Estonia was where I did my first bike trip. In July 2006 I rode from my place in Viimsi to Paldiski with a couple of friends from Australia. We attempted to follow the number 1 cycling route but had no map and found signage a bit lacking, so we ended up riding on the uncomfortably narrow and busy highway for a good part of the trip. Since then signing has improved and there are more maps and information available.
In general, Estonia is a great place for cycling in summer. There are quiet roads, regular villages and towns, and most importantly it is very flat. The highest point in Estonia (and all of the Baltics) is Suur Munamägi at a mear 318 metres high.
There are about a dozen official sign posted bike routes throughout Estonia. The number 1 bike route is part of the number 10 Euro Velo route which circuits the nordic countries.
The Esto Velo website contains a good amount of info in English. I purchased rough maps of the bike routes from a bookshop and they have come in handy when a sign post had gone astray. These days the routes are clearly marked on the Open Street Maps Cycle Map, which can be downloaded with a bunch of different apps on smartphones.
There were a few days spare in our calendars and the weather looked fine so we decided to go on a bike trip. Rakvere sounded like a nice place to visit, so we packed our panniers, grabbed our bikes, and arrived in Rakvere by train in the afternoon. Rakvere is a nice Estonian town with the usual wooden houses and one of my favourite castles. It is partially ruined, and is set against a foreground of green grass over small hills and a moat. I found myself wishing I owned a holiday house in the town.
We stayed in a nice guest house in town. I’ve no idea how we found it, but I can recommend that friendly and cheap style of accommodation.
Rakvere – Võsu
The plan was to follow the number 4 bike route towards the coast and then the number 1 route back to Tallinn. This is not a particularly direct route, but certainly a scenic one. The number 4 route is signposted the entire way, although at one point a sign had gone missing and we went a few kilometres before realising we’d missed a turn.
We passed through quite a lot of wheat farming land in the morning before we reached the coast. It rained quite heavily at lunchtime, but luckily we were under cover at the Altja Kõrts (something similar to a pub) until the rain petered out. Otherwise Altja was a lovely seaside town with old log fishing cabins.
Millerine at Altja Kõrts
Millerine checking out a well near Altja
The road winds along the coast. It was quiet, flat, and scenic. Basically everything one could want in a lazy day of cycling.
We stayed in a campground outside of Võsu, a few metres from a creek (Võsu jõgi). There were no toilets, but otherwise it was nicely set up with an under cover area with a table, and a metal bbq type enclosed fireplace. These both came in handy, as again it rained but while we were under cover. Campgrounds in Estonia are free and comfortable, but they can be hard to find so it’s worth doing some research first. We found this campsite on the RMK website, which is difficult to navigate, but has good information for the state forests.
Võsu – Viimsi
It would have taken a couple of days of cycling to get back to Tallinn if we followed the bike route around the coastal peninsulas. As the weather seemed destined to provide more rain we decided to fast track it home via the highway. On the way we visited a small waterfall, but it was mostly a direct fast and flat ride home. In terms of distance it was the longest day off riding we’ve done, so a satisfying end to a nice few days away.