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Episcopal Castle in Kuressaare, Island of Saaremaa, Estonia

Saaremaa, Saaremaa, Estonia

Estonia’s largest island is roughly the size of Luxembourg, just offshore in the Baltic Sea. It was closed to most everyone during the Soviet era, and only re-opened for visitors in 1989. As a result, it has maintained a rustic, rural charm that is hugely appealing. Forests of juniper, oak, pine and other species cover about 40 percent of the land. The island has many medieval churches, and one of Europe’s most intact stone castles, at Kuressaare, complete with a moat. Other highlights include manor house museums, the restored windmills on Agla Windmill Hill, the Mihkli Farm Museum at Vikl, and the prehistoric meteorite craters at Kaali. The island has more spas than anywhere else in Estonia; saunas are an important part of holiday travel for many Scandinavians. The GoodKaarma Organic Soap factory invites visitors to see how they create their soaps using local ingredients such as juniper and spruce, and even offer a hands-on soap making experience.