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10 Best Places to Visit in Estonia

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Located in Northern Europe, Estonia is a largely underrated gem. In addition to being affordable for travelers, Estonia boasts medieval cities, scenic coastlines and a fascinating history. Bordered by Russia, Latvia, the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, Estonia is also more accessible than many travelers expect. Among the best places to visit in Estonia are castles, national parks and cultural hotspots. Tallinn is amazing, but it’s not the only Estonian destination worth exploring!

10. Viljandi [SEE MAP]


In Southern Estonia is the small city of Viljandi. The city has a rich history that is nearly 2,600 years old, and plenty of historic architecture still remains. The 16th century ruins of the Viljandi Order Castle, for example, are a major attraction. The biggest reason to visit Viljandi, however, is the annual folk music festival. Every July, the city attracts as many as 20,000 visitors who come specifically for the folk music. Dozens of concerts are held in every venue imaginable, and the event is the largest music festival in the entire country.

9. Soomaa National Park [SEE MAP]

Soomaa National Park

Soomaa National Park is a fascinating destination. Primarily a peat bog formed as a result of glacier melt from more than 10,000 years ago, Soomaa National Park is cut by several beautiful rivers. The best way to explore Soomaa is with a canoe. You rent canoes or join a self-guided tour, and as you paddle you’ll be able to spot deer, elk, boars, beavers, golden eagles and more. Canoeing is especially popular in the spring, or what locals call the fifth season. During this time of year, water levels rise substantially, and boats are sometimes the only way to get around.

8. Rakvere Castle [SEE MAP]

Rakvere Castle

Northern Estonia is home to Rakvere, a city where humans have lived for nearly 1,500 years. The city’s biggest attractions is Rakvere Castle, which was constructed in the 16th century. The castle has become a kind of medieval theme park, and costumed visitors and staff wander the grounds. You can watch knights polishing their armor, see an alchemist’s workshop and tour the ancient wine cellar. In the castle’s Shenkenberg Tavern, you can even dine on classic medieval dishes. Visiting the castle is an unforgettable way to bring history to life.

7. Hiiumaa [SEE MAP]


When most people picture Estonia, they don’t picture islands. However, Hiiumaa is just one of several islands off the coast and in the Baltic Sea. To reach Hiiumaa, you can take a plane from Tallinn or a ferry from multiple coastal cities on the mainland. Equally loved by surfers, sailors, and hikers, Hiiumaa is great place to visit for those looking for peace and quiet. The island also boast many interesting lighthouses. The 19th century cast iron Tahkuna Lighthouse is the tallest in the country. The Kõpu Lighthouse, however, is far older. Dating back to the 15th century, Kõpu is one of the oldest lighthouses on the planet.

6. Narva Castle [SEE MAP]

Narva Castle

The city of Narva is the easternmost destination in the country, not to mention the entire European Union. The city was heavily bombed during World War II, but thankfully the beautiful and historic Narva Castle still stands. The castle, which is also known as Hermann Castle, was built in the 13th century but the Danes as a residence for the Danish King’s vice-Regent. Inside the castle is the Narva Museum as well as a collection of handicrafts workshops where you can watch and even learn the skills used in medieval times. The castle tower overlooks the Ivangorod castle on the Russian side of the river.

5. Parnu [SEE MAP]


Where the Parnu River meets the Gulf of Riga, you’ll find the coastal resort city of Parnu. Parnu is known as the summer capital, because it is where so many Estonians choose to take their summer vacations. The biggest reason to come to Parnu is the beach, which boasts fine, white sand and gorgeous dunes. The beach promenade runs along the shore and helps to create the traditional coastal resort feel in the city. Even after the sun sets for the day, lighting along the promenade ensures that people are still walking and enjoying the coastal scenery. If a rainy afternoon appears, join the locals at Vee Park, a popular indoor water park in Parnu.

4. Saaremaa [SEE MAP]


The largest Estonian island is called Saaremaa, and it is located in the Baltic Sea. The island has an 8,000-year-old history, and was ruled by Danes, Swedes, Germans and Russians in that time. Today, most visitors spend their time in the island’s capital city of Kuressaare. In Kuressaare, you can explore the completely intact medieval castle. You can tour the castle and the grounds, which now serve as home to the Regional Museum of Saaremaa. If you’re interested in hiking, sightseeing, birdwatching or photography, then Saaremaa’s Sõrve Peninsula is a spectacularly scenic destination to explore.

3. Lahemaa National Park [SEE MAP]

Lahemaa National Park

One of the most popular national parks in Estonia is Lahemaa. Since it is just an hour’s drive from the capital, it is the ideal day trip. Viru Raba, or Viru Bog, is a must-see part of the park. Trees poke from the swampy ground, and there is a definite ethereal quality. To make it easy to explore Viru Bog, there is a 5-km (3-mile) boardwalk that is usually dry, keeping you out of the water but close enough to admire the scenery. In the middle of the park is Sagadi Village, a fascinating spot where you can tour Sagadi Manor and learn more about the culture and history of the region.

2. Tartu [SEE MAP]


The city of Tartu is considered the intellectual hub of the country, thanks to the impressive and well-known University of Tartu. Between the university and the fact that Tartu is the oldest city in the nation, this city is clearly an interesting destination. Its handsome centre is lined with classically designed 18th-century buildings, many of which have been put to innovative uses. One of the coolest attractions in Tartu is the soup neighborhood. In the soup neighborhood, every street is named after soup ingredients like potatoes, beans and peas. Old wooden houses line these streets, which are just next to the Emajõgi River.

1. Tallinn [SEE MAP]

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Estonia

The most popular place to visit in Estonia is Tallinn , the capital and the hub of medieval architecture. The heart of the city is called Toompea, a hill that retains a historic atmosphere thanks to cobblestone streets and 15th century buildings. The area is amazingly preserved and accessible on foot. From the top of Toompea, you can look out over much of the Old City. Some highlights of the Old City include the bustling shops on Viru Street, the 14th century Town Hall and the opulent 19th century Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

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Travel Guide Estonia

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Visitors to Estonia encounter a mix of urbanity and wilderness, of the medieval and the contemporary, with crumbling castles and colourful design permeating urban landscapes. An efficient transport system makes it easy to get around, and the tech-savvy, dynamic residents welcome visitors with open arms. Friction between older generations of Russians and Estonians is a throwback to the Soviet era, while younger people mix freely, and those who get past the Estonians’ natural reserve find them to be gregarious, uninhibited hosts.

Where to go in Estonia

Tailor-made travel itineraries for estonia, created by local experts.

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City hopping in Finland and Estonia

Helsinki enchants with its blend of modernity and nature, entertainment and tranquility accessible everywhere and all the time. Turku, in turn, was the first capital of Finland, and has a lot to teach about the Finnish History. Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is not behind in terms of heritage.

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Baltic Highlights

Witness unspoiled landscapes and vibrant capitals. From Vilnius to Riga and Tallinn, move all the way up to Helsinki. Along the way, visit national parks like Laheema and castles like the Trakai castle. Private transfers and unique accommodation choices are included.

Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, has a magnificent medieval centre and lively nightlife, rivalled only by that of Tartu, an exuberant university town. Pärnu, a popular seaside resort, is also worth a short visit. For inexpensive spa treatments, a fine castle and unspoilt countryside head for the island of Saaremaa, while Lahemaa National Park, outside Tallinn, offers a taste of pristine wilderness.


Discover more places in Estonia


  • Population 1.3 million
  • Area 45,227 sq km
  • Language Estonian
  • Currency Euro (€)
  • Capital Tallinn
  • International phone code t 372

Top image: Tallinn, Estonia © ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Travel advice for Estonia

From travel safety to visa requirements, discover the best tips for traveling to Estonia

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  • Getting around Estonia: Transportation Tips
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  • Travel Tips Estonia for planning and on the go
  • Best time to visit Estonia

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updated 26.04.2021


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10 best things to do in Estonia

From browsing renowned art museums to hiking cross-country trails, here are the top travel experiences.

Photo of town road with people strolling.

Estonia has more unicorns than anywhere else in the world. No, not the mythical creature, but tech start-ups that have reached more than a billion-dollar valuation. Aside from its buzzy businesses, this compact nation of 1.3 million people is a trove of nature, off-grid oases, and UNESCO-recognized cultural sites. Here are the top 10 ways to visit.

Meet ghosts in Tallinn’s Old Town  

Tallinn’s well-preserved Old Town is best explored via guided walking tours , where you can learn about the Gothic architecture and Hanseatic legacy of this city dating to the Middle Ages. But be wary of the restless spirits that are said to haunt this UNESCO World Heritage site. A ghost and legends tour tells the tales of those who came before, providing deeper insight into Estonia’s turbulent past.

Girl stands outside of restaurant

Discover the distinct flavors of historic Estonia

Want to know what it was like to dine with a wealthy merchant during the Hanseatic era? At Olde Hansa , in Tallinn, dishes made from 700-year-old recipes are served in a medieval-style dining room, complete with roving troubadours playing works by 15th-century composers.

Restaurant is centered through the bushes.

Sip a beer at Estonia’s first microbrewery

Estonia is experiencing a brewery boom. Try a citrusy grapefruit or gently roasted caramel IPA or join a tour at the Põhjala Brewery ,   the country’s first microbrewery in the historical Noblessner district. After a round, take a brisk walk to Telliskivi Creative City , a former industrial site turned artistic space featuring galleries, indie shops, restaurants, and the famed international photography art center and museum, Fotografiska Tallinn .

A plate of crispy chicken on a barrel and a glass of beer.

Sail like an Olympian  

Estonia has never hosted the Olympics. But during the 1980 Moscow Games, the sailing events were held in the Gulf of Finland, off Tallinn. You can channel this chapter of Olympics sailing history at the Tallinn Olympic Sailing Center in Pirita , a 15-minute drive from the capital, or join a boat trip to nearby Tallinn Bay.

People sit and gaze on river.

Immerse yourself in a world of color and design  

With more than 40 art museums, Estonia is a powerhouse in the international art world. Stop into the Tallinn Design House , in the Rotermann Quarter , for a unique Estonian-made souvenir and then walk along Stalkers Path ,   featured in Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi drama Stalker . The short trail leads to the new PoCo Pop & Contemporary Art Museum , displaying works by artists from Basquiat to Warhol.

