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Estonia Travel Guide

 🗝️ Key Facts

🏛️Capital: Tallinn

💶Currency: Euro €

🕙Time Zone: +2 GMT

📞Phone Code: +372

🌐Language: Estonian

✈️Best time to visit: April-September

🍴Eat: Verivorst

🍷Drink: Eesti Kali

🗺️Don't miss: Kohtuotsa viewing platform

🗺 Menu of Contents: 

🤝 Welcome to Estonia!
Estonia combines the firmly traditional and ultra-modern in this northern Baltic land.

Located north of the Baltic Sea and with most of its borders surrounded by sea to the north and west, Estonia is an interesting mix of the ultra-modern and firmly traditional, a northern Baltic land of primeval forests, rivers, and islands, with one of the smallest populations in the world. Most Estonians have opted for city life, leaving the countryside rather wild and filled with rare birds, plants and roaming deer, elk, wild boar, bears and wolves.

The low, largely flat landscape is also dotted with relics of Estonia's medieval glory, when the Teutonic knights reigned supreme and built castles which are now left as decaying hulks, testament to the wealth of traders who used the country's ports. The main port, Tallinn (still the capital city today), was part of the mighty Hanseatic League in the 13th century.

Its medieval prosperity has given the romantic city a wealth of attractions for modern-day tourists to explore. Historical and natural attractions are only one reason why Estonia is experiencing an upsurge in tourism. Access is another, as the country is ideally located between east and west Europe, and is easily reached from the south as well. All in all, it offers fresh and unspoilt opportunities for those who enjoy the Nordic experience.

Estonia, together with Latvia and Lithuania, became independent states (again) in 1991,  after leaving the Soviet domination. Today the vibrant spirit of freedom and rebirth pervades the air. This is true of the capital, the lively university town of Tartu, the busy industrial centre of Narva and the idyllic summer vacation capital of Pärnu on the southwestern coast. However small towns and the countryside can still be seen very much stuck in time and where true traditions and ways of life prevail.

Come and see all this fascinating country by yourself and take back lots of good memories and experiences! 

🛬 Getting there and transportation 

Getting to Estonia is convenient by air or sea. The national airline went bankrupt in 2015, Air Estonia, so reaching Estonia has been made accessible now by low cost airlines such as Ryanair. Other airlines fly there from most European cities and in particular many cities in Finland and Scandinavia. The main airport is located in Tallinn, the capital.

If you are travelling either from Sweden or Finland then a popular option is to travel by sea with frequent ferry services leaving many times a day. For more information check at Tallinn Ferry. 

Travelling in the country is easy by public transport, most of the major towns are small enough to get around on foot but all main cities in Estonia have an established public transport system served by bus, trolleybus and tram.By rail, it's convenient to travel from Tallinn by train to Pärnu, Viljandi, Valga, Narva, Tapa and Tartu. Lastly travelling within Estonia is also popular by Bus, LuxExpress offers good prices when booked in advance and you can travel domestically or to international destinations. 

Regular ferries operate from Finland to Estonia.
National and International busses from Tallinn are operated by Simple and Lux Express.
⛅️ Climate and Temperature  🌡️

The climate of Estonia is European continental with warm, dry summers and fairly severe winters. January is the coldest month with daytime temperatures usually around -5°C, but in some cases winter months can be quite colder with temperatures far below zero, about -15°C and strong, cold winds. Heavy snowfall is also quite common. The weather is often breezy and humid due to the proximity of the Baltic Sea.

In summer temperatures reach 20-25°C, but sometimes higher at, 30°C or more. July is the warmest month with an average Temperature of 22°C. 
Generally, the best time to visit is April-September, when days are warm and the nights are cool, although it rains more in Spring than in summer. Autumn and Winter are usually a little chilly and wet, sometimes snowy and often foggy.

🍴 Food and Drink  🍹

Estonian food can seem very fatty and starchy to some. There is influence from the Scandinavian cuisine and the use of fish and meat is very common in many dishes. However there is a wide range of international dishes available, especially in larger towns.

Specialities include: Sült (jellied veal)Täidetud vasikarind (roast stuffed shoulder of veal). Rosolje (vinaigrette with herring and beets). Braised goose stuffed with apples and plums. Verivorst (blood sausage).

Regional drinks includeSaku beer, Eesti Kali (local form of kvas, a Slavic fermented drink made from bread) Vana Tallinn (a local liqueur, favourite with the locals).

