Estonia Travel Guide: What to See, What to Do and What to Eat
Estonia Travel Guide Introduction
One of the several Baltic countries in Northern Europe, Estonia share its borders with Latvia (south) and Russia (east) and despite being small, this beautiful country is considered highly developed.
With only a little over one million population, it ranks as one of the world’s largest countries by population list and although it is part of the Baltic state, its culture and language are completely different from Lithuania and Latvia.
That said, Estonia is a unique country to visit with untouched beauty and other interesting things to see. This Estonia travel guide is meant to introduce you to its little hidden gems and give you informational tips on how to experience the best things and what to do in Estonia – the beautiful Baltic country.
- Capital: Tallinn
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Official language: Estonian
- Religion: Lutheran
What is Estonia well-known for?
Estonia is well known for its natural beauty, peaceful countryside and small but fascinating medieval Tallinn old town.
Apart from this, Estonia is also well-known in the technology department as the country breeds tons of talented IT, Design, and Computer Engineers who are currently contributing massively in the constantly growing digital world. Fun fact: the backend developer of Skype are Estonians!
Also, not to mention, they welcome online entrepreneurs to their new digital nation where they offer what they call the “e-Residency”. Estonia is the first country in the world to offer an EU government-issued digital ID that enables digital nomads and online businesses to start and run a global business in a trusted European environment. Cool, huh?
When is the best time to visit? the weather in Estonia by season
Weather in Estonia has four seasons: autumn, summer, spring, and winter and similar weather and temperature repeat almost every year. However, if you really want to see the best of the country without bothering yourself with too much clothing, summer is indeed the best time to visit Estonia but it is the peak season, therefore, expect a lot of crowds if you’re visiting the capital city of Tallinn! Fear not, Estonian countrysides are an excellent alternative if you want to relax and see something different than the capital city. Here is your guide where to go in Estonia during various seasons.
Estonian winter is quite cold and snowy, the temperature is always below zero, and light blizzards happen almost all the time. The best time to go during winter is from December when ski resorts start to operate in full power and Tallinn is already opened its Christmas market where you can buy traditional Estonian handmade things.
Summer weather in Estonia can get as hot as 30°C degrees. It is also the best time to spend time outside the buzzing city of Tallinn and visit the countryside such as Pärnu, the summer city of the country. You can enjoy a relaxing spa retreat or just simply chill out by the beach enjoying the warm weather of the Baltis.
Not to mention, Estonians love festivals in summer, especially midsummer festival with the shortest night of the year thus coming at this time of the year would be favorable as you can witness the country come to life as they enjoy music.
Early spring to mid-spring is quite chilly with light showers and coastal wind. If you are traveling during spring, you will need proper clothing that will keep you dry and warm especially if you plan to wander outside for long. Estonia is famous for spring wildlife tours that go around the country’s forests. Also, Estonia’s countryside is amazingly beautiful in spring, so you might visit it and take a good and long walk through the meadows with blossoming flowers.
Autumn’s weather is similar to spring’s weather so that you will need a waterproof jacket, warm clothes, good shoes, and an umbrella. It is also a sunny season with cold mornings and evenings. It won’t be bad if you choose sightseeing with small tea or coffee breaks instead of doing lots of outdoor activities.
BEST WAYS TO TRAVEL TO Estonia
If you are planning a trip to Estonia, it is vital to know all possible ways to get to the country. Luckily, Estonia has excellent connections with lots of countries from Europe and even from Asia.
Traveling by plane
There are lots of direct flights to Estonia from almost any European country. The majority of direct flights are operated by Estonia’s budget airlines like Ryanair or Wizzair, so you won’t need to spend tons of money just to get to Estonia. Flights prices start from $20 one way. You can check flights to Estonia using Skyscanner to get the best deal!
Traveling by boat or ferries
Tallinn port connects ferries between Helsinki, Stockholm and St. Petersburg. Tallinn to Helsinki ferry is very cheap and goes every hour from early morning till midnight. Ferry prices start from $11.50 and you can check prices and time schedules online through different cruise lines:
- Viking Line
- Eckerö Line
- Linda Line
- Silja Line
Traveling by rail
Estonia is well connected to its neighboring countries by train and you can reach Tallinn from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Belarus, Latvia, and Lithuania and vice versa.