Stroll the streets of the European Capital of Culture

In a two-hour drive by bus, train, or car from Tallinn to south Estonia, travelers can explore the blooming university town Tartu , the European Capital of Culture in 2024 . Visitors will be able to join the dozens of events showcasing the historical and cultural heritage of Estonia’s second-largest town, such as Kissing Tartu , and Surrealism 100 . During the summer, ride the wooden barge “Jõmmu,”   a unique medieval vessel locally designed for inland waters, or the Viking ship   Turm   in the Emajõgi River , the only waterway in Estonia that is fully navigable.  

Gaze into the cosmos  

Take a tour of Tartu Observatory’s Stellarium , the largest astronomical observatory in Estonia, to see why the nation is a promising player in the European space industry. While there, learn about Estonia’s student satellite project ESTCube , the prototype of Estonia’s first satellite ESTCube-1, which launched into space in 2013.

Travel back in time at Estonia’s largest museum

At the Estonian National Museum ,   or ERM, visitors can dive into Estonia’s fascinating history. Don’t miss the permanent exhibition “Echo of the Urals,” an indispensable primer on the folkloric traditions and customs of the Finno-Ugric people, and consider taking a class on traditional embroidery and needlecraft.

Walk across Estonia on forested trails

Dozens of walking trails extend from one end of the country to the other, making it possible to walk the length of the country. If you’re up for the challenge, try the 500-mile Peraküla-Aegviidu-Ähijärve hiking route , which begins in Peraküla in the north to Ähijärve in the south. Such forested routes are best tackled from early July to late October, when plants and mushrooms are in abundance. Going with a guide is recommended, especially if you want to try foraging.

Photo of birds sitting on grass in front.

Spot rare birds in Matsalu National Park

Matsalu National Park , in west Estonia, is one of Europe’s most important waterfowl resting areas between the Arctic and Western Europe. It is one of the few places in the Baltics where birdwatchers can see them migrate and nest every spring and autumn. Climb to the park’s birding tower ,   near the north shore of Matsalu Bay, to spot the rare capercaillie and more common broad-billed sandpiper.

( For more tips on what to do in Estonia, see our Explorer’s Guide .)


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  • 12 Best Places To Visit In Estonia In 2024 For Seeking The Ultimate Adventure

23 Mar 2023

Estonia is a largely underrated place, laying peacefully in Northern Europe, a country that has its and bits of all. The country boasts of scenic coastlines, medieval cities, and a massively interesting history to keep people on the hook. The country is bordered by Russia, the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Finland and Latvia, making it accessible from many places, then what travellers tend to raise questions about. The best thing about travelling to Estonia is, the country is affordable for visitors and does not add to your debts. Among the many places to visit in Estonia , the largest and most visited city is Tallinn. Apart from which, there are many other places that one needs to see when in Estonia.

12 Best Places To Visit In Estonia

The country’s main intriguing sights are sprawled among the various cites all over the country. It is replete with history and scenery which makes it a great place for photography. Although the noteworthy sights are a must visit, one should try and embrace the history from the 15th and 16th Century that the country imbibes on. Therefore, we have made a list of 10 places to visit in Estonia :

  • Lahemaa National Park
  • Narva Castle
  • Rakvere Castle
  • Soomaa National Park
  • Lake Peipus
  • Matsalu National Park

City view

Image Source

It would be immoral of us to not have mentioned Tallinn in the numero uno spot, for it deserves it. Among the many famous places to visit in Estonia , Tallinn is the foremost in the running. The main attraction or heart of the city is Toompea and it still has kept the ancient and historic ambience very much alive with Cobblestones Street and 15th Century establishments. The region is well preserved and is accessible by walking for history lovers. From the topmost region of Toompea, you can get a view of the hustling and bustling, Old City.

Must Read: 35 Best Places To Spend Christmas In Europe

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2. Lahemaa National Park

Lake view

The Lahemaa National Park is certainly the most famous places to visit in Estonia . This park is just an hour’s drive from the capital and makes for an ideal day trip. When in the park, do not miss out the Viru Bog or Viru Raba. With an ethereal quality that comprises the beauty of this place, a fascinating thing is the trees poking from the swampy ground. To explore the Viru Bog take the 3-mile broad walk, which is a dry path that helps keep you away from the water for you to enjoy the scenery closely? Also, you can visit the Sagadi Manor, a fascinating spot in the Sagadi Village, located in the center of the park.

3. Saaremaa


Saaremaa is the best places to visit in Estonia . The island comprises a history that is 8000 years old. It was ruled by the Swedes, Danes, Russians and the Germans over the years. Visitors who come here spend their time in the capital city of the island, Kuressaare, where you can explore the intact medieval castles. You can even opt for hiking, birdwatching, sightseeing, and photography in and around this area, with the Saaremaa’s Sorve Peninsula’s spectacular scenic destination for visitors to explore.

Suggested Read: 13 Frolicsome Beaches In Europe For All The Excited Beach Bums Across The Globe

Neat and clean place

Considered as the intellectual hub of the country, Tartu is well known for the University of Tartu. It is the oldest city in the nation which makes it more interesting to visit. The city centre is classically designed with 18th Century buildings, most being an outlet for innovative requirements. The soup neighbourhood is the quirkiest attraction of the city, with street names being named after soup ingredients like beans! It is touted as the best places to visit in Estonia .

5. Narva Castle


The easternmost destination on the map of Estonia is the city of Narva. This particular city was heavily bombed during the WWII. However, the beautiful and historic castle of Narva still stands today. The castle is also known as the Hermann Castle, wcentrehich was built in the 13th Century. The castle repletes a good collection of handicraft workshops for people to learn which also includes a museum. The most gorgeous view here is the tower of the Narva castle that overlooks the Russian side of the river.

Suggested Read: 17 Spots For Snorkeling In Europe Every Underwater Enthusiast Must Visit

Beautiful place

The coastal resort city of Parnu is located where the Parnu River falls into the Gulf of Riga. The major attraction here is the beach of Parnu, boasting off about the gorgeous dunes and powdery white sand. Parnu is also famous as the summer capital because most of the Estonians choose to spend their summer vacations here. You can also visit the indoor water park in the area named as the Vee Park. Well, it is one of the best places to visit in Estonia in winter.

7. Rakvere Castle

Rakvere Castle

The Rakvere Castle lays in the northern part of Estonia. Rakvere is a city where humans have lived for 1500 years and the biggest attraction of this place is the Rakvere Castle. It is like a cosplay event every day, where people are dressed. You will find knights polishing their armour, alchemist’s workshops and also get a tour of the ancient wine cellar. There is a place in the castle called Shenkenberg Tavern for you to enjoy a history-themed, ancient dining experience. The Rakvere Castle is among the famous places to visit in Estonia .

Suggested Read: Guess Which European City Gets The Title Of World’s Most Liveable City This Year!

Hiiumaa In Estonia

If you were to think of Estonia, the island would probably not make it to your imagination. However, Hiiumaa is one of the many islands in Estonia. You can reach this gorgeous piece of land by taking a plane from Tallinn or avail to ferries from multiple coastal cities. Hiiumaa Is a great place to visit for relaxation and having a stress free quiet day. There is a lighthouse from the 19th century of cast iron known as the Tahkuna Lighthouse. It is the tallest in the country.

9. Soomaa National Park

View Of Soomaa National Park

Another one of the fascinating destinations of Estonia is the Soomaa National Park. It was primarily a peat bog, which was formed as a result of glaciers melting more than 10000 years ago. In this area, canoeing is the most popular activity. Also, you can spot deer, elk, beavers, boars, golden eagle and many other animals in this park. The most suggested season to visit this park is the spring season. For its amazing weather and natural feature changes.

Suggested Read: This Winter, Escape To The Best Honeymoon Destinations In Europe!

10. Viljandi

Viljandi In Estonia

Viljandi is located in southern Estonia. It is a small city but has a rich history, which dates back to 2600 years. The historic architecture though not all, some of which still remains for the world to see. Among which, the Viljandi Order Castle is a major attraction. It is a ruin from the 16th century, which attracts visitors every year. In the month of July, the city attracts around 20000 visitors for the annual folk music festivals and concerts that are held here. It makes for the largest music festival in all of Estonia.

11. Lake Peipus

Lake Peipus

One of the largest lakes in Western Europe, Peipus is located on the border between Russia and Estonia. The abundance of fishes and wide country roads make this lake a popular holiday destination among locals and foreigners alike. You can explore mansions, traditional markets, lighthouses, and traditional cottages here. It is fairly clean. You can stop by here while you’re visiting Estonia with your family and friends to a picnic by the lake.

Suggested Read: 17 Fascinating Things To Do In Estonia For An Extraordinary Trip

12. Matsalu National Park

Matsalu National Park

Matsalu National Park is located in the key part of the East Atlantic Flyway. This is a 48,610-hectare nature park created to preserve a plethora of migrating, nesting, and molting birds. It houses a number of highly endangered species, like the white-tailed eagle. Matsalu is famous among bird watchers. All nature lovers must stop by here. This experience will last with you for a lifetime.

Further Read: 31 Festivals In Europe That Will Up The Fun Factor Of Your Euro Tour

Well, to conclude, we should look at Estonia more than just a country that barely exists in the European Union. There is so much history that resides in this place, which compels a die-hard history lover to come here and relive the beauty of it. Also, there are many good places to visit in Estonia. If you are looking for a new place, this is it. So, plan a trip to Europe , visit Estonia and indulge in the fun!

Disclaimer: TravelTriangle claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on TravelTriangle, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit In Estonia

Which is the famous food of Estonia?

Räim is touted as the most famous traditional dish of Estonia. Some other delicacies that one must try include Sült, Rosolje, Mulgikapsad, Lillkapsas Juustukastmes, and Kruubipuder.

What is Estonia famous for?

Estonia is known for its wonderfully preserved Medieval Architectures which has earned itself the title of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Two such locations are the city of Tallinn and the Struve Geodetic Arc.

