EDEN-ESTONIA: Nature and coastal holidays

“EDEN-ESTONIA 2017: Nature and coastal holidays”

In 2007 European Commission launched the initiative” EDEN – European Destinations of Excellence “. The overall aim of the initiative is to draw attention to the value, diversity and shared characteristics of European tourist destinations and to promote destinations where the economic growth objective is pursued in such way as to ensure the social, cultural and environmental sustainability of tourism.

The initiative concentrates of selection and awarding Destinations of Excellence and promotion of destinations that are already selected. Estonia joined to initiative in 2008. Since then most outstanding Destinations of Excellence have been chosen that develop tourism using its heritage in a sustainable way.

The aim of the project” EDEN-Estonia 2017” is to promote Estonian Destinations of Excellence. COSME programme grant is 29 000€, duration from October 2018 until March 2020.

Project target group is nature tourists, target markets are Germany and United Kingdom. In cooperation with destinations and national Tourism Board (Estonian Enterprise) following activities will be carried out:

  • – Brochures about Estonian EDEN Destinations of Excellence (EST, ENG, GER);
  • – Participation in tourism fair ITB Berlin 2019 on Estonian national stand;
  • – FAM trips for UK and German online and regular media representatives;
  • – Promotion of EDEN destinations in online channels.

Sille Roomets, project manager, +372 5871 6101, sille@westestonia.ee
Anneli Haabu, communication manager, +372 527 0660,  anneli.haabu@westestonia.ee

Brochure TOP 10 EDEN destinations of Estonian nature tourism

Project partners

TOP 10 Estonian EDEN nature tourism related Destinations of Excellence have been chosen (winners and finalists): Haapsalu, Hiiumaa island, Matsalu National Park, Muhu island, Vilsandi National Park, Romantic Coastline area, Soomaa National Park, Lake Võrtsjärv, Setomaa area and Onion Route area. 

TOP 10 EDEN destinations of Estonian nature tourism

2013 winner in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Accessible tourism.’       

                         The romantic small town also referred to as ‘The Venice of the North’ is known for its historic and marine atmosphere, warm sea water, famous medical mud, beautiful beach promenade, and the episcopal castle. The narrow streets of the Old Town with their houses hemmed with wooden lace have not changed much since early 20thcentury and romantic walks continue to take visitors to the seaside. In a decent winter, the coastal sea freezes over, providing visitors with the unique experience of driving on sea ice. Haapsalu with its surrounding areas is one of Estonia’s best birdwatching locations. The versatile landscapes and shallow bays offer excellent birdwatching opportunities all year round.

– enjoy romantic walks by the seaside and on the narrow streets of the resort town;
– relax in warm sea water and try out mud treatments in local spas;
– visit the medieval castle and the cathedral;
– get an easy and convenient birdwatching experience at the shore promenade and seaside walkways. 


Haapsalu promenade and birdwatching tower
While strolling along the seaside boulevard and dreamily gazing at the sea, be sure to check the time at the sundial, observe the wooden lace of Kuursaal Café, and rest your feet on the bench dedicated to world-famous composer Tchaikovsky.
You can get a full overview of bird life from the 15-metre birdwatching tower.

Haapsalu Episcopal Castle and Cathedral
The Episcopal Castle, built in the 13th century, is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Estonia. The main castle, the magnificent cathedral, the foreparts, and the medieval round wall around them fell into ruins at the end of the 17thcentury.
Today, the main castle houses an entertainment museum / visitor centre introducing medieval history. The castle is also home to Estonia’s most famous ghost – the White Lady.

2-hour guided birdwatching walk in Haapsalu
This is a calm walk with a noted bird guide taking you to the town’s best observation spots to gain memorable birdwatching experiences as well as new knowledge.

Paralepa beach and forest trails
Paralepa beach has always been one of the warmest sand beaches in terms of water temperature in Estonia. The silence of the nearby park forest hides marked recreational and forest trails of 3 km and 5 km.

Ice skating tour on Haapsalu Bay
Ice skating tour on Haapsalu Bay ice is weather-dependent, but good ice conditions allow high speeds on touring skates so that long distances can be covered. The organiser provides the skating equipment and a tour guide, just be sure to bring a warm drink with you.



