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Estonia is one of the most popular travelling destinations for the many Europeans, especially from neighboring countries, such as Lithuania, Latvia or Russia. Every year it is getting more and more popular to spend New Year’s Eve in Tallinn or to go to Tartu ski resort. This country is comparatively cheap and easy reachable and weather conditions are not so harsh. In this article we have collected all the best places to visit in Estonia, for you, whether you are travelling solo or with a family, looking for extreme activities or just a plate with some local food.
Don’t be afraid of the fact that you will have to spend your vacation inside. There are plenty of places to go here and these are just a few of the best places to visit in Estonia in autumn!
National park Lahemaa, 70 km east from Tallinn, on the territory of which ancient manor houses are preserved. In Estonian they are called mõisa. Now there are hotels and museums in the estates. In one of those hotels – Vihula Manor – you can stay overnight. It is worth spending a few days here, enjoying the peace and beauty of nature, walking in the picturesque park. The morning walk will charge you with energy for the whole day.
Palmse, once owned by the barons of von Palen. This is a real museum with a recreated setting of the last century, its own greenhouse and French park. The house has a dressing room with costumes of the last century. All of them are sewn these days, so guests are not forbidden to try on hats and numerous dresses. It is worth going down to the garage near the manor house, where there is a solid collection of bicycles, motorcycles , and cars.
Viljandi is a charming town, sunlit and dazzling with flowers, seemingly improbable and idyllic place from the canvas of a romantic painter.
Island Saaremaa, or how locals call it “SPAremaa”, due to the huge amount of SPA resorts per 1 sq km is famous because of grey seals which spots surround the island. The seal watching tours are usually organized from Papissaare harbor. Usually “furry fish” come very close to the boat to check out the guests, sometimes you might need binoculars. Don’t forget waterproof clothes and a camera to capture those amazing creatures, because the cuteness level is overloaded. Definitely one of the fun places to go in Estonia.
Here are some good places to visit in Estonia if traveling with children and a family:
Vudila Mängumaa, Kaiavere village, located on the territory of the Vooremaa nature reserve, 1.7 km from the animal park in Elistvere. It includes playgrounds for outdoor games with various attractions – there are swings, slides, obstacle courses, trampolines, electric cars, ATV, water park, rowing boats, catamarans, game rooms, picnic areas, animal families, horseback riding and much more.
Pikajärve Village, Valgjärve Rural Municipality, Põlva County
In the annexes of the fabulous Canterville Castle and on the outside, there is a large theme park-play zone, where you can see where landlords moved in old times, what clothes they wore, what they ate, and what were the customs of table behavior. A water park, various cars, a climbing platform, trampolines, a labyrinth, a wardrobe room and much more, no less exciting, await visitors in the gaming zone.
Uue-Antsla, Urvaste parish, Võru county
Automobile city is a unique town, where streets, crossroads, pedestrian crossings, traffic signs, trees, lawns, flowers, and even traffic lights are real. On-site study and follow the rules of the road, there is a cafe, open-air cinema, disco, gym and much more that should be in a modern city. In the AutoCity, adults can ride in large battery cars and children in small cars. There is a gas station in the Auto City, where you can pretend to refuel, there is a police station and even a punishment cell.
Best places to visit in Tallinn include:
Lennusadam (or the port of sea ships) is a fantastic place where real hydroplanes are stored and reconstructed in huge concrete hangars. Here you can learn all about Estonian shipbuilding, ships and military gadgets that are used in the fleet. There is even a submarine of the 1930s, in which you can enter and study it from the inside. Outside the museum, near the pier – a lot of real ships.
Another place where I would definitely recommend to go to my guests is KUMU (Valge, 1). It is not only the largest art museum in Tallinn but also a cultural center, which hosts music, cinematographic or art events.
If you are wondering which place in Tallinn is the best for meeting sunrise, it is the observation deck Patkuli, located on the top of the hill Toompea in the Old Town. Since Estonia is very close to the North Pole, in the summer the sun rises very early in Tallinn. Therefore, it is logical to go there immediately after a fun night.
If you are a photographer, working for “National Geographic” or you just admire the calm atmosphere of untouched woods, cloudy clay cliffs or dangerously attractive marshlands, here are 10 best places to visit in Estonia if you are a professional or beginner photographerand want to capture the most outstanding views.