You can catch a train ride from Estonia’s capital city’s Baltic Station (Balti jaam train station). You can book your train ticket from the counter or online through GoRail.
Traveling by road
There are plenty of international bus services like Ecolines and Lux Express that operate bus routes from almost every country in Europe to Estonia. If tickets are booked in advance, you can buy them as cheap as $5. You can also choose to travel by car because international roads are good, just take in mind that you will probably have to drive through Lithuania and Latvia first to reach Estonia.
HOW TO TRAVEL AROUND ESTONIA
There are country coaches that link different Estonian cities, towns or villages. You can buy tickets online, and prices start from $4.50 depending on your selected route.
There are quite a few cross-country trains that can take you around Estonia to see smaller villages from Tallinn. You can also travel around the country using the railway system and you can find timetables and book your tickets online.
Domestic ferries operate between Mainland and nearby Estonian islands. Ferries are quite frequent and relatively cheap. Most of the single tickets cost from $3.50, and $5.50 return and you can buy them from the port itself or online.
Trams, trolleys, and buses are the transportation of cities that make easier for you to get around town. If you are traveling in Tallinn, check how you are going to get around old town since public transportation is limited in old town.
Travel cost breakdown: How expensive is Estonia?
Hotels are usual in the major cities like Tallinn, Tartu or Parnu. These cities have similar hotel price per person and for the double room. The average price is $51 per person per night for a single room while double room price starts from $70 per night. These prices are valid only if you book in advance, stay not during peak time and not during a weekend.
Food cost in Estonia
Restaurants in Estonia offer traditional food that is served in a medieval setting. Despite the wonderful experience dining in candlelight and served by waiters dressed from the dawn of times, you won’t break the bank to say you traveled back in time. Usual meal price is $6 – $11.50. If you are looking for something more expensive and more exotic, you should try Estonian traditional three meal course for $28.50 – $57. If you’re looking for a place to experience just this, make sure to visit Olde Hansa – one of the most popular medieval restaurant in Tallinn.
Hostels are relatively cheap everywhere around the country. You can easily get a dorm bed in a Tallinn old town for a $13.50 per night. These cheap hostels are bag packers’ hostels, so expect it to be quite noisy and cramped. However, hostels are always in better locations (most of them are in old town) than massive hotels, so it’s worth staying.
Public transport in Estonia is cheap but if you’re traveling in Tallinn, it is actually more convenient to walk your way around. However, if you’re staying for long and would like to use the public transport in the capital then a single ticket for buses/trams/trolleys costs about $2.30. You can purchase these tickets in kiosks and convenient stores.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to visit other cities in Estonia from Tallinn then you can either take a bus, train or ferries and the prices can vary depending on the season but you can expect it to start around $12 for a one-way ticket.
THINGS TO DO IN ESTONIA: TOP ATTRACTIONS & LANDMARKS
Lahemaa National Park
Lahemaa National Park is a perfect get away for people who enjoy nature and like long meadow walks. Lahemaa is famous for its small waterfalls, river, meadows, and forests. It is the biggest national park in Estonia.
Kadriorg Palace is known for its gardens and architecture. It was built during the 18th century, and it resembles Italian palaces, today this Kadriorg Palace has turned into an Estonian art museum.
Sangaste castle is located in Southern Estonia. It is famous for its neo-gothic architecture and bright red colored bricks. You can visit castle’s inside and walk around the stunning garden. It’s not much to do, but worth seeing this architectural miracle.
It is a rising, spring of Tuhala river. Its depth is 2.4 meters and has brown water that overflows at a speed of 100 liters per second. It’s a unique natural phenomenon that occurs only when the river’s water is high.
It’s a fifth largest lake in Europe. Lake Peipus is famous for its sandy beaches, sand dunes, and beautiful pine forests. It’s a perfect place to relax and camping because the lake is ideal for swimming. There are lots of accommodations including hotels, campsites, and lodges.
where to go: TOP DESTINATIONS IN ESTONIA
Even though Estonia is a tiny country it has lots of interesting places to see. If you ever wondered what to do in Estonia, this list will help you to decide what to see and do during your visit.