Haapsalu Tourist Information Centre
Karja 15, Haapsalu, phone +372 33248

Instagram @visit_haapsalu

2015 winner in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Culinary tourism destination’.
Hiiumaa’s lighthouses, nominated in 2011 in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Tourism and restored destinations


Hiiumaa with its genuine wild nature and island lifestyle has been part of the international UNESCO ‘Man and the Biosphere’ programme for nearly 30 years. The living environment that has been preserved for centuries, unique traditions, and industrious and well-humoured people of the island have earned special acknowledgement for being able to live in harmony with the nature.
The island has its own desert as well as wetlands and forests, clean water, and fresh air. Due to the meteorite explosion near the current city of Kärdla about 455 million years ago, the area has a lot of Artesian aquifers known for their naturally clean water. The islanders appreciate local food, wild produce, and traditions. Hiiumaa as an island of historical lighthouses also features the world’s oldest operating lighthouse.
– visit the historical lighthouses and enjoy the 360-degree landscape views;
– discover deep forests on inland hiking trails;
– enjoy a romantic walk between the juniper fields of Kassari Island and Sääretirp cape;
– take pleasure in the natural and local tastes.


KõpuTahkuna, and Ristna lighthouses
Kõpu lighthouse, the world’s oldest continuously operating lighthouse. The steel structures of Ristna lighthouse and Estonia’s tallest Tahkuna lighthouse have been prepared at the world-famous Gustav Eiffel’s in France. A magnificent 360-degree view of the island’s forests, coastal areas, and the sea opens up at the top of the lighthouses.
The lighthouses are open from May to September and upon advance booking or for observing from outside at other times.

Guided military/nature hike in Tahkuna
This hike follows the trails of the First and Second World War in the forests of Tahkuna Peninsula and features kilometres of fortification sections, concrete bunkers, shelters, a fire conducting tower, and much more. How have the wars and the Soviet military affected Hiiumaa’s natural environment? Advance bookings only.

The higher part of this narrow uniquely named 2-kilometre cape is covered with low vegetation, but the top end is full of pebbles, disappearing into the sea as a thin shank.

Orjaku bird observation tower and study trail
In autumn, about 10,000–15,000 coastal and water birds stop at the bay. The trail includes an observation tower, three observation platforms, a resting area with a shelter, and about 0.4 km of boardwalk crossing the reed bed, making the trail suitable for families with children.

Neljateeristi nature trail
Neljateeristi nature trail has a mystical and fairy-tale-like atmosphere and versatile nature. One can climb on large boulders all year round as well as enjoy beautiful sea views.


Hiiumaa island
Hiiumaa Tourist Information Centre
Hiiu 1, Kärdla, telefon +372 5045393 
FB: VisitHiiumaa
Instagram @visithiiumaa 

Nominated in 2009 in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Tourism and protected areas.’                    

Matsalu has been in the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance already since 1976. In addition to birds, the list also protects semi-natural communities characteristic to Western Estonia (coastal meadows, flood-meadows, alvars, wooded meadows, reed beds, and small islands) and the cultural heritage of the Väinameri Sea.
Matsalu National Park is the only one in the Baltic States that has been awarded the Diploma of the European Council, which recognises Matsalu’s biological, geological, and scenic diversity. The national park is part of the HELCOM’s Väinameri marine protection area and the EUROPARC Federation issued their Certificate of Sustainable Tourism to Matsalu National Park in 2015.

– you can see Europe’s biggest flood-meadows, including the 4,000-hectare Kasari floodplain;
– you will find yourself in a true birdwatcher’s paradise, one of Europe’s most important resting areas of water birds migrating between the Arctic and Western Europe;

– as a plant enthusiast, you can find many orchids between the oaks and hazels of the wooded meadows


Matsalu National Park’s Centre
The centre that is located at Penijõe manor and is open all year round has an exposition that introduces the national park and provides you with all the information you need about the national park.

Kloostri observation tower and Kasari flood-meadow
The 16-metre tower with an observation platform located by Kasari river offers a wonderful view of the river meadow where duck, goose, swan, and shorebird flocks stay during the springtime flooding. Nesting storks and eagles or moose and roe deer may be spotted during the summer season.

