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Trip nr 6

Setomaa: Where the West meets the East

Mokornulga leelo (seto way of singing)
choir in Obinitsa

Tour guide: Helen Külvik


Setomaa is the land on the border of East and West: it is a small territory in the far south-east corner of Estonia, parts of it extending to Russia. It is the land where the East truly meets the West. The Seto people and their culture have traits from both the Estonian and Russians, but have developed their own unique culture over the centuries.


Setomaa has always been on the periphery, the borderland, but this kind of geographical isolation is the reason why ancient customs are still alive. Our excursion takes us to explore and experience this unique land, the meeting place of East and West, with its genuine culture and beautiful, unspoiled nature.

Seto Farm Museum at Värska

Sites visited:


Lüübnitsa village and coast: Lüübnitsa is a Russian-inhabited village located in North-Setomaa on the shore of Lake Peipsi. From here you can see Russia, which is so close (about 200 m across the water), yet so far. The old village has a face of its own, and in the end of August, it offers the best local goods: beautiful and bountiful girlands of ripe onions and garlics.


Seto Farm Museum at Värska: the largest open-air museum of Setomaa provides a good overview of the lifestyle of Seto people in about the 1920s. The museum is set up as an old farmstead, and the guided tour offers exciting and surprising insights into the life of Seto people.

Old George’s Soaphouse at Kolossova

Old George’s Soaphouse at Kolossova: a local man put up a soap-business and has become very successful. His business is located at a farm by the deep valley of the Piusa River, which cuts nowadays Setomaa in half. Surroundings are beautiful and people truly inspiring!


Obinitsa village: in 2015, Obinitsa village is the Fenno-Ugric cultural capital. The village itself is an interesting mixture of old and new. It has many sights of interest, including a museum and gallery. We will have traditional Seto cuisine for lunch at Taarka Tarõ (Taarka’s House). And there might be a surprise (or two)! If we have time, we will pay a visit to the gallery “Hal’as Kunn” (Green Frog). We’ll also take a walk by the Obinitsa Orthodox church and cemetery, in order to better understand the local history and culture.

Piusa sand caves

Piusa River sandstone outcorps

Piusa sand caves: located by the Piusa River – the border river of Setomaa – the Piusa sand quarries and caves are one of the best known sights of interest in the area. The manmade cave systems date back to the period from the 1920s to the 1960s There is a museum, and a guided tour into the opening of a large cave. The white quartz sand in the quarries provides the impression of of a tropical location.

Piusa River sandstone outcrops: the Piusa River has clear cold waters and a great fall. It is lined with beautiful sandstone outcrops on its middle course (which is also a landscape protection area), including Estonia’s highest sandstone outcrop called the Upper Härmä Wall (43 m high). We’ll take a walk for about 3 km in the nice light pine forest filled with mushrooms. 


Total length of the bus trip is 240 km.