10 reasons to visit Haapsalu

There are actually many good reasons to visit Haapsalu. We’re only presenting a dozen here, because the joy of discovery has to last.


The White Lady - Estonia's most famous ghost

Probably in the 14th century, a round baptismal chapel was built on the Haapsalu Cathedral, with the image of a white woman appearing in the window on the full moon in August. Legend has it that one of the lords of the castle brought a woman in a boy’s clothes to the castle. The fraud was discovered and the maid, who had broken the monastic law forbidding a woman to step foot over the monastery threshold, was bricked up into the wall of the baptistery chapel. The same girl went to the White Lady’s chapel to show herself. Thousands of people from near and far travel to Haapsalu on a full moon in August to see the lady in the window, if only for a moment. When the Lady appears, Haapsalu celebrates – it’s White Lady time, with concerts, performances, exhibitions and parties taking over the whole town.


Fortress walls hiding centuries of secrets

Haapsalu Bishop’s Castle and Cathedral, built in the 13th century, is one of the best preserved medieval buildings in Estonia. The convent building houses a museum complex: exhibition halls with finds from the castle and mysterious vaulted cellars, an alchemical laboratory named after Boniface and a hospital with medieval treatments. You can climb to the top of the bell tower for a beautiful view of Haapsalu. An exciting medieval playground for children has been set up in the moat of the castle. However, the White Lady can be seen at the window of the baptismal chapel in the Cathedral on a full moon in August.


Haapsalu - a famous resort town and therapeutic sea mud

The discoverer of Haapsalu’s famous mud cave is considered to be the military doctor Dr. Carl Abraham Hunnius, who opened a mud cave of international interest here as early as 1825. Members of the Russian tsarist family and the wealthy bourgeoisie of Western Europe have treated rheumatism and other joint diseases in Haapsalu. After the Second World War, Haapsalu was a military town closed to foreigners, so not everyone who wanted to could get into the sanatorium. Now, however, Haapsalu’s fame as a resort is on the rise again.


Estonia's warmest seawater

Thanks to the shallow coves, Haapsalu’s seawater warms up quickly at the beginning of summer and stays warm for a long summer. In summer, the water temperature of Haapsalu’s most famous beach, Paralepa, is the warmest of all Estonian seashores, making Haapsalu a great place for families with children to enjoy the water.


Tsars railway station

Built at the beginning of the 20th century, Haapsalu railway station is famous for having the longest covered platform in Northern Europe at the time of its construction, with a 216-metre-long platform. The fact that the station was built for the Russian Tsar’s chambers is evidenced by the separate imperial pavilion and the length of the perron is based on the length of the Tsar’s train. You can’t take the train to Haapsalu now, but the station is home to the Estonian Railway Museum and is a popular film location for many filmmakers.


Romantic Old Town, Promenade and wooden pizzerias


Iloni's Wonderland - a haven for creative children and parents

The gallery of Astrid Lindgren book illustrator Ilon Wikland opened in Haapsalu in 2006. The theme centre, called Ilon’s Wonderland, was completed three years later. You can look at Ilon’s paintings, draw your own pictures, watch films, write a letter to Karlsson and get hands-on in the Bullerby kitchen. In the courtyard you can find craft workshops and Mattias’s house, listen to the secrets of the Magic Well, walk with the carts and watch children’s performances.



Birdwatching doesn’t always have to be done in Matsalu, it can also be done successfully in Haapsalu. This is why, in spring and summer, many birdwatchers from all over the world can be found between the castle walls and on the shores of Tagalahe. The birdwatching tower on the African beach offers a good view of the Haapsalu back bay. For most of the year, this is the most interesting birdwatching site.


Active cultural life - from horror film festivals to summer concerts

Haapsalu’s cultural life is active and eventful, especially in the summer when it’s hard to find a festival-free weekend. Haapsalu Horror Film Festival, Augustibluus, Old Music Festival are just a small part of the spring and summer events in Haapsalu. In between the festivals, there are a number of smaller concerts and performances. Next to the Cathedral and the castle, the Kursaal and the Promenade are excellent concert venues in summer, not to mention the renovated Cultural Centre, which is the hub of cultural life in winter.