Hit the road! A road trip itinerary for exploring South Estonia

Source: Katrin Laurson

Hit the road! A road trip itinerary for exploring South Estonia

Well-connected by plane, boat, bus or train, arriving in Tallinn is easy. Home to the UNESCO-listed Old Town, romantic wooden districts, and medieval architecture, Tallinn offers a lot for first-time and returning visitors - but there is a lot more to Estonia than its capital.

For a small country, Estonia packs a powerful punch. Rent a car, and you can be off on an adventure in an hour. Thanks to Estonia’s compact size, you can easily explore a quarter of the country in a weekend. And a change of cultural scenery is guaranteed!

The suggested road trip itinerary is doable in a weekend, but if you prefer a more relaxed pace, you can easily stretch it to 2-4 days. As always, feel free to use this itinerary as inspiration, and let your eyes, nose and GPS do the rest.

LEG #1: Tallinn to Onion Route - villages of Old Believers

From Tallinn, head to Kallaste on the shore of Lake Peipus early in the morning. Here you can decide whether to drive some more or go sightseeing. Close by is the Neo-Gothic Alatskivi Castle from the 17th century, surrounded by a beautiful forested park that is the biggest in the county.

Alatskivi Castle houses a restaurant and a museum dedicated to the Estonian composer Eduard Tubin

Photo by: Aron Urb

After Alatskivi keep driving south on the shore to reach the Onion Route. You will soon drive through several small villages, including Kolkja, Kasepää and Varnja, all home to the Old Believers with their unique architecture, food and museums. In summer, it is worth keeping an eye out for onion and pie sellers. If you visit in colder months, make sure to stop in a cafe to drink tea from a samovar.

Visiting an onion farm at Kostja

Photo by: Aron Urb, Visit Estonia

LEG #2: Onion Route to Võru

Võru is made special by its cute and distinctive network of streets and low-rise wooden houses. This southern city is a perfect place to park your car and walk around in the historic centre. It is a good spot to stop for the night, but you can also grab the wheel again and finish your day in Tartu.

LEG #3: Võru to Tartu

To add a fresh angle to your journey, drive further south to climb the Pesapuu Watchtower, a tower shaped like a tree with bird nests.

An opportunity to take in the views from above

Photo by: Martin Mark, Visit Estonia

After admiring the surroundings from the heights, you can head to the leafy student town of Tartu. Drive through Otepää to experience the undulating hills of the south, and get a better understanding of the surrounding landscape. Tartu is a perfect stopping place for a meal.

LEG #4: Tartu to Tallinn

The final leg of your road trip depends on your time frame. For a touch of natural magic, stop at the Blue Springs of Saula just 20 minutes outside of Tallinn.

If you are not in a hurry, get fully immersed in the Finno-Ugric culture in one of the most awarded museums in the country, the Estonian National Museum. Then, take the scenic Piibe Highway back to Tallinn. You will not regret it.

Exploring the Finno-Ugric culture at the Estonian National Museum

Photo by: Peeter Järvelaud

Last updated : 01.06.2023

In category: South Estonia, Nature & Wildlife