Can I visit Estonia during the current Covid situation?

Yes, you can now plan a visit to Estonia. To ensure a safe trip, adhere to the Government protocols, maintain required social distance, keep wearing a mask when in public, and keep sanitizing your hands at certain intervals.

Which are the best places to visit in Estonia?

The top-rated tourist attractions in Estonia are: 1. Tallinn 2. Lahemaa National Park 3. Saaremaa 4. Tartu 5. Narva Castle 6. Parnu 7. Rakvere Castle 8. Hiiumaa 9. Soomaa National Park 10. Viljandi

Which is the best time to visit Estonia?

The summer months of May to late August is the best time to visit Estonia. These dry and warm months are the best time to enjoy the Baltic beaches and inland lakes.

Is Estonia safe for tourists?

Estonia is quite safe for tourists. It has very low crime rates, and though there are areas to avoid, pickpockets, mugging or other types of assault are not common. However, the capital city of Tallinn can get a bit dangerous, like any other major city.

What is there to do in Estonia?

Some of the amazing things to do in Estonia are: 1. Explore the Karula National Park 2. Watch a puppet show at the NUKU Theater 3. Enjoy a relaxing day at the Parnu Beach 4. Enjoy birdwatching at Matsalu National Park 5. Enjoy the scenic landscape around Jägala Waterfall 6. Explore the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Which is the best area to stay in Estonia?

The best areas to stay in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia are the old town and the city center. If you are coming to Tallinn by ferry, these two areas are just a short walk from the port.

Are there Beaches in Estonia?

Yes, you can find a number of stunning Estonian Beaches. Some of the best ones include Parnu Beach, Pirita Beach, Mandjala Beach, Paralepa Beach, and Lake Tamula Beach.

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Home » Travel Guides » 15 Best Places to Visit in Estonia

15 Best Places to Visit in Estonia

The last truly European nation before the great swathe of Russia takes over in the east, Estonia offers travelers a fascinating mixture of Slavic, Russian, Scandinavian and altogether unique local cultures. It ranges from the beautiful, windswept coastlines of the Baltic Sea and the Finnish Gulf to the rolling forests around Tartu in the south, and offers up some amazing and wondrous destinations along the way.

Lets explore the best places to visit in Estonia :


The mighty rises of Toompea Hill are what define Estonia’s magnificent capital ; soaring in a curious medley of Orthodox onion domes and medieval bulwarks right in the heart of the town. Below this sprawls one chocolate box of a walled city, where stony streets and shadowy alleyways open up onto an enthralling market square and curiously-named keeps like ‘Fat Margaret’ soar above the crenulated fortifications.

Given the UNESCO tag, the glorious array of historical monuments and the buzzing collection of shops, beer halls and Estonian eateries, it’s hardly surprising that this one’s on the up as one of Europe’s most coveted capitals. And that’s not even mentioning the bohemian streets of Kalamaja, or the palaces and parks of the Kadriorg district!


Nestled neatly on the edge of its very own little coastal inlet on the Gulf of Riga, Parnu comes complete with one of the Baltic’s best stretches of pearly-white sand. It’s backed by the all-new and indelibly lively Beach Promenade, where babbling fountains abut al fresco restaurants and the courses of a truly excellent bike track.

And in the centre of the town itself, the remnants of an Art Deco boom in the 20s add a real dash of class to the resort, spas rise unexpectedly on the street corners, Ruutli Street beats to a night time tune, and charming timber villas dot the outskirts. In short: this one’s every inch Estonia’s summertime capital!


In the warmer months of the year, Otepaa draws in modest crowds of hikers and mountain bikers to the winding trails of Valga County, for strolling through the thick fir forests and walking around the banks of Puhajarve Lake. However, it’s when the snows come that this self-proclaimed winter capital of Estonia really hits its stride.

Nordic ski tracks delve deep into the woods, the ski jumps roar with local cheers and the various downhill alpine runs offer a smattering of beginner and intermediate pistes. Aside from the outdoors action, Otepaa also boasts one gorgeous church spire and the crumbling remains of an aged citadel for the history buffs.

4. Soomaa National Park

Soomaa National Park

The flooded forests and mystical bayous of the Soomaa National Park represent unquestionably one of the most beautiful and enchanting destinations in all of Estonia. All-in-all the site encompasses a whopping 359 square kilometers of undulating dunes and low-lying peat bogs, which oscillate between ochre-brown, verdant green and ice-caked white with the changing of the seasons.

Unsurprisingly, ecotourism has boomed here in recent years, and today outdoorsy travelers and intrepid types flock here to hit the water capillaries of the Raudna River and Parnu Basin on canoes and kayaks, or to hike the alluvial meadows in the company of cranes and crooked wooden farmhouses.

5. Saaremaa Island

Saaremaa Island

Much-vaunted Saaremaa Island is right up there with Tallinn; an impossibly wonderful landscape of washed-out timber windmills and breezy meadows, sprawling spruce forests and gorgeous coastal stretches scented with juniper and Baltic salt.

Walkers and outdoorsy types will love getting lost in the orchid-peppered reaches of Loode, wandering between the mysterious Kaali meteorite craters, beautiful Bear Lake and the hot springs of Puhatu, or bracing the sea winds at the sacred Panga clifftops. The local Saaremaa folk add a dash of nuance to the land too, boasting their own folklore and curious traditions, deeply ironic sense of humour and high-quality vodka to boot!


Straddling the border with Russia in the deep eastern recesses of Estonia, Narva has an altogether different character than the other major urban areas in this Baltic land. For one, the locals overwhelmingly speak Russian, and the character tends to lean eastwards to Moscow rather than westwards to Tallinn and the EU. Hermann Castle is the jewel in the Narva crown, standing tall and proud in whitewashed keeps and stony bulwarks above the city, while the brutalist reconstructed centre offers an interesting taste of the indelible Soviet influence.

And then there’s the nearby resort strips of Narva-Joesuu, which come complete with the longest beach in the country and some acclaimed spas to boot.

7. Matsalu National Park

Matsalu National Park

A truly beautiful patchwork of riparian wetlands, reed grass plains and blooming flood meadows on the courses of the Kasari River Delta, the Matsalu National Park is a veritable wonderland for nature lovers and wildlife seekers making their way through Estonia.

The 400-square-kilometer park’s birds are particularly famous, coming complete with endangered species like the white-tailed eagle, colossal flocks of barnacle geese, tufted ducks and the single largest migrating amount of cranes on the continent (which can be seen stopping by here in Autumn). Wild horses can also be spotted grazing amidst the wetlands, roaming between the timber fishing huts and the tracks of the Suitsu hiking trail.

8. Hiiumaa Island

Hiiumaa Island

A lesson in all things rural Estonia, Hiiumaa is the second largest island in the country, found rising in a medley of windswept coves and coastal fir forests from the Baltic Sea and connected by Europe’s longest ice road to the mainland by winter. Travelers heading here often make a beeline straight for the coast, which comes virtually completed secluded and peppered with historic lighthouses like the stone-clad Kopu Lighthouse – one of the oldest on the planet.

Meanwhile, in the island’s inland reaches, crooked timber farmhouses and creaking mills meet dense beech forests at the Suuremoisa Park and smoked plaice fillets issue their enticing aromas from the earthy tavernas.


Tartu may officially be Estonia’s second city, but the locals prefer to see themselves more as joint first. Fiercely independent from the much larger capital in the north, this southern stronghold of students and Russian speakers is known for its intellectual accomplishments above all else. It has the most prestigious university in Estonia, which rises in a series of neoclassical columns right in the midst of the town.

Nearby stands the leafy reaches of Toomemagi; the historic citadel of the city where now the ruined nave of Tartu Cathedral exudes a haunting historicity. Tartu also pulses with youthful energy thanks to its many lecture halls, and al fresco beer bars and underground clubs claim the summertime nights.

Witch’s Well, Tuhala

Traces of human habitation dating back more than three millennia have helped to make Tuhala one of Estonia’s major historic sites; a place offering a glimpse at the centuries before Tallinn’s great medieval bulwarks were even raised. Yes sir, this earthy region is home to mysterious collections of cult stones and ancient religious statues, curious cup-marked carvings and sacred sites oozing pre-Christian traditions.

There are also aged timber roads dating from the fourth century, and – of course – the legendary Witch’s Well – a unique phenomenon that occurs when the subterranean channels of the region’s karst system bubble up and overflow from a rustic well into the surrounding farmlands.

11. Kuressaare


The pretty, castle-topped town of Kuressaare makes its home on the Estonian (as opposed to the Finnish) edge of Saaremaa Island, where it hails in as the westernmost city in the country. Given the unique geography, it’s hardly surprising that this one oozes Germanic and Swedish influences, going from the Teutonic bulwarks of the mighty citadel to the elegant Baroque traces decorating the municipal buildings on Keskvaljak Square.

Kuressaare is also famed for its coastal spas, which extoll the healing virtues of the seaside mud and silt deposits and helped to make the city a favourite with naturalist and ecotourists over the years.

12. Viljandi


A boomtown of the Hanseatic League, Viljandi once boasted one of the largest merchant town fortifications in the entire Baltic region. Its raison d’être? To secure the popular trading routes between the heartlands of Prussia in the west and Russia in the east.

Today, and the citadel that once made Viljandi so strong stands ruined atop the town, surrounded by the blooming green spaces that line Lake Viljandi; groves of birch and oak, parks dotted with pine and the pretty timber houses that hide amidst the tree-lined streets. This is the perfect backdrop for Viljandi’s many summertime festivals, which range from nostalgic medieval fayres to open-air theatre productions and ad hoc public art displays.

13. Lahemaa National Park

Lahemaa National Park

A whopping 725 square kilometers make up the wild, pine-studded hinterlands of the Lahemaa National Park, making this one of the largest protected natural areas in all of Europe. Sandwiched between the salty rollers of the Baltic and the highways that run eastwards out of Tallinn, the area is eminently accessible for travelers based in the capital, and offers a fine antithesis to city life.

There are rolling peat bogs to explore, winding boardwalks, dense thickets of spruce and beech trees, the primeval Oandu Forest (the stomping ground of lynxes and wolf packs) and the majestic Hauaneeme Bay, which can be found glowing pink and mirror-like against the Estonian sunset in the evening.

