In 1863, the Port of Parnu became Estonia’s biggest export harbor when the breakwaters were finished. In 1889, the town bought the bathing facility and began to develop the resort and attract Russian aristocrats to its spas. In 1896, the railroad connected the Port of Parnu to Valga, and timber became the Port of Parnu’s most important export product.
In 1937, the first ferries began to move passengers across the Baltic Sea to Stockholm, and the first hotels were built. In 1940, Estonia lost independence, and the city’s property and spas were nationalized under Germany. In 1944, the Port of Parnu suffered extensive bombing that destroyed the historic downtown area.
From 1945 to 1949, Soviet principles were imposed on the town and its culture. In 1965, the Soviet Union recognized the Port of Parnu as a resort of national importance. Political pressure from the USSR began to lessen in the late 1980s, the Port of Parnu started to organize a number of international festivals.
The Port of Parnu, which had been closed by the Soviets for 50 years, was reopened in 1990. The marina was given the first Blue Flag in Eastern Europe in 1994, and new yacht championships were held in the port. In 2001, the Port of Parnu celebrated its 750th anniversary. In 2006, the Port of Parnu opened its new beach promenade.