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10 reasons to visit Haapsalu and Läänemaa in winter

Discover romantic Haapsalu

Haapsalu is an ideal destination for families, couples looking for romance and health-seekers who want to stroll around the beautiful resort town, enjoy winter wonderland, visit spas and dine out in acclaimed restaurants.

Be sure to take a stroll around the city, which with its sophisticated style feels like a slice of another era. Latticework architecture, tiny streets in the Old Town, cosy cafés, a snowy promenade and a sea covered in ice.

The wonderful nature of Läänemaa

Almost a third of Läänemaa is protected, making it the most protected county in Estonia. The nature of Läänemaa offers something for everyone – bird and wildlife watching, bogs and marshes, unique small islands and Matsalu National Park. All this can be enjoyed by hiking the trails or from the lookout towers.

The hiking trails vary in length – longer trails can take several hours on foot, but there are also shorter trails where even the smallest hikers in the family won’t tire.

Read more about nature holidays HERE.

The tastes of Läänemaa compared

Haapsalu has been characterised by a thriving café culture since the early 19th century, which has developed rapidly in recent years. The whole of Haapsalu is dotted with small cafés with their own character.

Nowadays, in line with ancient traditions, natural food plants such as black cedar, blackthorn and anchovy are among the herbs used in cooking.

The poor soils of Läänemaa have taught us to supplement our diet with game, wildfowl, coastal fish, berries and mushrooms.

Ice skating in the old town and bay of Haapsalu

Haapsalu Sportbase has created the opportunity to skate next to the mystical castle walls at the Krahviaia Tennis Centre, where you can also rent skates. Probably the most popular is Haapsalu Väikese Viigi, where a 1.4km skating track is built every winter. There is also the possibility to play ice hockey.

Haapsalu is a distinctive town, surrounded on three sides by the sea, which goes under the ice quite early. This way you can choose your own direction and skate long distances on Haapsalu Bay.

Lighted ski trails

Palivere, 20 kilometres from Haapsalu, has ski trails of varying lengths and difficulty, as well as sledding and snowboard slopes. The well-maintained ski trails allow for freestyle and classic skiing. The 1.5 km illuminated ski trail is lit until 22:00 in winter.

The Paralepa Health and Fitness Trails are located in the Paralepa park forest on the border of Haapsalu city. There are two marked trails: 2.5 and 5 kilometres. During the dark hours of the evening (until 22.00), the 2.5 km trail is illuminated.

Winter cultural events

There are many different festivals and events in Haapsalu and Läänemaa in the summer, but there are also many events in the winter.

There’s something going on every day at the Haapsalu Cultural Centre – concerts, cinema, theatre, the city gallery. There are also events elsewhere – fairs, workshops, themed dinners, etc.

Keep up to date with events in Haapsalu and Läänemaa:

Spas and mud treatments

For the last century and a half, the town of Haapsalu has been valued primarily as a resort. Crowned heads and cultural figures from several neighbouring countries have spent their summer holidays and mud baths here.

In re-independent Estonia, the restoration of the traditions of Haapsalu mud treatment was started again.

1994. In 2007, the Laine sanatorium was opened, and a small mud bath of the same name was built on the site of the former Bergfeldt sanatorium. In 2021, the building was renovated and Hestia Hotel Haapsalu Spa was opened.
1997. In 2009, the Fra Mare Health and Recreation Centre was completed under the pine trees of Paralepa.

A fascinating history

Haapsalu and Läänemaa have a fascinating history, which you can learn about in the museums of Läänemaa.

At the heart of Haapsalu is the mighty medieval fortress, where in 2019 Haapsalu Castle Museum was opened. Haapsalu Town Hall showcases the history of Haapsalu resort. Located in a famous historic railway station. Haapsalu Railway and Railway Museum.

It’s worth a visit with children Ilon Wonderland, a themed centre based on drawings by Ilon Wikland, illustrator of Astrid Lindgren books.

Läänemaa is known in Estonia for its unique Coastal Swede culture, which can be explored by. The Coastal Scots Museum.


Vormsi, just a three-quarter-hour boat trip from the port of Rohuküla near Haapsalu, is a real natural wonder. In good winter, there is also an ice road between Rohuküla and Vormsi, a truly unique experience.

According to legend, Vormsi (Ormsö in Swedish) was named after the Icelandic Viking Ormi (“snake”). Another legend tells of the sea robber Orm, known from the legend of St Olav. Written sources first mention Vormsi in 1391.

Until 1944. Vormsi was mostly inhabited by the Coastal Swedes, whose achestors from Southern Finland or Eastern Sweden first inhabited the island probably around 13.-14. century. Most of the Formswedes left for Sweden during World War II.

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