14. Haapsalu


Hailed by some as the Venice of the Baltics and trodden by the mighty Romanovs during Russia’s imperial age, Haapsalu was raised to prominence under the patronage of the tsars, who came to exploit the curative and medicinal powers of its coastal mud spas.

Today and this tradition of bathing is still very much alive, while other visitors will come to stroll down the seaside promenades as the sun sets over the Finnish Gulf, weave between the elegant timber architecture, gawp at the haunted turrets and bulwarks of Haapsalu Castle, enjoy one of Estonia’s most acclaimed blues and jazz festivals in summer, or purchase some of the famous handwoven Haapsalu shawls.

15. Lake Peipus

Lake Peipus

Straddling the border with Russia in the depths of Southern Estonia, Lake Peipus remains one of the country’s least-trodden and explored areas. It’s famed for the traditional way of life that continues to tick over around its western shores.

Here, strings of pretty, timber-clad villages like Varnja and Kallaste abut empty lakeside coves at Nina and Lahe. These come interspersed with the occasional sprawling estate, and enfolded in great swathes of onion fields, while ad hoc farmer’s markets abound and the mysterious churches and religious traditions of Estonia’s so-called Old Believers still stand firm.

15 Best Places to Visit in Estonia:

  • Soomaa National Park
  • Saaremaa Island
  • Matsalu National Park
  • Hiiumaa Island
  • Lahemaa National Park
  • Lake Peipus

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

Estonia Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 25, 2023

The historic Old Town of beautiful Tallinn, Estonia during sunset

Tucked away in the Baltics, Estonia has become a popular destination thanks to cheap flights, beautiful cities, a wild nightlife, and the country’s stalwart support for digital nomads and remote workers (it’s also a popular spot for cruisers since many ships stop there as well).

I loved my time here. Unlike the stereotypes many people have about Eastern Europe, Estonia is a modern, organized, and tech-forward country. It has more start-ups than Silicon Valley and everything is done online here.

With more than 1,500 islands, swaths of untouched old-growth forests, and historic castles and churches, Estonia seamlessly blends old and new. Be sure to get out of Tallinn, too. There’s more to the country than just its capital.

This travel guide to Estonia can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your time in this underrated European destination!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Estonia

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Estonia

The central square lined with pastel-colored buildings in the Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia

1. Party in Tallinn

Estonia’s historic capital city Tallinn is a cultural melting pot on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Here you can explore one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe. Wander along the cobblestone streets while taking in historic architecture of the Old Town. While it has a lot of history to offer, it’s also ripe with bars, pubs, nightclubs, and cheap drinks. If you love live music, you’ll be impressed with Tallinn. There’s a vibrant party scene here that’s both fun and affordable.

2. Visit Pärnu

Overlooking Pärnu Bay is the resort city of Pärnu. Perched over the Baltic Sea, it’s a lovely place to relax for a few days. In the warmer months you can walk 20 minutes from the town center to the expansive Blue Flag beach with soft sand and calm water that is perfect for swimming and sunbathing. It makes for a perfect jumping-off point for anyone wanting to do any sailing while in Estonia. When you’ve had your fill of sand and saltwater, pamper yourself with a mud bath at the seaside 1920’s era spa. Like everywhere in Estonia, there’s some incredible historic architecture, like the old Russian style Transformation of Our Lord Church. Divided by the Pärnu River, the city is known for its 19th-century timber villas as well as the relaxing beaches of Pärnu Bay.

3. Get lost in Vanalinn

For the perfect mix of medieval and modern, venture into Tallinn’s Old Town, Vanalinn. This part of the city was built between the 13th and 16th centuries and was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997. The original architecture is unbelievably well preserved — even after aggressive World War II bombings. Within the historic town square, you’ll find the 13th century Gothic Town Hall complete with a 64-meter-tall (209 feet) tower. It’s full of cobblestone streets and gothic architecture and makes for stunning photos and fun people watching.

4. Relax in Saaremaa

Home to the medieval castle Kuressaare (which dates to the 16th century), the island of Saaremaa is a beautiful place for hikers and bird watchers to escape into nature. Saaremaa is known for its beaches and traditional villages. Archeologists believe the island has been inhabited since 5000 BCE. The island is home to Vilsandi National Park, which spans 238 square kilometers (91 square miles) and is home to almost 250 species of birds. The climate makes it a hotspot for all types of flora and fauna. You can also visit the site of the Kaali meteorite strike (which happened over 3,000 years ago) with its huge craters and a unique museum full of chunks of the meteor.

5. Visit Lahemaa National Park

Located one hour east of Tallinn, this park showcases Estonia’s incredible natural beauty. The park was established in 1971 to protect the region, and it remains one of the main tourist attractions in the country. Spanning 750 square kilometers (289 square miles), it’s a wonderful hiking spot perfect for nature lovers thanks to the many large mammals living in the forests, including deer, wolves, bears, and lynx. About 70% of the park is covered in forest and there are a few incredible hiking trails to explore. Raised bogs are another interesting feature, especially Laukasoo Reserve which is believed to be 7000 years old. Those interested in architecture will love exploring the historic manors within the park, including the famous Baroque masterpiece Sagadi Manor. Admission is free.

Other Things to See and Do in Estonia

1. spot wildlife in soomaa national park.

Soomaa National Park is one of the most magical natural landscapes in Estonia. Spread out over 359 square kilometers (138 square miles), the park is home to elk, deer, boar, lynx, wolves, beavers, bears, and more. Located 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Tallinn, the park is a popular getaway for hikers. The nearby Raudna River and Parnu Basin also offer the opportunity to kayak and canoe. Much of the park floods in the spring, giving you the chance to explore the forests via canoe/kayak. Admission to the park is free. Canoe and kayak rentals cost 27 EUR. Guided tours cost around 50 EUR.

2. Go skiing in Otepaa

A much-loved hiking and mountain biking destination during the summer, in the winter Otepaa transforms into the winter capital of Estonia. There are a couple of kilometers of mountains here and 8 different lifts that offer access. It’s one of the most budget-friendly places to ski in Europe . Lift passes cost around 38 EUR. Expect to pay another 35 EUR for a one-hour ski lesson and 15 EUR per day for ski rentals.

3. Explore Kuressaare Castle

Located on Saaremaa Island in western Estonia, Kuressaare Castle is the best-preserved castle in the Baltics. Built in the 14th century, the castle and its moat were constructed on the grounds of the original castle that dated to the 13th century. The current castle was constructed in the late Gothic style and consists of a large square building surrounding a spacious courtyard. A 36-meter (121-foot) defensive tower and traditional medieval portcullis make up the castle’s defenses. There’s a museum inside that sheds light on the castle’s history, including when the Nazis used the castle to execute dissidents. Admission to the castle is free while the museum costs 10 EUR. Bike rentals cost 4 EUR an hour and rowboats cost 10 EUR per hour.

4. Hang out in Tartu

Tartu holds the title of the intellectual (and hipster) capital of Estonia. Located two hours south of Tallinn, here you’ll find the country’s most prestigious university (University of Tartu), a historic citadel, and the ruins of the city’s cathedral (which dates to the 13th century). Be sure to explore Soup Town (a neighborhood composed of old wooden houses), see the 18th-century town hall (which stands out because it’s pink and red), and spend some time people-watching at a café in Raekoja Square, the city’s historic main square.

5. Visit the Estonian National Museum

Founded in 1909, this museum is located in Tartu. It was expanded in 2016 and moved into a massive new building. There are tons of exhibitions on Estonian history, with a detailed gallery on the Russian occupation of the country (which lasted from 1940-1991). The museum provides a solid historical and cultural foundation to help you better understand Estonia’s past and present. Admission is 14 EUR.

6. Visit Kaali Meteorite Crater Field

Located on Saaremaa Island, this site is where a giant meteorite hit over 7,500 years ago. There are 9 craters in total, with the largest crater spanning 110 meters in diameter (360 feet) and reaching depths of 22 meters (72 feet). All kinds of animal bones have been found here and there is a stone wall built around the area (dating to the Bronze Age), leaving archaeologists to surmise that the area was used for some kind of cult or religious ceremonies after the craters were made. Admission is free, though the small museum nearby costs 1.60 EUR to enter.

7. Enjoy an open-air festival in Viljandi

For summer festivals and live music, head to Viljandi. Located in the middle of the country, the town’s medieval castle is used for concerts and music festivals (especially traditional folk music). While you’re here, be sure to spend some time relaxing at Lake Viljandi where you can swim and enjoy the beach. Lake Võrtsjärv, the largest inland lake in the country, is also nearby.

8. Visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town. Standing 45 meters tall (150 feet), it was built between 1894-1900 in the Russian Revival style. It was left to decline under Soviet rule, however, once Estonia gained independence it was restored to its former glory. As well as the elaborately decorated bells (the largest weighing almost 16 tons) there are some beautiful religious mosaics inside and incredibly detailed stained glass windows. Admission is free but it’s a place of worship so dress respectfully.

9. Try windsurfing

With so much of the country surrounded by water, Estonia is a perfect destination for windsurfing. There are windsurfing shops on the west coast and in the north that offer rentals for 25-40 EUR and lessons from 66 EUR per hour. If windsurfing isn’t your thing, you can also enjoy stand-up paddleboarding, wakeboarding, or water skiing. Expect to pay around 20 EUR for those activities.

10. Visit the KGB Museum

Located on the top floor of Tallinn’s luxurious Hotel Viru are the KGB’s former spy rooms (the KGB was the Soviet Union’s secret police). The rooms were discovered after the KGB fled Estonia in the early 1990s. The hotel owners decided to keep the rooms exactly the way they were. Inside are listening and surveillance equipment that looks like something straight out of a vintage spy movie. The museum is only accessible as part of a guided tour that can be booked from the hotel lobby. The tour costs 12 EUR.

11. Go birding in Matsalu National Park

This is one of the best places to spot endangered species like the white-tailed eagle or watch the migrating cranes. Established in 1957, the park was created to protect the nesting and migrating birds. It’s located on the west coast of the country, spanning almost 500 square kilometers (192 square miles). Every year, between 10,000-20,000 cranes and upwards of 40,000 ducks visit the park as they migrate. Admission is free.

