I made my trip to Estonia in August 2019 with the bus from Russian town Pechory. Estonia is a wonderful country to visit, and very compact – you can easily access all destinations within one day. There a lot of activities to choose from and everyone can find something interesting. For those who likes nature there are many national parks, and who likes history and old architecture, can visit Tallinn.
The first town I visited in Estonia was Tartu, then Tallinn, Võru and Pärnu in the South West. I have been to Estonia three times and at this summer my main goal was relaxing at a beach and enjoy the Baltic sea, so I decided to end up my journey in Pärnu – the most sunny town in Estonia and the popular spa resort.
The easiest way to travel within Estonia is using a bus. There are good bus connections and buses run very frequently. But if you want more freedom and be independent, you can rent a car and travel wherever you like. I think the most amazing thing about Estonia is its national parks and untouched nature where you can easily get by a car.
For the travelers who fly from other countries Tallinn will be the first point of the trip and probably the best start to get acquainted with the country. Lowcosters such the WizzAir, RyanAir, EasyJet and AirBaltic operate flights to Tallinn from many European countries. If you travel from Scandinavian or Baltic countries, you can take a ferry like the Viking Line or Silja Line.
Founded in the medieval era, the city has now the good mix of old and new – the Old town is neighboring with the modern buildings, luxurious hotel and shopping centers. The most part of the Old town was built during the 13 – 16 centuries and now it is one of the best preserved in Europe. All museums, cafes and restaurants are concentrated in the Old Town.
The Old town is divided into upper and lower parts – the upper part was made for aristocracy and the lower part was populated by merchant from Denmark, Germany and other countries. The Cathedral built in the 13 century is one of the most visited sights in the upper part of the Old Tallinn. Town Hall Square is the central part of the lower town and heart of the city. Just opposite of the Town Hall is located the oldest pharmacy in Europe dated back to 1422.
Tallinn has a numerous amount of sights – among them the Kadriorg Art Museum, St. Nicolas Church and Museum, Toompea Castle, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and many others you may like to visit. For my stay in Tallinn I booked the Helax Guesthouse, which is about 10 minutes walk from the city center and it costed me just 17 euros for a night. It was awesome location and a single room with own bathroom.
Tartu is the second largest and the oldest city in Estonia dated back to 1030. The town is also home for one of the oldest Northern Europe Universities, which was founded in the 17th century. Here you can enjoy creative and rich culture and various performances – from theater and concert to festivals.
Tartu is a very compact city and all restaurants, cafes and nightlife are nestled right in the heart of the city. Among the budget places to eat I can recommend Pizerria La Dolche Vita, Opera Pizza and Werner cafe. For my stay in Tartu I booked in the Looming Hostel a single room with the common bathroom for about €30.
If you fascinated about museums you definitely should visit the Estonial National Museum and KGB Museum. Among other sights are some old churches, Old observatory, National Court and the Botanic Garden of the University of Tartu.
Estonia is proud of its many national parks – Lahemaa national park, Kõrvemaa nature reserve and Alutaguse national park in North; Soomaa national park and Matsalu national park in the West part of the country; Vilsandi National Park on the Saaremaa island. Visiting one of these parks would be a wonderful idea for your day trip out of big cities!
Some of these parks are ones of the most important forest conservation areas in Europe and home for large mammals, migratory birds, pine forests, lakes and swamps. Kõrvemaa nature reserve is a popular ski holiday destination during winter.
Haapsalu and Pärnu are the most popular resort in Estonia among locals and guests from European and especially Scandinavian countries. Haapsalu is the little cozy town with wonderful wooden houses and narrow streets. The most famous wooden building here is the Kuursaal Resort Hall, which is on the seaside Promenade and was built at the end of the 19 century. The place was favorite among the Russian Emperor’s court and aristocracy and today this building is one of the most beautiful in Estonia.
Pärnu is another amazing resort spot in the South West Estonia I have visited. This resort attracts travelers with the long white sandy beaches, awesome promenade zone, variety of spas from old bath houses to modern water parks. The beach promenade is wonderful for walking, cycling or roller skating. And I strongly recommend to visit the Tervise Paradise, which is the largest water park in Estonia. The 3 – hour adult ticket for the water park costs € 16.
I stayed in Pärnu 3 days and booked 2 hotels – the Konse Motel and Caravan Camping for €50 for a single room and the Strangers in the night Hostel where I booked a single room for €31. There is another good option – the Budget Hostel for €20 for a single room, but for my dates it wasn’t available. In Pärnu you can rent an electric scooter provided by the Transport service company Bolt by installing the Bolt app.
There are lots of good places to eat in Pärnu, but I can recommend one I visited there several times – the Steffani pizzeria, which is very popular in Pärnu.
If you like to enjoy tranquility and a rural scenery, you may take a ferry and head to the islands on the West side of Estonia. The biggest of them are Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Muhu. The most common way to get to the islands is to take a ferry from Virtsu on the mainland to Kuivastu on Muhu island. It is better to book a ticket in advance, especially in the high season. And you can also consider an opportunity to fly from Tallinn to Kuressaare.
Saaremaa is known for its traditional villages, spas and wonderful sandy beaches. While visiting Kuressaare – the capital of Saare county, you will enjoy the medieval Kuressaare Castle and Saaremaa Museum with the exhibitions of Estonian handicrafts and culture, the Sorve Lighthouse, Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity and others. For a nature lovers Saaremaa has Vilsandi National park and Viidumäe Nature reserve, which are a home for thousands of birds and wild orchids.
Written by Alex