Estonia is a destination practically designed for the seasoned traveller. As a nation not yet impacted by mass tourism, it’s primed for exploration. To provide you with some guidance when you do visit Estonia we’ve created this comprehensive guide on some of the lesser known country’s destinations, activities and attractions.
Before joining us on our journey around Estonia, ensure that you’ve renewed your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) so that you can travel in the safest way possible.
It’s Not A Tourist Trap
Unlike the European countries that surround it, Estonia, as we mentioned above, is a nation unaffected by tourism. The country seems to have been completely forgotten by holidaymakers for the most part and everyone else’s loss is your gain. With a number of quaint villages to visit, Estonia boasts a charm that other countries simply can’t match – it’s quiet.
No queuing, no massive crowds and certainly no selfie sticks, you can visit the old town “Vana Tallinn” without running into another tourist or shelling out for an overpriced coffee.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking just because Estonia doesn’t have many tourists it’s not very welcoming, in fact, it’s quite the opposite; the Estonia natives are some of the friendliest found in the entirety of Europe.
The locals are more than happy to share their culture with travellers; search Estonia locals on any search engine and you’ll find various anecdotes of visitors being welcomed into homes, dancing with strangers and even joining a family for a Sunday meal!
Lahemaa National Park
Lahemaa National Park is Estonia’s largest settlement of unspoiled rural land. With a total area of 725 square kilometres, it makes for the perfect country getaway. Complete with a stretching coast, several bays, a pine forest and striking clear lakes, it brings together many of Estonia’s natural highlights into one enclosed park.
Lahemaa is also the home to various wildlife including 222 different types of bird all nesting in the national park. There are also 840 different plant species as well as 24 different types of fish.
Estonia was once governed by Danish, Swedish, Polish, German and Soviet powers, all of which have had an influence that is abundantly clear throughout the capital. First becoming independent in 1991 the streets are incredibly diverse due to the five different cultures that once called the city home.
On one corner you’ll notice some Nordic ancient churches left by the Danes, the next street is clearly of medieval origin and right next to the restaurant you intended on eating at will be a noble merchant house. This melting pot of culture truly makes for an incredibly varied and diverse experience.
Estonian Open-Air Museum
The Estonian Open Air Museum gives you the opportunity to step back in time into an 18th-century rural fishing village. The life-sized sprawling complex includes a fully realised church, inn, school, fire station, twelve farmyards and several windmills.
Providing guests with a legitimate 18th-century experience, you can participate in a variety of activities including weaving, blacksmithing as well as carriage and horse rides. Plus, if happen to visit during June you may even get to partake in traditional Midsummer Eve celebrations.
Kadriorg Art Museum
As diverse in its art collection as Estonia’s capital is in culture, the Kadriorg Art Museum is the home to a range of Dutch, German and Italian paintings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, as well as Russian works produced between the 18th to early 20th centuries.
The building first began construction in 1718 and took 18 years to build before being officially completed in 1736 – quite a substantial amount of time for an equally substantially beautiful structure!
The Ruunaraipe Dunes
The Runnaraipe dunes are the only remnants of a 10,000-year-old beach that once resided near the northwestern edge of Sakala in the Raudna valley.
Now without the water which once enveloped the landscape, the sandy hills serve as the perfect picnic spot in the magnificent pine forest that surrounds them. What’s more, the local area is rich in foraging options, so vacationers can enjoy mushroom and berry picking during their visit to the dunes.
The Ehalkivi Boulder
The biggest boulder in northern Europe can be found near the fishing town of Letipea Cape just east of Kunda. Ehalkvivi is 7.6 metres high, 49 metres wide and has a volume of 930 m3, and earnt its name due to the fact the sun completely disappears behind it when it sets in the evening. Estonia’s largest exposed surface, the boulder is under nature conservation meaning that the local community has to protect the local attraction to preserve its stability and quality.
Tartu Adventure Park
With over 50 challenges to try at the Tartu Adventure Park, adrenaline junkies can test themselves to their very limits at the heights orientated treetop adventure centre. Challenges set up as high as four metres above the ground, the park boasts a 300-metre long zip line amongst a number of other adventurous obstacles. Also suitable for the little ones, children have their very own area in the forested complex, with 14 challenges and two shorter zip lines.
Things To Consider:
Public transport is unfortunately limited when it comes to travelling outside of Estonia’s capital of Tallinn, so if you intend on taking trips outside of the country’s centre it’s probably best to rely on a rented car opposed to relatively infrequent bus services.
Please note though, that to rent a car in Estonia you must be over the age 19 and if you’re under 25, you will incur a young driver surcharge. However, if you intend on remaining in Tallinn for the lion share of your trip you’ll be pleased to know that there are three types of public transport: buses, trolleys and trams.
Unlike the locals, you will have to pay for the use of the transport system but tickers for these three types of transport are all affordable.
When Estonia first became independent in the 1990’s foreign investment came flooding in as part of the country’s new found freedom. A crucial part of that investment was to help bring Estonia’s accommodation to international standards especially in the capital of Tallinn.
As a result, hotels, hostels and plenty of camping opportunities are available in abundance, so you can choose the perfect option for your preference and budget.
As we said at the beginning of our guide, Estonia is country too often overlooked, so we hope this guide has helped inform you about one of Europe most hidden gems, and remember when travelling ensure that you have renewed your EHIC. For more information, visit our FAQs or get in touch with our team, today.