We spiced up our New Year by going on a short trip to Saaremaa, an island in Estonia. There is a saying, that the way you end your year, it’s what the new will be. We just have one wish – be able to explore more, see more and experience more in 2018.
To be exact, we went to Saaremaa capital city Kuressaare. Kuressaare or Arensburg (it was called like that until the beginning of XX century) was first mentioned in XII century and from that time it was one of the most important harbours.
We believe, that Kuressaare and Saaremaa are way more busy during the summer season and we would love to come back here as it reminded us a bit of Nida and Curonian Spit in Lithuania. But let’s see what we found there at the end of 2017.
Even though Kuressaare has a small airport and some regular flights from Tallinn or Parnu, it’s impossible to book tickets online and the best way is to fly to Tallinn and take one of many direct buses to Kuressaare. Including the ferry, the bus takes around 3.5 hours and costs 6-10 euros depending on bus operator. Alternatively, You can reach Saaremaa from Parnu by bus connecting your trip from Riga, Vilnius, Kaunas or southern Europe.
Trip by ferry includes some beautiful views:
It depends either you came by car or not. If You came by car, then a good choice would be any apartments outside Kuressaare city so You would be able to enjoy calm nature and easily reach any part of the island. Of course, the price would be less than Kuressaare city centre.
If You don’t have a car then You should stay in one of the places near Kuressaare’s centre. Booking and Airbnb have plenty of various options.
For more luxurious stay You can choose one of the SPA hotels which are located all around the city.
We came to Saaremaa by bus and were here during NYE holiday so the public transport here was not so friendly for us. Public buses go all around the island all week long, but if You’re here on weekend then You’ll find just 4 buses going till 6 PM. Don’t give any hopes that You could make Your own trip around the island with those. Much better situation is if You’ll come during weekdays cause You’ll have plenty of choices to see the island cheaply (bus ticket cost around 0.55 Eur)
An alternative way is to rent a bike. A bike costs 10 Eur for 24 hours and You can rent it near Kuressaare bus station. Saaremaa island has plenty bike roads with scenic views so if You’re not in a hurry – spend some time on the bike exploring the island.
All around Kuressaare You can find taxis which are also an option if you don’t have enough time to see what you want in other ways. Standard fare for taxi is 2.2 + 0.8 euro per km. If you want to go outside the city – be aware that one hour of waiting cost around 17 Eur.
Your own feet is more than enough going around Kuressaare itself.
Eating + drinking
Even though the island is small You could find a couple of best restaurants in Estonia here and gastronomical culture is really in excellent conditions.
Kure cafe – coffee, pastries
This small and cosy place is the local family business. Prices are a bit bigger than in other cafes in a city but the quality is outstanding. Cup of cappuccino – 2.5 Eur. Pastel de nata – 2.5 Eur.
Classic Kohvik – breakfast, pizza, snacks
Located on the main street of the city this restaurant opens from 9 AM which is good, cause other places usually open later. Good selection of breakfast, thin or thick pizzas and a big variety of drinks. Beer or wine glass – from 3.5 eur, Pizza – 5-13 eur.
Kohvik Retro – local restaurant
This place was a real highlight of our journey. Service was fabulous and professional, food is fresh and local, the atmosphere is great. The restaurant offers a selection of local products which are raised to next level. Dinner for two with drinks would cost around 50-60 Eur. Anyway, we suggest to try smoked fish, salted fish, fish of the day and we were lucky to have fish soup also.
Saaremaa windmill – seasonal restaurant
Another great restaurant included in The White Guide of gastronomy. As we tried it in winter time, everything came clear in the moment when we opened the menu. All dishes, side dishes, desserts and everything is really seasonal. Beef cheeks, duck leg, carrots, cabbages, root veggies. You won’t find any summer ingredients here during winter time. Worth to mention, this place offers homemade beer, must-try cheese balls and mushroom soup served inside the bread. Dinner for two – 40-50 Eur.
John bull pub – family pub with a hippy Volkswagen van bar located near Kuressaare castle
Vaekoja pubi – Pub in a city centre, cosy atmosphere.
Look around Kuressaare
Happy New Year! We wish you will have a great one!