Estonia by motorhome: tips, areas, itineraries

Visiter l'Estonie en camping-car

Taking a road trip to Estonia? Here’s our guide to visiting Estonia in a motorhome or converted van!

Visiting Estonia in a motorhome? And why not Siberia? Estonia, the northern European country bordering the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland, is often overlooked by travellers. Visiting Estonia in a motorhome allows you to explore vast areas of nature away from mass tourism. And you won’t have to worry about hotel availability. The country is often rewarded for its openness, tolerance and respect for foreigners. It’s true that Estonia benefits from many cultural influences on its territory: Russian, Ukrainian, Finnish, Belarusian and Western. Forests cover 45% of Estonia’s territory, 15% of which is made up of protected nature reserves. There’s plenty to tempt you in this country that looks like a little Scandinavia! Discover our mini-guide to visiting Estonia by motorhome.

Route ideas in Estonia by motorhome

Vieille ville de Talinn, à découvir lors d'un voyage en Estonie en camping-car

Photo credit: Shutterstock – kavalenkava

Estonia covers a small area of 45,339 km², the size of the former Midi-Pyrénées region. The country is made up of over 1,500 islands, 1,400 lakes, 7,000 rivers and 3,000 kilometers of coastline. The fauna is rich with beavers, elks, brown bears and lynxes: a haven for nature lovers.

To visit Estonia by motorhome from Latvia, you’ll have to travel through Riga. There are three routes into Estonia from the north:

  • Pärnu to the west,
  • Valga in the center,
  • And Misso to the east.

You can also rent a motorhome in Tallinn to explore the country from the north. From France, you’ll have to cross Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

In any case, we recommend a minimum of ten to fifteen days to visit Estonia by motorhome. Your itineraries will logically depend on the length of your road-trip. In three or five days, restrict your itinerary to a single area. Tallinn and the north coast, for example. On a trip lasting more than a month, you can explore the country and make forays into Finland, towards Helsinki, or into Latvia, to Riga, for example. Not sure where to go? Here are our ideas for possible itineraries in Estonia.

  • Estonia from the south: Riga, Pärnu, Tallinn (old town, churches, Toompea castle), Türisalu cliff, Laheema park, Kaderdaja marsh, Rakvere castle, Purtse, Ontika reserve,
  • Visit Estonia to the north and east: same stages, plus Körvemaa, Virumaa, Narva, Toila Park, Kurtna, Silamäe,
  • Visit Estonia in a month: same route, plus Tartu, Otepää and the park of the same name, Lake Võrtsjärv, Lake Pühajärv, Suur Munamägi, Röuge Suurjärv, the UNESCO World Heritage island of Kihnu, the islands of Muhu and Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Vormsi, Haapsalu and the Matsalu nature reserve.

These are just a few ideas for stops along the way. You can, of course, choose to visit other cities or regions. If you have more time, or if your desire for cultural visits changes, other possibilities are open to you. Take a ferry to Helsinki, visit St. Petersburg (you need a visa to go to Russia), or Riga in the south.

Driving a motorhome in Estonia: traffic rules you need to know

Route près de la Mer Baltique. Un lieu idéal pour visiter l'Estonie en camping-car

Photo credit: Shutterstock – AnastassiaVassiljeva

Visiting Estonia by motorhome? The cost of living in Estonia is affordable compared to Scandinavian countries. And the whole of Estonia is richly endowed.

How is driving organized in this country? In Estonia, as in France, driving is on the right-hand side of the road. This means overtaking on the left. However, you need to allow for a long distance before pulling over, especially after overtaking a truck. Traffic in traffic circles is counter-clockwise, as in France. Unlike France, low beams are compulsory day and night. Traffic lights are different from those in France: green, flashing green, yellow and red. You must stop as soon as the light changes to yellow.

It is also compulsory to use snow tires from December 1st to March 1st. Of course, you’ll also need an international driver’s license, as well as the motorhome’s insurance and registration documents. In addition, all passengers must have their seatbelts fastened when the vehicle is in use. Children under 12 must be seated in a booster seat.

Driving in winter? Beware, the secondary road network is not always in good condition. This is especially true after winter, despite Estonia’s advanced economic development. To visit Estonia by motorhome, please note that rental is only available to people aged 21 or 23 or over. In addition, drivers under 25 must have held their license for at least one year.

Speed limits are similar to those in France:

  • 50 km/h in built-up areas,
  • 90 km/h on secondary roads,
  • And 110 km/h on freeways.

