Thatched roof building in the fog in Matsalu National ParkSource: Mati Kose

Matsalu National Park

Located in West Estonia, this national park is a birdwatching paradise. Millions of migratory birds visit or nest there annually.

The best birdwatching time in Matsalu is from April to mid-May and then again from September to the end of October.

The national park includes 50 islands and shoals in addition to its mainland area. Birds aren't the only winged creatures there—the wetlands attract a variety of butterfly and dragonfly species.

Matsalu has received a quality label from the European Union of Protected Areas (EUROPARC Federation), which recognizes the sustainable development of nature tourism in the region.

One of the most exciting sights of the park is Northern Europe's largest flood meadow.

Matsalu National Park protects semi-natural habitats characteristic of Western Estonia (coastal and floodplain meadows, alvars and wooded meadows, reed beds, and small islands) and the cultural heritage of the Väinameri region. The flood meadow is an important nesting area for the corn crake.  

Climb a birdwatching tower, and listen to the melodic songs of warblers coming from the reeds at the mouth of the Kasari River. You can get closer by taking an organized boat excursion or canoe trip.

Birdwatching tower at dusk in Matsalu National Park

Source: Martti Volt

The land slowly rose from the sea after the Ice Age.

The people who settled on the coast made a living from cattle breeding, forming a meadow-rich landscape. To preserve the cultural heritage of the Matsalu region, old haystacks and fishing huts with thatched roofs have been restored to tell the life story of Estonians in the past. Continued cattle grazing preserves the area's biodiversity, as the local species depend on these open grasslands. 

Highland cattle grazing in Matsalu National Park

Source: Mati Kose

What to do in Matsalu National Park

Take a guided boat trip, visit the Puise Nina peninsula, climb the Haeska, Kloostri, and Keemu observation towers, kayak the Kasari River, and more

Every season has something special — and an extra season gives you extra time to see it all.

Expert tip: Exploring off-season will help off-load the pressure.

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