And once again, the most amazing island in the world, Saaremaa, is the largest island of Estonia. You can get on it by ferry from the village of Virtsu. The nature of Saaremaa is beautiful and, perhaps, it is its main attraction point. Here you can still find completely untouched corners of the civilization, silence, peace and tranquility. At the same time, the city of Kuressaare (the capital of the island) boasts an excellent tourism infrastructure. You should definitely visit the island of Saaremaa if you really want to learn more about Estonian culture and enjoy the beauty of the untouched nature.
The Falling House is an interesting landmark of Tartu, Estonian personal “Tower of Pisa”, it is definitely one of the most unique places to go to in Estonia. With a slight heel on its side, the building really resembles a famous architectural monument in Italy. The unusual “Falling House” is located on the Tartu Town Hall Square, in the historic center of the city. You can reach it by bus. The nearest stop is “Raeplats”.
The sculptural composition “Kissing Students” has become one of the symbols of the city of Tartu. Bronze-molded figures of young people merged in a passionate kiss are installed in the fountain that is located on the Town Hall Square. The authors of the monument managed to accurately reflect the spirit and youth of the city, which is recognized as the student capital of Estonia. One of the famous places to visit in Estonia.
In the South of Estonia, there are Big and Small Taevaskoda natural trails with Väike-Taevaskoda sandstone, Ahya river, the Emelyate Cave, the Maiden’s Cave and the highest outcrop of the Suur-Taevaskoda sandstone 22.5 meters height .
Island Hiiumaa, located to the north of Saaremaa, the second largest island of Estonia and one of the most picturesque places.
Emumägi Hill, the highest point of Northern Estonia. There you will find an observation tower, Emumemm treehouse, the House of the Sunrise, an old cemetery, a campsite and picnic areas.
Blue Springs of Saula, one of the most amazing places. There are three large springs, with crystal clear water, where even sandy bottom is visible to the detail. It is believed that the Siniallikad water cures diseases if you throw there a silver coin, jewelry or beads.
The Männikjärve hiking trail offers beautiful views of Männikjärve and the surrounding marshlands.
The Ontika limestone cliff, the highest cliff in Estonia, with the height of 55 m above the sea level, is located in Kohtla in north-east of Estonia. It looks like a book of stone, which reveallayers of different eras. Also there is the Valaste waterfall and a unique glint forest, which are worth visiting.
In the Saaremaa island there is Panga village and an amazing place to visit – the Panga cliff, with an ancient altar which remained from old pagan times here.
Northern Estonia is a crossroad, full of beauty and contrasts, where different cultures meet: seas and forests, industrial and rural, Lutheranism and Orthodoxy. Here you can see near the domes of the Orthodox Church and the stormy Lutheran spire, wander along the rocky shore and get acquainted with the life of the fishing village of Altja, stroll in the park in the Palmse Manor. An Orthodox monastery, operating in a quiet place Kuremäe for over a hundred years, is a place of pilgrimage for believers from many countries and delights tourists with the measured calmness of their lives.
The most important sights of Estonia are ancient castles. At the moment, every Estonian castle is an architectural value, and many of them have museums and expositions with historical values. Here are 10 places to visit in Estonia if you like castles, dungeons and old abandoned cemeteries.
Maasilinna Castle of Saaremaa is located in the village of Maasi, on the coast.
The Varbola – an old fortress in Raplamaa, located in just 54 kilometers from Tallinn, is a kind of open-air museum, for the entrance to which, and it should be noted separately, no money is taken.
Haapsalu Castle was built in the XIII century and preserved to this day in a good condition. The history of the castle brought to us the legend of the White Lady, whose ghost appears only at nighttime in August, looking out of a single window.
Paide is another ruined medieval castle, which, however, was restored to the dungeon. Now inside the castle there is a cafe and also you can find some sculptures around the castle.
This castle was previously called Tolsburg, which in Estonia is recognized as the youngest castle located on the north coast of the country. The fortress was located near the town of Kunda. Judging by the historical data, it was originally established by the Minister of the Livonian Order Johan Waldhoun von Gers in the XIV century and was the basis for the protection of the city and nearby roads. Now on its ruins there are guided tours for guests of the country and local residents, so that everyone can get acquainted with the history of this place. You can also find an adventure trail and a pirate ship there.Narva Castle miraculously survived many invasions and conflicts. It was reconstructed many times. But it still remained in an excellent form to this day.
