Active holiday on lakes and rivers

Source: Mart Vares

Active holiday on lakes and rivers

While canoeing or boating along Estonia's rivers, you can peek into the surrounding forests, sandstone canyons and otherwise inaccessible bogs. A shot of adrenaline can be added by choosing rivers with modest rapids.

Trips on the water are organised pretty much everywhere in Estonia. Service providers will help beginners, ensure that the necessary equipment is available and show people sights that might otherwise go unseen.

Exciting places to go canoeing and boating

Võhandu marathon

A great way to see the wild nature and spend an active day canoeing is to take part in Võhandu marathon, a popular event held every spring.

Photo by: Janis Pauls

Soomaa National Park is where you'll experience the 'fifth season' – a period in spring after the snow has melted or a result of heavy rain when the whole area floods. You can canoe or kayak through the forest and along the roads, and occasionally even right up to the front doors of waterlogged houses. 

Rivers in Estonia are normally slow-flowing, but when spring arrives and the snow melts quite a few in the north and south of the country become white water hotspots perfect for rafting. When boating and canoeing on Võhandu, Ahja and Piusa rivers in southern Estonia, you will find yourself passing 300 million-year-old Devonian-era sandstone outcrops.

Estonian-style boats

Summer picnic

Enjoy a lunch or a dinner on board a traditional Estonian boat.

Photo by: Magnus Heinmets

In addition to modern plastic canoes, you can try the ancient Estonian canoe known as the haabjas, carved from a single trunk of an aspen tree. The best place for this is Soomaa, where canoe-building camps are held in summer. You can also make the most of the chance to travel on historical ships and boats. Best sailings experiences in South Estonia take place nearby Tartu, where River Emajõgi connects to the large Lake Peipsi (Peipus) - here you can sail aboard a traditional local sailboat known as Peipsi Lodi.

Best nature experiences

Catch your own dinner

Trout, grayling and vimba are found in many rivers and springs in Estonia. Lake Peipsi on the other hand is known for its very own whitefish.

Photo by: Mart Vares

Pull your oars in and sit in silence – you'll likely see not only water birds but also deer and elk. Or go fishing and catch your own dinner.

When setting out, make sure you have a spare set of clothes with you in a waterproof bag. Virtually every river in Estonia has obstacles that need to be navigated (including tree trunks and beaver dams) so for your own safety make sure you always wear your life vest. Ask your trip organiser about canoeing or boating at night so you can listen to the nocturnal sounds of nature.

Last updated : 10.04.2019

In category: History & culture, Activities & Adventure