12. Wander Linnahall

Commissioned by the Soviet Union to accommodate the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, Tallinn’s Linnahall sports complex is now a giant, imposing, concrete ghost town. An amphitheater that seats 5,000 was unable to be utilized once the Olympic-sized crowds had departed so it now lies crumbling (construction was rushed and was done poorly so the buildings are falling apart). Over 66 countries boycotted the games due to the U.S.’s disapproval of the Soviet-Afghan war. Today, the venue is not in use so you’re free to wander and explore. Its location above the city makes it a great lookout spot. It’s an interesting place to wander around if you have a spare few hours.

13. Visit the Estonian Open-Air Museum

Hidden amongst the trees and forests just outside of Tallinn, this open-air museum is a reconstruction of an 18th-century rural village. It’s home to all kinds of traditional Estonian buildings. There are actors dressed up in historical garb as well as traditional professions on display, such as basket weaving and blacksmithing. There are over 80 wooden buildings you can visit, including a church, school, tavern, and farmhouse. Admission is 10 EUR.

Estonia Travel Costs

Brightly colored building along a tree-lined canal in the countryside of Estonia

Accommodation – Hostel dorms start at 10 EUR per night for a bed in a 10-20 bed dorm. A smaller dorm with 6-8 beds costs 15 EUR per night. For a private room in a hostel, expect to pay at least 30 EUR per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and most hostels have self-catering facilities. A few include free breakfast.

Budget hotels start at 40 EUR per night for a double or twin room that includes free breakfast and free Wi-Fi.

Airbnb is available around the country with private rooms starting at 20 EUR per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay at least 35 EUR per night (though prices average double that).

For anyone traveling with a tent, Estonia is one of the best places in Europe for wild camping. Wild camping is permitted on government land (though some of the national parks do have restrictions). Here’s a list of the places you can wild camp in Estonia .

Food – Estonian food has a mix of influences from Russia, Germany, and Scandinavia. Dishes are commonly based around meat and potatoes as well as seasonal vegetables. Soups are a common main course as well. Pickled foods like beets, cucumbers, and fish, as well as rye bread and herring, make up the basis of much of the local cuisine. As in Scandinavia, open-faced sandwiches are a quick to-go snack. Verivorst and mulgikapsad (blood sausage and sauerkraut) are two of the most popular national dishes.

For an inexpensive meal at a café or restaurant, expect to pay between 6-13 EUR. A traditional sausage or stuffed pancake costs just under 3 EUR while fast food meals (think McDonald’s) cost around 7 EUR.

A multi-course meal at a restaurant with table service costs around 40 EUR, including a drink. Expect dishes like grilled salmon, lamb ribs, and roasted pork or duck. For something like Thai or Indian food (which is only really available in Tallinn and Tartu), expect to pay around 12-15 EUR for a meal.

Beer costs around 5 EUR. A latte/cappuccino is 3 EUR while bottled water is 1.50 EUR.

If you are planning to cook your own food, you can expect to spend around 30-40 EUR for a week’s worth of groceries. This includes basic staples like pasta, rice, seasonal produce, and some meat or fish.

Backpacking Estonia Suggested Budgets

On a backpacking budget of 35 EUR per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook your meals, limit your drinking, take public transportation to get around, and do mostly free or cheap activities like free walking tours and visiting national parks. If you plan on drinking, add 5-10 EUR per day to your budget.

On a mid-range budget of 110 EUR per day, you can stay in a private hostel room or Airbnb, eat out at cheap restaurants serving traditional cuisine, drink more, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do more paid activities like museum visits or ski trips.

On a “luxury” budget of 225 EUR or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink as much as you want, rent a car to get around, and do more paid activities and guided tours. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

Estonia Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Estonia is a perfect destination for anyone on a budget. It’s not as cheap as it was years ago but there’s still a lot of value here — and still plenty of ways to reduce your costs! Here is how to save money during your visit:

  • Take a free walking tour – Tallinn offers a handful of free walking tours which are great ways to get familiar with the city and the culture. Most hostels offer them and there are even some that have a special focus (such as the city’s Communist past). Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!
  • Wild camp – If you really want to save money in Estonia, bring a tent. Wild camping is legal here so you can pitch your tent on public land throughout Estonia. Just make sure to pick up your trash when you’re done.
  • Cook your own meals – Many hostels have kitchen facilities so you can cook your own meals. Buying your own groceries may not be as glamorous as going out to eat but it does save you money.
  • Stay with a local – Staying with a local via Couchsurfing will get you a free place to stay while connecting you with a local who can share their insider tips and advice.
  • Walk everywhere – All the major cities in Estonia are walkable so skip the public transportation if you want to save a few extra euros.
  • Enjoy the free spaces – There are plenty of free parks as well as many free hiking trails around the country. If you’re on a tight budget, enjoy the outdoors.
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water in Estonia is safe to drink. Bring a reusable water bottle to avoid having to buy single-use plastic. LifeStraw is my go-to bottle as it has a built-in filter to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Estonia

Budget accommodation in Estonia is plentiful. Here are some of my favorite hostels in Estonia:

  • Old Town Mukenof (Tallinn)
  • Looming Hostel (Tartu)
  • Hostel Louna (Parnu)
  • Kalda Talu Puhkekeskus (Valga)

How to Get Around Estonia

Panoramic view over lakes and bogs in Estonia

Public transportation – In most smaller towns and cities in Estonia, it’s possible to walk everywhere. However, in larger cities like Tallinn, you may want to use public transport to get around. In Tallinn, you can purchase QR-code tickets or load money onto a Smartcard (a pre-paid bus card). There is an extensive network of trams, trolleys, and buses that service the city and surrounding suburbs.

Public transportation prices vary by city but expect to pay around 1.50 EUR for a standard 1-hour adult ticket.

Train – The trains in Estonia are reliable, cheap, and fast. Many even have free Wi-Fi. You can take an express train to Tartu from Tallinn in just two hours for 8-12 EUR each way. The two-hour journey from Tallinn to Viljandi is 10-12 EUR while the seven-hour train ride from Tallinn to Riga, Latvia starts at just 15 EUR.

Bus – Many people favor train travel over bus travel in Estonia because the prices are similar and, in many cases, the trains are faster. However, there are more scheduled buses per day than trains so the bus might better fit your schedule.

Buses start at just 5 EUR. To get from Tallinn to Tartu takes 2.5 hours (just 30 minutes longer than the train) and costs around 10 EUR. The bus from Tallinn to Saaremaa Island takes around 4 hours and costs 11 EUR while the journey from Tallinn to Viljandi takes just over 2 hours and costs 9 EUR. Expect to pay around 16 EUR for the 5.5-hour bus to Riga, Latvia.

Flying – Although there are domestic flights within Estonia, they’re prohibitively expensive and won’t save you any time as a high-speed train is almost as fast when you include check-in time. Skip flying.

Car rental – Car rentals cost as little as 28 EUR per day. You need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to rent a car here. For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars .

When to Go to Estonia

The summer months of June-August are the busiest of the year (though busy in Estonia is far less busy than cities in Western Europe). During this time, the days are longer and the temperatures hover around 20°C (68°F). Almost all of Estonia’s festivals are held during these months.

To beat the crowds, visit between April-May or September-October. During these months, the temperatures are cooler, making it the perfect time to get outdoors and camp or hike. Plus, the peak tourist season is over so the crowds are thinner and things are a little cheaper.

During the winter, temperatures plummet and the country is blanketed in snow. Visiting Estonia during the winter can be a magical experience if you are interested in skiing or Christmas markets. Be warned though — temperatures can drop to -10°C (15°F).

How to Stay Safe in Estonia

Estonia is a safe country with a low crime rate. Within Tallinn, petty theft (including pickpocketing) is possible in the heavily-touristed areas, as well as on crowded public transportation and in busy bars/clubs. Keep your valuables out of sight and watch out for people (especially younger children) trying to distract you.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).

If you’re heading out to enjoy Tallinn’s famous nightlife, leave your valuables at home. Avoid walking alone at night and stick to the main roads. Muggings are rare, but they can occur. Travel in pairs or groups if possible and avoid walking alone at night if intoxicated, just to be safe.

One thing to be aware of is that reflectors are required by law to be worn by pedestrians at night. You can pick them up in most supermarkets cheaply and you just need to attach one to your jacket or bag when out after dark.

Scams here are rare but you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.

If you do experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Estonia Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Estonia Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Europe travel and continue planning your trip:

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Estonia doesn’t have to struggle to find a point of difference; it’s completely unique. It shares a similar geography and history with Latvia and Lithuania, but culturally it’s distinct. Its closest ethnic and linguistic buddy is Finland, though 50 years of Soviet rule in Estonia have separated the two. For the last 300 years Estonia has been linked to Russia, but the two states have as much in common as a barn swallow and a bear (their respective national symbols).

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Must-see attractions.

Tallinn, Estonia - March 19, 2015: St. Nicholas Church (Niguliste kirik) and cupola of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The St. Nicholas Church was founded and built around 1230-1275. Today it houses a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia.

