In the centre of Saaremaare, about 30km north east of Kuressaare, is the last remaining group of windmills that once covered the entire windswept island. The five windmills, four of tradition local design and one Dutch style, stand out prominently by the side of the road, and make a great photo opportunity.
But that's it. Five minutes of picture taking and it's over. If you get the bus here you'll be waiting another hour and a half until it returns, so bring a picnic or prepare to do some wandering down the nearby lanes to use up that extra time. Or you can come by car, which would be the most sensible thing to do...
The buses aren't regular. There's a few very early in the morning, and then a few more in the early afternoon. The trip takes about an hour, and the bus usually keeps going to the north coast before returning along the same path. You can ask for a timetable at the tourist office (town hall) or try using the search feature of the Kuressaare bus station web page.
It's in Estonian, but just type in the start and end point in the boxes near the magnifying glass icon. The rest is easy to work out.
Kaali Meteor Crater
This is quite a rarity - a meteor crater that struck during human history, around 600 BC. It's lived on in the legends of Estonia and Finland, and is even suggested to have been the source of the legends of Thule, when Greeks came wandering up to the land of the midnight sun, only to return with stories so amazing (sea ice!) that nobody believed them for centuries.
Unlike Angla, this time there was no return bus. We had to walk 3km through the forest. I heard a boar snort at one point. They are quite common here. Less common are bears and wolves. But they are there. Hiding. Waiting to pounce.
The buses to Kaali are about as regular as those to Angla, except watch out that some take a reverse path and take over 4 hours. The journey should take you just over an hour. If there's no bus when you want, consider taking a bus to one of the stops on the main Kuressaare-Tallinn highway (10). Ask at the tourist office (town hall) for more information.
Cycling tour of Kuressaare
The whole of Saaremaa is flat so its absolutely perfect for cycling and there are some wonderful places to visit and explore.
Many tours are available for cyclists and if you are driving be prepared to be alert for cyclists on the roads.
For a 3 hour tour through the village of Kuresaare you can find out all information through this site. www.rbmere.ee
You can also organize to hire bikes and equipment from them. Tours are available for up to 8 days cycling.
The Edge of Nowhere
They are a bit different here. They do things differently. They speak differently. They even celebrate their festivals on different days. It probably has something to do with Saaremaa, Estonia's biggest island, being one of the most isolated parts of the Soviet Union; even Estonians needed a permit to visit here.
For the tourist this has its benefits. Saaremaa is like stepping back in time. It's very rural out here. There's lots of forests. There's even bears. And wolves. The place isn't really designed for tourists, despite it being a popular destination for Finns, Latvians, Russians, and of course, Estonians.
The only real exception to this is the capital, Kuressaare. This tiny capital is fully geared up for the tourist crowds, with probably enough hotels to accommodate the entire population of the city, and plenty of excellent restaurants. It also has excellent transport connections to the mainland, via a ferry/bus or its airport.
The capital itself has a few tourist sights, but the place is so small you will be able to see them all in an afternoon. It's better used as a base to visit the rest of the island, but remember this place is big, empty and rural. As an idea it's more than a fifth bigger than Tenerife, but with less than a 20th of the population.
The biggest problem here is that everything you will want to see is spread out, and the only public transport is geared towards moving locals from point to point, not tourists. If you don't have your own car, or don't want to rent one, you will struggle to see more than one thing a day, and risk getting stranded for hours (or even overnight) in far away places. But that's part of the adventure, right?
One of the best times to come is midsummer. The weather is perfect, the nights are long, and they party long into the night on Jaanipäev (St. John's Day), which as an added benefit is celebrated on a different day to Helsinki and Tallinn, meaning you can celebrate midsummer three times in the same year!
Prices obviously go up around then, but it's very cheap by Scandinavian standards. The low prices also encourage a lot of Finns, and I'm pretty sure that 90% of the people celebrating Jaanipäev with me in Kuressaare that night were Finnish. Not that this is a problem as they sound just like Estonians, and like to party just as hard.
Photo Album on Facebook (better quality).
Nice and beautiful town. It is one of the best small towns in Estonia. A lot of informtaion about Kuressaare you find here: www.saaremaa.ee.
The top attraction is medieval castle which in my opinion is the best castle in Baltics. It is really impressive. Many of still preserved medieval castles of Estonia or Latvia have been reconstructed in later centuries, but that's not a case for Kuressaare castle.
Of course, there are other places to visit in Kuressaare. This photo is taken walking around the town.