Discover dense forests, bathing areas and health-promoting saunas in Estonia
WITH a capital that combines the magic of a medieval old town with vibrant nightlife, it’s easy to visit Tallinn and believe you’ve seen the best of Estonia.
But outside of the city you can find unspoiled nature, fantastic food and a wellness culture that doesn’t break the bank. More than half of the country is covered in forests, and stretches of coastline overlook the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland, offering some of the most beautiful views you will ever see.
Sweat the little things
Enjoy a salt scrub or whisking – gently beaten with a bunch of tree branches to improve your circulation – Â£ 27 per person
Estonians are sauna crazy, so most hotels have impressive spa facilities, but the real gems are the rustic outdoor saunas.
In the south of VÃµru County you will find Mooska Farm, where you can experience centuries-old smoke sauna rituals (Mooska.eu).
Owner Eda takes you out of a dimly lit hut to jump into a cool pond while you chant mantras related to the ancient history of the practice.
Enjoy a salt scrub or whisking – gently beaten with a bunch of tree branches to improve your circulation – Â£ 27 per person.
Eat, beach, sleep, repeat
The wide sandy beach, the shallow water and the promenade make the resort of PÃ¤rnu a place where the Estonians flock in summer.
Rent a bike to tour the parks and neoclassical buildings, and finish up the Pastoraat CafÃ© for freshly baked sweet treats – the towering Napoleon cake, Â£ 3.50, is a standout product (Rosenplanter.ee/en/pastoraat -coffee shop).
The luxurious Hedon Spa & Hotel offers a three-hour silent spa experience with nine work-through saunas and pools from Â£ 14.
Then head to the on-site Raimond restaurant for a three-course meal made with locally sourced ingredients that costs Â£ 43 but tastes as good as a Michelin-starred feast.
Bright, spacious rooms start here from Â£ 92 B&B (Hedonspa.com).
Half an hour from PÃ¤rnu is Soomaa National Park, where you can book a guided wilderness day trip for Â£ 64 that combines canoeing and peat shoeing – a hike through a peat bog in special shoes that keep you from going under (Soomaa. com).
If you’re brave, you can even go for a swim in a mud bath!
Then, enjoy a delicious lunch of a local specialty mulga powder – barley porridge – and bread before launching your canoes for a relaxing hour-long paddleboarding ride.
Tallinn is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe. So take your time to stroll the cobbled streets.
An award-winning Christmas market takes place on Rathausplatz in winter.
At night, head to the trendy Telliskivi district, where industrial buildings adorned with street art are home to craft breweries, restaurants and a weekly flea market.
Then climb the 157 steps to the Patkuli viewing platform for an enchanting view of the old town – the perfect farewell to your excursion.
For your information
Round-trip flights to Tallinn start from Â£ 118 (Airbaltic.com).
Plan your trip on Visitestonia.com