10 reasons to visit Haapsalu
- Bite sized
Whether you want to spend an afternoon relaxing at the beach, stroll in a pine forest, visit a historic town or be at ease at a charming cafeteria - everything is just a short walk away.
- The Nordic Venice (Rosa Kaulitz-Niedeck)
Wherever you turn in Haapsalu, you will soon find yourself at the seaside. The town fronts on many bays, inlets and islets, making it a place where everyone can breathe fresh air and feel uncluttered. Because of the numerous bays and inlets swans, those majestic birds of lakes and marshes, favor the area. In summer swan families of four or five are seen at the water's edge only minutes away from human habitation. During the winter automobiles can travel to several nearby islands, such as Vormsi, using officially designated ice roads. Actually, driving on a frozen sea is a remarkable experience.
- City since 1279
Amble through the medieval Kooli, Jaani, Vee, Linda, Rüütli and Väike-Mere streets. No need to emphasize it: the heart of the old town is the great Episcopal Castle and Cathedral. Be sure to visit the Episcopal Castle tower for a 360-degree view of Haapsalu and the sea.
- Colorful palette of history
The Lääne County region was colonized by Swedes in the 13th century. Some Swedish place names, mostly in Noarootsi, Osmusaar and Vormsi islands date back to that time. The Rannarootsi museum in Haapsalu is dedicated to preserving that cultural heritage. Although the Middle Ages were a golden era in which Haapsalu became an influential hub for Northern and Eastern Europe, it became a resort town only at the beginning of the 19th century after Dr. Carl Abraham Hunnius discovered the medicinal qualities of Baltic sea mud. With the construction of spa facilities Haapsalu began to blossom, attracting the St. Petersburg aristocracy, including members of the Romanov imperial court. A noted frequent visitor was the composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Several other remarkable public and cultural figures also spent their summers in Haapsalu. The town has passed through a long history stretching back to 1279, all of which have left their imprints, discernible today in local architecture, place names and other relics of the past.
- The architecture
The narrow streets of Haapsalu hold the romantic essence of the town. You will see lovely wooden houses from the early 20th century fit to adorn a fairytale book cover. Outstanding features of these buildings, and one of Haapsalu symbols, are the detailed wooden decorations, also called the wooden lace.
- Charming cafeterias and restaurants
The old town has a number of Scandinavian-style cafeterias and restaurants where you can sample delicious pastries or have dinner. Even better - there is a bakery called Müüriääre where you can buy freshly baked buns. Just imagine the smell and taste to go with your morning coffee.
- The variety of events
During winter Haapsalu holds Scottish Days in which every one is invited to put on a traditional kilt and go curling on the ice with the Mayor. During spring the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival provides a touch of excitement to make you forget all about your spring fatigue. Summer is the busiest time when everyone finds something to enjoy - the Early Music Festival, the Haapsalu Wine Festival, the American Beauty Car show, the Yoga festival, the Estonian Augustibluus, the White Lady Festival, the street food festival “Tastes Promenade” and so on: the list is diverse.
- Get re-inspired
In addition to well known historical figures such as professors, businessmen and the Russian aristocracy, Haapsalu has enchanted other high-ranking present-day personalities For instance Epp Maria Kokamägi is a well known Estonian painter who has her studio in Haapsalu's old town. How has a small town charmed their hearts? The answer must be in the richness of detail that this town offers - no wonder, then, that Pyotr Tchaikovsky was inspired by his stay to compose his “Swan Lake”.
- A child-friendly town
Haapsalu offers a wide variety of activities for children of all ages. For outdoor pursuits there is Africa Beach and nearby a stylish children's playground in the Episcopal castles moat. For indoor fun we recommend Ilon’s Wonderland, based on the works of the world-famous illustrator of children’s books – Ilon Wikland. The whole family can spend a wonderful day here. UNESCO has designated Haapsalu a 'child-and-youth-friendly city.
- The islands are close enough for a perfect day trip
Where ever you are in Estonia you have to pass through Lääne County to reach the islands.
Do you wish to experience untouched nature, are you curious about the Swedish era when Lääne County was colonized and would you like to feel like a true explorer? Vormsi will make a great day trip and offer you all of that and more. The bigger islands of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa require at least two days to visit which might fit nicely into your vacation. During winter an ice road connects Haapsalu and Vormsi and a longer one starting at Rohukula harbor links Läänemaa (10km from Haapsalu) and Hiiumaa..
We will reply as soon as possible