📝 Author's Comment  

I can say it one of those countries I wouldn't mind going again to explore further. It's influence with neighbouring Finland is very noticeable, the country is the most developed out of the 3 Baltic states (Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania). Overall it gives an impression of being modern, but also you can notice a rustic feel and people being more conservative than in other countries. However what took me by surprise was it's old town! Being very interested in medieval history and castles, it was incredible to feel part of this city which, within its old town walls, really feels like you are living in the middle age times thanks to a very realistic exposition and galleries featuring the city's history and past.  

(once visited)

Tallinn Tourism Information Guide

Tallinn is a medieval city with lots of character, beautiful buildings and restored walls and towers, many offering great views of the city!
ℹ️ Introduction 

The city resembles a true medieval town, containing the old town within a stone wall dating back to the medieval era. It's a beautiful city, not only because it has preserved all the old medieval buildings but also for being full of charm, hidden places to discover, good look out spots and a relaxing atmosphere in which to walk in. During the day you enjoy the culture, history and open buildings which feature a true medieval inspiration theme. Later at night it's very fascinating to walk around its pebbled streets and sample some authentic Estonian cuisine, in a relaxed setting and good service. There is plenty of entertainment options as well for those seeking fun, with lots of bars and clubs dotted around the city. In general it's a very interesting city to visit.

⛅️ Climate and Temperature  🌡️

The weather of Tallinn is generally known for being continental, with is being determined by its northerly coastal location next to the Baltic Sea. Tallinn's appealing summer climate sees highs of more than 25°C in July, with August being only slightly cooler and often featuring gentle humid breezes from the sea.

As soon as November arrives, the colder winter climate starts to make its way. With temperatures falling to -1°C, and dropping even further to -8°C in February. Snowy weather often covers the streets of Tallinn and there is usually snow from December to March, meaning that it can be difficult to drive around the city at times. Daylight hours are also short, dull and last for a mere six hours during the very heart of winter.

The best time to Visit Tallinn then ranges from April to October, but if you want to skip the tourist season, avoid July and August.

🚇 Transport 

Central Tallinn is very compact and easy to get around by foot, but reaching farther out destinations is simple thanks to the city's network of buses, trolleys and trams. The public transport network operates from 6:00 to 23:00 (some lines until 24:00). You can buy single tickets from kiosks or use a smart card if you plan to use the transport often. The green, plastic Smartcard (Ühiskaart), can be bought at any R-Kiosk, post office or the Tallinn City Government customer service desk for a €2 deposit and then load it with enough credit. There are tickets valid for 1 , 3 , 5 or 30 days to be loaded onto the card. You will need to tap in each time you use the transport and activate the ride, on the smart reader from the entrance. 

✔️Tip: Use a Tallinn Card if you plan to visit museums, galleries and use public transport. The Tallinn Card acts as a ticket, entitling the holder to unlimited free public transport for the period the card is active. It also gives you free admission to museums and sights, a free sightseeing tour of your choice and other discounts. Each time you board a vehicle, you must validate the ride using your Tallinn Card the same way you would with a Smartcard. For more check Tallinn Card

🏰 What to see and do ?

Tallinn was born at a crossroads of medieval trade and is now more than ever a treasure of the Baltic. Estonia's capital combines ease of travel with cultural richness, resulting in a destination to delight travellers of all tastes. Experience traditional 18th century Estonian life, sample handmade chocolates or jump into the contemporary art scene, these activities and sights showcase the city's best.

You will find the following highlights: 

