camping, bonfire, tent, seasideSource: Sander Rannakivi

A complete guide to camping in Estonia

Grab your gear and head outdoors — here's everything you need to know about camping in Estonia, including top free campsites.

Wake up to the sound of waves. Watch the sun come up over the horizon. Drink your coffee and listen to the birds.

We've compiled an overview of a few places to start your search for the perfect campsite in Estonia. Of course, there's more to see than what's on this list, so use it as a starting point and get out and explore.

Thanks to Estonia's Freedom to Roam policy, you're not limited to official RMK campsites, though these tend to have the basic amenities needed for an enjoyable holiday in nature. Keep in mind these are wild campsites; you won't find showers, electric hook-ups, or flush toilets. But many of these campfire sites have a fire pit, sheltered picnic tables, dry toilets, and trash bins, and best of all... they're free.

North Estonia campsites

North Estonia is known for its forests and wildlife, as well as two of the country's six national parks, Lahemaa and Alutaguse. It's not far from Tallinn, so you can manage a short weekend camping trip.

  • The limestone cliff of Leetse is about one hour from Tallinn and an ideal spot for hikers. Walk the Ranniku Hiking Trail and see waterfalls in the spring. There are five covered campfire spots here.
  • Cape Purekkari in Lahemaa National Park is Estonia's northernmost point. The trail here is about 1.5 km long and leads to the rocky, stone-covered coast.
  • The Võlingi Hiking Trail passes through a dense forest before arriving at Võlingi Spring. Find a place to pitch a tent somewhere along the trail.
  • At Matsimäe Pühajärv recreational area, you can wake up next to a sandy lakeshore and set out to enjoy the trail through wetlands and pine forests. The path is open to bikers and walkers.
  • Combine camping with skiing, Nordic walking, running, or cycling at Äkkeküla Sports and Recreation Area. This spot is located near Narva and is an ideal camping spot for families.
  • The Tudu campfire site picnic area has a grill, toilet, and firewood. You can also spend the night in the free forest hut. If you're lucky, you might see a black stork or a flying squirrel.
  • The Kauksi-Penijõgi hiking trail runs through the former Aidu shale quarry. Cross the canals on rafts, climb the quarry's steep slopes, or grill and relax by the blue water.
  • The Iisaku observation tower is the highest natural point in Ida-Viru County. In clear weather, you can also see Kuremäe Convent and Lake Peipsi. Next to the tower is a covered campfire site.

Campsites in West Estonia

You can set up camp close to Pärnu, Estonia's summertime capital, or head out to the islands for a relaxing holiday. During the day, you can enjoy swimming, SUP, and kayaking, and at night, you can fall asleep to the sound of waves.

  • Tuhkana Beach, one of Saaremaa's best swimming spots. The sandy beach is 500 meters wide and the water gets deeper more quickly than other parts of the island. There's a pine tree forest and volleyball court nearby.
  • The Nõva Recreation Area features large dunes, bogs, lakes, and forests. Depending on your plans for the day, you can choose between the sandy beach and more inland nature.
  • At the RMK Lake Rae hiking trail and camping site, you can swim, fish, and enjoy the 1.7 km trail. There are three places for bonfires, a shed for firewood, bins, toilets, and a village swing.

Camping in South Estonia

South Estonia is full of lakes, valleys, and rolling hills. It may feel isolated from civilization, but it's still only a short drive to Tartu, Estonia's lively second city.

  • The Koiva Heritage Culture Trail is open to walking and cycling for 60 km and passes by various cultural sites along the banks of the Koiva River.
  • The 5.4 km long Taagepere trail begins and ends at the Taagepere campfire site, and you'll see sites like Taagepera Castle and Musukivi Rock along the way.
  • The Green Railway Trail the old Valga/Valka-Ape railway, which closed in 1970. The old railway embankment serves as a hiking trail that mixes hiking with a bit of Estonia's history.
  • The Ruunaraipe Dunes are near Viljandi in the Raudna Valley. It's a great spot for a picnic or mushroom picking.
  • The Selli Sillaotsa study trail in the Alam-Pedja nature reserve takes you through bogs and forests before reaching the observation tower.
  • Between the Mehikoorma Port and the lighthouse, there is a circular promenade where you can enjoy the beauty of Lake Peipsi.
  • Along the banks of the Võhandu River, you'll find the Kaljupealse campfire site, which has a gorgeous view of the river and its iconic sandstone outcrops. There's also a covered table, grill, and firewood.
  • Near Erastvere Manor Park, you'll find Lake Erastevere, where you can swim on a hot day. Find a spot to pitch a tent and cook lunch over the campfire.
  • Aruküla Hill recreation area has barbecue areas and a playground. The view is excellent, and there's plenty of room for campers. Visitors can check out the Struve Geodetic Arc.
  • The Lake Verijärve study trail has three campfire sites with grill grates, benches, and a playground. It is about 1km long and has signs about the local plants and wildlife.

Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it.

If there are no bins, pack up your trash and throw it away in the nearest town. The forest thanks you!

Even camping is a digital experience in Estonia.

Estonia is a digital country, and that applies to camping. The Estonian Forestry Ministry (RMK) manages hundreds of campsites around the country. Their app allows you to find every single (free!) RMK campsite in Estonia. The app gives you the location of the site, information about amenities provided, and photos of the campsite.

Regular maintenance means clean campsites and sometimes even free firewood, making it easier to keep warm and cook dinner. You may need to bring your water and pack out your trash, but you can check all of that ahead of time on the app.

camping in Estonia, app

Source: Renee Altrov

Not many tourists know of Estonia's amazing camping infrastructure, but locals definitely do. 

This means campsites can get crowded, especially on weekends when the weather is good. Arrive early in the day to secure a campsite, or drive as far out into nature as you can. Be aware that you may sometimes encounter boisterous groups camping out to party. Pack earplugs or find a more remote site to set up camp.

Hint: The more remote you are, the better the chance you have of getting a good spot. 

Campfire and caravan in Estonia

Source: Priidu Saart

TOP free campsites in Estonia

Source: Priidu Saart

Everything tastes better outdoors!

Cook like a MICHELIN-starred chef or fill up on snacks — it all depends on how much time you're willing to spend on preparation.

Typical Estonian foods like kohuke (chocolate-covered curd snacks) and pirukad (savory or sweet hand pies) travel well in backpacks. You can also stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables — cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and apples are local favorites for a trip to the forest. Better yet, try picking your own snacks! Depending on the season, you may find wild garlic to add to your sandwich or salad, or forest blueberries or strawberries for a sweet treat on the trail. 

Campfire cooking tips

Cooking over a campfire lets you get as elaborate or as simple as you want. If you have a pot or pan, you make stew, beans, meat, or pasta. You can also skewer sausages or marinated meat and roast them directly over the hot coals. Campfire bread is also a classic Estonian camp food. While the idea of making bread on a camping trip might sound tricky, it's a lot easier than it sounds. You can find ready-made bread mixes in a lot of stores. Mix up the dough and then wrap it around a stick and cook it over the fire.

Tin foil is also an important tool for campfire cooks. Trying wrapping meat and vegetables in tin foil. Add spices like garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and cook over the coals for about 20-30 minutes on each side for a delicious hot dinner. 

Of course, a camping trip is never complete without marshmallows roasted over the flames!

Campfire camping spot in Estonia's forest

Source: Rivo Veber

Notes on caravan camping in Estonia

Caravan camping has a romantic feel to it, especially during Estonia's light-filled summer nights.

In Estonia, you can take your camper van or caravan right into nature. You can stop at scenic places in the woods or the seaside. You can find a seaside campsite or cottage with all the amenities that a camper van traveler might need as close as a few kilometers from Tallinn's medieval Old Town.

Estonian territory is fully covered with map data for GPS devices. Road atlases are on sale in bookstores, supermarkets, and gas stations, and the traffic sign system makes for easy navigation. You can travel freely from Estonia to Latvia or take the ferry to Finland or Sweden.

The best time for caravan travel in Estonia is summer. The days are long, so driving is safer, and you'll have more time to take in the gorgeous nature views while camping. Estonia has a low population density—only 30 inhabitants per square kilometer—so it is easy to find privacy outdoors.

Plenty of campsites are suitable for folks traveling in caravans and camper vans in Estonia. Most managed campsites are open from May to October, though you can find places to park at RMK sites that are open year-round, too.

When driving in Estonia, keep in mind that:

  • Estonia has right-hand traffic and an extensive system of roads, the quality of which varies
  • the speed limit on roads outside of towns is 90 km/h and 50 km/h in settlements unless otherwise specified
  • the driver and all passengers have to wear seat belts
  • the headlights of your car have to be turned on at all times
  • the driver has to be completely sober – Estonia has a zero-tolerance policy
  • when towing your caravan, you will need to keep its backlights on
  • drivers must carry their driving license and car registration documents at all times

Find the perfect place to park your camper van

Start planning!

Use our interactive map to find destinations, discover new activities, and design a travel plan.