SAAREMAA, ESTONIA

SAAREMAA, ESTONIA

  • POPULATION 30,000
  • SIZE 1,032 square miles

Until the end of the Cold War, Saaremaa was off-limits to ordinary tourists, home to a top-secret Soviet military base where rockets were targeted at the West. Ever since. Estonians have targeted their holiday plans at Saaremaa to find out what they were missing: a quiet island where lighthouses watch out over the Baltic coast and windmills rise over forests of pine and spruce.

Saaremaa, Estonia

Saaremaa, Estonia

The port of disembarkation is Kuressaare, a handsome town home to a giant medieval castle (pictured) and spas that make use of the local mineral-rich sea mud. Freshly exfoliated daytrippers from Kuressaare find the rest of the island rewards idle exploration, with medieval churches, tumbledown farms and – rather unexpectedly – the 100-metre-wide Kaali Crater, with its lake at the centre, formed by a violent meteorite impact a few thousand years ago; proof if ever it was needed of Saaremaa s powers of attraction.

  • GETTINGTHERE Fly to Estonia’s capital Tallinn on Turkish Airlines (Singapore) or KLM (Kuala Lumpur) with one stopover each. Kuressaare is a 45-minute flight from Tallinn.

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