Spending time in nature is proven to lower stress levels, blood pressure and heart rates. So, why not spend your next holiday in the outdoors? Estonia's gentle landscapes and mild summers are welcoming to adventurers of all levels, even beginners and families. The country has an extensive network of hiking trails with plenty of free campsites along the way where you can rest your feet, make lunch or spend the night.
Countless hiking trails
With a population density nearly four times lower than the European average, Estonia offers plenty of peaceful, naturally relaxing places to unwind and forget about everyday life. Half the country is covered in forests, mainly of of pine, birch and spruce, while other habitat ranges from bogs and limestone cliffs to beaches and mystical springs.
The 'Freedom to Roam' guarantees all people access to the country's diverse natural areas. This also applies to unmarked and unrestricted private land, where you can walk, pick berries and gather mushrooms unless the landowner indicates otherwise. If you're thinking of heading off-trail, check out the simple list of rules about the Freedom to Roam from the Estonian Forestry Ministry, and make sure you observe extra protection rules in nature reserves.
There are hundreds of trails in Estonia to choose from, the longest of which stretches 820 kilometres across the country along the Peraküla-Aegviidu-Ähijärve route. If you're not quite ready for that one, check out some of the most popular trails or dozens of convenient, circular hiking trails in northern, western, and southern Estonia that start and end in the same place.
If you'd like to try a unique experience, slide a pair of bog shoes and walk across some of Estonia's water-logged terrain. Bog shoes have been used to cross wetlands since ancient times, similarly to how snowshoes help distribute weight across snow, letting you explore otherwise difficult to access areas.
Extensive free campsites
Camping in Estonia is easily accessible to people of all outdoor experience levels thanks to great infrastructure. The majority of campsites are free and provide the bare necessities, including pit toilets, fire pits and grilling equipment, and even firewood, depending on the exact site. You can check all facilities on the Estonian Forestry Ministry's website. What you won't find are electricity and running water, so arrive prepared.
If you don't have a tent, the ministry also operates free-to-use 'forest huts' located across the country; basic, unlocked structures where you can stay for one night at a time. There's no reservation system for forest huts, and you're expected to share if other hikers turn up.
The same 'Freedom to Roam' which grants access to most natural areas also allows camping for up to 24 hours in one spot, unless prohibited by the landowner or in a protected nature area. The best time of year to camp in Estonia is summer, when long, white nights and mild temperatures enhance the experience. It is possible to camp during other parts of the year, but you should pack appropriate equipment for wet and cold conditions.
It is also convenient to travel with a camper van or caravan throughout Estonia and park at many campsites, but be ready to drive on varying lengths of unpaved road to reach them. The most caravan-friendly campsites are concentrated in the North, West and on the largest island Saaremaa (which you can access by driving onto a ferry), but you will also find campsites in the South as well. Whatever your chosen transport and shelter of choice, Estonia's nature awaits.
For more information on travelling to Estonia please visit www.visitestonia.com/en
Before planning a trip, check out website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kadri Gröön | Head of International Media and Food theme
(+372) 556 56 5615 | www.visitestonia.com