Hiiumaa Island

Hiiumaa, Estonia's second largest island, is a few hours bus + ferry ride from Tallinn. The island has a very stark contrast to the populated capital city, and really very few tourists venture there. So, if you're looking for a quiet and green escape from city life, Hiiumaa may be just for you.

This island was heavily used during the Cold War when the Soviet Union still had control of Estonia, and lots of materials/structures were left behind.

While it didn't impede us, be prepared for English fluency to be much lower on the island than in Tallinn. We had a few interesting conversations (one in which someone was angry with me for parking in there spot), but we got it figured out!

Kõpu Lighthouse

($3) This is the 3rd oldest continually working lighthouse in the world since it's completion in 1531.

Tahkuna Lighthouse

($3) This lighthouse was prefabricated in Paris, then transported to it's current location and erected in 1875.

Ristna Lighthouse

($3) Locacted at Ristna Point, Kõpu Peninsula, this lighthouse was built in 1874 to help prevent sailors from running into drifting ice.

Ristna Beach

Along the western tip of the island is a beautiful, rocky beach that faces the Baltic Sea.

Military Museum

($3) Located in the former Tahkuna board guard cordon, this museum houses tanks, army vehicles, and radar and radio equipment.

Underground Bunkers

These bunkers are scattered around the island, blending in with the landscape. Most are open to the public...if you dare to enter them! You can buy a booklet at the military museum that shows where these are. Bring a good flashlight! Many people opt to hire a local guide before arriving on the island. They will probably be a huge asset in locating these.


Getting to the Island:

Because Hiiumaa is an island, you will need to take a ferry from mainland Estonia. Many bus services that take routes to and from Hiiumaa, but there are only two buses that go to Kärdla (the largest town) daily. We found Go Bus was a great choice for us. the ride was around 3 1/2 hours, including the ferry ride. We boarded the bus at the main bus terminal in Tallinn, and it took us all the way to Kärdla, with a few other stops on the way.

The ferry ride is approximately 1 hour long. Most people leave their cars/buses as there are food options, tables, and charging spots on the upper deck of the ferry.

On the Island:

Because the island is so sparsely populated, there is not a reliable transportation system. We used a local car rental company in Kärdla to travel around the island.

Note: You will need to fill the car up with gas before you return it to the rental company. However, be sure to fill it up the night before if returning the car early, as some gas stations only have a "pay inside" option, and aren't open 24/7.


There really aren't too many restaurant options on the island, so we opted to visit the local grocery stores and cook at our AirBnB. Do stop at a Mini Rimi for delicious, cheap pastries. I'm telling ya, the pastries in Europe are unmatched.


As mentioned before, the island is not a huge tourist destination, so there aren't any common "chain" hotels. However, there are several locally-owned hotels, hostels, and rental homes to choose from ranging from $40-$150 a night. We had a great experience in a little Air BnB.


If staying in Kardla, I recommend doing them in this order: Military Museum, Underground bunkers, Tahkuna Lighthouse, Kõpu Lighthouse, Ristna Lighthouse, Ristna Beach. If you choose to go to all 3 lighthouses, you can get a pass for $7 that gives you entry all of them (rather than paying $3 dollars at each, or $9 total).

We liked all three lighthouses, and think they're worth all going to. Tahkuna Lighthouse has the most stereotypical "lighthouse feel". Kõpu lighthouse feels the oldest, because it is. It is the third oldest continually-operating lighthouse in the world as it was constructed in 1531. Finally, Ristna Lighthouse offers the best view as you have a great view out over rocky Ristna Beach.