The Stone Age ruhe, which was carved from a single tree trunk and sailed mainly on inland waterways, can be considered forerunner to Estonia’s historical wooden ships. In Soomaa National Park you can take a trip in a haabjas or dugout canoe, which is traditionally made from aspen. Unlike the ruhe, the haabjas is even more finely carved and has broader sides. History enthusiasts can even have a go at constructing a haabjas themselves.

The long coastline and wealth of pine trees suitable for ship construction contributed to the fact that Estonians have been known as brave sailors and renowned ship-builders for centuries. Construction of sailing boats from timber suitable for travelling by sea took off in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Historically, the best known site for such construction is the village of Käsmu, where at one time there was a captain or coxswain in virtually every family.

Historical vessels and the ancient art of ship-building are held in high esteem in Estonia today, as they were in the past. Maritime-themed events are held every year at which those interested can take trips on wooden boats, and there are also traditional boat-building camps.

Definitely worth a visit are the annual Tallinn Maritime Days and Saaremaa Maritime Week festivals, which attract historical ships not only from all over Estonia but also neighbouring countries. The Night of Ancient Bonfires is held at the end of August, when the shores of the Baltic Sea are lit up in memory of those we have lost and to show the unity of coastal peoples. Sailing on that special night is a truly memorable experience.

Here's a list of best places to explore historical wooden vessels in Estonia up close:

A copy of a 600-year-old goods vessel known as a lodi which traversed ancient Hanseatic routes can be seen sailing on Lake Peipsi and the Emajõgi River.

Lake Võrtsjärv is home to the traditional kale or single-masted trawl net boats Paula and Liisu.The Stone Age ruhe, which was carved from a single tree trunk and sailed mainly on inland waterways, can be considered forerunner to Estonia’s historical wooden ships.

In Soomaa National Park you can take a trip in a haabjas or dugout canoe, which is traditionally made from aspen. Unlike the ruhe, the haabjas is even more finely carved and has broader sides. History enthusiasts can even have a go at constructing a haabjas themselves.

The long coastline and wealth of pine trees suitable for ship construction contributed to the fact that Estonians have been known as brave sailors and renowned ship-builders for centuries. Construction of sailing boats from timber suitable for travelling by sea took off in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Historically, the best known site for such construction is the village of Käsmu, where at one time there was a captain or coxswain in virtually every family.

Historical vessels and the ancient art of ship-building are held in high esteem in Estonia today, as they were in the past. Maritime-themed events are held every year at which those interested can take trips on wooden boats, and there are also traditional boat-building camps.

Definitely worth a visit are the annual Tallinn Maritime Days and Saaremaa Maritime Week festivals, which attract historical ships not only from all over Estonia but also neighbouring countries. The Night of Ancient Bonfires is held at the end of August, when the shores of the Baltic Sea are lit up in memory of those we have lost and to show the unity of coastal peoples. Sailing on that special night is a truly memorable experience.

At Käsmu and at maritime events all over Estonia you can admire the ancient Viking vessels Aimarand Turm.

Close to the Museum of Coastal Swedesin Haapsalu Bay you will find the historical yachts Vikan and Runbjärn (the ’Bear of Ruhnu’) from the island of Ruhnu.

The doubled-masted, early 20th-century schooners Kajsamoor and Blue Sirius sail in Tallinn and along the northern coast of Estonia, as does one of the country’s most impressive wooden vessels, the Hoppet.

The Moonland, an uisk-type goods vessel that was used in the Väinameri Strait for hundreds of years, comes from the village of Koguva on the island of Muhu.

In the main harbour on the island of Hiiumaa you will see a halukaljas or cargo schooner, which was traditionally used to haul firewood. At Sõru Maritime Centre you can find out more about the biggest wooden vessel to have been preserved in Estonia: the 35-metre, three-masted trader the Ernst Jaakson (Alar).