beautiful sunset in KihnuSource: Priidu Saart

How to enjoy Estonia, sustainably

Sustainable tourism is the key to making sure generations to come will still be able to enjoy the natural world and local cultures

The eco-friendly mindset has long been part of the Estonian ethos.

Just look at World Cleanup Day. This country of 1.3 million convinced more than 18 million people to come together to clean up the planet and has been doing so for over ten years.

The population of Estonia may be small, but there are thousands of people dedicated to developing and maintaining sustainable tourism destinations throughout the country. There are many positive sides to tourism, but the industry is also faced with challenges. If you want to join the sustainability movement in Estonia, we've got you covered. These tips will show you how you can make sure that future generations can enjoy the experience of travel as much as you do today.

We always encourage travellers to opt for conscious choices when travelling to Estonia, in order to take care of the surrounding nature by saving resources and consuming local produce. This is especially important in tourism.

Spend money locally

Always spend money on local food. Try out a estonian pirukas, a flaky pastry filled with meat, vegetables, cheese, or fruit as a handheld snack to eat while on the move.

Local, seasonal ingredients also feature prominently in the Estonian restaurant scene. Check out the MICHELIN Guide's Green Star recommendations for the most sustainable, eco-friendly dining options in the country. While there are only two that met the Guides demanding criteria, there are many other restaurants and cafes specializing in local products, such as Estonian dairy and fish from Lake Peipsi.

Food isn't the only place to spend locally. Seek out Estonian designers and handicrafts for your souvenirs. Estonia has a rich history of fiber arts, woodworking, and pottery. Plus, you can find Estonian-made cosmetics, soaps, and candles. Traditional arts and the natural environment have also inspired fashion designers in recent years. There are even local designers dedicated to sustainable fashion, such as Reet Aus, whose upcycled collections are made from post-production leftovers.


local food on the table in the bog

Source: Renee Altrov

Local restaurants and shops

Look out for quality labels

There are a few programs in place in Estonia that help you to choose the more sustainable way of travel:

Green Key is an international quality label for tourism entrepreneurs. Green Key unites hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and other establishments in 60+ countries. The goal of Green Key is to achieve a balance of quality, convenience, and environmentally friendly practices.

Companies that have joined the Green Key in Estonia set environmental goals and meet the mandatory criteria related to the label, including the use of electricity, heating, water waste and so on. The produce in Estonia’s Green Key establishments is locally sourced, promoting activities related to nature and local cultural heritage in its area. All Green Key labelled establishments are reviewed once a year.

People chilling in Noblessner are

Source: Kaupo Kalda

Explore Green Key businesses in Estonia

Try your hand at foraging

Foraging is a national pastime in Estonia, and the forests are full of tasty treasures. Depending on the season, you can find mushrooms, wild garlic, blueberries, cranberries, and cowberries. If you don't know where to go, then go with a guide — their expert knowledge can keep you from picking the wrong thing.


foraging in the forest

Source: Priidu Saart

Guided foraging

Visit Green Destinations

Estonia participates in the international Green Destination program. For several years in a row, Green Destination has selected Estonia's TOP 100 list of sustainable destinations, featuring success stories from Hiiumaa, Saaremaa, Järvamaa, Lahemaa, Pärnu, Rakvere and Tartu.

In addition to development work, it is important to introduce the destination's green offer to visitors and to raise the awareness of destination companies to analyze their activities based on sustainable principles and apply for an eco-label.

Saxby area

Source: Priidu Saaart

Travel slow!

High volumes of tourists can stress local resources. By staying longer in a place and away from the typical tourist attractions, you'll be practicing more sustainable tourism. Simply by visiting Estonia, you've already gone off the beaten path. But once you're here, it's easy to lose track of time and spend days walking deserted beaches, hiking through untouched forests with only the birds for company, or poking around quaint villages without another tourist in sight.

Explore more on foot - In estonia all the cities are very comapact and best enjoyed on foot. If needed, choose energy efficient transportation. Trains, bikes, and buses — these are the most sustainable modes of transport. Luckily, Estonia is a small country making it easy to get where you want to go. Read more here how to travel here and around.

Hikers in the forest

Source: Hans Markus Antson

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