Set on a fork-shaped peninsula that stretches into Haapsalu Bay, this quaint resort town (100km from Tallinn) makes a fine stopover en route to the islands. Haapsalu has a handful of museums and galleries, and a few rather modest spa hotels, but the town’s biggest attraction is its striking castle. A bit rough around the edges, Haapsalu’s Old Town is more rustic than urban, with wooden houses set back from the narrow streets, a slender promenade skirting the bay and plenty of secret spots for watching the sunset.
Those seeking mud or spa treatments might opt for Haapsalu over Pärnu or Kuressaare, though the centres here are a bit more proletarian. Nevertheless, Haapsalu lays claim to superior mud, which is used by health centres throughout Estonia.