Celebrate springtime in Estonia

The snow melts, and the world turns from white to green.

Source: Jarek Jõepera

Source: Valmar Voolaid, Visit Saaremaa

Celebrate springtime in Estonia


Estonia is among the top three birdwatching destinations in Europe.

Over 400 bird species have been seen in Estonia. Birding enthusiasts can look for swans and sea birds on rocky coastlines and rare varieties like pygmy owls, capercaillies, and woodpeckers in dense, quiet forests. The birdwatching season begins as early as March. Spring migration ends in mid-May, and the prime bird observation season winds down by mid-June.

Guide to Birdwatching in Estonia

The season's most important holiday

Discover Estonian Easter traditions

Canoeing in flooded forests

When the forests of Soomaa National Park flood, the fifth season begins.

During the fifth season, you can go canoeing in Soomaa National Park when the river Halliste overflows its banks and floods the surrounding meadows and forests.

The time of early spring floods is known as the fifth season in the Riisa Village in Soomaa. There isn't enough room in the river basins of the Rivers Halliste, Raudna, and their tributaries for the water from the melting snow and so it floods the floodplain meadows and even the floodplain forests. This is an interesting time, the beginning of the water hiking season when you can go about canoeing in the forest. The biggest floods are in late March and early April.

Dugout boats were once the most common way for locals to move about during the floods. Now this knowledge is at risk of being lost, as traditional boats are replaced with modern canoes or motorboats. Watch this video to learn more about the dugout boats of Soomaa.

Learn more about Estonia's extra season

Paddling through time in Southwest Estonia

Foraging for food in the wild

Plants come alive in spring. Sap flows from the roots into the tree branches, buds burst open, and leaves unfurl. Nature is a veritable pantry for those who know what to look for.

Collecting birch sap

The forests of Estonia are home to a special tree that swells with a healthy elixir in early spring. The tree in question is birch, and its sap, full of vitamins C and B, antioxidants, and minerals, can be tapped and drunk on the spot. Birch sap flow is one of the first signs of spring, as it begins when the night temperature no longer falls below zero.

Nutrients, which the tree loses during the collection of sap, account for only a small fraction of the entire stock, so the process has little effect on the growth of an adult tree. The tree can easily refill any moisture lost during sap collection in spring, as the soil has abundant moisture. This special drink is known as kasemahl — you might be lucky to find it bottled for sale at local markets.

Picking wild herbs

Estonians have been using plants for food for as long as we can remember. Spring brings an abundance of vitamin-rich green shoots, especially good for those without much chance to bask in the sunlight during the long winter. Read on and re-evaluate what you can snack on!

Nettles are one of the first herbs to sprout in the spring, and Estonian folk medicine has come up with uses for all parts of this wonder plant. Nettle contains calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamin C and has been shown to soothe inflammation, strengthen the blood, and relieve fatigue. Besides physical properties, nettle was believed by ancient Estonians to protect spiritually. It was thrown into the fire to shield a house from lightning and added to bath water to break spells cast on the bather.

Wild garlic can be found already at the end of April. Thanks to its intense flavor, wild garlic banishes harmful microbes from the body and aids digestion. Did you know that springtime wild garlic contains 15–20 times more vitamin C than lemons? Wild garlic is great in salads, soups, herbal butter, and pesto. However, keep in mind that wild garlic is under protection and should, therefore, be acquired for either personal use only or from the market, shops, or friends who grow it in their garden.

Rhubarb contains vitamin K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins, vitamin C and carotene, organic acids malic, citric, and oxalic acid, flavonoid compounds, and others in moderation. Despite its strong taste, rhubarb contains up to 93% water and is also high in fiber. Young shoots taste the best, and rhubarb is most commonly used in cakes, jams, and juice. Rhubarb is also good for salads and marinades because it makes the meat soft and juicy. Strawberry-rhubarb sparkling wine and several other dry rhubarb wines have become popular among diners recently.

Dandelions have been a valued medicine since ancient times. In folk medicine, dandelion is used to detox and energize the body. The plant cleanses the blood, reduces cholesterol, and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke by diluting the blood. You can make a salad from its flowers and leaves. Dandelion flower buds can be pickled like a cucumber using a variety of cucumber pickling recipes. The leaves of dandelion are collected for preservation at the beginning of the plant's flowering period in mid-May. The leaves are placed in a thin layer of paper or cloth for drying in a room with a good draft and away from direct sunlight.

Going for a hike? Bring a salad bowl!

Photo by: Alari Teede

Dining on freshly foraged foods

If you want to gain more knowledge about foraging and horticulture, visit Energy Farm to learn more about local herbs in their workshops or participate in horticulture workshops at Klaara-Manni eco-garden. You can even try a "weeds for food" workshop — learn which ones to pick and which to leave behind.

Alternatively, you can ask Maitseelamuse Koda to bring a cooking workshop to you, or Forest Restaurant can bring a feast to a picturesque location near you.

Find events in Estonia this spring

Information on search results display in Article 12 of the Terms of Use.