For those who have a strong desire to travel, there’s nothing quite like unraveling the enigmas of a lesser known destination that holds an undiscovered treasure trove of travel experiences. Exotic and alluring Estonia is a dream destination for those who enjoy venturing off the beaten path and avoiding touristy routes in favor of more exciting and enriching trails. Estonia offers all the allure of ancient European cities with its stunning capital city of Tallinn and other hidden gems, as well as the promise of an adventure-filled encounter with untouched nature in all its magnificent glory. Without breaking the bank, this breathtaking country allows you to wander through charming cobblestone alleys, admire majestic churches, stroll along picturesque beaches, and hike through some of the most breathtaking vistas in Europe. To assist you in planning this once-in-a-lifetime trip, here’s our comprehensive Estonia travel guide that showcases the top experiences and provides you with all the essential information before embarking on your journey.
Optimal Time To Visit
No Estonia travel guide would be complete without shedding light on the best time to visit this country for an unforgettable experience.
- The summer season (June-August) is the ideal time to visit, with pleasant warm weather and long days.
- The shoulder season of late spring and early autumn is also favorable, as the weather remains warm, and the countryside is adorned in vibrant hues of spring blossoms or earthy autumn colors.
- Winter is also an option for skiing enthusiasts, but they must be prepared to withstand freezing temperatures and icy-cold winds.
We recommend setting aside at least a week to fully immerse yourself in the countless travel delights offered by this captivating country.
Top 6 Destinations To Explore In Estonia
Estonia offers the perfect blend of culture, history, nature, and adventure. Here are the top cities to experience an authentic Estonian journey.
The grand capital city of Estonia emanates a medieval charm with its UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town and a multitude of historical structures. Cobblestone streets, bustling market squares, beer halls, and charming stores make strolling through the old city a delightful experience. The intriguing bohemian streets of Kalamaja and the stunning parks and palaces of the Kadriorg district are other captivating places worth exploring according to our Tallinn Estonia travel guide.
Top attractions: Town Hall, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Kadriorg Art Museum, Toompea Castle
Recommended accommodations: Hotel Telegraaf (Luxury; starting from INR 12500); Economy Hotell (Budget; starting from INR 3900)
Essential Reading: 12 Finest Locations To Explore In Estonia To Uncover The Ultimate Thrill
The remarkable University of Tartu has firmly established this oldest city of the country as the intellectual heartland of Estonia. With its stunning old town and its assortment of 18th century structures and the splendid Toomemagi Hill, our Estonia travel guide wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging this lively city teeming with youthful energy and cultural legacy.
Leading attractions: Estonian National Museum, AHHAA Science Centre, Tartu Cathedral, Tartu Toy Museum
Superior accommodation options: Hotel Antonius (Luxurious; from INR 9800); Hotel Sophia (Economical; from INR 5400)
Situated along the eastern-most borders of Estonia adjoining Russia, this historic city possesses a unique essence with its magnificent Hermann Castle standing tall as evidence of ancient times. With predominant Russian influences, the city possesses its own character and allure. Nearby lies the splendid beach town of Narva Joesuu with the longest beach in the country and outstanding spa resorts.
Leading attractions: Narva Castle, Narva Museum, Kreenholm, Resurrection of Christ Cathedral.
Superior accommodation options: Central Hotel, Narva Hotell (both from INR 3000)
Another seaside city that should not be overlooked in this Estonia travel guide is Parnu. Picturesquely situated on the Gulf of Riga where the Parnu River meets the sea, Parnu is the ideal choice for being the summer capital of the country with its sandy beach and vibrant beach promenade. As the evening sets in, you can relish the coastal attractions, charming fountains, and open-air eateries along the promenade and immerse yourself in the nocturnal liveliness at Ruutli Street.
Top attractions: Vee Park, an indoor aqua park is an excellent place for some quality family time.
