Karula National ParkSource: Mati Kose


Karula National Park

Located in Southern Estonia, Karula is the country's smallest national park (123 km²). Its small rounded hills are generally not found elsewhere in Estonia.

Karula National Park’s varied topography was formed at the end of the Ice Age more than 10,000 years ago when meltwater carried sand and gravel into the gaps between the glaciers. Later, the ice melted, leaving a 2-3 meter thick soil layer on top of the sand and gravel.

A block of uninterrupted forest takes up almost half of Karula National Park. This exceptionally high-value forest is the largest of its kind under protection in southeastern Estonia. This massive forested area (forests cover some 70% of Karula’s surface area) is home to large wild game, such as elk, roe deer, wild boar, lynxes, wolves, and bears. Among the protected species, the most notable are the black stork, osprey, lesser spotted eagle, sand lizard, spadefoot toad, and the rare daisy-leaf grape-fern.

Explore Karula National Park

Awaken where the alarm call is a symphony of wildlife

Not a single road section is straight in Karula. Roads meander around the hills, which means it takes a little longer to get from one place to another. It’s the perfect expression of the character of the people of the region—peaceful progress and living as they have for centuries.

River and old house in Karula National Park

Source: Marti Kose

Karula's rich cultural heritage

While hiking through the park, you will come across ancient burial sites and century-old farm buildings that speak of Karula's rich cultural heritage. Visitors can observe the traditional way of Estonian life and learn about the timeless smoke sauna tradition. They can also hear Võru — a local dialect passed down from generation to generation.

Smoke sauna

Source: Renee Altrov

Source: Rivo Veber

Karula National Park is a winter wonderland

In winter, Karula transforms into a winter wonderland, with Estonia's smallest national park draped in a blanket of snow that sparkles in the sunlight. The landscape takes on a serene beauty, inviting you to slow down and savor the quietude of the season. As you navigate the snowy trails, take caution of the heavy snowfall, and remember to tread carefully to ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure.