Lahemaa, the first national park in the Soviet Union and also the oldest and largest in Estonia, enchants visitors with its diverse natural landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Here, one can enjoy the peaceful silence of nature on a sandy beach, in a primeval swamp, on a juniper-covered coastal meadow, or by a green riverbank. Lahemaa is one of Europe’s most important forest conservation areas and is part of the Natura 2000 network. The coastline here is famous for its abundance of boulders and rock outcrops. The formation of the landscape has been influenced by the Baltic Klint.
The Lahemaa National Park tourism area, located in five municipalities across two counties – Kuusalu parish and Loksa town in Harju County, and Haljala, Kadrina, and Tapa parishes in Lääne-Viru County – also includes the Põhja-Kõrvemaa nature reserve and the hilly Neeruti landscape protection area located in the midst of forests and swamps. Approximately 24,000 people live in the area, and there are active communities and small businesses. The most important economic sector is agriculture and forestry. The Lahemaa Tourism Association is the most active developer of tourism activities.
This area is a paradise for nature lovers with its pleasant forests, tranquil sandy beaches, large boulders, picturesque forest lakes, and well-maintained hiking trails. Accommodations include both guesthouses and holiday villages, and several restaurants bear the North Estonian local food label. Lahemaa has the Sustainable Tourism certificate from the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas and a gold level for the Global Sustainable Tourism Destination criteria.
Rich cultural heritage can be found in old seaside and rural villages, small towns with unique histories and architecture, such as Loksa and Tapa. There are several interesting manors in the area, of which the most impressive are Jäneda, Kiiu, Kolga, Palmse, Sagadi, Vihula, and Neeruti. Landmarks include the churches of Kadrina and Kuusalu and the Viitna tavern. The largest collection of Estonian art can be found in Viinistu, and there is a maritime museum in Käsmu. Smaller museums are also worth visiting. Military enthusiasts can find fascinating Soviet-era border guard facilities. An increasing number of small ports in North Estonia are ready to serve visitors.
Lahemaa has collected a large portion of Estonia’s old folk songs and dances. Community centers keep folk culture alive, and in addition to community events, private parties and seminars can also be organized, and public events take place. Cultural life is particularly lively in the summer, with several traditional outdoor events taking place: Jäneda farm days, celebrations of fishermen’s day in coastal villages, music festivals in Võsu, St. Lawrence’s Day celebrations in Kuusalu, the Viru Folk festival in Käsmu, the Tapa Sausage Festival, Loksa town day, and bonfire nights on the beach during the Night of Ancient Lights. It is also worth visiting the President’s Hike and fairs in Kuusalu, Jäneda, Kolga, and Loksa.
The cooperation basis of the Lahemaa National Park tourism area is the “Lahemaa National Park tourism area sustainable development strategy 2019-2030+” created under the leadership of the nonprofit organization Arenduskoda.