Kakerdaja Hiking Trail, Vetepere, Järva County

Estonia: Top Attractions and Activities

Nestled in the beautiful Baltics, Estonia is a hidden gem. From its vibrant capital and medieval towns to its picturesque countryside and coastal villages, Estonia has something for everyone. Keep reading for information on top cultural activities and locations, unique experiences and tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

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Estonia on the Map

Located in Northern Europe, Estonia shares its borders with Latvia and Russia, while its coastline stretches along the Baltic Sea. Its strategic location makes it easily accessible and a perfect starting point for exploring the Baltics. Many tour operators offer day trips to Latvia, and Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is less than three hours away by ferry.

Exploring Tallinn

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn

When it comes to tourist attractions, Estonia offers a diverse range of options, with many of them in its capital. Its capital Tallinn is a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture, and the Old Town is a must-visit, with its cobblestone streets, medieval walls, and charming houses. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Toompea Castle, and St. Olaf’s Church are just a few of the architectural wonders that await you.

Tallinn is also a great place to use as a base to explore the rest of the country on day trips. For nature enthusiasts, Lahemaa National Park is a paradise of forests, lakes, and rugged coastlines. You can also explore the stunning Jägala Waterfall, hike through the Viru Bog, or visit the picturesque coastal villages of Altja and Käsmu.

For more information on Tallinn, check out the following articles:

Must-Visit Places in Estonia

Pärnu
Pärnu

In addition to Tallinn, Estonia is home to several other enchanting towns and cities. Tartu, the country’s second-largest city, is known for its vibrant student culture and historical charm. Visit the prestigious University of Tartu, stroll through the scenic Toome Hill Park, or immerse yourself in the local art scene at the Tartu Art Museum.

Pärnu, on the other hand, is Estonia’s summer capital, with its sandy beaches, lively promenade, and vibrant nightlife. Don’t miss out on the picturesque Old Town and the beautiful Pärnu Beach Park.

Pärnu is also a great option if you’re travelling with kids. There are multiple parks and gardens, as well as the MiniZoo and Lotte Village Theme Park. You should also check out Tervise Paradiis spa hotel and water park; with two floors, it’s the largest water park in Estonia, and well worth a visit. It’s also situated an equal distance between Tallinn and the Latvian capital of Riga, making it a convenient stopover between the two cities.

Cultural Activities in Estonia

Kadriorg Art Museum, Tallinn
Kadriorg Art Museum, Tallinn

The Estonian arts scene

Estonia has a rich cultural heritage, with a thriving arts scene and a deep appreciation for music and literature. The Estonian National Opera in Tallinn is a must-visit for music enthusiasts, showcasing opera, ballet, and classical concerts.

For a more bohemian atmosphere, Tallinn’s Kalamaja District is home to Telliskivi Creative City. This up-and-coming area features colourful houses, street art murals, multiple galleries and cafes and even an ice rink in winter.

The Kumu Art Museum, also located in Tallinn, is the largest art museum in Estonia, housing an impressive collection of contemporary and modern art, while the Kadriorg Art Museum is the only museum in the country solely dedicated to European and Russian art. Outside of Tallinn, art lovers can enjoy the Tartu Art Museum (Tartu Kunstimuuseum) and the Viinistu Art Museum in Harju.

Museums

For history lovers, Estonia has a range of museums covering its turbulent history. In Tallinn, the Kiek in de Kök Museum and Bastion Tunnels, the Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom, and the Estonian Open Air Museum are all must-visits. Meanwhile, the Estonian Agricultural Museum in Tartu County, the Pärnu Museum, the Harju County Museum and Hermann Castle in Narva are all underrated and provide insight into life and culture outside the capital.

Estonia’s position on the coast also makes it a great destination if you’re particularly interested in maritime history. The Lennusadam Seaplane Harbour in Tallinn is part of the Estonian Maritime Museum, which is located in the Fat Margaret tower in Tallinn’s old town. The museum and seaplane harbour feature interactive exhibits, which are great if you’re travelling with kids, as well as a collection of historic ships.

Estonia’s second city, Tartu, is also a cultural centre. It is home to the Science Centre AHHAA, the largest science centre in the Baltics, as well as the Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum, the largest sports museum in the Baltics. For book lovers, a visit to the Estonian Literary Museum is a must, where you can learn about Estonian literature and explore their vast collection of books and manuscripts.

For more offbeat cultural attractions, check out the Chocolala Chocolate Museum in Tallinn, dedicated to the Estonian chocolate industry. You can also visit the Tartu Toy Museum, and the TYPA Printing and Paper Arts Centre with its paper sculptures, also in Tartu.

Exploring Estonia’s Natural Attractions

Viru Bog, Estonia
Viru Bog

National parks and nature reserves

Estonia’s natural beauty is awe-inspiring, with its pristine wilderness and diverse landscapes ranging from serene lakes to rugged coastlines. The country is home to six stunning national parks covering around 20% of its total land mass, which are not only a haven for nature lovers but also offer a range of activities and tours for visitors to enjoy.

These include Lahemaa National Park, mentioned earlier, where you can explore dense forests, tranquil lakes, and picturesque waterfalls. For a unique experience, head to Soomaa National Park, known as the “land of bogs.” Take a guided canoe trip through the flooded forests and marshes, or try your hand at bogshoeing, a thrilling activity unique to the region.

