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Outdoor Adventure Activities in Estonia

As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Estonia, here's our pick of outdoor adventures in Estonia, among the clean air of its forest-covered landscape, its 2,22 islands and the clear waters of its numerous lakes. There’s an age-old tradition of canoeing among the rivers, marshes and bogs, but equally there are lots of nature hikes, bike rides and opportunities for horse-riding where you can venture deep into the landscape. Winter too provides opportunities for exploring the great outdoors through alternative winter activities, such as kick-sledding and snowshoeing. Whether you go in high summer or in the off-season, prepare to discover the unexpected in this beautiful country.

Wooden structure surrounding by trees
Wild swimming in bogs is popular in Estonia. Photo: Romet Vaino/Visit Estonia

Google map: shows the location and details of all the places to stay, local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities in our Green Traveller's Guide to Estonia:

Green = Places to stay Blue = Local food & drink Yellow = Attractions Purple = Activities

Cycle around Kihnu island Explore the beautiful island of Kihnu by bike with guide, Mare Mätas, a local history teacher who has run the Kihnu Cultural Space foundation for over a decade. Cycling along the small island roads, you’ll visit the Kihnu Museum, church, lighthouse and Metsamaa farm and be given a unique insight into island life from someone who knows it as well as anyone.

Try a smoke sauna Soak up the real deal in a traditional smoke sauna of Old Võromaa, which has been honoured by UNESCO as one of the ‘intangible cultural heritages’ of the world. A typical session lasts three hours and – along with the usual rich aroma of burning wood – includes a ‘whispered note of meat’ smoked in the sauna, birch boughs and sauna honey, then cool off with a dip in the adjacent pond. Go canoeing in the fifth season Every year, for a few weeks in early spring, the water from the melting snow inundates the floodplain meadows (and even forests) of Soomaa National Park to such an extent that is known as the ‘fifth season’. One of the best ways to get around during this time is by canoe, and you can join guided canoe trips in the region with experienced local guides – either day trips or stay overnight in a charming local guesthouse.

canoeing on water with mist and trees in background
Canoeing among the bogs of Estonia. Photo: Karl Ander Adami/Visit Estonia

Building a dugout canoe Learn how to build an expanded dugout boat – the historical means of transport for locals during the fifth season floods. The three-hour programme takes place at Saarisoo Farm in the heart of the Soomaa under the guidance of Aivar Ruukel, one of the foremost practioners in Estonia’s burgeoning ecotourism scene. After the tutorial, you’ll go on an unforgettable ride in a dugout canoe along the Navesti River.

man with paddle in dug out canoe on river
Canoeing in a dug out canoe in Soomaa. Photo: Aivar Ruukel

Hike in Lahemaa National Park Lace up your boots and set off into the beautiful Lahemma National Park in the north of Estonia whose woodland, wetland and coastal areas are protected as a bird and wilderness area. Choose between several study trails, such as a 4.7km Oandu old-growth forest nature trail, a 4.2km Käsmu nature and culture historical trail, and a 5.6km Sagadi-Oandu forest fairy tales trail.

Go on a cycle safari Explore Toosikannu Wildlife Park (Estonia’s biggest deer and wildlife park) from the comfort of a saddle on a 2-hour bike ride along a 10-13km safari tour, mostly on gravel roads. Keep an eye out for red deer, moose roe deer, foxes and hare. Try kicksledding In winter (until the end of February), you can go kicksledding in an area of Matsalu National Park in western Estonia, including a 6-8km circle around the Haeska islets, if the ice conditions allow. You can also ride on an ice carousel and learn about ice fishing with traps.

woman on a kick sledge
Kicksledding across snow. Photo: Georgius Misjura/Visit Estonia

Go canoeing in the Aidu Fjords or the River Purtse Canoe the Aidu Fjords (from April to October) or along the River Purtse (March to April) with experts from the Kiviõli Adventure Centre in the northeast of Estonia. There’s also a range of other outdoor adventure activities, including kayaking and cycling. Travel to a bog restaurant by canoe Travel by canoe to a hidden restaurant that can only be reached along the Esna River. Hindreku Farm organises these novel trips throughout the year from its base off the Tallinn-Tartu road. You’ll be treated to a three-course lunch (including a salmon cooked by the fire, a duck pot, and a warm fruit salad) and later the evening there will be a tasting of eight Estonia wines. It also organises other adventure trips, such as snowshoeing, hikes in the countryside to appreciate the local nature, and longer canoe trips further along the river. Tartu SmartEnCity Art Tour Witness the progressive era of a nation through the rebirth of buildings in the capital Tallinn on this Tartu tour that focuses on the retrofitting of former panel houses in ‘smarkovka’ A energy class houses. Choose to go either by electric bike or on foot – just don’t miss the art murals in the city centre.

bunting, town hall and cafe seats
Tartu town hall. Photo: Riina Varol/Visit Estonia.

Take a dip in the Rummu quarry The site of a former prison, the Rummu quarry is now an azure lagoon with an onsite cafe that – combined with the nearby ash forest – is a great day out. You can explore the water park on a stand up paddleboard, go on a four-person pedal boat, or go for a swim in the crystal clear water, while on land you can go on a guided tour of the Murru prison and surrounding area.

Sail on the Hoppet Join a fascinating historical voyage on the Hoppet, the only remaining fore-and-aft schooner of the 1920s. The ship (which means Hope in Swedish) was originally built as a merchant ship between 1925 and 1926, and has been restored to run charter trips to the gulf and to the islands of Abrruka where you can combine the voyage with bike tours and campfire evenings. Go horse-riding on Muhu Discover the nature of the lovely island of Muhu on horseback. Rides last from just a couple of hours to 4–6 hour day trips. At the base at Tihuse Farm, there’s a riding academy for children and for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, there’s an organised hike along an ancient cultural trail – Muhu has over 60 pre-Christian rite sites.

two people on horses
Horse-riding at Tihuse Horsefarm. Photo: Priidu Saart/Visit Estonia

Visit the village of Koguva Understand what life was like as a peasant at this fascinating village museum on the west coast of Muhu that’s home to well-preserved farm buildings (and was the birthplace of the Estonia writer Juhan Smuul). Exhibitors dress up in traditional folk costumes and there’s an exhibition of national textiles and beautiful embroidered blankets. Go horse-riding in southeast Estonia Saddle up on white blue-eyed Estonian Native Horses and travel from Mustakurmu village in Põlva County to the sacred Taevaskoda outcrops (on the trail of the cult Estonia film The Last Relic), to the Mõtsküla forest to visit Swedish war graves, or the incredible Akste ant kingdom – the site of over 1,500 ant nests that’s home to over 3 billion ants. For the trip to Taevaskoda, you can opt to camp out overnight in one of the picturesque State Forest Management Centre wilderness camps.

For nearby characterful places to stay, local food and drink, as well as places of interest, see our Green Traveller's Guide to Estonia


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