Source: Arne Ader
Whether you're visiting Estonia for a weekend or longer, a visit to one of the national parks should be in every traveller’s TOP list.
The raw feeling of the forests and wetland landscapes feeds the imagination. Here, hiking trails will guide you through different landscapes, inviting you to take a swim or camp for a night along the way.
Nature, culture and history are closely intertwined in Estonia's 6 distinct national parks. Throughout the year, different tour companies organise trips and rent out necessary equipment from wetland-ready shoes to walking poles. And, of course, you are always welcome to venture out on your own – whether you want to go for a hike, picnic or a wild camping trip. The parks have nature centres with plenty of information on hand.
Lahemaa is the largest and oldest national park in Estonia, and one of Europe's most important forest protection areas. Here you will find rocky and sandy coastal areas and sediment plains winding along the peninsula. Forest, wetland and coastal ecosystems exist side by side with the geological, historic and architectural monuments. The forest paths provide easy access for picking berries and mushrooms.
As an important feeding spot for birds migrating between the Arctic and Western Europe, Matsalu is one of the most famous European bird watching sites and a true paradise for nature lovers.
Soomaa is home to massive wetlands but it has become most famous thanks to a local natural phenomenon called 'the fifth season.' During this flood time, up to 17,500 hectares of lower forests, roads and yards can only be navigated by water. That right! A perfect place for a canoe trip!
A heaven for seal and orchid lovers, Vilsandi is home to Estonia’s largest grey seal colony and many kinds of seabirds. Fossil limestone terraces are waiting to be discovered, as is the most westernmost point of Estonia – Nootamaa Island.
Karula is the smallest national park in the country, cherished for its unique domed landscape formed by glacial ice about 10,000 years ago. There are about 40 lakes hidden between the hills and domes, and a heritage landscape of meadows, marshy grounds and forest stands waiting to be explored.
The youngest of Estonia's national parks is the largest coniferous forest and marsh area in the country. With more than half of the park consisting of vast bog areas and 42% of forested landscapes, Alutaguse is a sanctuary for wild birds and animals. Several mammals like the wolf, the Brown bear and the Eurasian lynx move between Estonia and Russia via Alutaguse migration routes.
Although not a national park, Põhja-Kõrvemaa Nature Reserve is a home to grandiose landscapes where large forests and steep eskers alternate with swamps, plains and kames. The varied terrain and soil have created an almost magically alternating landscape that takes the visitor to the creme de la creme of Estonia's hiking terrain.
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