Wildlife lovers can spot rare species such as lynx, wolves, and brown bears in the wild, while birdwatchers can enjoy the sight of migrating birds in their natural habitats. Check out Estonian Wildlife Tours for current information about private and personalised tours.

As well as its national parks, Estonia’s nature reserves, waterfalls and 2,222 islands offer numerous opportunities for both adventure and relaxation.

The Baltic Coast

Estonia’s coastline along the Baltic Sea offers a multitude of opportunities for exploration and relaxation. Take a leisurely stroll along the sandy beaches of Pärnu, soak up the sun, and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze.

For a more adventurous experience, try your hand at windsurfing or kitesurfing in the coastal town of Haapsalu. The beautiful islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa are also worth a visit, with their picturesque lighthouses, unspoiled nature, and charming seaside villages.

Rummu Quarry, Estonia
Rummu Quarry

Adventure Activities

If you’re an adventure seeker, Estonia has plenty to offer. Explore the underground wonders of the Rummu Quarry, where an abandoned prison has been partially flooded, creating a surreal diving and snorkelling site. Discover the adrenaline rush of bouldering and cliff jumping in the picturesque coastal town of Käsmu, or embark on a thrilling wildlife safari in the forests of Alutaguse, where you can spot bears, wolves, and lynx in their natural habitat.

The Longest Ice Road in Europe

During the winter months, Estonia transforms into a winter wonderland, and one of its most unique attractions is the longest ice road in Europe. The Haapsalu-Noarootsi ice road connects the mainland with the Noarootsi peninsula, offering a thrilling experience as you drive across the frozen sea. This remarkable phenomenon allows visitors to witness the beauty of Estonia’s winter landscape and provides a truly unforgettable adventure.

Unique Experiences in Estonia

Tartu sauna
Tartu sauna

To truly immerse yourself in Estonian culture, there are several unique experiences you can indulge in. Firstly, visit the Singing Revolution Museum in Tallinn to learn about Estonia’s struggle for independence and the role music played in their journey.

You could also take part in a traditional sauna ritual, a cornerstone of Estonian culture, and experience the rejuvenating effects of this ancient practice. Estonia’s sauna culture dates back hundreds of years and is a social activity as much as a relaxation method. In Võru County, the smoke sauna tradition is even recognised by UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

For a taste of local cuisine, try the traditional dish of black bread and smoked fish, or indulge in the hearty Estonian stew known as “mulgikapsad.” You can also try Estonian cuisine by joining a food tour. Get Your Guide features the following tours from Tallinn:

Hidden Gems in Estonia

Legends Classic Diner, Keila
Legends Classic Diner, Keila

While Estonia boasts several well-known attractions, there are also hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The town of Viljandi, with its medieval castle ruins and picturesque lake, is a haven for nature lovers and history enthusiasts. The coastal village of Kihnu, another UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage site, offers a glimpse into the unique traditions and customs of the Kihnu people.

For something of an out of this world (slash country) experience visit Legends Classic Diner in Keila, an authentic American Diner 25km southwest of Tallinn. And for a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, head to the island of Vormsi, where you can explore its untouched nature, charming fishing villages, and rich cultural heritage.

Tips for travelling in Estonia

  • The official currency of Estonia is the euro (€). Most places in Estonia accept card, but make sure to carry some cash if travelling to more remote areas. Estonia is one of the most affordable countries in Europe, so your euros will stretch much further than in nearby Scandinavia.
  • Estonia is generally safe with low levels of crime, but pickpockets are known to target tourists, so keep your wits about you and never leave your belongings unattended in public.
  • Make sure you book accommodation before travelling to popular tourist areas during peak seasons. Estonia has a range of accommodation options, including hotels, hostels and Airbnb.
  • If you want to book tickets in advance you can use Get Your Guide for a range of activity options, or Tiqets for Tallinn attractions. Both have competitive prices, but Tiqets can be better if you’re booking last-minute activities on the day.
  • Estonia is reachable by air, and is connected by bus and train from neighbouring Latvia and by ferry from Finland and Sweden.
  • Taxi services such as Uber and Bolt are available in Estonian cities and are both reliable and affordable, but buses are by far the most popular mode of transport.
  • While it’s possible to get around using public transport, especially in Estonian cities, you’ll have more freedom if you hire your own vehicle. Discover Cars and Qeeq both offer car hire in Estonia; compare options to find what’s right for you. If you’d prefer to hire a private driver, you can book one on GetTransfer and pay by the hour. Alternatively, if you prefer travelling on two wheels rather than four, check out BikesBooking for motorcycle hire options in Tallinn.

If you require emergency assistance in Estonia, dial 112 to contact emergency services.

Conclusion

Estonia is a country that captivates with its beauty, history, and unique experiences. While you may have been curious before, hopefully this article has inspired you to take a leap and actually start planning your next adventure. From exploring the medieval streets of Tallinn to exploring the country’s coastline and national parks, there is no shortage of things to do and see in this Baltic gem. Whether you’re a history buff, an adventure seeker, or a nature enthusiast, Estonia truly has something to offer everyone.

CTA: Check out some of our recommended tours and activities and start planning your trip! Let us know in the comments which ones you’d like to try.

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