The earliest records of Kuressaare is a document written in 1381 that mentions that the town housed the fortified residency of a local Catholic bishop and that it was the main center for the islands of western Estonia. Kuressaare was previously known as Arensburg, and it received city status in 1563. Currently, the town has a population of around 15,000.
Several buses run daily between Kuressaare and Tallinn's main bus station. The trip takes 5 hours and traverses the strait between the mainland and the islands by means of a 20-minute ferry.