Tallinn’s Old Town
Tallinn old town is included in UNESCO world’s heritage list and is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe. Tallinn is famous for its narrow stoned streets, architecture, panoramic view and tons of cafes. The old town is filled with merchants’ houses, medieval churches, and barns that are well preserved medieval buildings. It’s recommended to visit Toompea castle, walls of Tallinn, town hall square and St. Katherine’s passage.
Parnu is the most popular Estonia’s resort city that has a medieval architecture. It’s famous for sandy beaches, spas, large water parks and historical bathhouses. During summer is a perfect destination to enjoy festivals and have fun.
Saaremaa is the largest island in Estonia. This island is highly recommended for nature lovers because it has beautiful beaches with amazing cliffs, big forests with clear springs and peaceful countryside. Saaremaa is well known for leaning lighthouse of Kiipsaare. Saaremaa is the perfect place if you want to enjoy stunning sceneries.
Kihnu is a little fishermen’s island and is included in UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Kihnu is ruled by women because men spend almost all their time in the sea. Kihnu women always wear traditional clothes and strictly follow traditions. The best time to visit is during Christmas and Christmas, and also summer (if you are lucky you will see a traditional three days wedding ceremony).
FOODS YOU MUST TRY WHEN YOU VISIT Estonia
The most famous elk soup medieval style restaurant is in Tallinn town hall square. Elk soup is basically made of elk meat, onions, carrots, and potatoes. It costs $2.30 and is served in traditional stone bowls. It is highly recommended food to try in Estonia.
The Kama is a traditional Estonian dessert that is made from a mix of flours. It is served with a variety of berries especially with blueberries. You can try it everywhere in Estonia.
Sült or Brawn
You better be brave to try this one! Sült is a cold cut usually made from pig and it is similar to a terrine whereas the pieces of meat (and other ingredients) are set with aspic (bone stock with gelatin). It is typically eaten cold or at room temperature as an appetizer.
It is called verivorst and is mostly winter food because it’s served during Christmas. It is made from lamb, pork, elk, cow blood that is inserted in the intestine and cooked in the oven. Estonians usually enjoy it as a street snack with hot beer or wine.
Elk Meat Pie
Elk meat pie is very popular during winter and could be bought at Christmas’ market or in a bakery. For this exotic meat pie, you will pay only $3.
Ask an Estonian kid what they want from the shop they’ll likely say kohuke! It is basically a fresh sweet curd and covered in milk chocolate and it comes with different flavors. You’ll probably think it is an odd combination but wait till you try before you judge! It is hard to resist it once you taste one.
BASIC ESTONIAN PHRASES THAT COULD HELP YOU GET AROUND
Hello – Tere, Tervist
Goodbye – Head aega!
Thank you – Aitäh
Have a good day! – Ilusat päeva
How are you? – Kuidas läheb?
I’m doing fine, thanks. – Mul läheb hästi, aitäh.
Do you speak English? – Kas te räägite Inglise keelt?
Where is the restroom? – Kus on wc?
I do not understand – Ma ei saa aru
Help! – Aidake!
Emergency! – Hädaabi!
Please call the doctor! – Palun helistage arstile!
Please call the police! – Palun helistage politseisse!
I’m in… (insert destination) – Mina olen…. helsingis (Helsinki).
Can you tell me where is the train station/bus station/airport? – Kas te juhataksite mind rongijaama/bussipeatusesse/lennujaama?
Where is? – Kus asub?
Where can I get water? – Kust ma vett saaksin?
How much is this? – Kui palju see maksab?
One cup of coffee, please. – Üks tass kohvi, palun.
I’ll have a pint of beer, please. – Ma vōtaks ühe pindi ōlut, palun.
Can I get the check, please? – Kas ma saaksin arve, palun.
Numbers 1-10 in Estonian:
1 – üks
2 – kaks
3 – kolm
4 – neli
5 – viis
6 – kuus
7 – seitse
8 – kaheksa
9 – üheksa
10 – kümme
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