Haapsalu, the spa resort of Russian tsars

Haapsalu is a friendly small town on the west coast of Estonia located 90 km from the capital Tallinn. It is a seaside resort famous for its warm water and mud spas which back in the day attracted the tsars from Russia. Russian aristocracy travelled on a railroad specially constructed to transport them to Haapsalu. The track is now a 60 km long bicycle road for tourists and locals to enjoy alike. It is a walkable town, easy to explore, close to nature with a sense of exotic harmony to it. On the seaside promenade we can see one of the most famous wooden buildings in Estonia, the Kuursaal. Despite only having about 10.000 inhabitants, the town is a musical paradise and hosts numerous music festivals to suit every taste. The town is suitable for backpackers and families alike. The centrepiece of local sightseeing is the Bishop’s Castle with the adjacent cathedral, the biggest single-nave cathedral in the Baltics. Legend goes that the cathedral is haunted by a White Lady who can be seen in August at night when the moon is full. Haapsalu is the capital of Lääne County home to the Matsalu National Park also known as a birdwatchers’ paradise. The shallow water of the sea freezes in the winter and thus creates one of the longest ice roads in Europe. Locals use it as a seasonal shortcut to the islands. As you might think seafood is very popular here, but if you prefer a burger you can have quite a decent one. One thing you absolutely need to try is its cake, visually spectacular and probably the best you had in a while. One item you might want to bring back as a souvenir is one of the world famous shawls handcrafted at a local guild.

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