It is the most well-known winter sports centre in the Baltics and the Winter Capital of Estonia. Otepää got its name, which in Estonian means "bear's head" after the shape of the castle hill - which reminds you of a bear's head. It's also where in 1224, Bishop Hermann started building the first known brick castle in Estonia, The Stone Fort.
In summer you can hike along the paths of the Otepää Nature Park, see the landscape of rolling hills and lakes, romantic winding village roads and small rivers. Beautiful views open from observation towers on top of Tehvandi and Harimägi hills. You can also take part in different sports or simply have a good time at lake Pühajärve, which is a jewel among Estonian lakes. Pühajärv was also the first Estonian lake to earn the Blue Flag in 2000.
Those who believe in supernatural power should pay a visit to the so-called "energy pillar" in Otepää. It is believed that when you touch it, it will give you a great shot of energy and good health.
In wintertime Otepää is a winter sports paradise for skiers, snowmobile riders and for anyone who enjoys the snow: there are slalom slopes equipped with elevators and lots of cross-country tracks.
Tehvandi Centre is recognised as an all year round training area among high level sportsmen and Kääriku has, for more than half a century, been a favourite of Estonian winter sports fans. Otepää and it’s surroundings are where Estonian Olympic medalists (such as Jaak Mae, Andrus Veerpalu and Kristiina Šmigun) live and train.
If you don’t like crowds and sports then it’s always possible to go on hiking trips to the picturesque landscape around Otepää, try an Estonian hot smoke sauna and bathing in an icy lake afterwards.
Things to see and do in and near Otepää
- Otepää Ski museum
- Lake Pühajärve
- Estonian Flag museum
- Sangaste castle
- Otepää town hill, ruins of the bishop‘s castle
- Monument of the victims of the war of independence
- Energy pillar
- Monument of the visit of Dalai-Lama
- Tehvandi skiing centre
- Kääriku skiing centre
- Pühajärve spa