Salevere hiking trail
The 1.5-kilometre trail with a boardwalk and staircases goes uphill through the junipers of the alvar, a diverse alvar forest, and a rare deciduous forest, reaching an ancient defensive wall and a spring to be enjoyed at the end of the trail. Salevere is especially picturesque in spring, when flowers blossom.

Puise Nina Farm and bird observation tower
It is possible to spend the night at the tower to observe birds, enjoy beautiful sea views, spend a romantic summer night with a partner, or enjoy a wintertime starry night.

Haeska bird observation tower
The Haeska tower holds Europe’s one-day bird watching record – 128 different bird species spotted. The surrounding coastal meadows and low bay are one of the favourite resting areas of migrating birds.
Moving around is allowed from sunrise to sunset.


Pärnu Külastuskeskus 
Uus 4, Pärnu, ph +372 447 3000
FB: visitparnu
Instagram @visitparnu 

Nominated in 2010 in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Water tourism.’


For centuries, Muhu Island has been a small sea country between two straits. Under the shade of wild vegetation and boat landing places, the coastal sea tells the story of the local people and their lifestyle. Over millennia, the traditions of Muhu Island have been influenced and reinforced by passing cargo ships and shipments, merchants, war parties, thousands of fortune and job seekers. Muhu Island is a place where time stands still, because the nature and traditions have not changed much over the years. The unchanged village milieu and coastal culture preserved since ancient times, ecological balance, and a nature-centred way of thinking invite you to find your hiding place on the island. Take time out on the wild beaches, learn about fishing village traditions that date back centuries, visit well-preserved sites of ancient culture, discover rare plant and bird species, and enjoy the local folklore.

– Saaremaa and Muhu islands have been part of the international UNESCO ‘Man and the Biosphere’ programme;
– learn about farm architecture and landscape in Koguva village with its long stone walls;
– follow the trails of ancient history, take note of the colours of the front doors and the magical symbols that embellish them; visit St. Catherine’s Church;
– travel on the cliffs, islets, and alvars of the northern coast of Muhu;
– observe the diverse floral bounty of Muhu Island that is present in nature as well as on Muhu embroidery.


Üügu Cliff
The north-eastern and northern coast of Muhu Island is hemmed with bigger or smaller cliffs.
Üügu cliff with its length of about 300 metres is the most exemplary of the island’s cliffs – the sea has broken and caved it quite strongly, but amazing vistas can still be enjoyed.

Koguva fishing village and Muhu Museum
Koguva Village is seated in a unique natural landscape and features well-preserved peasant houses, being one of the most outstanding examples of Estonian peasant architecture. Farm architecture, Muhu folk costumes, the old village school, different exhibitions about Muhu’s nature and history – the museum spreads across four different village houses; tickets and the village plan is available at Tooma farm.

Muhu Adventure Park and nature trail
In this special place of versatile history and nature, you can sense how people’s actions and nature affect each other over time – the former military base has become a place to learn about local biodiversity and historical heritage or to take time out and climb among the treetops instead.

Tihuse Ancient Culture Trail and horseback hikes to the Fairy Kingdom
The Tihuse Ancient Culture Trail introduces the nature and ancient cultural heritage of Muhu, the customs and habits of the ancient times, forest fairies, and old rites. Walking or horseback riding hikes to sacred places are organised at different levels and with varying durations.

Uiskboat Moonland– sailing ship cruises on the Muhu coast
The name uisk, meaning ‘serpent’, was used to describe Viking ships of Saaremaa that would attack the areas of the Riga bishopric and partake in looting raids to Scandinavia. The boat has been a symbol of the Väinameri Sea for about a thousand years. Sailing ship Moonlandwill take you to enjoy the beautiful sea views of the coast and islets.


Tourist Information Centre
Tallinna 2, Kuressaare, ph+372 453 3120
Instagram @visit_saaremaa


Nominated in 2009 in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Tourism and protected areas.’


Vilsandi, Estonia’s westernmost inhabited island, is the centre of a national park that is home to seals, water birds, and orchids.
Two thirds of the Vilsandi National Park is taken up by the sea with more than 150 islands, islets, and reefs.
– Did you know that Vilsandi is home to one of the biggest grey seal colonies and that thousands of water birds stop here?
– You can find over 30 orchid species, endemic Saaremaa yellow rattle, and ivy on the northern border of its habitats here.
– If you are a geology enthusiast, check out the slate outcrops in Vilsandi, as they are rich in fossils and fossilised corals.
– The Kiipsaare lighthouse used to be located at the east coast of the peninsula, but can now be found at the west coast, in the sea instead.


