Matsalu National Park includes Matsalu Bay, the delta area of the Kasari River, and the surrounding flooded meadows, coastal meadows, reed beds and forests.
Matsalu Bay is shallow, brackish and rich in nutrients. Väinameri Sea bordering the Matsalu Bay includes more than 40 islands which are also part of the park. The bay is 18 km long, 6 km wide and only 1.5 metres deep.
Flora and fauna
Matsalu National Park is one of the largest and most important autumn stopping grounds for migratory birds in Europe. 275 bird species have been recorded in Matsalu, among which 175 are nesting and 33 transmigrating waterfowl. Thousands of geese and dipper ducks can be seen on the floodplains, the coastal meadows are crowded with Branta species and the bay area is alive with swans, coots and diving ducks.
49 species of fish and 47 species of mammals are registered in the area of the nature reserve, along with 772 species of vascular plants.
Fees and permits
You can explore the landscape on foot, by bicycle or by boat (to Matsalu Bay).
Matsalu International Nature Film Festival is held every autumn in nearby Lihula town.
Penijõe manor is the regional centre of State Nature Conservation Centre. A small exhibition of nature, slideshows and videos can viewed.
Most observation towers are accessible by car or bus, only Penijõe observation tower requires a short walk from the Matsalu Nature Centre. In the spring to autumn period and during rainy seasons visitors should bring along waterproof boots.
Boat trips are held along the reed channels in spring and summer when the water level is above average.
- Haapsalu – "Venice of the north", and a major seaside resort and medium-sized port city, good for visiting spas, taking mud baths, sailing and swimming. But also interesting monuments of the middle ages, like the cathedral and the Ruins of Haapsalu Castle, and a famous and picturesque Railway Museum can be seen here.