Haapsalu is the main resort of the country, surrounded on three sides by the sea, thanks to which it received the name “Venice of the North”. It is loved for its cozy atmosphere, warm water, therapeutic mud baths and friendly residents. On the seashore stands the Kursaal, one of the most beautiful wooden buildings in all of Estonia.
The main local souvenir is a unique, hand-knitted woolen scarf. See BRIDGAT for climate and weather information of Estonia.
How to get to Haapsalu
Haapsalu is very easy to get to – more than 20 buses leave every day from Tallinn, where the Lennart Meri International Airport is located, the travel time from Tallinn to Haapsalu will be about 3 hours. In addition, there is a bus service to Haapsalu from Pärnu and Kärdla.
Rohuküla port is located 9 km west of Haapsalu, where ferries from Hiiumaa and Vormsi arrive.
Since the tsarist era, Haapsalu has been known as a popular resort, and its promenade still retains the atmosphere and spirit of those times. The pearl of the embankment is the Kursaal, a summer restaurant built in 1898 and decorated with openwork wooden carvings.
The embankment stretches along the bay and begins with the so-called African Beach, once used for its intended purpose, and now as a playground, and ends with the Chocolate Promenade, named after a cafe that once worked there. There is a playground and the only bird watching platform in the city. Walking along the embankment, you can also find out the time by the sundial, relax on the Tchaikovsky bench and see the magnificent Kursaal.
Treatment in Haapsalu
Among other things, Haapsalu is famous for the healing properties of its sea mud, discovered by Karl Abraham Hunnius, who is also the founder of the resort. So the first mud bath in Haapsalu opened in 1825. Currently, you can take a course of mud therapy in one of the three health centers in Haapsalu – “Laine”, “Bergfeldt” and “Fra Mare”. Indications for mud therapy are diseases of the musculoskeletal system and skin diseases. It should be borne in mind that mud therapy is contraindicated for pregnant women, as well as for kidney and blood diseases, heart failure and mental disorders.
Entertainment and attractions in Haapsalu
Haapsalu Episcopal Hillfort (Lossiplats tn 1, Haapsalu, tel.: +3724724346) is the seat of the Saare-Lääne Bishopric and covers an area of more than 3 hectares. The construction of the settlement began in 1263 with the construction of the Dome Church, the largest in the entire Baltic. In the 14-15 centuries, a chapel was built, on the wall of which on the August full moon you can see the silhouette of a woman – the White Lady, who, according to legend, was immured alive as a punishment for penetrating into the fortress to her lover – one of the clergy. In addition, in the settlement you can play chess, archery and work in a ceramic workshop. The ancient settlement is open in summer from 07:00 to 22:00, in spring and autumn – until 16:00, in winter – by reservation. The entrance is free.
Of the religious buildings in Haapsalu, the remarkable Church of St. John, built at the beginning of the 16th century and originally dedicated to St. Nicholas. In the interior of the church, a beautiful stone altar from the 17th century, a wooden pulpit from the 18th century and one of the oldest surviving bells dating from the 16th century are of interest.
Elon’s Wonderland (Kooli tn 5, Haapsalu, tel: +3724737065) is a gallery of renowned book illustrator Astrid Lindgren Elon Wikland. Here you can draw, watch movies and Elon’s drawings, write a letter to Carlson, make crafts, learn the secrets of the Magic Well, walk on stilts or take care of Bullerby’s kitchen. Opening hours: in summer from 11:00 to 17:00 daily, in winter – Sun-Sat from 11:00 to 16:00. Entrance: from 5 EUR.
Museums in Haapsalu
There are many interesting museums in Haapsalu – the Läänemaa Museum, the Estonian Railway Museum, the Rannarootsi Museum of the Swedes of the Estonian Coast, the Kirillus Kreek Museum, the Museum of Haapsalu Scarves and the Museum of Communications. The Läänemaa Museum, located in the building of the former town hall on Lossiplatsi Square, is dedicated to the history of Läänemaa County, to which the city of Haapsalu belongs. The exposition of the Estonian Railway Museum Raudteemuuseumi, located in the beautiful historical building of the Haapsalu railway station, is represented by a locomotive from 1940-1950. and several wagons in the first half of the 20th century. The Rannarootsi Museum of Estonian Coastal Swedes (Sadama tn 31-32, Haapsalu, tel.: +3724737165) was opened with the support of the Swedish Queen. In the collection: a 20-meter carpet that tells about Estonian-Swedish life. It also hosts traditional weddings and various events. Opening hours: Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00. Login ~ fromEUR 2.50 The House-Museum of Kirillus Kreek introduces visitors to the life of the famous composer, whose works can be heard here. The Museum of Communications is dedicated to the development of telecommunications in Western Estonia, and the exposition of the Museum of Shawls is dedicated to the history of traditional lace down products – Haapsalu shawls, which have long been valued by ladies of high society.
Haapsalu is also famous for the “White Lady Days”, Old Music Festival, Violin Festival and Blues Festival in August. Throughout the summer, the streets of the city are full of the sounds of folk music, opera and rock.
Matsalu National Park
Not far from Haapsalu is the Matsalu National Park, which includes the bay of the same name and the area around the delta of the Kasari River, along with the surrounding floodplains, coastal meadows, reed beds and forests. In addition, more than 40 islands are considered part of the park. Well, the park itself is very popular among ornithologists, as it is a stopping place for migratory birds. Thousands of geese and ducks can be seen on the floodplain, and the waters of the bay abound with swans, coots and ducks. The national park is recognized as a nature reserve and covers over 450 km² of land and sea. In addition, the park is home to 49 species of fish and 47 species of mammals, as well as 772 species of vascular plants. You can explore the unique landscape of the national park on foot, by bike or by boat. There are seven observation towers for birdwatching.