries come to a standstill – storms can decide to keep you on either side of the sea, wherever you happen to be. On the other hand, on very cold winters the sea will be covered with ice, giving the possibility to drive between the island and the mainland on an official ice-road.