Hiiumaa is located just north of Saaremaa Island and west from the mainland. Formed 455 million years ago as a result of a meteorite explosion Hiiumaa is one of the oldest islands in the world, and known for its wealth of lighthouses.
The people of Hiiumaa are peaceful and tolerant. They live close to nature and have their own language – Hiiu, even though basically all also speak Estonian. Also spoken by many are Russian, English, German and Finnish.
The most important thing to remember about the people is their sense of humor – they like to laugh at themselves and love all kinds of jokes - especially the ones about their neighbours (the people of Saaremaa).
The tourist information is located in Kärdla.
Thanks to the surrounding sea, the climate on Hiiumaa is a bit different from the one on the continent. There are more sunny days and less rainy days. Best time to visit Hiiumaa is from May to September. If you would like to sunbathe it is recommended to visit in July or August.
The quickest way to reach Hiiumaa is by air. The regular flights between Tallinn and Kärdla are operated by Avies six days a week (no flights on Saturdays) and all the year round. It takes 35 minutes to fly from Tallinn to Kärdla and there is a bus waiting the passengers at Kärdla Airport.
While planning the bus trip one should keep in mind that despite of Hiiumaa being so small, still not all the buses are heading to Kärdla, some are going along the southern part of the island to Käina and Emmaste. See Estonia#Get around for bus schedules.
The smaller ferry "Kõrgelaid" is sailing the Sõru-Triigi route. The ferry is small and more ascetic but the trip lasts only 60 minutes. No sailing on during severe ice condition in winter-time.
By ice road
During winter time an ice road – yes! an ice road on the sea – connects the mainland to Hiiumaa.
An ice road differs by letting people drive at quite a high speed with safety belts open. The speed is reduced only while approaching the occasional board-covered cracks. The crossing takes approximately 20 min to cover the distance with favourable conditions. You can even overtake the ferries that "drive" on the next lane.
Bus connections are bad, and none goes to the lighthouses directly. Only Kõpu Lighthouse might be reached by bus along the nearby main road with buses going to the tip of the peninsula. Best to ask in the place where you stay if people with cars are plainning to visit the lighthouses and you can come along.
- 1 Kõpu Lighthouse (Kõpu tuletorn), Kõpu küla, Kõrgessaare vald, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. daily 10–20:00. The highest hill (68 m) of Hiiumaa, the Tornimägi, is the location of the lighthouse. Due to the very important shipping lane, the Hanseatic Merchants League was very interested in making this dangerous passage through shallow reef safer. In 1500, the magistrate of Tallinn obtained permission from Bishop John III Orges to build a landmark here. In 1531, after having chosen the highest hill of Hiiumaa, the massive stone tower was finised, from which this lighthouse was later derived. The construction was interrupted several times by the plague, which is why it took 30 years before completion. Already back then the turret was shaped like a four-legged prism, which was supported by massive counter-forces by the four main corners. Kõpu is the third oldest constantly active lighthouse worldwide. €2/1 (adult/discounted) per lighthouse, or €5/2 for all 3.
- 2 Tahkuna Lighthouse (Tahkuna tuletorn), Tahkuna küla, Kõrgessaare vald, ☎ . Mai–Sep 10–19:00. The construction of the cast iron lighthouse began in 1873. Made in Paris, it was brought to Hiiumaa in parts. Two beacons were ordered in Paris – the other one was used for the Ristna lighthouse. Tahkuna and Ristna are the newer ones and stem from the period when iron was used instead of stone, like for Kõpu. In 1941, fighters of the Soviet Army surrendered to the Germans at the foot of this lighthouse. Tahkuna is the highest lighthouse in Estonia - 42.6 m above sea level. It can be seen from a distance of 33 km. €2/1 (adult/discounted) per lighthouse, or €5/2 for all 3.
- 3 Ristna Lighthouse (Ristna tuletorn), ☎ . May–Sept.15 Tu–Su 10–19:00. Smaller and less impressive, but nice and architecturally interesting, at the westernmost point of the Kõpu peninsula. The light 37 m above sea level can be seen at a distance of 31.5 km, which is less than the 50 km of the 102 m above sea level light of the Kõpu lighthouse. The Ristna lighthouse was erected in 1874 from parts brought from France. In 1915, German war ships attacked the lighthouse, severely damaging it. In the following, in was supported with a concrete belt in 1920. €2/1 (adult/discounted) per lighthouse, or €5/2 for all 3.
- 4 Hiiumaa Military Museum, Tahkuna nina, Tahkuna küla, Kõrgessaare vald, Hiiu maakond, ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. May 15 – September 15 Tu–Su 10–18:00. The crown jewel of the exhibition is the BB-316 cannon barrel from the Tahkuna Kukeraba battery. The museum exhibition covers Hiiumaa’s coastal defence structures, armaments, and ammunition. In a simulated barracks, visitors can examine surveillance and communications equipment. There is a reconstruction of a border strip in the yard. €3/1.50 (adult/discounted).
- 5 Hiiumaa Museum Kassari Exhibition House, Kassari küla, Käina vald, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. May-Aug daily 10–18:00, Sept daily 10–17:00. There are items dating from the Tsarist, Estonian, and Soviet periods related to maritime history, as well as the history of agriculture and the manors. There is also much to see outside – a lifeboat from the SS Estonia, the Kassari school flagpole, manor’s lawn roller etc. Prices see Hiiumaa Museum Long House.
- 6 Rudolf Tobias House Museum, Hiiu maantee 33, Käina alevik, Käina vald, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sept–June 13th by appointment, summer W-Sa 11–17:00. The house, built in 1839, located in Käina is one of the oldest small town residences in Estonia. The exhibition in the composer’s birthplace provides a detailed overview of Tobias’s life and works. Prices see Hiiumaa Museum Long House.