Niguliste Museum

Dating from the 13th century, the imposing St Nicholas' Church (Niguliste kirik) was badly damaged by Soviet bombers in 1944 and a fire in the 1980s, but…

Wind mill isolated on the sky; Shutterstock ID 184358495; Your name (First / Last): Lauren Gillmore; GL account no.: 56530; Netsuite department name: Online-Design; Full Product or Project name including edition: 65050/ Online Design /LaurenGillmore/POI

Estonian Open-Air Museum

This sprawling ethnographic and architectural complex comprises 80 historic Estonian buildings, plucked from across the country and resurrected in…

Art Museum of Estonia, Kumu, Kadriorg, Tallinn, Estonia

This futuristic, Finnish-designed, seven-storey building is a spectacular structure of limestone, glass and copper that integrates intelligently into the…

Tallinn Town Hall at dusk

Tallinn Town Hall

Completed in 1404, this is the only surviving Gothic town hall in northern Europe. Inside, you can visit the Trade Hall (whose visitor book drips with…

Great Guild Hall

Great Guild Hall

The Great Guild Hall (1410) is a wonderfully complete testament to the power of Tallinn's medieval trade guilds. Now a branch of the Estonian History…

Kuressaare Episcopal Castle

Kuressaare Episcopal Castle

Western Estonia & the Islands

Majestic Kuressaare Castle stands facing the sea at the southern end of the town, on an artificial island defended by stone-faced earth bastions and…

Tallinn, Estonia - July 04, 2016: Kadriorg - baroque palace built for Peter the Great in 1718 now houses the Art Museum of Estonia's foreign collection.; Shutterstock ID 471676259; Your name (First / Last): Gemma Graham; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: BiT Destination Page Images

Kadriorg Art Museum

Kadriorg Palace, a baroque beauty built by Peter the Great between 1718 and 1736, houses a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia devoted to Dutch, German…

TALLINN/ESTONIA - SEPTEMBER 20, 2014; The Estonian maritime museum in Seaplane harbour. The Tank.; Shutterstock ID 343328918; Your name (First / Last): Gemma Graham; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: BiT Destination Page Images

Seaplane Harbour

Kalamaja & Telliskivi

When this cavernous, triple-domed building was completed in 1917, its reinforced-concrete shell-frame construction was unique in the world. Resembling a…

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11 Top Attractions & Things to Do in Tallinn, Estonia

Written by Joni Sweet Updated Dec 24, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

With surprises around every corner, Tallinn bursts with charm like no other European city. The capital of Estonia is steeped in history, yet has all the modern offerings tourists expect from a destination in the 21st century.

The city is exceptionally photogenic, especially during the midnight sunsets in the summer. And if you want to see the city at its very best, plan your visit during the Estonian Song Festival. It brings together 30,000 of the best singers in Estonia onto one stage every five years to create music that vibrates throughout the city. The next festival is scheduled for July 3-6, 2025.

Tallinn's Old Town has managed to preserve its medieval heritage throughout centuries of domination by foreign rulers, rightfully earning a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. You can still strut through the ivy-covered Viru Gate, explore the gothic Town Hall, and walk along the town walls like others have done for hundreds of years.

But you should spend equal time exploring Tallinn's modern-day offerings, as well. The city boasts Scandinavian-inspired restaurants, viewing platforms, lush parks, and sweets shop s.

Plan your sightseeing around this alluring city with our list of the things to do in Tallinn.

1. Tallinn's Old Town

2. estonian maritime museum, 3. tallinn tv tower, 4. toompea castle, 5. aleksander nevski katedraali, 6. kadriorg park, 7. kumu art museum, 8. estonian open air museum, 9. kalev chocolate shop and workshop, 10. st. olaf's church, 11. telliskivi creative city, where to stay in tallinn for sightseeing, map of attractions & things to do in tallinn, estonia, tallinn, estonia - climate chart.

View of Tallinn's Old Town

Tallinn's Old Town encompasses endless treasures for history buffs and culture hounds alike. Known for being one of the world's best-preserved Hanseatic town centers , the vibrant village-like area features cobblestone streets , lively cafés , and architecture from long-ago centuries.

Start your experience at the Town Hall Square. While you might be tempted to keep your eyes cast up at the colorful buildings, look down until you find the distinctive circular stone marked with a compass. Standing atop it gives you the unique vantage point to see the steeples of five historic churches around Tallinn. Then, make your way inside the church-like Town Hall. Erected in 1404, the oldest town hall in Northern Europe boasts magnificent Gothic arches and precious artworks .

Then, head across the square to one of Europe's oldest continually running pharmacies, Raeapteek. The establishment celebrates its history with a mini museum focusing on antique medical tools and early healthcare techniques. You can also sample herbal tea blends created from local ingredients in the pharmacy's basement.

Another prominent spot in Tallinn's Old Town is the Viru Gate. Once part of the city wall's defense system, this 14th-century structure features fairy-tale-esque, round towers topped with coned roofs fit for a princess. Nearly two kilometers of the original city wall is still standing. You can get a good look at this historic structure from the Patkuli viewing platform on Toompea Hill.

Aerial view of the Suur Tõll icebreaker at the Lennusadam Seaplane Harbour

With more than 2,300 islands in its territory, Estonia has developed a strong maritime culture, and there's no better place to visit to experience it than at the Lennusadam Seaplane Harbour exhibit at the Estonian Maritime Museum.

This fascinating museum exhibit invites tourists to step inside Submarine EML Lembit , a 1930s-era vessel that is one of the few remaining submarines of its time. You can also hop aboard the Suur Tõll icebreaker and explore the powerful steamer's captain's cabin, crew rooms, and officers' mess hall. Hundreds of other artifacts displayed throughout the museum continue to tell the story of maritime history in Estonia.

The structure of the museum itself is just as interesting as its contents. Originally built to house seaplanes in Peter the Great's Naval Fortress, the hangar features "the world's first columnless thin-shell concrete domes of such volume." It remained in use until World War II. It's amazing that the cavernous space requires no vertical supports to hold its weight.

Address: Vesilennuki tänav 6, Põhja-Tallinna linnaosa, Tallinn

Official site:

Tallin TV Tower

Proudly standing 314 meters in the clouds, the Tallinn TV Tower is a must-visit attraction in Estonia. A visit to the observation deck on the 21st floor –the highest open viewing platform in Northern Europe–is one of the most popular things to do. Tourists can get panoramic views of Tallinn and the Gulf of Finland. You won't want to forget your camera when sightseeing here.

Craving an adrenaline rush? Check out the Tallinn TV Tower's Walk on the Edge experience. It will strap you into a harness and let you walk along the ledge of the tower's outdoor terrace. You can even dangle your feet over the 175-meter drop. Don't look down!

This Tallinn attraction also features a number of other less fear-inducing attractions that prove fun for every type of traveler. There's a high-speed elevator that whisks tourists to the observation deck in just 49 seconds. Try out a career in broadcast journalism and record your very own news clip at the TV studio on the first floor. Enjoy multi-course meals in the clouds at the TV Tower Restaurant. And learn more about the history of Estonia's tallest building , including its construction for the 1980 Summer Olympics, at the TV Tower history exhibition.

Buy your tickets online in advance to avoid wasting time in a long line.

Address: Kloostrimetsa tee 58a, Pirita linnaosa, Tallinn

Official site:

Toompea Castle

Toompea Hill has always been the core of power in Estonia. Various rulers of Estonia have changed the Toompea Castle to their liking over the last 800 years, starting with the initial stone structure built by the German Knights of the Sword in the 13th century and eventually turning into a tickle-me-pink Baroque palace, courtesy of Catherine the Great. It's now home to the Riigikogu (Estonian parliament), which commemorates the country's independence by raising the national flag atop the 14th-century Tall Hermann tower every morning.

Tourists can take free guided tours of the Toompea Castle in English, Russian, or Estonian on weekdays, with advance reservations. You'll get to explore the inside of the rosy building, hear about its storied past, and learn about the structure of the Riigikolu.

After your tour, walk 500 meters northeast to the Patkuli viewing platform for an epic panoramic vista of Tallinn. From here, you can see straight down to the port .

Address: Lossi plats 1a, Kesklinna linnaosa, Tallinn

Official site:

Aleksander Nevski Katedraali

Take one look at the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, and you might think you've somehow stumbled into St. Petersburg. The 120-year-old cathedral, located directly across from the Toompea Castle , exudes sacred Russian Orthodox style, with five bulbous onion domes crowned by gilded iron crosses and an ornate brown and white exterior. It also houses 11 bells, including the largest one in Tallinn, which clocks in at a whopping 15 tons. You can hear their sounds ringing through the city throughout the day.

While beautiful and well-maintained, the cathedral hasn't always received a warm welcome from Tallinn. Many Estonians saw it as an oppressive symbol from Russia in the early- to mid-20th century and demanded it be demolished. However, that proposal didn't move forward, and the cathedral still stands today.

Address: Lossi plats 10, Kesklinna linnaosa, Tallinn

Kadriorg Palace

Aleksander Nevski Katedraali isn't the only remaining artifact of Russian influence in Tallinn. You can also see it at Kadriorg Park and the palace within it, both commissioned by Czar Peter the Great for his wife Catherine, in 1718.

About four kilometers east of Tallinn's Old Town , the lush 70-hectare expanse is the go-to place for a heavy dose of nature therapy in the city. Tourists will see blooming flower beds laid out in geometric patterns , a luxurious swan pond, a serene Japanese garden , and an English landscape park with an oak grove.

More than just nature, the park is also home to a few impressive structures, the most notable of which is the Kadriorg Palace. Built as an imperial summer palace in the early 18th century, the elegant three-level building was inspired by Italian palaces of the time and now houses the Estonian Art Museum 's collection of foreign works from the 16th to the 20th centuries. North of the palace, you can see the Office of the President of the Republic , a salmon-pink, Neo-Baroque building where the Estonian president works.

Address: August Weizenbergi tänav 10, Kesklinna linnaosa, Tallinn

Official site:

Sculptures at the Kumu Art Museum

After you've had your fill of Kadriorg Park, stroll over to the Kumu Art Museum, an award-winning institution that serves as the headquarters of the Estonian Art Museum. It houses a vast collection of contemporary art and serves as a multifunctional space for educational programs and events.

The main permanent exhibition on the third floor offers tourists the opportunity to see Estonian art classics from the 18th century to the conclusion of World War II. Featured artists include Johann Köler, Kristjan Raud, and Konrad Mägi . The works are laid out in such a way that tourists can see how local art styles changed in parallel with the Estonian mentality.

On the fourth floor, a more recently opened part of the permanent exhibition focuses on Estonian Art during the Soviet Era . The collection dives into the many complexities of producing creative works under the strict rules of the Communist Party, as well as the changes that occurred as restrictions on art eased toward the 1980s.

You can also see how Estonian art evolved in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union in another permanent exhibition on that floor.

The permanent collections give tourists plenty to ponder, but should you want an even deeper immersion in local art, check out the museum's fascinating temporary exhibits, which explore a variety of mediums and expressions.

