Estonia

#sea #swamps #forests #medieval architecture #islands #hi-tech

A country of 1500 islands, medieval old towns and endless forests, Estonia feels like an inviting place for culture and nature enthusiasts, should it be a tour of medieval Hanseatic cities, an island hopping or a swamp safari.

The small size of Estonia makes travel from one point to another inexpensive and can also accommodate changing landscapes and lot of excitement in a few days trip. Furthermore, there are very special ways to travel: You can move along ice roads between the mainland and the islands in winter, you can enjoy the fifth season at Soomaa in spring by taking a tour through the forest by boat. This is accompanied by Wi-Fi as a “human right” – almost all of Estonia is covered with wireless internet access network that is mostly free

Tallinn

Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia and an ideal holiday destination if you want to combine the comforts of modern world, versatile nightlife and luxurious adventures with rich cultural scene, historic settings and making the most of you travel.

The vast majority of travelers come to Estonia through Tallinn, the capital city, either by plane, train, bus or driving, making it the most international city in Estonia. 

With half a million citizens, Tallinn is hardly a world metropolis. However: short distances and low traffic are advantages to cherish. Whether you have only few hours or few days, you get to experience a lot. Medieval Tallinn Old Town, one of the best preserved Hanseatic town centres in the world, is just a short walk away from the city business centre with its skyscrapers, modern hotels, luxurious restaurants and shopping malls.

Tartu

The university city of Tartu sits on the Emajõgi river. The large student population and wealth of museums means that the city is always alive with interesting and new events to entertain you.

Come to Tartu and see the famous kissing sculpture, meet the Tartu ghost (perhaps) and use it as a base for your South Estonia explorations.

Tartu is Estonia’s second largest city and also the oldest one in the Baltic States – first mentioned in 1030.

Tartu has always been the intellectual capital of Estonia. It is the cradle of the Estonian Song Festival, Estonian Theatre and the Estonian State. In the period Estonians call “The national awakening” Tartu was known as the Athens of the Emajõgi River (“Mother River”) and until now the city has retained its intellectual and bohemian ambience.

Parnu

Seaside resort town Pärnu is an ideal destination for beach and wellness holidays. It’s long white sanded beaches, sunny days and vibrant nightlife have earned Pärnu a title of Estonian Summer Capital.

Narva

The Hermann Fortress, which looks across the Narva River to the Russian castle on the other side, is the best-preserved castle in Estonia. Narva is largely populated by Russian language speakers and the city has fine examples of Soviet architecture.

Narva is the easternmost point of the European Union and the only location in Estonia that offers an unobstructed view of Estonia’s neighbour Russia.

Haapsalu

Haapsalu is a major seaside resort town set on the West Coast of Estonia.

Haapsalu, formed in 1279 and surrounded by sea on the three sides, is well known for its historic and maritime ambiance, warm sea water, curative mud baths and friendly residents.

Haapsalu is a wonderful little town with narrow streets, a miniature town hall and romantic wooden dwelling houses. On the seaside promenade stands Kuursaal, one of the finest wooden buildings in Estonia.

The first Haapsalu mud spa opened its doors in 1825 and since then Haapsalu has attracted spa lovers from all over the world including the Old Russian czars.

Viljandi

Viljandi is an ancient hilly city in South Estonia topped by impressive ruins of a once-powerful Livonian Order castle. Cobbled streets, ancient oak trees and a beautiful lake conjure up a very special atmosphere.

A visit to Viljandi means greenery, ancient trees, impressive hilltop ruins of a powerful Hanseatic castle, winding cobbled streets and a beautiful lake.

Paldiski

Paldiski town, former Russian naval base, is situated on the Pakri peninsula in North West Estonia.

In the 18th century it became a Russian naval base and the Russians renamed it as Балтийский Порт (“Baltiyskiy Port”, a “Baltic Port”). The Estonian pronunciation, Paldiski, became the town’s official name in 1933

In 1962, Paldiski became a Soviet Navy nuclear submarine training centre. With two land-based nuclear reactors and employing some 16,000 people, it was the largest such facility in the Soviet Union. Because of its importance, the whole city was closed off with barbed wire until the last Russian warship left in August 1994.

Lahemaa National Park

Lahemaa National Park provides a great overview of most of the natural and cultural landscapes characteristic of Estonia. Lahemaa (Land of Bays) was named after the bodies of water between its peninsulas.

In Lahemaa (Land of Bays), located on the northern coast of Estonia, you will find stony and sandy seashores, picturesque bogs, pine forests, old-growth forests, cliff forests, alvars and rivers that have cut into the limestone cliff. You will also find many geological, historical and architectural monuments. There are many erratic boulders, which were brought over from Finland by continental ice. Plenty of legends and stories are connected to these boulders.

Soomaa National Park

Soomaa National Park in central Estonia is an area of bogs and mires.

Visitors are most attracted by the Soomaa floods or the fifth season, which follows the thawing of snow and heavy rains. During this period, all low-lying forests, roads and even yards are flooded and people can only get around by boat.

Soomaa National Park stands out in Europe thanks to its wilderness – there are 5 large bogs, native forests and flooded meadows. Traditional land use has turned the areas around its meandering rivers into biologically diverse floodplains and wooded meadows. Because of its large untouched areas, Soomaa (Land of Bogs) is a member of the international PAN Parks network and has been nicknamed the Wilderness Capital of Estonia.

Islands

Estonia’s 1500+ islands offer an enormous amount of charm and ancient history. Most popular are Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Kihnu, Ruhnu and Vormsi.

Life moves at a slower pace on the islands and Estonia’s traditional values are strong there. They are a perfect place to see how Estonians used to live before the modern age. The nature is essentially untouched and many visitors find an inner peace on the islands.

Text courtesy of Estonian Tourist Board