The easiest way of getting about in Estonian waters is with a smaller yacht or boat, as this will allow you to dock at the majority of visitor harbours. If you have a bigger boat, bear in mind that there will be fewer harbours that can accommodate you. Nevertheless, by carefully planning your journey you should be able to cover most of the country’s coastline and its bigger islands, and you’ll also find welcoming harbours on the shores of our larger lakes.
Harbours all over the country are being renovated and revitalised all the time. The yacht harbours that are currently operating offer an ever more diverse range of services, as well as cultural and social life. Maritime festivals are held in many Estonian ports and harbours, as well as fishermen’s days, concerts and other events.
The Estonian coast is shallow and rocky in places – you’ll find the official and safe shipping lanes and sailing routes on the navigation charts provided by the Estonian Maritime Administration, which are available from retailers and in yacht harbours. If you fancy exploring some of the smaller islands where the water is not deep enough for anything other than beaching, make sure you take an inflatable boat with you.
If you go swimming, bear in mind that the difference in water temperature from one place to the next can be great – in the space of a day it can fluctuate along the northern coast by as much as 10 degrees.
A sailing trip around Estonia can form part of a longer voyage of discovery around the Baltic Sea. Apart from boat hire, transport services are also offered to help intrepid sailors get to their next port of call.
Which visitor harbours are worth stopping at?
- In Tallinn you can dock just outside the Old Town or across the bay in Pirita. In both cases the rich programme of summer events in the Hanseatic town will be within easy reach.
- The yacht harbour in the summer capital Pärnu is just a short walk from a long, sandy beach, a surf centre and the bright lights of the city.
- The beautiful waterfront promenade, lush bays and warm breezes in Haapsalu make it an ideal place to stop for those who like that small town atmosphere and old wooden architecture.
- Particularly popular among maritime tourists are the islands of Muhu, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. The harbours on all three are being constantly improved, and there is everything you need locally for an enjoyable break and to make the most of the cultural life.
- In addition to larger harbours, the smaller visitor harbours dotted along the western and northern coasts of Estonia are sure to provide you with memorable experiences. For example, you can spend an unforgettable night on the islands of Kihnu or Ruhnu in an authentic harbour tavern and be part of the unique day-to-day life of a small island.
Since the towns and cities along the coast include those which have long served as resorts, you can combine your sailing holiday with a relaxing break at a local spa where you’ll find everything from saunas to mud therapy. Once docked, don't forget to ask the harbour staff about the local cultural life and offers related to active recreation.