Address: August Weizenbergi tänav 34, Kesklinna linnaosa, Tallinn

Official site:

Traditional wooden windmill at the Estonian Open Air Museum

Experience the lifestyles of Estonians from hundreds of years ago at the Estonian Open Air Museum. Located in the seaside area Rocca al Mare , a 20-minute drive from the heart of Tallinn, this year-round, outdoor, educational attraction includes 14 farms that recreate the way rural Estonian villagers and fishing communities lived from the 18th century to the 20th century.

Tourists can wander through many of the 74 buildings scattered around the 72-hectare property. You'll see a traditional school house, seaside fishing sheds, historic homes, a fire station, and windmills, many of which were plucked from their original villages and brought to Tallinn.

When you work up an appetite, head to the authentic inn to refuel with heritage dishes, like wild mushroom soup, rye bread with salted herring and cottage cheese, and mashed potatoes with pan-fried meat and groat (hulled kernels of cereal grains). Tourists can also take part in fun activities from yesteryear, including folk dances, midsummer bonfires, and horse and cart rides.

Address: Vabaõhumuuseumi tee 12, Haabersti linnaosa, Tallinn

Kalev Chocolate Shop and Workshop

Marzipan, as with many traditional foods, has a disputed history. While some point to Germany as the birthplace of the almond sweet, others believe it was invented in Tallinn by a man who worked at the Raeapteek pharmacy.

What's not up for debate, however, is the best place to try marzipan in Estonia today: Kalev Chocolate Shop and Workshop. Located in the historic Rotermann Quarter , this sweets shop puts together tempting gift boxes of marzipan and handmade chocolates, along with quirky marzipan figures in animal shapes.

The shop also invites tourists to strap on an apron and try their hand at making their own treats in the workshop. This is a fun thing to do in Tallin if you have the time. The two-hour hands-on classes are guided by a master confectioner who will show you how to make chocolate truffles and mold and paint marzipan using centuries-old techniques. Don't be surprised if you eat as many sweets as you end up taking home at the end of this creative experience.

The Kalev Chocolate Shop and Workshop is just a short walk from the Port of Tallinn. If you're just visiting the Estonian capital on a cruise or day trip from Helsinki , you can easily squeeze in a class at the sweets shop, making your short experience even sweeter.

Address: Roseni tänav 7, Kesklinna linnaosa, Tallinn

Official site:

St. Olaf's Church

With its 124-meter steeple, St. Olaf's Church is Tallinn's tallest medieval structure . But more than just an eye-catching site, the attraction also has a fascinating history. It is believed to have been built in the 12th century as the center for the city's Scandinavian community before Denmark took control of Tallinn around 1219.

Fast forward a few centuries to the Cold War, and the church took on a new purpose as a radio and surveillance center for the Soviet KGB . Historical records also note that the church has been struck by lightning a whopping 10 times, three of which set the structure ablaze. A Baptist congregation now uses the church for regular services.

Tourists are welcome to visit the modest Gothic interiors and get great views of the city from its observation platform. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes to climb the 232 steps to the top of the steeple!

Telliskivi Creative City

A 15-minute walk northwest of Tallinn's Old City brings you to one of the coolest places to visit in Estonia: Telliskivi Creative City. Located in what used to be Tallinn's industrial area, this "town within a town" brims with more than 200 businesses across its 10 buildings .

The Creative City's indie shops offer something for just about everyone, including sustainably-made leather bags, locally thrown ceramics, chic homewares, and vinyl records. You can also visit popular cultural attractions, including the Fotografiska photography museum; Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava contemporary dance theater; and the Juhan Kuus Documentary Photo Centre , which focuses on Estonian documentary film and photography.

Before leaving, be sure to grab a scoop or two from La Muu Ice Cream Shop. It offers more than 20 flavors of organic ice cream, including cookies and cream, peppermint stracciatella, and vegan brownie.

Address: Telliskivi 60a, 10412 Tallinn

Luxury Hotels:

  • Right in the heart of Tallinn, where the downtown meets the medieval old town, the Savoy Boutique Hotel by TallinnHotels is a great 5-star pick if you're looking for an intimate boutique sleep. The hotel has an elegant vibe throughout, and the rooms are comfortable and spacious. Staff is very attentive. Amenities include a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, airport transport, and a concierge.
  • At one time serving as an Estonian Telegraph Company exchange station, today the Hotel Telegraaf is a charming 5-star hotel. The building dates back to 1878, and the ambience is old-world European. Rooms and suites have plush furnishings and high ceilings with chandeliers and crown molding. Amenities here include a day spa and a restaurant serving Russian fare. The location in the heart of Old Town is also excellent, and this is the only property in this area to have an underground parking lot for guests.
  • The Schlössle Hotel is another luxury option. On cobbled Holy Spirit Street between the old harbor and Old Town Square, the hotel has a historic ambience and features elegantly outfitted rooms and suites. Breakfast is included in the rate, and there is an on-site restaurant. In the summer there is live music in the courtyard terrace area. This property is also pet-friendly should you be traveling with a dog, but you must pay a pet fee and a deposit.

Mid-Range Hotels :

  • Centennial Hotel Tallinn is an excellent mid-priced option. The hotel is located about seven minutes by foot from Old Town and is a new property. The rooms and suites are decorated in Nordic minimalist style and have mural accent walls. Amenities here include a free breakfast, sauna, and 100-seat restaurant. The Centennial Hotel is also kid-friendly.
  • Next to Freedom Square, the 4-star Palace Hotel dates back to 1937. Designed by a famous Estonian architect, today it has a historic facade and a modern interior design. On-site amenities include a restaurant, steam bath and sauna center, and a fitness center. There is also an indoor swimming pool.
  • Hilton Tallinn Park is another mid-range choice. It is located at the edge of Politseiaia Park and has great views of the Old Town and harbor from its modern rooms and suites. The property is family-friendly, and amenities include a restaurant, indoor swimming pool, and workout room. There is also a spa on-site and a sauna and steam room.

Budget Hotels :

  • With a very affordable price point, the Hestia Hotel Seaport is a popular budget choice. Located next to the Port of Tallinn and not far from Old Town, it has cozy rooms with eco-friendly cork floors. Breakfast is included, and there is a restaurant and sauna on-site. Car hire can also be arranged here.
  • Also try the Dorell Hotel for a budget option. The hotel has tidy rooms with blackout curtains. It is also kid-friendly with family rooms. Amenities include free breakfast, an outdoor swimming pool, sauna, and free Wi-Fi.

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Estonia Travel Guide: What to See and Where to Go

road trip in Estonia

Estonia is one of those countries that is often missed on European travel itineraries. Dwarfed next to its giant Russian neighbor to the east, and forgotten next to its more well-known Finnish counterpart to the north, Estonia tourism has often been overlooked. But those that venture off the usual tourist trail have an incredible reward waiting for them when they arrive in Estonia. Aside from the historical wonders of the capital city Tallinn, Estonia is full of hidden attractions that warrant at least a week or two of exploring.

Traveling to Estonia is perfect for all types of outdoor lovers. Slower paced travelers will adore the incredibly well maintained nature preserves throughout the country. Adrenaline junkies have a plethora of adventure activities to get their heart racing. But no matter the pace, every traveler will enjoy getting a deeper sense of Estonia’s people. Especially how their unique history has played a part in preserving the local culture, which they so passionately enjoy showing off to their guests.

road trip estonia

Although traveling through Estonia would be fantastic with any mode of transportation, we highly recommend renting a car , as some of the highlights were really far off the beaten track. Not only does a car allow you to reach the more rural attractions, but it also gives you the freedom to spontaneously venture off the main road to hidden spots along the way. As a jumping off point, the following here are our favorite highlights from our weeklong Estonia road trip. We zipped through these places in just 5 days, but given the time we’d recommend slowing down a bit to have some more down time.

Estonia Road Trip Day 1

Balloon tallinn.

We kicked off our wild Estonia travel itinerary with an adrenaline-pumping balloon ride that jolted our sleepy selves wide-awake. Balloon Tallinn offers rides in their helium balloon that rises 120 meters into the air, giving you the perfect view of Tallinn city and the Baltic Sea. 120 meters might not sound high from the ground, but once we started going up it became apparent just how far we were going. We’re not the biggest fan of heights, so after a few minutes into our ride Jules and I were already getting jumpy. We asked the guide if we were at the top yet, to which he replied “no, we’re only one third up.” Yikes!

tallinn travel tips

Once you get settled at the top you start to forget about the height and start enjoying the views. From the balloon you overlook the Baltic Sea and can see the historical buildings of Old Town in the distance. It’s pretty windy and cold up top, but they give you a blanket to stay warm. For those that are interested in a hot air balloon ride, this experience is the perfect precursor because it isn’t quite as scary. Even for the daredevils, it’s definitely worth a peek to see Tallinn from above and only takes about 15 minutes for the whole ride.

Bear Watching

One of the best parts of traveling in Estonia is that there is so much wilderness that surrounds you. And wilderness means plenty of space for wild animals like bears, moose, lynxes, boars and the odd wolverine. With this in mind we decided to head into the forest for a chance to spot some of Estonia’s finest wild animals!

We met our guide in Alutaguse, located in northeast Estonia, and from a small roadside stop walked about a mile to our official bear watching hut. The shelter is a basic wooden hut with bunk beds, sleeping bags and a compost toilet. Although we were told that bears are mostly likely to come out around 8:30pm, we spotted our first one around 7pm when it was still light out. We were in absolute awe of this huge, magnificent animal lumbering around the trees that we were frozen, unable to look away.

Unfortunately that meant we failed to capture any photo or videos of the bear, but believe us, they’re out there. We also saw bears later in the evening around 9:30pm, but the dim lighting meant we could only make out an outline of the animals. We did see other animals, including the local raccoon dogs and, we think, a wolverine, which is very rare!

The whole bear watching process felt very meditative, with nothing to do but sit and look out into the gorgeous forest ahead. It was a perfect time to disconnect from our devices and enjoy the serenity of the Estonian nature.

