It’s said of Hanila that a young herder once took up a crossbow and shot a goose from among a large gaggle. However, the goose in question was the gander, and as penance for slaying him the boy was required to either build a church or surrender his own life. So the herder began to build – but whatever he built during the day would collapse during the night. In order for it to remain standing, the wise men of the village told him, he would have to wall up a maiden within its tower. Alas, the boy could not bring himself to do so, and instead walled up the goose. This is where the town gets its name: hani in Estonian means ‘goose’.

Hanila, with its harbour at Virtsu, is the gateway to the island of Saaremaa.

The meadows at Puhtu and Laelatu are unrivalled anywhere in Estonia for the diversity of their flora. The Puhtulaiu forest, meanwhile, is so lush that it could be a broad-leafed forest in Central Europe.

The village of Kukerand will be remembered by anyone who has seen the Estonian film Viimne reliikvia or ‘The Last Relic’, in which it formed the backdrop for scenes in which the main characters darted about between the juniper bushes.

Other sights worth seeing in Hanila are Salevere Hill, the ancient Vatla hill fort and manor complex, Pivarootsi and its coastline and the migratory routes of visiting birds.


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Food and eating out

  • Saare Värava cafe

    Saare Värava cafe

    • Tallinna maantee 1, Virtsu alevik, Hanila vald, Lääne maakond 90101
    • (+372) 4775180

    This cafe, known as 'the island gateway', is located in the harbour building...

Book accommodation


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European Union Regional Development Fund