5. Hiiumaa Island
Well-connected with Tallinn by flights and ferries, the second largest island of Estonia is also linked to the mainland by the longest ice road in Europe during winters. The peaceful and picturesque Hiiumaa is a perfect retreat for nature enthusiasts and water sports lovers. You can leisurely walk along the serene shores adorned with historic lighthouses or ride the waves and hike through the dense beech forests for a truly gratifying vacation amidst nature.
Top attractions: Kopu lighthouse, Tahkuna lighthouse
6. Saaremaa Island
Estonia’s biggest island invites travelers with its lush meadows, picturesque windmills, and stunningly beautiful stretches of coastlines. Blessed with remarkable natural sites like the Kaali meteor crater and expansive forests, the island is both a sanctuary of serenity and an incredible destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Uncover hot springs, spot rare avian species, and stroll alongside pristine lakes, immersing yourself in the breathtaking beauty of this enchanting island.
Top attractions: Kuressaare Castle, Kaali crater, Panga Cliff
Finest National Parks And Thrilling Activities
In addition to the opportunity to witness pristine and distinctive natural panoramas within the exquisite national parks, Estonia also offers a plethora of unconventional activities and experiences that are certain to make an enduring impression on your adventurous spirit.
1. Lahemaa National Park
We cannot emphasize enough in this Estonia travel guide to set aside at least half a day for the largest and oldest national park in the country, which provides a glimpse of the unparalleled natural beauty and vibrant culture of Estonia. Lahemaa national park, located just an hour away from Tallinn, offers a breathtaking natural landscape of picturesque bogs, dense pine forests, glistening rivers, and historical manors.
Popular attractions: Viru Bog Trail, Oandu Forest Trail, Palme Manor museum, Sagadi Manor.
2. Soomaa National Park
Time stands still as you wander through the mysterious bogs and marshes of Soomaa National Park, immersing yourself in the untouched beauty of nature. This captivating destination is primarily a peat bog formed by the melting of glaciers, and it is home to shimmering lakes, beautiful rivers, and an incredible variety of flora and fauna. You can embark on a hike along the renowned Beaver Trail or explore this picturesque location on an unforgettable canoe tour. Guided tours also offer opportunities for mushroom gathering, berry picking, and bird watching.
3. Bear Trails In The Wilderness
One of the most remarkable aspects of visiting Estonia is the opportunity to immerse oneself in pristine nature and abundant wilderness. Adventure and nature enthusiasts should venture into the wild to witness bears, lynxes, and wolves in their natural habitat. Alutaguse in the northeast provides bear watching huts and an excellent chance for a thrilling encounter with these magnificent creatures in the wild, with the assistance of a knowledgeable guide.
No Estonia travel guide would be complete without mentioning this truly unique Estonian experience, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just thirty minutes away from Tartu, Heinrich Lukk’s Sleddog Center offers an exhilarating ride with the wolf-like Alaskan Malamutes. Nothing compares to the adrenaline rush as your cart zooms down the trails, racing through the lush Estonian forests. We recommend staying at the charming Peramaa Puhkekeskus wooden house after this adventure, for a peaceful retreat by the lake and traditional smoke saunas.
What To Bring?
- Cozy garments: Even if you’re traveling to Estonia in the summers, cozy garments always come in handy as the weather is unpredictable. A summer overcoat or hoodie is the ideal travel companion.
- Comfortable footwear: Since most historic towns in the major cities have cobblestoned streets and the nature parks involve a lot of walking too, a good pair of walking shoes is a must.
- Sunscreen and caps: When traveling in summers, being armed with sunscreen, shades, and caps is a good idea.
- A collapsible umbrella: Considering the likelihood of unexpected rains throughout the year, a collapsible umbrella and waterproof backpack surely come in handy.
General Travel Tips
- When exploring the capital city, the Tallinn Card comes in handy and so does a transportation smart card for commuting in the city.
- The currency is Euro which is easily exchangeable and is also dispensed by ATMs
- Though a large percentage of the population speaks passable English, it is good to know some useful phrases like ‘Tere’ (Hello), ‘Aitah’ (Thank you), ‘Palun’ (Please), ‘Ja’ (Yes), and ‘Ei’ (No).
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