It may be less well known as a travel destination, but Estonia has plenty to offer – picturesque towns, countless islands and vast amounts of glorious countryside. Amongst the medieval buildings of Estonia’s capital Tallinn you’ll see modern restaurants amongst carved stone walls, colourful boutiques and innovative galleries. Take a wander in Tallinn’s green parks, or work off some steam in the thriving spa culture.
In the south, the university city of Tartu has an intellectual atmosphere and boasts good cafes, fascinating museums and an observatory, while at the eastern town of Narva you can explore a castle dating from the 13th century.
Away from the cities, go for a hike through the country’s vast forests – almost 50% of Estonia is woodland – and discover intriguing swamps or visit the beaches by the Baltic Sea. Take a trip round Estonia’s islands – they number over 1500, some populated such as Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, and countless tiny and uninhabited islands used only by migrating birds.
The warmest weather and longest daylight hours are in the summer months, although the tourism trade can be very busy in July with visiting holidaymakers from Scandinavia.
June and August are perfect months to visit. The winter months see only six hours of daylight and harsh temperatures.
In the spring and autumn months the weather is still pleasant and hotel prices tend to be lower.
Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport (TLL) is 4km from the centre of Tallinn.
Estonia is a flat country and ideal terrain for biking. Major roads are of good quality, and hire cars are readily available.
If you’re taking public transport, buses are a far better option than trains as they’re cheaper and generally faster. They run throughout the day from Tallinn to larger destinations.
Domestic flights are few, although planes fly daily to the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa.
Ferries also run frequently from the mainland to larger islands, and between.
In Tallinn, taxis are notoriously dishonest; ones booked by phone however are generally fair. The majority of attractions in the capital should be easily reachable on foot.
Tallinn, Pärnu and Kuressaare have a good number of mid-range hotels.
Hotel accommodation is available in other towns and national parks to a lesser extent.
Hostel availability is mainly limited to Tallinn, and B&Bs and camping facilities are rare.
Some apartments are also available for rent in urban areas and on the coast.
Food in Estonia has a tendency towards the savoury, with meat playing a major role in most meals.
Black pudding is considered an Estonian national dish, and vegetarianism is almost unheard of. Desserts tend to be pastry based.
Estonians are big drinkers of black coffee, but serve it white for foreigners. The national alcoholic beverage is Vana Tallinn, a spiced liquour, and beer is also popular throughout the country.
No vaccinations are needed for travel to Estonia other than standard vaccinations, but do always check with a GP or travel health clinic.
If visiting rural areas, take plenty of insect repellent and cover skin to protect against ticks.
In Tallinn, watch out for petty thieves and keep cars in a guarded parking lot. Outside the capital, crime is scarce.
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