Spend a winter weekend away in North Estonia

Source: Jaanus Ree

Spend a winter weekend away in North Estonia

Get acquainted with the Northern region of Estonia during this two-day itinerary that's perfect for a weekend getaway this winter.

Just a short drive from Tallinn, you'll find yourself in the snowy forests of Lahemaa and Kõrvemaa nature reserves, where you can do winter sports and outdoor activities. Along the way, you'll see grandiose Baltic German manors and medieval forts waiting to be explored. Feast on fresh seafood in fishermen's villages and slow down the pace of life for a while. Get off the beaten path for a weekend and escape to the North.

Near, yet a world away

The destinations listed in this itinerary are within two hours of Tallinn, perfect for a quick weekend trip.

Photo by Mariann Liimal

Day 1: Kõrvemaa and Lahemaa National Park

What to do & where to eat 

Explore the hilly landscapes of Northern Kõrvemaa nature reserve with a traditional Nordic winter activity — kick sledging. A kick sledge is an upright sledge operated by kicking off with the feet, perfect for exploring varied terrains. After working up an appetite, head up the coast for lunch at MerMer restaurant in the fishing village of Kolga-Aabla. You'll feel like you've been invited into a cosy fisherman's home; the intimate wooden house only seats 20 in the winter, so be sure to call in advance to secure a table and prepare to enjoy fresh seafood.

After lunch, continue to the Lahemaa National Park information point at Palmse Manor, where you can learn about one of Europe's most important nature reserves. Forest, swamps and the frozen sea await you. Before embarking on a hike into the wild, check out the grounds and Open Air Museum of the Baroque Palmse Manor. If you'd rather spend more time indoors than out, head to Sagadi Manor to explore their Forest Museum and enjoy cake and coffee inside the 18th-century manor home beside their crackling fireplace. 

The beauty of Lahemaa in winter

Photo by Mariann Liimal

Where to sleep 

North Estonia is a country full of manors, and there are many to see, so why miss the opportunity to spend the night in one? Vihula Manor Country Club and Spa is tucked into the landscape of Lahemaa National Park. Stay in one of the manor's luxurious and romantic buildings, dating to the 16th century. You don't have to leave the manor grounds for dinner, so you can enjoy fine dishes with ingredients from nearby farms, true to the manor's heritage. If you're lucky, you might even find bear on the menu. End the day relaxing in the manor's wood-burning sauna and admire the natural backdrop.

Day 2: Art by the sea and a frozen waterfall

Coastal views

The seaside views are a special treat of the coastal eateries in North Estonia 

Photo by: Jaanus Ree

After a restful night's sleep, prepare for some adventure. On day one, you experienced kick sledging, but on day two, you'll try yet another form of sledging — dog sledging. Travel to Paasiku Dogs' Manor where you'll be introduced to the Siberian husky breed and their history, assist in preparing the sledge, and embark on a several kilometres long ride through nature. Let the strength and agility of these specially-trained canines amaze you. Next, head shortly North to the famous Jägala Waterfall. At 8 metres high and 50 metres wide, Jägala is the widest natural waterfall in Estonia. Though stunning in the summer, winter is a spectacular time to visit, as the water freezes into a cascade of icicles.

The perfect end to the perfect weekend

Finish off your tour of North Estonia with a visit to Viinistu Art Museum, a museum of Estonian art housed in what was once the refrigerated building of the fish processing factory on a former collective farm. Spend time soaking in the atmosphere and taking in the meticulously curated collection, and then wander out to take in a view of the sea. Have dinner at the Viinistu Beach Restaurant where you can enjoy simply prepared dishes featuring fresh and smoked fish.