As the well-known saying in Estonia goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.” That’s why the colder months are no excuse for not doing any exercise! The change of seasons might transform the landscape, but that just means there are different opportunities for sports out in the open.
The public health tracks in Estonia are well-tended and most are also well-lit, which means you can safely make use of them even at night. From spring to autumn you can walk and run on the pleasantly pliant surface underfoot in forests, combining that with workouts and stretching that the equipment available on many tracks encourages. In winter the tracks are taken over by skiers, providing them with more than 500 km of cross-country courses.
Health tracks will often also take you to Estonian beaches. Simply being close to the sea can have the same effect as a resort treatment: the clean, crisp air acts like a natural salt chamber, providing relief if you’re suffering from respiratory illnesses; while the sound of the water is a known mood-lifter and just makes you feel better generally. The public beaches in Estonia are clean and sandy and many come with children’s playgrounds and climbing equipment (on which adults can put themselves to the test, too). Those looking for more privacy when they head to the beach will find secluded bays a little further out of town.
A number of spas and holiday centres offer opportunities for group training in the lap of nature – for example, jogging or Nordic walking on health tracks and yoga classes on the beach against the backdrop of the setting sun. Ask for information when you make your reservation. Spas, holiday centres and hike organisers also hire out sports equipment.
Of course, you can still get some exercise if there’s no beach or health track nearby: walking and bike paths are perfect for brisk walks, cycling and rollerblading often extend well beyond city limits, meaning you can go as far as your legs will take you.
Exercising in Estonia
- Northern Estonia – There are some excellent health tracks in Nõmme that allow you to choose how far you go, whether you’re jogging or skiing. There is a public beach and health tracks in Pirita. You’ll find a beach with shallow water and a playground at Kakumäe which is ideal for families with small children, and there is a health track in the nearby forest. On Stroomi beach you can go running in the forest or work out using the equipment designed especially for adults. You’ll come across beautiful sandy beaches and lots of sports opportunities in Narva-Jõesuu, Võsu, Laulasmaa and Toila, where you can combine a spa vacation with an exercise regime. The ‘must-see’ winter sports areas are Aegviidu and Kõrvemaa, where you’ll also find holiday centres with saunas.
- Southern Estonia – What makes this region so special is its landscape. It’s the best choice for those who really want to hone their fitness, riding up and down the hills on bikes in summer and swapping wheels for skis in winter. There are health tracks dotted all around, especially close to spas and in the winter capital, Otepää.
- Western Estonia – The beaches in the west of the country are well-known for their warm waters. As in northern areas, here too you can combine a spa break with a beachside holiday. There are health tracks near all spas. You can soak up the scenery from the promenades in Pärnu and Haapsalu whether strolling along the waterfront or powering along on your bike. Worth mentioning in their own right are the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, where there’s little traffic and on whose health tracks and walking and bike paths you can enjoy the freshest of fresh air.