  • Kohtuotsa viewing platform, a great vantage point located on the northern side of Toompea hill. It provides excellent views over the red roofs and towering spires of the Old Town as well as of the gleaming high rise buildings in the new part of the city. In the background is the Gulf of Finland, the port and the Pirita district. 
  • Kalev Chocolate Shop and Sweets Mastery, located in Rotermann Quarter, here you can make a sweet surprise with your own hands! You can observe masters at work, become a master yourself, and learn how to make sweets. An interesting exhibition of old packagings is displayed in the Sweets Mastery; in addition, everyone has an opportunity to participate in a marzipan workshop.To get there you can go by bus or tram, stop is Hobujaama.
  • Kadriorg Park, covering around 70 hectares. Its construction began in 1718 on the orders of Russian tsar Peter I.There are a number of museums in the park, including KUMU (the Estonian Art Museum), Kadriorg Art Museum and the Mikkeli Museum.
  • Bastion passages in the Old Town: The mysterious passages in Tallinn’s earthwork fortifications were built along with the bastions in the 17th and 18th centuries in order to conceal the movement of soldiers, ammunition and other equipment from the enemy. In the bastion's passages, a train to the future takes you to the year 2219, another one takes you back to the 17th century. Passages are only accessible with a guide; the size of the group is a maximum of 20 people.
  • Kumu Art Museum, inside can be found both Estonian art classics as well as the works of artists that cultivate modern trends are on display at Estonia's largest museum.
  • Tallinn Television Tower, at 314 metres, the Tower is a great tourist, culture and leisure centre. You will have a panoramic view from 170 metres, brasserie/restaurant and terrace on the 22nd floor; interactive multimedia solutions that introduce Estonia and Tallinn; view of the ground through the glass floor of the platform and other amusements including the gift shop.
  • Estonian Open Air Museum, just 15 minutes from the city centre, showcasing the country's rural architecture and way of life. The 14 farms in the museum provide an overview of how families from different strata of society lived in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. As you might expect to find in any proper village, here there is a church, a tavern, a schoolhouse, mills, a fire station, a shop and fishing sheds by the sea. You can buy handicrafts, ride horses and try traditional Estonian dishes at the tavern.

In addition there are plenty of other attractions worth visiting in the city like: St Olaf's Church,(the biggest medieval structure in the city), Hellemann Tower and Town Wall, Estonian Health Care Museum, Niguliste Museum (St. Nicholas' Church), Museum of Estonian Architecture, Estonian Museum of Natural History, Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin (Dome Church's) Tower, Epping Tower, St. Bridget's Convent ruins, Estonian History Museum - Great Guild Hall, Tallinn City Museum, Holy Spirit Church, Tallinn Town Hall, Maiden's Tower, Tallinn Town Wall and the Museum of Occupations amongst the best recommended. (All these attractions are included on the Tallinn Card).

🌃 Nightlife

Tallinn's nightlife has a big reputation in contrast with its diminutive size as one of Europe's smallest capital cities. The biggest influx of visitors come from Britain, where cheap flights draw stag parties and people on weekend breaks, and Finland, where booze cruisers dock to take advantage of inexpensive alcohol. Tallinn's nightlife is conveniently clustered around the compact Old Town, and the streets are generally safe to walk around at night.

The city has some world-class nightclubs, long-standing mega-venues that accommodate over 1,000 people and attract top DJs, many centred on the scenic town square. When these get too crowded, travellers can seek out the many chic lounge bars and trendy wine bars that attract more locals than visitors. Tallinn artists and intellectuals tend to gather in these smaller venues, while the stag party visitors can enjoy some of Tallinn's many revue bars, which offer an up-market striptease experience.

For a more cultured experience, there are some excellent classical music concerts at the Estonia Concert Hall.

There are also large cinema venues for movie followers, mostly centrally located, and all showing films in their original language with Estonian subtitles. There are also a few casinos, such as the glitzy Olympic Casino and old-town based Casino Grand Prix.

🛍️  Shopping

The main shopping areas in the Old Town are Viru, Müürivahe, Suur-Karja, Väike-Karja and Kullassepa. For those who prefer a shopping centre, the Viru Centre is the place to find a selection of fashion, homeware and music stores.

Travellers should visit the Old Town for souvenir and antique shopping, while the Katariina Passage is a magical place to observe where medieval-style workshops create glasswork, ceramics, leather goods and quilts. The Central market is worth strolling around, even if only to mingle with the locals.

The most popular souvenirs from Tallinn are amber jewellery and accessories, Vana Tallinn liqueur, handicraft items like carved wooden beer mugs, felt hats, ceramics and glassware. Kalev-brand bittersweet Estonian chocolate and hand-painted marzipan are also popular souvenirs.

🛌 Accommodation

Tallinn is very popular for budget travellers who transit in the capital as they make their way to other Baltic states or Scandinavian  countries. Therefore hotels and hostels are very accessible and very conveniently located within the city centre and close to public transport. It's not hard to find decent hostels in the city centre, close to the old town, which is the ideal place visit and hang out at night in the popular nearby open restaurants and cafes. Prices start from €25 per room.

⏳ How long to stay?

This city is easy to visit within a few days and does not require that much time to even walk around its main old town in even one afternoon. However it's worth to explore every corner of the medieval old town, visit some museums or open buildings and enjoy some down time in nice restaurants with nice setting like if you were in the truly medieval era. The city definitely has a nice appeal and a suggested 2 to 3 nights would be ideal. 

Tallinn Photo Slide 📷