10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Estonia This Year
1. Estonia is highly underrated.
Also referred to as Northern Europe‘s best-kept secret, Estonia is not yet on the list of many travelers. That means that most places are not overrun by tourists but merely visited by a couple of locals. Traveling in Estonia thus is much more relaxed than elsewhere, with the exception of Tallinn Old Town during summer. Despite its small size, the country has a lot to offer to travelers. From historic sights to beautiful sand beaches and mystical bog landscapes, Estonia is well-suited for nature lovers and families alike.
2. Estonia is safe. No matter if you are traveling alone or as a family, Estonia is a safe place to visit. The crime rate is low, with the exception of some petty crime (never leave valuables in the car!). There are no venomous animals such as snakes or spiders, and large predators such as bears or wolves are rarely seen and very shy.
3. It’s affordable. Compared to other European countries, prices in Estonia are very reasonable. Fuel is not as heavily taxed as elsewhere, groceries are affordable and a good meal in a restaurant usually comes at somewhere around 10 Euro. Furthermore, many of the most interesting sights are in nature, and therefore free of charge as Estonia does not demand any payment for visiting its national parks.
4. It‘s easily accessible. Estonia has an excellent infrastructure, allowing you to explore every part of the country with your own vehicle. Most roads are tarred, while some are well-maintained gravel tracks. As it's a very flat country, most hiking trails are also easily navigated with a sturdy wheelchair or pram. Boardwalks make exploring bog landscapes very easy.
5. There are forests everywhere. Around 50% of the country is covered in forests, so you will find a quiet place almost anywhere you travel. Many hiking trails cross the expansive woodlands of the country, allowing you to explore them at your own leisure. I autumn, you will also have the chance to pick berries and mushrooms directly off the forest floor.
6. Camping is free. The Estonian State Forest Management Center (RMK) has set up free campsites all across the country. Yes, you've read that right. You can camp almost anywhere free of charge in Estonia. Many campsites come with bench shelters, dry toilets, and fire pits, and are situated close to lakes or the Baltic Sea. There is even an app that acts as a directory of all campsites in the country.
7. The country is home to bogs. In most parts of Europe, bogs have been drained long ago to make place for fields and pastures. Luckily, due to Estonia‘s small population size, many bogs have survived until today and are the main reason for the country‘s charm. Bogs are lakes-turned-wetland types of landscapes that were formed after the last Ice Age. After the glacial runoff filled depressions in the landscape, plant material accumulated over a period of millennia, leaving behind a bog landscape with squishy surface and clear bog lakes. Experiencing a sunrise in a bog can be a magical experience.
8. Estonia has a vivid history. Estonia looks back on a turbulent history, being constantly struggled over by different foreign powers over the last centuries. While times were often tough for local Estonians in the past, Danes, Germans, and Russians have left behind a number of interesting buildings. Most striking are the numerous castles and castle ruins that were originally built by the Livonian Order such as Helme Castle, Kuressaare Castle, and Laiuse Castle. While many castles were destroyed during one of the many wars, a large number of manors have survived and can be looked at today. A completely different sight are the abandoned military structures that can be found in the forests of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. Left behind by the Soviet army, many of the bunkers can be explored with headlights and some caution.
9. The silence is magical. If there is one thing that sets Estonia apart from every other place, it is its intense silence. Visiting a bog in the early morning hours is an ethereal experience. Often neither bird songs nor wind can be heard leaving visitors standing in a noiseless surrounding.
10. Experience Estonia‘s White Nights. Due to its vicinity to the arctic circle, Estonia experiences close to 20 hours of daylight in summer. Even though the sun sets completely at this latitude, the night never fully embraces the country. This has led to the summer nights being called white nights, as there is always enough light to see. Additionally, the temperatures are very pleasant during summer ranging from 15-30°C (59-86°F).
Keen to explore Estonia?
Check out our Estonia Travel Guide!
The Estonian State Forest Management Center (RMK) is facing increasing criticism in recent years for its planting of monoculture forests. Only a few old-growth forests remain in Estonia today, most are commercially planted forests.