Estonia is a small country in Northern Europe that is home to a number of beautiful national parks and nature reserves. From the dense forests and rugged coastline of Lahemaa National Park to the tranquil lakes and wetlands of Soomaa National Park, Estonia’s national parks offer visitors a chance to experience the country’s diverse natural beauty. In this blog post, you can read about the national parks in Estonia and what makes them each so special.
Lahemaa National Park
Located on Estonia’s northern coast, Lahemaa National Park is the country’s oldest and largest national park. The park is just a short drive from Tallinn, making it also one of the most popular national parks in the country. The park is a home to a diverse range of landscapes, including forests, bogs, rivers, and rugged coastline. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, visit historic manor houses, and enjoy scenic views of the Baltic Sea.
One of the highlights of Lahemaa National Park is visiting historic manor houses, which offer visitors a glimpse into Estonia’s rich cultural heritage. The park is home to several well-preserved manor houses such as Palmse, Sagadi, and Vihula, which have been converted into museums and hotels.
Visitors to Lahemaa National Park can explore the park’s many hiking trails, which range from easy to challenging. The trails take visitors through the park’s diverse landscapes and offer stunning views of the Baltic Sea. One of the most popular trails is the Viru Bog Trail, which goes through the largest bog in the park, and offers an opportunity to see many plants and animals and also an option to go swimming.
In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy other outdoor activities, such as fishing, canoeing, and cycling. You can also find several accommodation options there, including campsites, cabins and manor houses, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty. Plenty of nice restaurants are located in the park so if you get hungry during your visit, don’t worry, there are something for everyone’s taste and budget.
Soomaa National Park
Soomaa National Park is a beautiful wetland area located in south-western Estonia. It is one of the country’s most unique natural areas, and home to five large rivers, numerous smaller waterways, bogs, forests and meadows. Visitors can explore the park’s flooded forests and meadows by canoe, hike along the park’s many trails, or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
The name “Soomaa” comes from the Estonian language, which means “land of bogs.” The park is home to several large raised bogs, including the Kuresoo Bog, the largest bog in the country. These bogs are surrounded by forests of pine, spruce, and birch trees, which provide a stunning backdrop to the park’s natural beauty.
One of the most notable features of Soomaa National Park is its annual flooding, called the fifth season. Every spring, the rivers in the park overflow their banks and flood the surrounding forests and meadows. This natural phenomenon creates a unique and otherworldly landscape that is a sight to behold. The flooding also creates a natural habitat for a variety of animals, including otters, beavers, and several species of birds.
The park offers a range of activities for visitors, including hiking, canoeing, and wildlife watching. There are several well-marked hiking trails throughout the park, ranging from short, easy walks to longer, more challenging hikes. The park is also home to several canoeing routes, which take visitors through the flooded forests and meadows. Plenty of active tour options are available in the park.
Matsalu National Park
Matsalu National Park is a wetland area located on Estonia’s western coast. The park is a birdwatchers paradise and home to a wide range of bird species, including swans, geese, and ducks. Visitors can explore the park’s many birdwatching hides, take a guided birdwatching tour, or simply enjoy the park’s peaceful surroundings.
During the spring and fall migration periods, thousands of birds pass through Matsalu National Park on their way to and from their breeding grounds in the Arctic. In addition to its bird populations, Matsalu National Park is also known for its wetlands and diverse ecosystems. The park’s wetlands include bogs, fens, and marshes, which are home to a wide range of plant and animal species. The park’s diverse landscapes also include forests, meadows, and coastal areas.
Visitors to Matsalu National Park can explore the park’s many hiking trails. The trails take visitors through the park’s diverse landscapes and offer opportunities to see rare and endangered species of plants and animals.
Karula National Park
Located in southern Estonia, Karula National Park is a beautiful forested area that is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. The park is known for its tranquil lakes, rolling hills, and dense forests. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, visit historic farmsteads, and enjoy the park’s peaceful surroundings.
The forests in the park are dominated by spruce, pine, and birch trees, and there are several bog areas as well. The lakes in the park provide a natural habitat for a variety of fish and bird species, including ospreys and white-tailed eagles.
One of the park’s most popular attractions is the Kuusikaru hiking trail, which is a 5.5-kilometer loop that takes visitors through the park’s beautiful forests and hills. Along the trail, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape and see several natural landmarks, including the picturesque Lake Ähijärv.
Another popular activity in the park is fishing. There are several lakes and rivers in the park that are well-stocked with fish, including pike, perch, and roach. Fishing permits can be obtained at the park’s visitor center.
Vilsandi National Park
Located on the westernmost tip of Estonia, on the island of Saaremaa, Vilsandi National Park is a small but beautiful park that is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The park is known for its rugged coastline, small islands, and unique birdlife. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, take a boat tour to one of the islands, or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Vilsandi National Park is especially important for its bird populations, which include several rare and endangered species such as the white-tailed eagle and the common eider.
In addition to its bird populations, Vilsandi National Park is also known for its seal populations. The park’s waters are home to several species of seals, including the grey seal and the ringed seal. It’s possible to take boat tours to see these fascinating animals up close.
Visitors to Vilsandi National Park can explore the park’s many hiking trails, which take visitors through the park’s diverse landscapes and offer stunning views of the surrounding sea and islands. The park also offers guided tours, bird-watching hides, and educational programs, allowing visitors to learn more about the area’s unique nature and cultural heritage.
Alutaguse National Park
Alutaguse National Park is one of Estonia’s newest national parks, established in 2018. It is located in northeastern Estonia, near the Russian border. Alutaguse National Park is known for its vast wilderness areas, pristine forests, and diverse wildlife.
The park is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including several rare and endangered species. The forests of Alutaguse are home to large carnivores such as bears, lynx, and wolves, as well as smaller mammals like elk, roe deer, and wild boar. The park is also home to over 150 bird species, including the white-tailed eagle, capercaillie, and black stork.
Visitors to Alutaguse National Park can explore the park’s many hiking trails, which take visitors through the park’s diverse landscapes, including forests, wetlands, and bogs. One of the park’s most popular trails is the Põrguotsa Trail, which takes visitors through the heart of the park’s wilderness areas and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Brown bear and wildlife watching and photography tours are available in the park and a must do for anyone who’s looking for a unique wilderness experience.
Would you like to visit one of these national parks during your trip to Estonia? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss details of your personalised tour or check out some of the sample trip plans below: