Estonia might not be the first place you think of when planning a winter holiday, but we loved our time there and found there was plenty to offer at this time of year. Hiring a car also allowed us to leave the city of Tallin and explore the lesser explored countryside and national parks of Estonia.
In this post I’ll provide you with a short summary of our 5 night winter trip to Estonia, including what we did in Tallin and why we would encourage you to rent a car and explore the winter wonderland that is Lahemaa National Park in winter.
Flights to Estonia
Tallin international airport is located within easy reach of Tallin. It is well connected and served by a whole range of airlines including Ryanair. You’ll have no trouble finding some extremely cheap flights, particularly if you choose to visit in the off season like we did.
For the best cheap flights to Estonia I would recommending checking out trip.com.
Renting a car in Estonia
When taking a short break to Estonia most people rarely leave Tallin. However I would definitely encourage you to consider renting a car and driving east. Whilst I may have visited in mid-winter, the roads were no problem and we managed to get around everywhere we wanted to with a regular 2WD. Some of the roads in Lahemaa National Park were snowy, however the cars will come equipped with winter tyres and so you should be able to get around without too many issues.
To find cheap rental cars in Estonia from Tallin airport visit discovercars.com.
What’s the weather like in Estonia in winter?
Quite simply winter can be very cold in Estonia. January is the coldest month and daytime temperatures are usually around -5 °C. However the winter months can get much colder with temperatures far below freezing. Heavy snowfall is quite common which can sometimes cause a few issues on the road. However the upside is that this will transform the country into a picturesque winter wonderland.
Visit weatherspark.com for a more detailed look at the weather you can expect.
Exploring Tallin in winter
Where to stay in Tallin
Rather than stay in the more expensive old town, we chose to rent an apartment in the Kassisaba area which is about 10 minutes walk from the old town. This provided us with easy access to the main sights whilst being located in a pleasant area with plenty of facilities nearby.
Instead of listing the array of accommodation options on offer, I would simply suggest trying to find somewhere within 1km of the old town as this area is most likely to be the focus of your stay in Tallin.
You can search booking.com to find a great range of options to choose from.
Tallin old town
Tallinn’s Old Town is perfect for those interested in history and culture. It is best known for being one of the world’s best-preserved Hanseatic town centers. The town has a real village feel to it with cobblestone streets, cafés, and stunning architecture.
Whilst we were personally more interested in exploring what lies outside of the city, we found the Old Town really beautiful and managed to spend 2 days wandering the streets and checking out what was on offer.
I would suggest visiting visittallin.ee to learn all you need to know if you intend on checking out the area in more detail than we did.
About 45 minutes walk east of the old town this beautiful 70 hectare park. You’ll find stunning flowers, hundreds of trees, swan ponds and a serene Japanese Garden. If you’re lucky you’ll also spot red squirrels wandering the park. Coated in a blanket of snow in winter and the park is transformed.
The park is also home to a few impressive buildings such the Kadriorg Palace which now houses the Estonian Art Museum, and the Office of the President of the Republic.
Visit kardiorupark.ee to find out more.
Lahemaa National Park in winter
Located about 1 hours drive east of Tallin, Lahemaa National Park is a true winter wonderland that I couldn’t recommend enough. If you’re looking to spend several nights surrounded by vast forests and beautiful coastlines then consider leaving Tallin and staying here. There are plenty of pretty villages, beaches and forest walks to check out. And the area is transformed if you visit during the peak of winter when snow is very likely.
Where to stay in Lahemaa National Park
There are a scattering of small villages located throughout the National Park. My recommendation would be to consider renting a house or something small and cosy to settle down and enjoy the cold winter nights in. Even better if you can find a place with it’s own log burner or fireplace.
We stayed near the village of Altja at Toomarahva Farmstay. We had a small cottage all to ourselves and absolutely loved our stay there. The open fires each evening were so warm and cosy. The owners made us feel really welcome too.
What to do in Lahemaa National Park
Our cottage was located in the small village of Altja. We were just a short walk away from the beautiful coastline and surrounded by vasts forests. There were various hiking paths in the area and we really enjoyed wandering and exploring the area. The beach and coastline is particularly beautiful. And as we were there during winter we were able to observe the partially frozen shoreline and sea and the interesting ice formations. There is a 3km marked trail which you can follow and find details of by visiting visitestonia.com.
VIru bog would probably be more impressive in the spring or summer when the colours would be more vibrant, but we really enjoyed walking amongst the winter snow. There are boardwalks you can follow and a hiking route of either 3km or 6km. There is also an observation tower you can climb up to get a great view of the landscape.
Oandu beaver trail
If you visit at the right time you’ll be able to observe beavers who live in the Altja river valley. We were then in mid winter and during the middle of the day so we knew the chances would be low, however we still got great views of the numerous damns that the beavers had constructed. There is a marked 1km route to follow from the car park at the main entrance.
Kasmu is a picturesque seaside village that is worth visiting, and there is a local maritime museum if that’s what interest you. We visited to follow a 4.2km trail through forests and along the coast which began at the Chapel where we parked out rental car. It’s easy to follow by looking out for the marks on the tree trunks. You’ll walk through some beautiful forests and along coastline surrounded by huge rocks which provide great photography opportunities.
Located halfway between Tallin and Lahemaa National Park, we took a stop at Jagala waterfall whilst out with our rental car, the widest waterfall in Estonia. It was mid winter and as such most of the waterfall was completely frozen. It still made for an impressive sight and gave great photo opportunities and definitely worth a stop.
Whilst we only had a few days in Estonia, we found 5 days was a great amount of time to explore the main sights of Tallin and check out the scenery in the stunning Lahemaa National Park. The driving distances were short and therefore not too much of an issues despite some very wintry roads. If like us you love winter and snow then consider Estonia as an alternative winter destination.