• Travel Deli

Kihnu island - if you look for something truly exceptional

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Estonia has 2,222 islands and islets in the Baltic. That’s a lot, but far fewer than the country which claims to have the most – Finland, with 179,000 (we’re not sure who counted them). Britain has 6,289.

Estonia’s many islands offer an enormous amount of charm and ancient history, with the most popular Estonian islands being Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Kihnu, Ruhnu and Vormsi.

Because of the authentic setting, tranquillity and sustainable way of life the West Estonian Archipelago is part of UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserve. By coming here, everyone can enjoy food, art and crafts of the islanders inspired by nature.

Most Estonian islands are located a short ferry ride from the country’s western coast. Here you will find pine forests and juniper groves covering Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, Estonia’s largest islands. Take your time to wander along the dusty rural roads passing stretches of coastline, with few signs of development aside from 19th-century lighthouses and old windmills.

Estonian islands are great for hiking, cycling or riding around in your car looking for old churches and crumbling fortresses left behind by pagan Estonian warriors, German knights and Soviet military. Here you can visit a spa, a festival, find an empty beach and go camping, or take part in the many festivities embracing the local traditional culture.

Kihnu, the seventh largest island in Estonia, is an ancient island of seafarers and fishermen. The cultural heritage of Kihnu – the clothing, language music and handcrafts are part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

The island is home to a close-knit community of about 700 inhabitants, who value old traditions, the language and songs of Kihnu. Singing and dancing are integral parts of life for the locals.

Throughout centuries, the men of Kihnu have spent most of their time at sea, while the women have become keepers and carriers of cultural heritage, which includes handicrafts, dances, games and music of the island. To this day, you can see the women of Kihnu riding motorbikes wearing Kihnu homespun striped skirts (a kört in Estonian).

In order to experience old traditions, it is best to visit Kihnu during folk or church calendar holidays, for example, on Midsummer Day, St. Catherine's Day or during Christmas. Other exciting events organised on the island include the Kihnu Herring Hike in May, the Day of Kihnu Home Cafes in June, the Kihnu Sea Festival in July, the Kihnu Dance Day in August and the Kihnu Violin Festival in October.

The Kihnu Museum, which is open to visitors around the year, provides an overview of the history of the island, including the life of the famous captain Kihnu Jõnn. When booked in advance, you can practice handicrafts with true craftsmen or enjoy a concert by a folk band. Visitors are also welcome at the Metsamaa culture farm, where you can witness the daily life of Kihnu for yourself and watch various films about the island.

Culture lovers are sure to be delighted by home visits, truck car tours and fishing trips offered in Kihnu. A beautiful view of the entire island, the surrounding islets and the sea opens up from the top of the local lighthouse.

A great way to discover more of the island is to take a tour of Kihnu (Kihnu Reesuratas), which takes you through all four villages on the island. This 23-km tour includes sights across the entire island. The tours can be taken both by car or on foot; another great option is to borrow a bike from the island.

There are no cafes on the island that would be open all year round, but if booked ahead, several of home cafes are happy to offer delicious treats to visitors during the fall and winter period as well. (source of information - www.visitestonia.com )

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