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Estonia - Climate and Weather

Estonian weather can be a little unpredictable, although it has mostly freezing winters and cool summers. Estonia is the most northern of the Baltic States, meaning it is also the coldest. The climate is fairly even across the country, but the coastal areas, west of Tallinn, tend to be milder due to a heavier maritime influence.

Rainfall in Estonia is evenly distributed throughout the year, with less rain between February and April and more during the summer.

Winter in Estonia is very cold. Temperatures remain below freezing even during the day for most of the time and drop significantly at night. The average temperature in winter months ranges from -2 C to about -10 C. There have been some occasions when the temperature has dropped as low as -25 C, but thankfully this doesn’t happen often. The record low was -43.5 C. Atlantic weather fronts can reach Estonia and increase the already frequent snowfall in winter months. Occasionally, cold air masses from the Arctic or Russia move over the country, lowering the temperature further. The sun in Estonia is rarely seen from November to February. The ocean is cold, and often freezes across the country during winter. This is especially true for the Gulf of Finland. It is a legal requirement to have spiked tyres on your car during the winter months.

With the eventual arrival of spring, days get longer but temperatures rise very slowly. The snow starts to thaw at the beginning of April (sometimes even later), even though between late April and early May, the return of cold weather and snow is a strong possibility. April is a month of great contrasts, so it's possible to wear a warm winter coat one day and a light jacket the next. Towards the middle of May, temperatures tend to stabilise and become pleasanter.

Summer in Estonia can be a mixed bag. While Atlantic fronts can bring some cool and rainy days, warm air masses from the south-east usually bring warmer days. In these cases, the temperature may reach as high as 33 C, although keep in mind that this happens infrequently and doesn’t last very long! Summer in Estonia is a pleasant season, since the maximum temperatures hover around 20 to 22 C, which makes for good walking weather. The hottest temperature recorded in an Estonia summer is 35.6 C. Nights are cool but not cold, with minimum temperatures around 11 to 12 C. On the west coast of the country it is a bit warmer, reaching around 14 C at night. Estonian summers are also known for their ‘white nights’, when there is barely a glimpse of darkness. The sun sets late and rises early – a phenomenon which can confuse your body clock. In summer, sea water reaches 17 C, meaning it’s still quite cool for swimming. However, you can still spot local people taking a dip in the sea.

Autumn tends to be dull and rainy; while September can still have higher temperatures and bright colours, it quickly becomes colder and duller. The first snowfall may happen as early as October. Compared with spring, autumn is darker, as the days are much shorter; this difference is especially noticeable in Nordic countries.

The best time to visit Estonia is summer, between June and August. The temperatures are mild during the day and cool at night. Statistically, August is a bit rainier than June and July, but there are no guarantees. If you plan to visit Estonia in winter, you’ll need to pack very warm clothes: down jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, hat and warm footwear. When packing for summer, you would be wise to include a raincoat, umbrella and a jacket in addition to your swimsuit so that you can cover every eventuality the Estonian weather will throw at you.

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