Estonia Travel Guide Overview
Estonia is a land that combines the old and the new; uncharted paths and modernized landscapes. With its charming locations like the capital city of Tallinn and other such treasures, it offers a lot to do for travelers of all kinds. It also promises an adventurous vacation filled with medieval castles, exotic wilderness, and rich history.
This Estonia travel guide will give you the tips and tricks you need for visiting Estonia.
Top Destinations in Estonia
Tallinn: Estonia’s historic capital city radiates ancient charm with its UNESCO World Heritage-listed old city centers, beautiful palaces, museums, and other historical buildings. Make sure to visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Toompea Castle, and the Kadriorg Art Museum.
Tartu: Known as Estonia’s scholarly capital, Tartu is home to the country’s largest university and a flourishing cultural center, showcasing its heritage values, 18th-century architectural buildings, and lively modern lifestyle all in one place. Make sure to visit St John’s Church, the University of Tartu Botanical Garden, and the KGB Cells Museum.
Parnu: The summer capital of Estonia is this beautiful beach city where the Parnu River meets the sea. Its highlights include its white sands, pristine blue waters, bustling promenade, and breathtaking sunsets.
Saaremaa: As Estonia’s largest island, Saaremaa is a true paradise within itself, with beautiful green meadows, medieval castles, dense forests, and a lively capital town named Kuressaare. There are numerous activities available here, including birdwatching, hiking, and rock climbing.
When to Visit Estonia
The best time to visit Estonia is between April and May when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities and it is less crowded. Even accommodation prices in Estonia will drop during this period. The peak season, however, is from June to August, during the summer when the weather is bright and sunny.
How to Reach The Estonia
By plane: Most international flights operate from cities such as London, Paris, and Amsterdam to Tallinn International Airport in Estonia. Flights are also available from all major Baltic and Scandinavian cities, including Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen. Tallinn’s city center is only a 20-minute bus/train ride away from the airport.
By train: From either Russia or Latvia, you can easily reach Estonia’s Baltic Station. The trains are spacious, clean, and well-equipped, so even long journeys will be comfortable.
By bus: International coaches from Poland, Germany, Russia, and other Baltic states travel through Estonia. LuxExpress, Ecolines, and Eurolines all offer free Wi-Fi to make your trip more enjoyable.
By ferry: You can reach the ferry from either Finland or Sweden. The most popular route is via Helsinki, which involves a 2.5-hour ferry ride to Tallinn. However, if you are traveling from Stockholm, the ferry ride to Tallinn will take 12+ hours. Make your reservations with Viking Line, Eckero Line, or Tallink.
Getting around the Estonia: Transportation Tips
Travel by train in the Estonia
Trains are the fastest and most affordable means of transportation in Estonia. For instance, a one-way trip from Tallinn to Tartu will cost you about $10 and take about 2 hours.
Renting a car in the Estonia
You can also rent a car in Estonia, though it is expensive and requires an International Driving License.
Getting around by bus in the Estonia
Buses are another option; they are also inexpensive, with nearly identical prices to trains. However, buses are typically 30-40 minutes later than trains.
Top Estonia Travel tips
1. Sign up for free walking tours available in Estonia. This allows you to immerse yourself in the local way of life while also learning about the cultural heritage of Estonian destinations.
2. If you’re on a budget, check out the free attractions in Estonia, such as the Kadriorg Palace, Kadriorg Art Museum, Estonian History Museum, and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
3. Get the Tallinn Card if you’re staying for more than a week. It provides unlimited public transportation access as well as free entry to almost all attractions in Estonia.
4. Keep an eye on your possessions (wallets, cash, jewelry) if you’re in Tallinn because pickpocketing has become more common.
5. If you are intoxicated, avoid walking alone at night, especially if you are a solo female traveler.
Estonia Typical Costs
Price Range for Hotels
Hotel prices can vary depending on where you plan to stay. Budget hotels, for example, start around $40 per night for a double room with free Wi-Fi. Hostels are a little less expensive. Budget hotels start around $60-$80. Luxury hotels range from $150 to $200 per night, but this can increase during Estonia’s peak season. The majority of this accommodation includes free breakfast and flexible cancellation policies.
Cost of Meals
Many countries, including Russia and Germany, have influenced Estonian cuisine. If you’re on a tight budget, a good meal should cost between $6-$12. Pancakes, for example, typically start at $3. Lunch prices range from $20-$30, depending on whether you order Western, Indian, or Thai cuisine. Expect to pay $60-$80 per person for fine dining, including drinks.
Top Places to Visit in The Estonia
Tour Tallinn’s Old Town
Tallinn’s Old Town is a great place to start exploring Estonia. With its cobbled streets, old town squares, and gothic churches, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The experience of sightseeing here will therefore transport you to the 18th century.
Kuressaare Episcopal Castle
With its impressive Gothic and Baroque architectural styles, this is one of Estonia’s best-preserved castles, dating back to the 14th century. Along with participating in activities like pottery making and archery, you can also visit the museum inside the castle.
Lahemaa National Park
The Lahemaa National Park, which is only 60 minutes from Estonia’s capital, makes for an excellent day trip for nature lovers. Check out Viru Bog, a 5-kilometer breathtaking hike.
The Danes built the Narva castle in the 13th century as Estonia’s first stone castle. The Narva Museum is located inside the castle, along with some handicraft workshops where you can observe and even learn medieval skills.
Rakvere Castle was built in the 16th century, and it now serves as a theme park featuring scenes from the medieval era. Classic medieval dishes are even available in the castle’s Shenkenberg Tavern.
KGB Museum Tallin
The 23rd floor of the Viru hotel was home to a KGB radio center during the Soviet era, which was used to listen in on and spy on the hotel’s visitors. 60 of the hotel rooms had hidden spying devices, and some of the dining tables even had microphones. The tours last one hour and cost around $12 per person.