A relatively small but beautiful Baltic country awaits you. It’s nestled between Finland, Russia and Latvia and its geographic position will tell you a lot about its history and influence. Estonia has often been described as the perfect combination of East meets West. Its capital city Tallinn is directly at the harbour: a mere hop, skip and a jump away from Finland’s Helsinki. However, being positioned between Russia and Latvia ensures the prices are not exorbitant like much of Scandinavia.
When I say it was small, I mean it’s roughly half the size of Ireland. I find this to be a positive aspect for a first timer’s visit to Estonia as you will be able to do most of it by car. I personally find large countries and cities a little overwhelming and Estonia’s size certainly ticked my boxes.
For those of you who prefer to be visually inspired, here’s a mini movie I made of my Estonian experience. (Including the delicious ‘foodie’ adventure I had in Tallinn.)
Stay tuned: there’ll be a ‘Where to eat and drink Tallinn’ post coming soon. If you’ve got another couple of spare minutes, this post is all about my Lahemaa National Park adventure.
Lahemaa National Park
The national park was MUCH bigger than I had expected. But oh what a beautiful piece of land. You’ll definitely need to take a car if you want to experience all of this park in one day. There are many different things you can do involving the lakes, the sea, the forests and the bogland walk. If the weather is fine, I’d recommend some forest biking or sea kayaking. Otherwise, just pack a picnic like we did, and find yourself a cute little spot.
Kasmu – The Captain’s Village
I’ll admit it – the name caught me first. Kaptain Kenny in the captain’s village. I just had to see it. Weren’t we ever so blessed with stunning weather? Blue skies as far as the eye could see. Not to mention the locals kept telling us how lucky we were. This was all during the Estonian midsummer and the days were really long.
It seems to happen wherever I go… sunshine and ‘miraculous’ weather which hasn’t happened in a million years. Hey, no complaints – as an Australian, I’m happy to take whatever sunshine I can get.
We packed a picnic for this part of Lahemaa. After finding a spot to park our car, we took our nibbles down to the banks of the lake. Besides a tour bus pulling up with about 100 harmless oldies for a few minutes, we were completely alone. There were a few locals strolling past. Oh and a crazy teenage boy who kept jumping from a jetty into what felt like antarctic water. He insisted it was warm and just right.
I had read before travelling that Estonia is famous for its thousands of little islands around the coastline. However another key feature of Estonian nature is the scattered way in which many boulders are found.
Glacial erratic boulders of Estonia are large boulders of rock which were formed and moved into Estonia by glacial action during previous ice ages. Before the takeover of Estonia by the Soviet Union, these large boulders were a symbol of national identity. They are now registered and protected by the Estonian government. (Wikipedia)
I cannot tell you how tempted I was to change the below sign to “Kaptain Kenny”.
One thing I adore about Europe in summer is the abundance of canola fields. This stuff seems to grow everywhere and anywhere. Amazingly, shortly before taking the below picture, I said to my Australian friend Ellie: ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely to find a canola flower field? That pop of yellow would look great against the backdrop of this bright, blue sky.”
Whaa-laaaa. Canola flowers found. And an added bonus is the fully flapping Estonian flag in the background – all on midsummer’s day! What a combination.
This was another of my favourite parts of the Lahemaa National Park. We parked our car under a forest of tall, swaying trees. Without too much information or obvious signage, we followed the track. There was an organised group tour with about 10 people happening at the same time so we kind of decided to follow them to make sure we were on the right ‘track’. I’m 100% sure that we didn’t finish the entire Viru walk – I think we did about 2 hours there and back. The wooden pathway seemed to continue on forever and ever. If any of you readers have done the entire walk, I’d love to know how much we missed.
We discovered during the walk that it was a really great time to visit the area because the annual spurt of wild cotton was occurring. In the months of June and July you’ll see fields of wild white cotton. (See above) Obviously, this made for great pictures but I have to say the mixture of blue sky, wooden pathway, swampland and wild cotton was a nature experience I’ve only had in Estonia!
The Lahemaa National Park was beautiful. Not only were these tall bare trees swaying in the wind, but they seemed to be sitting on top of a bed of green moss. I couldn’t stop taking photos – and breathing in deeply. There’s something about a forest smell which I just adore.
During this boardwalk, there were many lovely spots to sit and take in the serene flatness of the lakes. I had read on TripAdvisor that you need bug spray for this park but I have to say that I wasn’t once bitten or annoyed by any. Maybe it was the time of year?
It’s quite incredible that such a large portion of land is made up of swampland. It’s totally wet and soggy – no chance to veer off the narrow wooden path.
About 45 minutes in, you’ll spot a wooden lookout point which you can walk up and get a good 360 degree view of the area. It only holds around 30 people so be sure to watch that. Can you see the wooden boardwalk below? This pathway continues through the whole swampland.
There were so many different hiking tracks – we took the regular boardwalk route, especially as we were following a walking tour. I was only in Estonia for four days but I had the feeling that Estonians are very ‘outdoorsy’ people who respect and love their nature.
If you’re interested in learning about the great food experience we had in Tallinn, stay tuned. After this post, I’ll be posting a blog called ‘Where to eat and drink in Tallinn.’
I was really thrilled to get invited to Estonia by the tourism board. I’d had invites to other countries before but had actually turned all of them down as they didn’t quite fit this blog’s vision. Estonia is the first country I’ve said yes to because from the beginning, I knew it would be a mixture of lovely landscape with a great culinary city scene. It was exactly that.
Quite surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of Estonian blog content online when I was first researching where to go. ‘Puzzling’ I thought as Estonia looks like a beautiful place. Then I felt even more motivated because it meant I could go, have my experience, take some beautiful photos of Estonia and then share it with the world & you’d be more likely to see it. So although I can officially say this trip was sponsored, my photos and opinions here are solely my own – and let’s face it, you can always tell from a blogger’s content whether it’s honest or a tad forced.
Overall, my four days spent in Estonia were wonderful – full of nature and really tasty food. So stay tuned for my next post on Tallinn’s food scene. That’s really going to impress you. And quite honestly, I may return to Tallinn with my husband just to show him the amazing food!
Thank you very much for reading this post. I hope my photos have inspired you to visit this part of Europe and that this post has helped you to understand a little bit more about Estonia’s nature.
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