Estonia is located in the North of Europe, to the South of Finland. The climate here is relatively cold and chilly in winter and nice and warm in summer. For locals it is all about waiting for a seasons to change – when it is cold, we are waiting for summer and vice versa. Surprisingly, locals have found many fun ways to cope with cold and have fun winter activities. Here is our guide for Best winter activities in Estonia ad how to cope with winter blues.
Things to do in Tallinn in winter
When winter finally arrives, Tallinn becomes the capital of Christmas spirit. Famous Old town Hall Square becomes the meeting point of both visitors and locals. Huge Christmas tree is decorating the tiny but cozy Tallinn Christmas market. If we are lucky, white snow adds even more to the spirit.
Some of the best things to do in Tallinn in winter include museum visits (yes, there are much less crowds), SPA and sauna, winter sports like skiing, restaurant and cafe hangouts, different winter festivals like Jõulujazz, Chinese New year and Ice sculpture festival.
One of my personal favorite things to do in Tallinn in winter is taking a walk in the old town with occasional stops at small cafes for warm cup of herbal tea and piece of cake. One of the best cafes is certainly Pierre Chocolaterie – they make the best hot chocolate and the atmosphere is just like home. Another one is called Peppersack and they offer the best cinnamon buns in the world! Of course, all of these calories need to be burnt eventually, so I also try to visit gym at least 3 times a week. By the way – attending group workout classes is crazy popular in Estonia as well, especially in winter.
SPA and sauna weekend breaks
Last but not least, Estonians love to visit SPA hotels during cold winter months. One of the reasons for that are good room prices. Every winter hotels lower their prices for overnight packages including breakfast and unlimited SPA access. I have visited many of them. Some of the best I’ve been to, are Arensburg Boutique Hotel and SPA in Saaremaa island, Kubija Hotel and SPA in Võru (southern Estonia) and Hestia Hotel and SPA in Laulasmaa near Tallinn.
Winter Car racing in Estonia
Looking for adventurous weekend – pay a visit to Laitse Rallypark. This great place is about 50 km outside of Tallinn offers racing tracks, one of them as long as 2300m and shorter ones are for go-karts. The best thing about this center is that it is open all year round and makes it possible for drivers to race in ice road conditions to train their skills. Real race car can be rented at the center as well. In summer months wider choice of different tracks and vehicles are available. However, for locals this is a perfect opportunity to familiarize themselves with dangerous road conditions without the risk of getting their car wrecked.
Although we have such amazing rally parks, many young drivers prefer to take a risk and rally on frozen lakes. This can be very dangerous and have severe consequences. Every year at least few cars sink due to thin ice. On the other hand, during cold months, when the sea freezes, winter roads are open to Hiiumaa island.
Skiing and snowboarding activities
Estonians have made themselves comfortable with snow. There are several different options how to spend a day in the winter months. One of the coolest things to do is to visit one of the winter parks. There is no shortage of small slopes all across Estonia. I have made a full overview all most popular options in this blog post – Skiing and snowboarding in Estonia – your full guide. One of the largest and best ones is Kiviõli Adventure park. This newly built winter park offers all kind of services related to winter sports – snowboarding/mountain ski rental, elevators to the top and artificial snow machines. This center also has a hostel and café. It is a great place to spend a day and enjoy riding considering that Estonia does not have any mountains.
Here is a video I made while skiing there few years ago. Since that time, they have expanded their selection of slopes with longest one reaching 700m.
Snowmobile and dog sledge safaris
Joining a group on snowmobile safari could be an unforgettable experience for all nature lovers. Such safaris are held in rural areas, for example in South Estonia and can be booked in advance. Snowmobiles and all equipment can be rented from organizers as well as a hot sauna afterwards. This service is especially popular with companies organizing events for their employees. For snowmobile safari, you can check out Toosikannu Holiday Center, located only 90 km from Tallinn. They offer snowmobile rent for 80€/hour.
Same applies for dog sledge safaris – need to be booked in advance, but usually are not held regularly. All the details can be agreed with dog owners in advance. One of the options is Hellerkantri Huskypark, located 65km from Tallinn. 3 Hour tour including dog sled ride and some snacks will cost around 70€ per person.
Winter ice fishing
Estonia has a long tradition of fishing. Yearly competitions are held all over Estonia for the best fishermen – in year 2015 grand prize is a SUV Renault Captur. However, fishermen can be spotted during whole winter, some of them are extremely passionate and start out as early as 5 AM. Traditionally, it is not about catching a fish, but more about socializing with other fishermen (friends), becoming closer to nature and getting to know yourself. Sometimes it can be dangerous and every year we hear about poor men stuck on the ice and need to be rescued.
This is not a complete list – people do all kind of things in winter – play snowballs, build snowmen, spend a day skiing in the forest or just take a walk in the woods. The nature in winter is very different – the air is clear and transparent, you can virtually see for miles. Visiting Estonian national parks and bogs (like Viru Bog) is also extremely popular, some people even take ice skating trips on frozen bogs! Sadly, there is very little sunshine during winter. That’s why we, Estonians, like to keep ourselves busy in order to not get depressed over bad weather and endless darkness.