Oh the weather outside is frightful, but Tallinn is so delightful… Visiting Estonia in winter is exciting as it offers so many winter activities and things to do which are hard to find in most other countries. It can be cold in the winter so when you finally get yourself together to head outside, put on your warm mittens, silly winter hat and heavy boots, then you want to make sure that your effort of enduring the cold is worth it. Here are some of our unique custom tours which are not listed on any other website and are only offered as tailor made private winter tours for you! Combining several winter activities in one day allows you to take the most out of your stay in Tallinn and the few hours of light we are given each day.
Cover photo by Carl-Martin Nisu
1. Ice skating on forest lakes followed by a picnic by the frozen waterfall
We all know the ice rinks that open up in the Christmas markets around the world. These are lovely, but for a truly unique experience, you need to get out of the city with a local guide and find the frozen lakes that are tucked away in thick forest from most visitors eyes. As you put on your skates, find the balance and pick up your speed while the ice field in front of you feels endless; you will see that it is a natural playground. Only trees covered with thick snow hats surround you and the dim warm light of a low winter sun reflecting from the ice. The only thing you hear is the grinding of ice under your skates and your friends and family laughing. That’s when it really does feel like a winter wonderland.
After having fun with skating up and down the lake, head over to frozen Jägala waterfall to see how gorgeous it looks in the winter. Sit down to have a light meal, some hot tea and special Estonian schnapps to warm yourself up. While having your meal, admire the massive icicles hanging off the cliff. It could be the most icy day you’ve ever had.
2. Ski lesson with a sauna retreat
One thing you need to know before you start thinking about skiing in Estonia: the highest peak in the country is lower than the highest peak in the Netherlands, which is normally considered to be a very flat country. Therefore, we don’t do downhill skiing here or anything related to the mountains. Instead, we love cross-country skiing which is also known as Nordic skiing and is considered as the national sport of Estonia. When you don’t know what it is, imagine light jogging across a winter landscape with skis. The only difference is that every slight uphill is rewarded with a fun downhill slide when you can enjoy the gentle wind in your face as you speed up, allowing you to relax for a moment.
After you have done all the hard work and had a good exercise for the day, what could be better than experiencing yet another crucial part of Estonian culture and relax in a hot sauna. Let your cold fingertips and toes warm up and your muscles soften. You will eventually understand why Estonians love cross-country skiing and sauna together. By the end of the day, a good night sleep is guaranteed.
3. Ice fishing followed by a picnic by the frozen waterfall
Ice fishing on frozen lakes has, throughout the years, been a popular activity booked from Prangli Travel. If you are curious how it is done, our guide and a professional fishing instructor Marko will take you to one of the lakes in the Viitna area. Make sure to dress warm because fishing requires some patience while you wait for the fish to bite. While you wait, hear the fishing and travel stories from your guides or just enjoy the silence in the forest. Will you catch fish? People often do and then it is up to you if you want to let it go, give it to your guide or keep it. It is not possible to cook the fish on spot.
To treat yourself, let your guide take you to a small picnic at Jägala waterfalls not far from the lakes. The waterfalls freeze during winter, giving you an opportunity to take great photos and even go and touch it. While you are discovering, your tour guide will set up a small picnic table, bring out some typical Estonian food, hot tea and local schnapps. What else can you ask from a day out in nature?
4. Bog shoe hike followed by a husky hike
Two hikes in one day – are you up for the challenge? Huskies have become an absolute hit for winter activities in Estonia. Therefore, we often get questions if we could combine our famous Tour to the Husky Park with Dog-Sledding with another activity. Unfortunately, we have to disappoint you because dog sledding is so popular and often sold out, that we cannot offer it as part of another activity or as a private tour. The huskies love pulling the sleds and you can see the excitement from how they howl before each run. Despite that, they also get tired and can only take a limited number of people for sledding each day.
In return, we offer another activity in the Husky Park which is a Cani-Cross Hike with Huskies. This means that each participant gets a personal husky for the hike who is attached to their waist by a harness. As the huskies naturally pull, they will make the hike much more simple and fun for you. The cani-cross hike is also much easier for huskies than dog sledding! Enjoy the time spent with the dogs and explore the surrounding Kõrvemaa forests. Read more about visiting the husky park from our other blog post.
If the cani-cross hike itself is not enough, why not take the challenge and do two hikes in a row? Bogs and wetlands provide a unique landscape which Estonians want to share with the visitors. Go on a bog walk with your local nature guide who can show you their favorite routes and tell you about Estonian nature. After that, drive to the the Husky Park, play with the dogs and have a light meal, before heading out for a hike with the huskies. This does not seem like a bad challenge at all!
5. Go to sauna after having a picnic at the frozen Jägala waterfalls
Perhaps activities like skiing, hiking, skating or fishing is not your cup of tea and you would prefer to enjoy a lovely winter day in a more relaxed way. We have thought about you as well by combining two of the most relaxed winter experiences we have. How about first visiting the frozen Jägala waterfall to wander around and admire the massive icicles that the waterfall creates. Then sit down to have a light meal and some warm tea, a bit of cake and schnapps right next to the waterfall, all the while being surrounded by the peaceful winter forest. Once you have had enough fresh air and you are starting to feel a bit cold, let your guide drive you to a local homestay where you can have some time to relax in steaming hot sauna and forget about the cold immediately. Experience the food, the nature and the culture of Estonia within one day without having to take a long hike or picking up a new sport.
For this tour we add a sauna visit to our Picnic by the Frozen Jägala Waterfall.
6. Ice fishing and ice-skating of frozen forest lakes
We have described both ice fishing and ice skating in this blog already, but did it leave you undecided on which one you would like to do more? We have you covered, because it is possible to do both on the same day, however not at the same time or at the same place. As fish bite better in the morning, we would suggest you to start the day by trying out your fishing luck and maybe hear some fun fishermen tales from your instructor. After that, let your local guide take you to another lake to continue your icy adventure. Since you have been sitting at one place while fishing, you will love to move yourself and skate across the lake. What a beautiful winter day that would be.
7. Estonia’s Bogs and Sauna Tour
This day tour is a bit of an exception in this blog as we do have it listed on our website as Estonia’s Bogs and Sauna tour. However, we decided that it deserves a place in this blog as well, because we think it is a perfect combination of two activities for winter. Meet your local guide who takes you outside the city to one of the bogs. Have a hike through the forest, leading to a flat bog landscape that looks a bit out of this world with its bumpy ground. Admire the frozen bog pools and the tiny trees that are almost totally covered by the snow. You can see across the landscape where it feels like everything is asleep and nothing moves. Only the sun reflecting from the ice crystals creates new colors, changing the look of the surrounding throughout the day.
Once you have arrived back to the car, let your tour guide drive you to a local homestay where you have time to relax your tired feet and warm yourself up in the sauna. The family can even make you a homemade meal – no set menu provided, no fancy dressings or spices – they will prepare according to the ingredients they currently have at home. The meals are tasty and authentic, so let us know if you want to include it for a small extra charge when you book the tour. Otherwise, feel free to pack some snacks yourself such as the crispy Estonian garlic rye bread or maybe some local smoked cheese. Simply make yourself feel comfortable. After the sauna, it is probably dark outside, so let your guide drive you back to Tallinn while you think back to your day filled with the smells of the forest, ice cold air and the smoky steam in the sauna.
All of the tours above, apart from the last one, are not listed on our website. To ask more about the tours and the pricing, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what kind of unique winter tour you would like to join. We are always flexible and happy to make your travel inspiration come true.