Vilsandi National Park and RMK Information Point
Start from the RMK information point at Loona – the centre includes permanent exhibitions as well as maps of the national park that has such geological, zoological, and botanical diversity.

On foot to Vilsandi; nature and orchid hikes
Depending on the weather, Vilsandi Island is either travelled to by boat or on foot through the water; a truck is used to travel around the island to learn about the uniqueness of Vilsandi’s nature and stories about the life of the islanders.
The route of the spring- or summertime orchid trip depends on the season, as the flowers bloom at different locations.

Vilsandi’s hiking trails, observation tower, and lighthouse
Two hiking trails (6 km and 8 km) start from the 16-metre metal observation tower located in the middle of the island. The 8-kilometre trail follows the south coast alongside the coral reefs to the lighthouse and returns through the forest. The other trail leads to Vesiloo Island.

Harilaiu hiking trails and Kiipsaare lighthouse
The 10-kilometre marked trail at one of the most beautiful and oldest parts of the Harilaiu Peninsula leads through the Harilaiu Strait and heads to the Kiipsaare lighthouse, which is now located in the sea due to changes in the coastal line.
The lighthouse sloped to one side years ago due to storm winds and the waves, but gusts of wind and waves sometimes push it nearly upright again. Only accessible on foot.

Seal observation tour on the sea
A ship tour takes you beyond the most western corners of Vilsandi National Park’s to the open sea to observe seals. Bring warm clothes and binoculars, because in addition to the seals, you will see thousands of birds.
E-mail: maarika.toomel@gmail.com


Kuressaare Tourist Information Centre
Tallinna 2, Kuressaare, tel +372 453 3120
FB: visitsaaremaa/FB: vilsandi
Instagram @visit_saaremaa

Nominated on 2015 in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Culinary tourism destination.’


The Romantic Coastline follows 635 kilometres of coastline alongside Pärnu Bay, through the junipers of Varbla to the Estonian-Latvian border in Ikla. An informed and observant eye will notice signs of the forgotten coastline of the Baltic Sea, while others may prefer the mysterious inland with its deep forests and wetlands.
The Romantic Coastline also passes through Kihnu Island, characterised by its unique community life, diverse folk traditions, folk costumes, and, of course, the natural environment.
– take some lazy walks along the solitary paradise beaches, enjoy your travels through idyllic fishing villages and rural landscapes;
– journey in mysterious and ancient locations, enjoying the most beautiful sunsets;
– hike in solitary wetlands and coastal meadows full of bird songs and restore your health in the dune pine forests;
– be sure to visit the Kihnu Island that has a unique cultural and natural space


Kihnu Reesuratas / Kihnu Travel Wheel – the official island tour
Kihnu Reesuratas is a 23 km round route that starts from the port and can be taken without a tour guide; the cultural and natural sights of the island can be discovered by bike, on foot, or on a nostalgic sidecar motorcycle. You will be able to enjoy the UNESCO-certified cultural space, nature, landscapes, and sea views.

Seikle Vabaks (‘Freedom of Adventure’) kayak trips to Manija or Sorgu Island
Manija is a small rocky islet in Pärnu Bay and is one of the least inhabited islets in Europe. The hike takes you to discover a unique ancient culture that has been included in the UNESCO world’s cultural heritage list, the island’s nature, history, and the life of the coastal fishermen. Sorgu is a small island near Manija with an area of about 5 hectares and no human settlement. It has been inhabited by different water birds, especially cormorant colonies.
Kayak hikes available with advance booking only.

RMK Nigula bog study trail and observation tower
The most enjoyable features of Nigula bog are its five bog islands covered with a virgin forest and a big bog lake. The 3 km study trail passes through open bog and leads to the largest bog island – the Salupeaksi Island. The observation tower on the trail is excellent for observing bog life.

Soontagana Stronghold
The Soontagana Stronghold on Soo Island was established during the 7th–8thcentury and is an ancient fortification surrounded by beautiful landscapes of heritage culture – meadows, old farmsteads, and stone fences. In addition to a walk and nice views, you can use fireplaces and a hiking hut.

