The nearby island of Kihnu offers a glimpse of a side of Estonian life that you could never see on the mainland. Most islanders boast a fairly mixed heritage, with Swedish and Livonian as well as Estonian roots. The Swedish influence can still be heard in the distinctive island accent. The island’s women are known for continuing to wear the traditional striped woollen skirts that their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers wore.
What to do when you get there
On the island you’ll find the Kihnu Museum, located in a 19th-century schoolhouse, a 16th-century church, and the cemetery where the island’s legendary hero, Kihnu Jőnn is buried. At the southern tip of the island stands a lighthouse built in 1864. Contact the travel agency Kihnurand, tel. 525 51 72, www.kihnurand.ee for information about camping, farmstays and tours on Kihnu.
A ferry runs directly from Pärnu to Kihnu (See the Getting around section) but you can also opt for the one at Munalaid Harbour, tel. 447 44 43, 50km outside of Pärnu. Munalaid itself is easily reachable by buses from Pärnu, theoretically timed to meet the ferries. During the winter months you can also get there by plane and the price is reasonable. Contact Luftverkehr Friesland-Harle, tel. 512 40 13, www.lendame.ee.