© iStock/KalervoK
© iStock/KalervoK

A magical journey on the Onion Route in the Peipsi Area

3 minutes to read

Peipsi Area, covering the west coast of the largest lake in Estonia, is home to the Old Believers, Eastern Orthodox Christians, who are known as skilled fishermen and onion cultivators. Take the magical journey in their everyday life, have a word with friendly grannies, witty grandpas, and enjoy home-cooked fish and onion meals on the Onion Route.

© iStock/Katiekk2
© iStock/Katiekk2

Fresh fish and onions

The route of the small villages on the shore of Lake Peipsi is called the Onion Route. It is not far from Estonian students mecca Tartu. It covers an area where old traditions are kept and valued, so the communities have stayed the same throughout the time. The route offers a glimpse in the serenity of the village life, living and breathing with nature. Forget about fancy sushis and pasta – Peipsi is all about natural flavors of what the Mother Earth gives us. The days on the Onion Route start the same – with fishing. Skilled fishermen set sail in the break of day on Lake Peipsi to bring back fresh fish, and the wives stay home to bake the best onion pies you could ever imagine. Naturally, the villages on the Onion Route are perfect places to buy fish, onions and other fresh produce. The famous onion of Peipsi is not for the weak – it will make your eyes wet but is totally worth sacrificing few tears. If you are looking for a genuine home-cooked dinner experience, visit Kolkja Fish and Onion Restaurant. Dishes from the local Peipsi fish are made after the centuries-old recipes, passed on from generation to generation. And to end your meal, don’t forget to order tea from a samovar.

Kolkja Fish and Onion Restaurant, Tartu county
Kolkja Fish and Onion Restaurant, Tartu county
Kolkja, 60306 Tartu maakond, Eesti
© iStock/harrastaja
© iStock/harrastaja

Stay in the authentic Old Believers home

Forget fancy spas, silk sheets, and room service. When you go to any of the villages near Lake Peipsi, take everything it has to offer. The best place to stay is Mesi Tare Home Accommodation, the traditional Old-Believer home in Varnja village. It is as “home accommodation” as it gets – you will feel cozy and comfortable. The hosts give their best to provide their guests with a truly authentic experience  – with an emphasis on the peace and quiet of the village life. In the summer, you can take a dip in the lake and during winter go fishing with the local fishermen. And, of course, end your day at the traditional smoke sauna, washing away all your worries.

Mesi Tare Home Accommodation, Tartu county
Mesi Tare Home Accommodation, Tartu county
Kesk 119, Varnja, 60305 Tartu maakond, Eesti
© iStock/Inese online
© iStock/Inese online

Enjoy local food like an aristocrat

As white as the snow, magical castle will probably catch your eye. The Alatskivi Castle offers a chance to have a glimpse in the life of an aristocratic family of the past. Take a walk in the park paved with oaks, maples, alders and linden trees, and have a meal at the castle’s restaurant, combining traditional Estonian foods with favorite dishes of noblemen. Seasonal venison, accompanied by Peipsi onion - it's a meal to remember!

Alatskivi Castle
Alatskivi Castle
Lossi 10, Alatskivi, 60201 Tartu maakond, Eesti
© iStock/inese online
© iStock/inese online

Peipsi Lake is a truly magical place to visit. Seeing the everyday life of Old Believers and eating the home-cooked meals made with onions and fresh fish make the journey on the Onion Route unforgettable.


The author

Merje Aus

Merje Aus

Merje – proud Estonian, in love with everything her home country has to offer. Studying Estonian philology and working as a journalist.

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