Overlooking Tareste Bay, Kärdla is the only town on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. It’s renowned for its 455-million-year-old meteorite crater and is believed to have been inhabited by Swedes from at least the 16th century. In the 19th century, Kärdla became a centre for wool manufacturing, although both its factory and port were destroyed during World War II.
Things to do in Kärdla
Occupying the longest wooden house in Kärdla is the Hiiumaa Muuseumi Pikk Maja, which details the history of the island’s fishing industry and its society and culture. Extending more than 60 metres in length, the building was once home to the directors of the Hiiu-Kärdla wool factory before being occupied by government agencies during the Soviet era.
A short stroll from the museum is the Kärdla Kirik, a mid-19th-century church dedicated to John the Baptist. It is distinguished by its Neo-Gothic design, with an open bell tower rising above its western facade. A memorial dedicated to Hiiumaa’s fallen soldiers from World War II is positioned beside the church.
If you’re visiting in the warmer months, follow the walking trail that leads from Kärdla to Tõrvanina, a white sandy beach fringed by pine trees. Alternatively, a well-maintained cycling path leads from Kärdla to Kõrgessaare on the north-west coast of Hiiumaa. Kõrgessaare serves as the gateway to Paope Nature Reserve, which was created to protect the unique biodiversity of Hiiumaa’s Baltic Sea coastline.
Getting around Kärdla
Kärdla Airport is the main aviation gateway to Hiiumaa and has regular flights to Tallinn. Ferries travel between Rohuküla on the mainland and Heltermaa, from where it’s a 20-minute drive to Kärdla. Kärdla is compact enough to explore on foot and bicycle rentals are also available.