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Otepää Church

Otepää is a small town set in the hills of south Estonia. It's located approximately 50km north from Tartu. It is the best known winter sports centre in the Baltics and the Winter Capital of Estonia.

Otepää got its name, which in Estonian means "bear's head", after the shape of the castle hill - which reminds of a bear's head. It's also where in 1224, Bishop Hermann started building the first known brick castle in Estonia, The Stone Fort.

Get in

By bus

You can travel to Otepää from Tartu, Valga, Võru and several other places by bus. Bus schedules and journey planner can be found at Bussireisid.

Get around


  • Otepää Ski museum.
  • Lake Pühajärve.
  • Estonian Flag museum.
  • Sangaste castle.
  • Otepää town hill. Observe the ruins of the bishop's castle.
  • Energy pillar. It is believed that when you touch it, it will give you a great shot of energy and good health.
  • Monument of the visit of Dalai-Lama.


Kuutsemäe resort near Otepää in winter

In summer you can hike along the paths of the Otepää Nature Park, see the landscape of rolling hills and lakes, romantic winding village roads and small rivers. Beautiful views open from observation towers on top of Tehvandi and Harimägi hills. You can also take part in different sports or simply have a good time at lake Pühajärve, which is a jewel among Estonian lakes. Each summer the "Saku Suverull" takes place - a summer competition for the world's best skiers.

If you don't like crowds and sports then it's always possible to go on hiking trips through the surrounding the picturesque landscapes, and you could try an Estonian hot smoke sauna and bathing in an icy lake afterwards.

In wintertime Otepää is a winter sports paradise for skiers, snowmobile riders and for anyone who enjoys the snow: there are slalom slopes equipped with elevators and lots of cross-country tracks. It's also where FIS World Cup Otepää Competition (cross-country skiing) and an ice-fishing competition "Golden Fish" draw the crowds.

Music Festivals

  • Leigo Lake Music Festival, near Otepää. August. Open-air concerts are held in completely natural venues on the hilly landscapes of the Otepää highland. The musicians' stage is on an island in the lake, surrounded by thousands of listeners on the sloping shore.








Go next

  • Tartu, museum-rich and hanseatic city of Tartu on the banks of the Emajõgi River, famous for its university.
  • Valga, a town bisected by the Latvian border.
  • Viljandi, ancient hilly town that hosts the annual Viljandi Folk Music Festival.
  • Võru, town in southern Estonia, not far from the highest hill in the Baltic states, Suur Munamägi.

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