- 7 Mihkli Farm Museum (Mihkli Talumuuseum), Malvaste küla, Kõrgessaare vald, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. May 14th–Aug W–Su 11–18:00, Sept–May 13th by appointment. The Hiiumaa open-air museum introduces local architecture and artefacts from the 19th century. The spacious courtyard is a perfect place for various activities, from tar burning in summer to "Christmas land" in winter. A visit to the unique smoke sauna or a picnic on the edge of the forest are just some additional services the museum is offering. Prices see Hiiumaa Museum Long House.
- 8 Kuriste Church (Kuriste õigeusu kirik), Kuriste küla, Käina vald, Taterma, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Estonian Orthodox Hiiumaa Church of the Birth of the Mother of our Lord was completed in 1873. Icons and liturgical textiles from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries are on display. The church is the only Orthodox church to have survived in Hiiumaa, where services also still take place.
- 9 Pühalepa Church (Pühalepa kirik), Suuremõisa küla, Pühalepa vald. It's the oldest stone church in Hiiumaa.
- 10 Käina church ruins, Hiiu maantee, Käina alevik, Käina. The biggest church in Hiiumaa was built at the turn of the 15th-16th century and was destroyed in 1941. Several tombstones as well as the sun cross above the entrance are protected as art monuments.
- 11 Reigi Church, Pihla küla, Kõrgessaare vald. The greatest treasure of the Reigi Church is its art collection.
- 12 Hill of Crosses (Ristimägi) (6 km out of Kärdla towards the famous lighthouses). By far not as impressive as the Lithuanian equivalent, but good for a stop if you go by anyhow. There is a carpark just nearby.
The first cross stemmed from the Swedes in 1781 that had to leave Hiiumaa due to an order of Czarina Katarina II. They were expelled from their farms and supposed to resettle in Ukraine. However, due to the fact that they had to start their journey in winter, only half of the 1000 people reached the destination at the then later founded Gammalsvenskby village. Finally in 1929, the descendents of these Swedes where allowed by the Soviet Russia to return to Sweden. Most went to Gotland.
All following crosses were erected by visitors in remembrance of these Swedes and their difficult journey.
- 13 Suuremõisa castle, Suuremõisa küla, Pühalepa vald, ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 10–16:00. The present manor house was built by the Countess Ebba Margaretha Stenbock. Suuremõisa Castle is one of the most beautiful and biggest manor houses in Estonia. The value of the castle lies in its pure Baroque-Rococo style. You can follow a wonderful trail to get to know the manor park. Currently the manor house also accommodates Suuremõisa Technical School and Suuremõisa Primary School. Also includes a restaurant open longer. €2/1.50 adult/discounted.
- 15 Orjaku port. No official ferries, just private traffic. But the port itself is quite picturesque.
- Motor sailboat Ernst Jaakson, Pärna küla, Emmaste vald. Built in 1937–1939, the 35-metre long and 8-metre wide three-masted motor sailboat Ernst Jaakson (Alar) is the largest "old" boat to survive in Estonia.
In Estonia it is difficult to find a place with more picturesque nature than on the island Hiiumaa. The variety of landscape is what makes Hiiumaa unique. During a sunny summer one could enjoy kilometres-long alluring sandy beaches along the coastline of Tahkuna and Kõpu peninsulas.
- 1 Old River Valley (Vanajõe Valley). It's a place that has it all: rivers, lakes, hills, and valleys.
- 2 Bird Watching (near Käina). Observation platform (no roof) in the middle of a small artificial forest. A herd of sheep and an old small lighthouse at the beginning of the track to the tower.
- Pub at Orjaku Port (Orjaku Pubi), Orjaku port, ☎ . Nice and cosy, with locals, and good value for price in this region. Also serves fish. Try the pancake.
Several accommodation options exist in the towns and villages of Hiiumaa, many in Kärdla itself.
In the southeast of the islands there is at least one bird watch towers, which does have a roof and is good for overnighting if you have a mattress and sleeping bag.
- 1 Orjaku Observation Tower (Orjaku linnuvaatlustorn-näitusepaviljon). Space for 4-5 people.
Not having a car, it is not quite straight forward to continue travel around West Estonia and the islands. Bus connections are sparse and infrequent, especially between the islands, and even between Haapsalu and Pärnu. Hence, you will probably have to go back to Tallinn or Tartu, and to Pärnu and the rest of West Estonia and the island from there.
- Saaremaa – The largest Estonian and wild seaside character island with castles and fortresses, one perfectly preserved, a beach, a spa and famous mills. Saaremaa is even sometimes called Sparemaa.
- Muhu – The third largest Estonian island, and a rural municipality connected to the nearby Saaremaa by an artificial embankment, where ferries to the harbour of Virtsu arrive. Has an open air museum, and its locals are known for still sewing woollen clothes. Sleepy fishing villages, working windmills, thatched cottages, plenty of deer, moose and birds.
- Vormsi – The fourth largest Estonian island, very close to the mainland. Vormsi is a small island covered with forests and a Swedish community. A unique blend of Soviet and Swedish history mixed with unspoilt nature.
- Pärnu – Estonia's 4th largest city and the summer capital of Estonia, popular for its balneo-therapy complexes and spa centres, surrounded by numerous beaches.
- Haapsalu – "Venice of the north", good for visiting spas, taking mud baths, sailing, swimming, interesting monuments of the middle ages, like the cathedral and the Ruins of Haapsalu Castle, and a famous and picturesque Railway Museum.
- Tallinn – The capital, and financial and cosmopolitan centre of Estonia, with a medieval Old Town. Beautiful and expensive.