Kabli beach, bird centre, and nature trail
The Kabli Visitor Centre includes an exhibition about nature and offers excursions and camping and swimming options. A 1.8 km study trail starts in front of the centre and continues along the coastline, introducing plant communities, dunes, and wild birds.
You can try birdwatching on your own at the two observation towers on the trail. Kabli beach with its low and warm water is a much-loved holidaying area, featuring a winding beach promenade, picnic spots, and a summer café.
E-mail: info.kabli@rmk.ee


Pärnu Visitor Centre
Uus 4, Pärnu, PH +372 447 3000
FB: visitparnu
Instagram @visitparnu 

2009 winner in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Tourism and protected areas.’


The fifth season is the season of massive floods at Soomaa National Park. Only after visiting Soomaa will you understand the great role of floods in the shaping of the area’s nature. Soomaa offers a home for more than 185 bird species as well as the lynx, the wolf, and the brown bear.
– during the springtime floods, you can canoe even in the forest;
– in the summer, enjoy the blossoming ecosystem of the Kuresoo River, take pleasure in smelling wild orchids, or participate in a night-time canoe trip;
– in the fall, observe wild animals preparing for the coming winter, order a beaver safari;
– wintertime snow makes the springtime floods possible; snowshoe or ice-skating hikes on a frozen bog or a frozen river are exceptional experiences.


Soomaa.com guided canoe trips
Canoeing on the river is one of the best ways to observe the nature of the national park. It is especially exciting to canoe in a forest or on a meadow during the springtime floods.
Canoe trips need to be booked in advance.

Ingatsi Nature Study Trail
The 3 km trail follows the forest ride until the Kuresoo marginal slope, the highest in Europe, to the observation tower offering broad vistas of the open wetlands. A boardwalk then leads way between picturesque bog pools – you are welcome to take a dip in the summer.

Soomaa.com beaver safari – evening canoe trip at Soomaa
The hikes are organised in the evening, as beavers get active when it gets dark. Advance booking only.

Soomaa winter hike on snowshoes
Snowshoes guarantee an excellent experience and are useful tools at any bog hike. You will not fall through the snow or the bog’s surface and you are free to observe the signs and imprints of the natural world.
Advance booking only.

Riisa study trail
The 5 km bog study trail shows you how a forest becomes a bog. The trail includes an observation tower and 1.2 km of it can be accessed with a wheelchair or stroller. 


Pärnu Visitor Centre
Uus 4, Pärnu, ph +372 447 3000
FB: visitparnu
Instagram @visitparnu 

2010 winner in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Water tourism.’


The second biggest lake of the Baltic States does not only serve as a natural habitat for many plant, fish, and animal species, but is also a home, a place of employment, and a tourist destination. More than a hundred kilometres of hiking trails are available all year round for discovering and enjoying pure nature, different activities, and exciting cultural heritage. Võrtsjärv is part of the Natura 2000 nature and bird protection area. Travelling around the lake with a thousand faces offers opportunities for active recreation – it is possible to visit the lake museum or maybe taste freshly smoked bream with the fishermen or what is even better – to tour on a kaleship around Tondisaar Island. The Võrtsjärv area keeps the traditions of fishing festivals and folk parties alive.
– wintertime Lake Võrtsjärv offers excellent opportunities for skating, skiing, and kicksledding;
– springtime floods and bird migration are a treat for nature lovers;
– summer is the best time for swimming and boat rides; be sure to visit the folk party on Tondisaar Island;
– the golden autumn is a nice time to travel around the lake on a bicycle or motorised vehicle


Lake Museum Akva:Rium
The permanent exhibition of the museum situated right on the lake shore is made up of live samples of Estonia’s freshwater fish in aquariums. The inanimate section includes fishing gear, an exposition of primeval fish and fish fossils, and tools for researching water bodies.

Lake cruises on a kaleship or floating sauna when the lake is unfrozen 
A joyride on a kaleship provides an exceptional opportunity to listen to the sound of waves hitting the ship’s board, enjoying eel soup or smoked fish, and using the tour guide option, if one wishes to. On a floating sauna cruise, you can jump into the water in the middle of the lake or river, enjoy the silence of secluded areas, and take in the beauty of nature.

