Source: Jaanus Ree
In a 2020 ranking by Green Destinations, seven of the world’s top 100 most sustainable destinations are in Estonia: Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Pärnu, Rakvere, Lahemaa, Järva County and Tartu. The Estonian way of life is deeply connected to nature, and green tourism providers give travellers the opportunity to experience authentic nature and culture in environmentally-friendly ways. Discover highlights from some of our favourite Estonian green travel categories.
In 2020, the Estonian island of Saaremaa won the “Sustainable Travel Competition” at the MATKA tourism fair in Finland for its sustainability and social responsibility. For example, the hybrid ferry Tõll, which operates between Muhu and the mainland, uses 20% less diesel fuel and decreases vibrations and noise, creating a better environment for fish and animals. The islands of Western Estonia belong to the UNESCO "Man and the Biosphere" programme, which aims to preserve their living environment.
This university city is book smart and street smart when it comes to sustainability. The University of Tartu is a centre of knowledge and research in Estonia, and the Tartu Environmental Education Centre and TYPA Printing and Paper Arts Centre do their part to promote the preservation of nature and historical handicrafts through exhibitions and workshops. The city is also covered with bike sharing stations, making it easy to get around and see the outdoor murals the town is known for.
In Tallinn, greenery is always close by - there are many boulevards, city squares, parks, city forests, beaches and backyards. Tallinn Airport has the Responsible Business Index (2020), Tallinn Airport plans to be carbon neutral by 2035, Port of Tallinn is certified with the Responsible Business Index (2019) and contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. And by 2035, Tallinn's public transport plans to have only electric buses and trams in its fleet.
The “EHE” label is a mark of eco-tourism quality given to services, tours, workshops and spas that value local nature and cultural heritage in rural areas. You can be sure that EHE attractions are both environmentally and community friendly, from their decisions to avoid disposable plastic containers to a preference for local over imported goods.
Sustainable attractions in Estonia give guests a snapshot into the natural, economic and social phenomena of local places. By visiting Estonia’s highest waterfall Valaste or the Taevaskoda outcrops, you can see the unique layers of stone formed by millions of years of geological activity. At the Estonian Mining Museum, a byproduct of industry has been repurposed into an exciting and educational visitor centre, which is powered by environmentally-friendly geothermal heating to boot!