A road trip itinerary for East Estonia

Source: K. Ernits, Visit Ida-Virumaa

A road trip itinerary for East Estonia

Do you feel like you already know the cobbled streets of Tallinn and are ready to explore what other captivating corners Estonia has to offer? Then it’s time to look east. Taking a road trip allows you to see natural wonders that are off the beaten path. Road trips also mean no fixed schedules - this is your time to experience the flow of time in the North (and East)! With natural wonders and historic sights galore, East Estonia is waiting to be discovered.

This road trip is doable on a weekend but should you feel like exploring a bit more, you can stretch out leg #3 or #4 (or both) for a full day.

LEG #1 Tallinn – Tammispea boulder – Valaste Waterfall

In the morning, leave Tallinn and set your course for Tammispea village in the Lahemaa National Park. In the village, keep driving until you meet a wooden sign pointing you towards a boulder in the forest. Park by the roadside and walk to the boulder from there.

Tammispea boulder is a unique sight half-hidden within the spruce trees. Broken into a few parts, this glacial boulder is the highest in mainland Estonia; a remnant of the great glaciers that once flowed through these parts of the world, changing the landscape forever.

From the boulder, head to Valaste Waterfall. These two vastly different natural sights will tie the morning together nicely. Valaste Waterfall is the highest in Estonia, falling from a cliff 30 meters high to offer a grand sight in every season. The waterfall is magnificent in spring when the waters are abundant but equally so in winter when the winds from the sea turn the trees at the top of the waterfall into an icy wonderland scene.

When you feel like you have taken in everything nature has to offer, it is time to set your course on the third biggest city in Estonia – Narva.

Narva Castle is the best-preserved defence structure in Estonia.

Photo by: Marvin Kuhr

LEG #2 Valaste Waterfall - Narva

Narva, located at a Russian border at the easternmost point in Estonia, feels like two worlds in one. Here, you can have classic Russian dumplings, visit the magnificent Narva Castle and see the Russian flag hoisted across the river in the medieval Ivangorod fortress. The two castles on the shores of River Narva are a sight to behold in itself. The city is steeped in history, so park off your car and have a proper wander. Narva also has a selection of hotels to choose from, making it a perfect midway stop for your trip.

LEG #3 Narva – Lake Peipus

After breakfast, head to the small village of Kauksi on the northern shore of Lake Peipus. If it’s summer and your trip is longer than 2 days, you can book a house in the Kauksi holiday village – make sure to do this in advance. However, you do not have to book a house to enjoy this village with less than 100 inhabitants. Kauksi is a perfect gateway to Lake Peipus and the landscape that surrounds it; the beach is often called the most beautiful one of the entire lake. Here, the sand dune shores are edged with pine trees and you can walk on the “singing sands” - there are only a handful of beaches like this in Estonia. When the sand grains are of a certain size, a unique sound is produced when you walk on the beach or when the wind plays on the dunes. Singing sands for a country who loves to sing!

Lake Peipus is a unique experience in every season.

Photo by: Renee Altrov

Lake Peipus’s shores are known for the villages of Old Believers and their unique culture. To see these villages you would need to travel further south. If you feel like doing that some other time, just relax in Kauksi and take in the beauty of the largest transboundary lake in Europe.

LEG #4 Lake Peipus - Tallinn

After Kauksi, it is a good time to start thinking about lunch. Rakvere is a good place to sit down or even stop for the day if you feel like staying on for an extra night. You will have plenty to discover here, from 13th-century castle ruins to renowned spas.

The Rakvere Castle has lain in ruins since 1605.

Photo by: Simo Sepp

The other lunch option is to keep driving on the Tallinn - Narva highway and stop at Viitna Tavern. It is an atmospheric old roadside tavern that has served travellers for centuries. Next to it is the Artur’s Shashlik bar, offering Armenian cuisine with shashlik grilled on charcoal a favourite of many.

Palmse Manor is one of the most striking manors within the Lahemaa National Park.

Photo by: Andrei Chertkov

From Rakvere or Viitna, start heading back to Tallinn. If you hit the road early in the morning and are still bursting with energy, consider taking a detour to Palmse Manor ot the Hara harbour and submarine base. While Palmse Manor is one of the grandest baroque mansions in Estonia, then the Hara submarine base is a former Soviet military construction where the demagnetisation of submarines took place. Both of them have a strong spatial atmosphere that makes them a sight to behold. They are worlds apart. Let your mood guide you!

If the sights of Leg #1 set your soul yearning for more natural wonders, you can also stop at Viru bog in the Lahemaa National Park. It is one of the most easily accessible bogs in Estonia and has a trail with signposts to guide you. It is a straight way back to Tallinn from here.

Get acquainted with Estonian forest and bog landscape in Viru bog.

Photo by: Visit Estonia

Last updated : 13.08.2023

In category: North Estonia