Spend a day on the Kihnu Travel Wheel

Kihnu Island is one of Estonia’s UNESCO treasures best explored by slow travel. By using a bike to navigate the island, you’ll better understand the historical and environmental forces that have made it one of Estonia’s most fascinating destinations.

Where is Kihnu Island?

Located about 11 kilometers from the Estonian mainland in the Bay of Riga, Kihnu Island has been permanently inhabited for at least 500 years, while fishermen and seal hunters have stopped by the island on their sojournvacations for at least 3000 years. Kihnu culture has endured over the years, largely thanks to the women who kept the farms running while the men were out at sea for months at a time. These traditions — most notably their ancient wedding songs and colorful skirts and knitwear — were added to the UNESCO List of Intangible Heritage in 2008.

The Kihnu Travel Wheel

Local entrepreneurs and cultural leaders created the Kihnu Travel Wheel, a self-guided route for visitors to follow around the island. The circular route symbolizes the island’s circular wedding dance or the helm of a ship. All 40 kilometers of the route can be done on foot or by car, though it is best done by bike, as 80% is comprised of paved roads.

Where does the route start?

The route begins and ends at Kihnu’s Suaru Harbor. The ferry to Kihnu leaves from Munalaid Harbor, about 30 minutes from Pärnu. The trip takes an hour, and you can take your own bike on the ferry for an additional fee. Book tickets in advance, as they can sell out during the busy summer months. If you don’t have your own bicycle, several companies offer bike rentals right at the harbor. For long-distance bikepacking trips, Kihnu makes an easy addition to the EuroVelo 10 route, which runs from the Latvian border all the way to Narva.

What is there to see?

The Kihnu Travel Wheel has 31 marked stops along the route and passes through the island’s four villages. Each stop gives you a chance to learn more about the island’s culture and history while guiding you through its idyllic landscapes. Stop as little or as often as you like — but don’t miss the Kihnu Museum for an in-depth look at the island’s history, and leave enough time to climb the lighthouse for an enchanting view of the sea.

When is the best time to go?

The island hosts several popular annual events, but if you plan on riding the Kihnu Travel Wheel on an event weekend, book everything ahead, especially accommodation and ferry tickets. The Kihnu Sea Festival is held every year on the second weekend in July. This festival once honored local fishermen, although now it celebrates the entire island community. For an off-season trip, check out the Kihnu Violin Festival at the end of September. The end of May is also a lovely time to explore the island as the lilacs are in bloom, turning gardens and roadsides into a riot of purple blossoms.

Things to consider before traveling

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Some tips to consider while traveling

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