Estonia, a small but beautiful country in Northern Europe, is home to a number of breathtaking national parks. These protected areas not only preserve the country’s rich biodiversity but also provide an opportunity for nature enthusiasts to explore and immerse themselves in Estonia’s stunning landscapes. From dense forests to picturesque lakes and captivating coastal areas, here is a list of national parks in Estonia that are worth a visit:
1. Lahemaa National Park:
Located along Estonia’s northern coast, Lahemaa is the oldest and largest national park in the country. The park is known for its diverse landscapes, including ancient forests, towering cliffs, coastal meadows, and picturesque fishing villages. Visitors can explore well-marked trails that lead to fascinating sights like the Viru Bog, Palmse Manor, and several pristine sandy beaches.
2. Soomaa National Park:
Known as the ‘land of bogs,’ Soomaa National Park is a true gem for nature lovers and adventure seekers. It spans over vast wetlands that transform into a wonderland during the spring floods. Visitors can take guided canoe trips to explore the tranquil rivers and marshes, hike along bog boardwalks, and discover the park’s diverse flora and fauna. Soomaa also offers exciting wildlife watching opportunities, with chances to spot beavers, otters, and various bird species.
3. Vilsandi National Park:
Situated on Vilsandi Island and several smaller islands along Estonia’s western coast, Vilsandi National Park is a haven for birdwatchers and nature photographers. With its diverse bird habitats, the park hosts a significant number of migratory birds, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching during spring and autumn. Visitors can explore the island’s rugged coastline, hike along nature trails, and witness the mesmerizing sunsets over the Baltic Sea.
4. Matsalu National Park:
Covering a vast area of wetlands, Matsalu National Park is another paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts. It is located on Estonia’s western coast, where the Matsalu Bay forms an important stopover for migratory birds on the flyway between Europe and Africa. The park offers excellent bird observation towers, as well as well-maintained trails that allow visitors to explore the diverse habitats, including reed beds, floodplain meadows, and coastal forests.
5. Karula National Park:
Nestled in the southern part of Estonia, Karula National Park is renowned for its ancient forests, picturesque lakes, and tranquil surroundings. The park features over 100 lakes, making it a perfect spot for fishing, boating, and swimming during the summer months. Visitors can also hike along the nature trails that wind through the forests, where they might encounter some of Estonia’s iconic wildlife species like moose, lynx, and brown bears.
6. Alutaguse National Park:
Located in northeastern Estonia, Alutaguse National Park is characterized by its diverse landscapes, including vast forests, bogs, and open mires. This unspoiled wilderness offers a fantastic opportunity to explore pristine nature and engage in activities such as hiking, wildlife spotting, and mushroom picking. The park is also home to several unique and endangered species, such as the European mink and the flying squirrel.
These national parks in Estonia stand as a testament to the country’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage. Whether you are looking for exciting adventures, peaceful nature walks, or stunning birdwatching experiences, these parks provide a perfect escape into Estonia’s enchanting landscapes and offer a chance to reconnect with nature in its purest form.