Where to Stay

Because bear watching is best at nightfall, you have to sleep in the hut overnight. It’s simple living, but it does the job for a night. Trust us, you don’t want to go trekking back to your car at night, risking seeing the bears a bit too close up.

Where to Eat

Bring your own food to the hut for dinner and an early breakfast the next morning. It’s important not to bring alcohol, smoke cigarettes or walk around the area because the scent can deter the bears.

traveling to estonia

Kivioli Adventure Center Zipline

About 90mins west of Tallinn is the Kivioli Adventure Center. This ski and snowboard resort is in a prime position during the winter, but also boasts a number of adventure activities during other seasons. One of those activities is Estonia’s longest zipline, which runs 600 meters in length and reaches speeds of up to 80 km/hr. Although the ride only lasts about 40 seconds, it is a real rush. It’s a bit daunting standing at the platform looking out over the drop. But you won’t find a better view than looking out over one of the highest points in Estonia. The adventure center also offers a quad bike track and motocross trails.

The Hill Café on site has delicious food if you work up an appetite after your adrenaline rush. During the winter when the spot has snow you can ski or board all day, sip beers at night and then sleep at the hostel that is only a 1 minute walk from the center.

estonia travel tips

Heinrich Lukk’s Sleddog Center

One of the most unique experiences during our Estonia trip was hanging out with the Alaskan Malamute’s at Heinrich Lukk’s Sleddog Center, about half an hour from the city of Tartu. Dog sledding in Estonia was definitely at the top of our list of adventure activities and we not disappointed. The dogs, which look more like wolves than your average house dog, can be a bit intimidating at first. Upon driving up to the center, the dogs went nuts barking and jumping around. And we soon understood why, they love to get out and run! Whenever their owner (and alpha dog) Heinrich brings out the sleds, the dogs know it’s their chance to get out and move, so they bark like mad yelling “Pick me! Pick me!”

Normally the sled dogs pull snow-sleds, but in the warmer months they are hooked up to a cart with wheels to pull guests along trails. Heinrich picks the lineup, 8 dogs per cart matched in pairs based off strength and endurance. You lead the dogs to the cart and attach their harnesses, which is an interesting task in itself to restrain the energy of the dogs. After you’re all buckled up, you lift up the break and the dogs are off! With an incredible spurt of energy the cart goes flying down the trails, zooming past the Estonian forest. After some time the dogs slow down and take periodic breaks to rest and drink water. By the end the pups are tuckered out and very happy to give sleepy cuddles and kisses when returning to the kennel. Watching Heinrich’s affection for these dogs and his passion for the sport made the whole experience feel like we were part of an age old tradition native to Estonia.

Pahupidi Kohvik is a vegan cafe in Tartu has a great plant-based selection including some delicious gluten-free beers and yummy desserts.

Peramaa Puhkekeskus is a beautiful wooden house set in a gorgeous rural area of Estonia. It’s the perfect place to stay after an evening of dogsledding. With several smoke saunas on site and a beautiful lake in the middle of the property, it’s definitely worth setting aside some time to enjoy the serene setting.

dog sledding in estonia

Jarvselja Forest

Driving through the rural roads of Estonia, you’ll start to feel like you’ve left civilization and are driving in an endless sea of forest. Being surrounded by nature it can be easy to forget to get out and actually enjoy it. There’s no better place to do that than the Jarvselja Forest. This nature reserve is a primeval forest, meaning it has grown without human interference all throughout history to the present day. There are a number of hiking trails you can explore, walking on wooden planks lifted above the ground so as to not disturb the growth. The Jarvselja is home to some of Estonia’s tallest and oldest trees, including the 360 year Kuningamänd pine tree.

estonia taravel advice

The Jarvselja is also home to SMEAR , the Station for Measuring Ecosystem-Atmosphere Relations. During our visit we were accompanied by a local scientist who studies the reserve ecosystem, giving us invaluable information about the forest and all it’s inhabitants.

Kayak Vohandu River with Matkajuht Osauhing

Compared to dogsledding and bear watching, kayaking may not seem like the most unique activity offered in Estonia, but wait till you check out the Vohandu River. This river flowing through southeast Estonia is incredibly picturesque. The calm water flows under wooden bridges and past small farmhouses, past limestone rock walls and under canopies of trees. But don’t get too relaxed, because just as you start to kick back and admire your surroundings, you’ll need to grab that oar and navigate through some small rapids! The whole trip lasts about 2 hours and you do get a bit wet. Overall it was a perfect combination of relaxation, thrill and a bit of exercise, all in a serene setting.

estonia adventure travel

Mooste Viinavabrik – This vodka distillery is a great place to stop for lunch after your hike. The historical building has an event hall, restaurant and even accommodation if you’d like to stay over.

Taevaskoja Turismi- ja Puhkekeskus : This beautiful inn next to the forest is a gorgeous place to rest and explore after a big day kayaking. They have food on site so you can easily grab dinner or breakfast the next morning.

Kicksledding in the Forest

When we first heard about kicksledding, we couldn’t figure out what it was. There was no snow on the ground, so we knew it wouldn’t be sledding. It was described to us as a bicycle with no seat, which was no less confusing. When the day finally came, we finally figured out what we were doing… riding off-road scooters through the forest! Using designated trails, we zipped through the trees, past an old town abandoned after WWII and down to the Ahja River.

Along the trails you also go past the famous Heaven’s Hall, an important spiritual site for ancient Estonian folklore. Legend has it that anyone who dares to enter the cave will either go insane or blind. We’re not sure about all that, but the incredible limestone walls along the river are truly spellbinding. You can opt for a 5km or 7km trip, but don’t let the scooters fool you. This isn’t a walk in the park. Uphill inclines will give your thighs a workout and the downhill will have you soaring down the paths. For those that find hiking a bit boring, you’ll love this extra dose of adventure.

Mooska Farm Smoke Sauna

While we really enjoyed every activity we participated in during our road trip through Estonia, the our time at Mooska Farm Smoke Sauna  was definitely the most memorable. Forget everything you know about saunas, this is a far cry from the steam room at your local gym. In Estonia, people take saunas very seriously. Perhaps no one more than our gracious host, Eda Veeroja. After all, she spent a 10 years working to get the Estonia smoke sauna added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

We did half a day in the traditional black smoke sauna, which get its name from the lack of chimney causing the smoke to circulate through the room, and the experience is not for the faint hearted. Firstly, you strip down to your birthday suit, jump into a 100+ degree room and get whisked with dried bundles of leaves. There are salt and honey scrubs, chanting and lots more!

backpacking in estonia

If you’re really adventurous you can jump into a freezing cold lake in the middle of the property to jumpstart your system. The whole experience was one of a kind and gave us a much deeper understanding of the local history and culture. Estonian black saunas have been central to local life for centuries, used to mark special occasions like weddings, deaths and the end of the year. At the end of the ceremony we gave thanks to our bodies, to the sauna and let go of something negative we’ve been holding onto. We left feeling lighter, possibly because we just sweated a few kilos, and much more connected to Estonian culture.

Eda and her husband graciously offer dinner to guests after an evening in the sauna. There’s nothing better than a hot home cooked meal and some local cider to replenish your nutrients after the sauna.

Greete Motell is a gorgeous hotel easily accessible from the highway. The classic wooden rooms are a fantastic way to rest your bones and the breakfast buffet is great to fill up before a big day ahead.

The last stop on our Estonia holiday was an explore through Soomaa National park and a hike in the Toonoja bog. Not sure what a bog is? Neither did we! But we planned the adventure anyway and found ourselves hiking through a sort of swampy wetland that spans out as far as the eye can see. Because of the water underneath the thin soil feels like a massive sponge and it’s easy to sink through the ground, ending up knee deep in the bog.

Our guides offered us bog shoes, similar to snow shoes, that distributed our weight to keep from sinking in. Those proved to be tricky though and we had some funny moments tripping and getting a face full of bog moss. But beside our less than graceful falls, we had a fantastic time exploring the bog. Although the terrain stays pretty much the same throughout the hike, there is a plethora of plants and wildlife to explore. A highlight was coming across the remnants of a plane crash from WWII that our guides had heard was somewhere in the bog but had never seen it before. The local bogs play a bigger role than just a beautiful place to hike, however. To many Estonians they are spiritual locations. The moss and plants have medicinal properties, which was especially helpful when a blister formed from my boots.

estonia backpacking guide

As we circled back to the entrance of the bog, we kicked off our bog shoes and hiked through the much firmer forest area, picking berries off the vine and nibbling on them on the way. As our road trip came to the close, we thanked our guides and hopped in the car to head back to Tallinn. The entire trip was jam packed with activities and we finally had a moment to digest our experiences. From the balloon ride to the bog hike, we felt like we truly covered Estonia from top to bottom.

The variety in landscape and commitment to environmental preservation makes Estonia an outdoors lover’s dream. Whether you prefer a quiet stroll through the Jervselja forest or a thrill seeking zipline, there’s an endless amount of activities to keep you captivated with this beautiful country.

Planning on traveling to Estonia? Check out how we found the  best flight deals to Estonia !

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9 thoughts on “estonia travel guide: what to see and where to go”.

Did you take up close to the wild animals like bears, wolverine and others? Aren’t they scary? I guess bears are the cutest. Thanks for your guide. Hoping for more of this.

Thanks Faye 🙂 We didn’t get too close, so we were pretty safe 🙂

I wish I could go kayaking there. Awesome way to be active!

Very nice pics!! that is a beautiful place to visit 🙂

thumbs up guys 🙂 Looks like you had a good time in Estonia (I live here currently)

Estonia seems so picturesque and it definitely has lots to offer, Jules and Christine. Plus, it’s an excellent place for hiking lovers. Thanks a bunch for the exceptional and useful travel guide which I hope to use soon!

Such a nice trip. I’ve been recently in Estonia but I stayed mainly in Tallinn. Next time I should travel a bit more around. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Thanks George. We definitely recommend traveling around more, Estonia is a special country!

Is it better to go in Summer or Fall/Winter or what do most people prefer?

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At Don't Forget To Move we help promote and inspire adventurous, authentic and responsible travel around the world. We show travelers how to see the world authentically through unique stories, engaging photography and videos, honest reviews and practical travel tips.


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