Hellenurme Watermill
On the four storeys of the 138-year-old watermill that is still powered by water, visitors can see, touch, feel, and taste the process of making grain products. The smell and taste of the black bread made in the bakery carry on memories of our ancestors.

Elva, a resort town full of pines, and 100 kilometres of hiking trails
The many hiking trails of the area are especially exciting during the night, when you can hear the sounds of birds and animals and smell the night-time forest. Excitement is added with hiking rituals and a picnic meal enjoyed by a campfire lighted in the darkness of the night.

Kicksled hike ‘Tondisaar round on Lake Võrtsjärv’
You are invited to discover wintertime Võrtsjärv and the mysterious Tondisaar Island on a kicksled!
Phone +372 527 2701


Elva Tourism information
Kesk rd 30, Elva
turism@elva.ee, ph +372 7330 132
FB: visitelva; FB: võrtsjärv
Instagram @visitelva

Nominated in 2015 in the category “EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Culinary tourism destination”.


Setomaa has for hundreds of years stood at the border between Western and Eastern culture. The Setos have preserved many customs and traditions that have disappeared elsewhere in the world. Currently, Setomaa is divided between Estonia and Russia, though Setos consider Pechory, which belongs to Russia, to be their capital to this day. For centuries, Seto culture has been passed on in song. In 2009, UNESCO added the Seto leelo folk song to its list of intangible heritage. Setomaa is known mostly for the Seto leelo and its appealing silver jewelry. A woman in national clothing might wear up to 5 kg of silver jewelry as part of her costume! Setomaa is distinct and unique.
– enjoy Seto cuisine: Seto food is made from pure, natural ingredients sourced locally — the same stuff others by from organic stores
– when you are driving around, pay attention to the old village chapels, or tsässons, and the farm forts. For a good overview of Seto architecture, check out the Seto farm museum in Värska.
– plan your trip around a local event. There are a lot of holidays in the folk calendar. The most important is Seto Kingdom, which always takes place on the fi rst Saturday in August.

Setomaa’s nature smells of pine forests, chanterelle mushrooms, and beach sand. There are lots of forest berries and mushrooms, and Setomaa is famous for its Värska mineral water and therapeutic lake mud.


Lake Õrsava hiking trail
The 5 km trail winds around the lake and in addition to the picturesque views, also off ers a lesson in history, as it partly follows the trail of the Pechory Northern Camp of the Estonian Defence Forces, where cavaliers and artillerists from all across Estonia used to train. It is possible to order the Northern Camp theme programme from the Seto Farm Museum.

Vastseliina Episcopal Castle and Medieval Theme Park
At the border of Setomaa stands Vastseliina’s famous castle, which is full of legends. Here one awaits 14th century castle ruins, a holy chapel, a medieval theme park, a pilgrim’s house, and a manor park. Excursions and programs available upon request.

Cultural tour “Seto Village Belt”
This tourist route combines the sights, unique culture, and traditions of Setomaa and brings you together with special people and places. Visit museums, natural areas, and chapels either independently or with a tour guide.

Hikes on the European border
Setomaa is famous for its large forests, untouched nature, and forest bounty. You can choose between scooter, electric fat bike, canoe, and snowshoe hikes and, in the winter, between kick sled, skating, and snowshoe hikes.

Piusa Caves, Hiking Trail, and Visitor Center
The Piusa caves were dug for producing glass from light-colored sandstone, and they also serve as the largest hibernation habitat for bats in the Baltics. At the visitor center, you can watch a fi lm about them, do handicrafts, and view the exhibition. Behind the visitor’s center is Estonia’s biggest sandbox, as well as a hiking trail around the caves.


Värska Tourist Information
Pikk 12, Värska, ph +372 5682 1268
FB: visitsetomaa
Instagram @Visitsetomaa

Nominated in 2010 in the category ‘EDEN. Estonian undiscovered treasures. Water tourism.’