Estonia has zero tolerance for drink-driving: don’t have a drink. Be sure to obey the law, as fines are high: up to €1,150 for drink-driving, €115 for driving 20 km/h over the limit, €15 to €385 for running a red light, and up to €190 for not wearing a seatbelt. The same amount for driving without dipped headlights, and €200 for driving without vehicle papers.

Freeway tolls in Estonia: how much does your motorhome category cost?

Plage de Parnu

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Nordic Moonlight

Here’s the good news: roads in Estonia are free. There are no toll roads. Although the Estonian road network is well meshed, freeways are rare. Two main routes criss-cross the country from north to south. The Via Baltica runs from Tallinn to Riga (Latvia), while the Via Estonia runs southeast from Tallinn to the Russian border. Finally, a freeway runs along the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland, from Tallinn to Narva and St. Petersburg.

Ferry connections, however, are not free, especially to Helsinki and the islands of Estonia’s west coast.

How and where to rent a motorhome in France?

Are you planning to travel from France to Estonia by motorhome? You’ve got a nerve! You’ll need to rent your motorhome in France. Nowadays, it’s very easy to rent these vehicles between private individuals. There are many online platforms for this type of rental, such as Yescapa.

How does it work?

  • First, you need to choose the motorhome in your city (e.g. Bordeaux, Nantes, Toulouse, Paris, Montpellier or Marseille).
  • Make sure you choose unlimited mileage, check the number of berths available and whether international travel is possible.
  • Make your rental request online and share your travel information (dates, rental options, mileage, etc.) with the owner.
  • If your request is accepted and after payment, you will have access to the owner’s contact details to arrange a first meeting.
  • On the day, present your driver’s license and pay the deposit.
  • An inventory of fixtures is drawn up and a rental contract signed by both parties. On your return, after having criss-crossed Estonia, you sign the return inventory and that’s it!

Rent a motorhome in France

How and where to rent a motorhome in Estonia?

Chutes Jagala, Estonie

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Roman Caffrey

Online booking is not available for this destination. So you’ll have to rent one from a professional rental company. Make sure you get all the information you need before you leave, so you don’t end up without a vehicle. Alternatively, you can rent a motorhome at the start of your trip in France.

Rent a motorhome for your road trip in Estonia

RV parks in Estonia: where to park?

Carte Caramaps de l'Estonie

Photo credit: Caramaps

Here’s more good news: as in Sweden, wild camping is permitted in Estonia outside national parks and nature reserves. Parking in public spaces to sleep in a camper van is often complicated in European countries. Although generally forbidden by law, wild camping is more or less tolerated in some countries. Tallinn has a well-developed public transport network, making it almost unnecessary to visit the Estonian capital by car.

There are, however, paid parking lots and covered or open-air parking areas. Campervans can park in the same spaces as cars. But parking spaces sometimes have a limited duration. What’s more, renting a motorhome or van is less about driving through towns and cities than it is about enjoying the adventurous lifestyle. And yes, the whole point of visiting Estonia in a camper van is to be able to sleep in the wild when you’ve found a good spot.

So where can you park in Estonia and sleep at night? There are a number of options: you can look for a secluded spot away from residential areas (not difficult in Estonia), or download a mobile application. You can also search Estonia’s 300 or so campsites and motorhome service areas.

Several sites can help you: Campercontact and Campanda in particular. Another solution is the Park4night app. This is our flagship tool for itinerant road-trips. The app is a platform for sharing spots between travelers: parking lots, service areas, campsites, isolated spots in the middle of nowhere. A system of public comments gives you an idea of what you’re looking for.

When is the best time to travel in a motorhome in Estonia?

Passage Sainte Catherine, Tallinn

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Madrugada Verde

When should you visit Estonia by motorhome? Estonia lies at 59° north latitude, the same latitude as northern Nunavut(Quebec). So there are big differences between night and day, winter and summer.

In Tallinn, at the winter solstice, the days are characterized by nights of 17:58 and only 6:02 of daylight. At the summer solstice, on the other hand, there are 18:40 hours of daylight and 5:20 hours of night. Due to the high latitude, winters can be harsh: temperatures can drop below -20°C. However, the influence of the Baltic Sea and warm North Atlantic currents warms the air. So it’s not as cold in the Baltic and Scandinavian countries as it is in northern Quebec.

Estonia’s climate is characterized by cold winters, mild, rainy springs, relatively warm summers and mild autumns. The driest month is March, but the nights are still cold. On the other hand, snow remains on the ground until early April, and snow showers can last until May.

Summer is therefore the best time to visit Estonia by motorhome. Between June and early September, temperatures are mild, but cool in the morning. Minimum temperatures of 10-11°C are common in June, while maximum temperatures can reach 22°C. So always pack warm clothes!