Introducing Western Estonia & the Islands
Southwestern Estonia contains the country's most popular resort town, as well as charming country villages, a vast national park and two remote islands that see few foreign visitors every year.
Perched along a lovely, sandy coastline, Pärnu attracts legions of holidaymakers during the summer. Young partygoers appear from Tallinn and Tartu en route to the city's nightclubs, cafés and restaurants, just as busloads of elderly out-of-towners arrive seeking spa treatments and mud cures. Perhaps owing to the odd mix, Pärnu has a little something for everyone - colourful museums and galleries, boutiques and handicraft markets, good theatre, and amusements for the kids - and plenty of mud baths and drinking spots.
East of Pärnu stretches Soomaa National Park, a biodiverse region of meandering rivers, wooded meadows and swamp forest. Full of wildlife, Soomaa is an excellent place to experience Estonia's natural beauty - whether floating along streams in a dugout canoe or hiking through ancient bogs.
Among the most charming country towns, Viljandi lies just beyond Soomaa. It has a tiny but historic centre, old castle ruins and breathtaking views over a forested valley and the pristine Lake Viljandi. Põltsamaa, another pleasant town in the region, is noted for its pleasant river, old stone church and fragrant rose gardens.
Visitors yearning to get off the beaten path can find peaceful settlements and deserted coastline on the island of Kihnu, one of Estonia's most traditional places. Ruhnu, even tinier and more remote, has a few sandy beaches, an old wooden church and plenty of spots for connecting to the land in that almost spiritual Estonian fashion.