Lake Peipus, the border lake of the EU separating Estonia from Russia while also connecting them, impacts the nature as well as the life and traditions of the area. The lake has created soil suitable for growing onions, is still bountiful in terms of fish, and offers unique experiences for ice fishers as well as tourists participating in ice safaris. The three cultures of the lake shore – Estonian peasant culture, the Baltic German manor culture, and the Russian Old Believers’ culture, can be discovered in museums, by meeting with the locals, as well as through the culinary treats of the area.
– in winter, go on a fierce karakat safari or ice fish on the lake – enjoy the crisp, calm and silent atmosphere;
– in spring, find the natural daffodil habitats and visit fishing and fish food events;
– in summer, participate in local culinary events, fairs, and food festivals, find the yards and gardens of Russian Old Believers that are worth discovering;
– autumn is best characterised by one-street villages decked with onion braids of the local sellers; you can also hike on the Alatskivi hiking trail or in Välgi forests.


Wintertime karakat safari on Lake Peipus
A karakat is an exciting vehicle that has two or more wheels and is used to travel around the ice covering Lake Peipus in search of the best fishing spots.
All the vehicles have been built by the fishermen. It is possible to order a warm soup break for your safari.
Organised in February and March with advance booking under the condition that the lake is covered with thick ice.

Peipus area tea culture workshop
In a cosy Old Believers’ home, you will hear about tea drinking in Old Believers’ villages and about the natural preparation methods of Ivan Chai. You can also have a taste of the boiled sugar that Old Believers prepare at home.

Onion Route bicycle trail
Discover the Onion Route on a bicycle – enjoy the natural scents of nature and meet the locals. Bring your own bike or rent one from the Peipsimaa Visitor Centre. An Onion Route Map prepared each spring is available at www.sibulatee.ee.
It is best to discover the Onion Route by bike between May and September.
E-mail: info@sibulatee.ee; Phone +37256480065

Alatskivi hiking trail and nature centre
At the heart of the Onion Route, in Alatskivi, a 4.5 km hiking trail sprawls around a picturesque lake, leading to the magnificent Alatskivi castle. It is also worth to visit the Alatskivi Nature Centre that introduces the local nature in the best possible way with a tour guide option available as well.

Nature Lovers’ Tour on the Onion Route
In addition to the most important natural sights (Kallaste outcrop, Alatskivi hiking trail and Nature Centre, seasonal boat or karakat rides on the lake), the tour includes visits to places related to the three cultures of the area, such as the Alatskivi Castle, Kolkja Museum of Old Believers, Turgi Handicraft Farm, Mesi Tare home, Gallery Voronja, Kostja’s Onion Farm, etc.
The tour is organised according to the size and interests of the group, advance bookings only at least one week in advance.
E-mail: info@sibulatee.ee; Phone +37256480065


Phone +372 5648 0065
FB: sibulatee  
Instagram @sibulatee

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‘But the only chance we have in this world to survive is to learn to value other forms of life. Without them, we are absolutely defenceless, helpless, and pointless.’
Epp PetroneEstonian journalist, Publisher and blogger
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‘Deep in their heart, all people know that the forest, the meadows and the sea are more beautiful than asphalt, filling stations and cars.’
Valdur MikitaEstonian writer and semiotician
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‘Generally speaking, anything that cannot be Googled is of value in today’s world. Every family in Estonia has at least one person who has gone a bit wild. A nation whose most famous piece of literature is a five-volume manual on wetland drainage cannot and need not be normal. It is entirely possible that our mission in this world lies elsewhere.’
Nikolai Baturinpoet, novelist and playwright in Estonian language and Mulgi dialect
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‘While my arrival to this remote area was new and surprising for myself, then nature ignored this event completely. It had already observed people at its background and did not find me any better or worse than the others. The indifference of nature cannot be taken as an insult.’
Valdur MikitaEstonian writer and semiotician
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‘No-one in Europe could imagine a family where dad would arrive from work and grab his bike to go fishing while mum is in the bog, picking berries, grandma is gathering herbs, and the kids walk to the nearby forest lake on their own for a swim. A world like this has become a fairy-tale a long time ago.’
Fred JüssiEstonian zoologist, nature photographer and populariser of nature
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‘It is one of the most unfortunate things that we no longer get a chance to dig deep or the chances to do so get ever so scarcer. People no longer know how to be lazy: we have been taught to work hard, work, work, work, but no one tells us that we need to rest, rest, rest, as well.’

This publication was funded by the European Union’s COSME Programme.

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