Daytrip to the Onion Route

Those looking for a unique cultural experience should travel to the villages around Lake Peipsi to visit the traditional communities of Russian Old Believers, who established their own way of life here after their ancestors fled Russia three centuries ago.

Aristocratic mansions and colourful cottages mark the area known as the Onion Route, a 30-kilometre-or-so stretch of road spanning the southern coast of Lake Peipsi. The route takes its name from this region’s unique inhabitants – Russian Old Believers, a traditional, religious minority famed for growing beautiful golden onions, as well as for being hard-working fishermen and skilled builders. Until today, they have maintained their language (Old Russian), their religion, their style of building as well as their cooking.

A guided bus tour introduces visitors to the Old Believers’ way of life. Participants will enjoy hearty, home-cooked cuisine and a taste of local peasant culture. Try the local cuisine along the Peipus shore, featuring lake fish and pastries. Pickles and smoked fish are sold by locals along the roadsides, along with Estonia’s most celebrated oninons, known for their long storage life and flavour.

The Old Believers’traditions remain vital today and are profiled at the Peipsimaa Visitors Centre, where after the exhibits and a cup of tea from a samovar, visitors can go for a ride on a pushbike or, in winter, kicksled. The sights of the museum continue in real life as you head south along the shore past ancient one-street villages lined with Old Believers’ houses. To gain even more insight into the local culture, there is and Old Believers Museum in Kolkja village and a Varnja Old Believers Prayer House.

Location: Just 40 km from Tartu,  a 30-kilometre-or-so stretch of road spanning the southern coast of  the beautiful Lake Peipus


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