This castle is located on the eastern border of the country. Guests of Estonia, who have visited this wonderful place, will be able to get acquainted with the life of the family of landlords, as well as to listen to their story about what servants did in this fortress in the last century. Anyone who expresses a desire to go on a tour of the castle will be able to learn many fascinating stories.
This fortress was built in 1533, when the Gothic style began to leave, giving way to the Renaissance, so the castle retained both styles. In Estonia there are no such castles that would not have suffered destruction. So Purtse castle was no exception – it was ruined and rebuilt again. The most dangerous times for this castle were the Livonian and the Northern War.
The first mention of the castle in history dates back to the XVI century. It combines elegance and a rural atmosphere, as well as history and the modern world. Only at the end of the last millennium the castle was recognized as a landmark in Estonia.
Despite the fact that it is now in a ruined state, it still makes an impression due to its good location on the hill. Inside there is a museum with entertainment, which especially welcomes kids of all ages.
Restaurant Farm on Müürivahe, 27b street in Tallinn, where you can try traditional Estonian dishes, made of local ingredients. Rost bakery on Rottermani street in Tallinn offers traditional Estonian pastries. F-hoone restaurant in the creative town Telliskivi is an extremely convenient place with friendly prices. JUUR-restaurant in Tallinn where organic Estonian ingredients, northern bracing flavors and the culinary brilliance get together. The Rannahotell´s restaurant and summer terrace of the hotel have always been the favorites of Pärnu. The restaurant offers classic favourites from the time it first opened in 1937. Põhjaka is a cozy restaurant in the countryside serving comfort food made from the best Estonian ingredients. Hõlm is a restaurant that belongs to the best restaurants in the Baltic and Nordic region according to the gastronomical guide. If you come to Tartu by chance, don’t forget to visit Vilde Health Cafe (Vallikraavi 4). This cafe is well-known among the locals, who call this place “an island of calm”. Edelweiss is a warm and cosy restaurant in the center of Pärnu.
Despite its size, Estonia always surprises with an abundance of sights and natural objects. If you are tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, you can go to the contemplation of local beauties.
Toomemägi Hill in Tartu
During the summer months, it is good to walk through the city parks or visit, for example, the observatory. And you can climb the central city hill of Toomemägi – the heart of Old Tartu and the place of the oldest settlement where the Estonians settled more than 4,000 years ago.
Captains Village in Käsmu
In Käsmu there was a school of seamen, and in almost every family there was a captain or navigator, therefore they called Käsmu the “Village of Captains”. Today Käsmu is a popular summer holiday destination, where various events are constantly held.
Kakerdaya Marsh Trail
Kakerdaерa bog is one of the largest bogs in Kõrvemaa. The size of the swamp massif is about a thousand hectares. A feature of the picturesque bog with many lakes is the fact that here at two different levels the chains of bog are located. In spring and autumn, thousands of waterfowl stop at the marsh lakes, and in the middle of the swamp lies Lake Kakerdaja.
The Onion Path unites three cultures and the history of different people. The cultures of the Estonian peasant, the German landowner and the Russian Old Believers intertwined here, forming the unique culture of Fad. The Alatskivi Castle, one of the architectural pearls of the Baltic Germans, the museum of the writer Juhan Liiva, the village Nina and the sandstone outcrop in Kallaste are also an interesting attraction.
The Haanja Nature Park is located in the center of Võrumaa on the Haanja Upland, in the highest region of Estonia, where about 18% of the park’s territory is at an altitude of more than 250 meters above sea level. In the nature park there is the highest point of the entire Baltic (318 m) Suur Munamyagi and the deepest lake in Estonia – Rõuge Suurjärv (38 m).
The episcopal fortress in Kuressaare, which is also popularly called the Kuressaare castle, was built in the 14th century. Currently the castle houses the Saaremaa Museum with a permanent exhibition and various temporary exhibitions.
Ristna Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Estonia, located on the island of Hiiumaa on the top of the Kõpu Peninsula. Due to the peculiarities of the sea relief, with the westerly wind, waves are formed here that are ideal for surfing.
Haapsalu – the main resort of the country, surrounded on three sides by the sea, thanks to which it was named the “Venice of the North”. He is loved for a cozy atmosphere, warm water, curative mud baths and friendly inhabitants. On the seashore here stands Kurzal – one of the most beautiful wooden buildings in all of Estonia.
Matsalu, which includes the bay of the same name and the area around the Kasari river delta, along with its surrounding floodplains, coastal meadows, reed beds and forests. Thousands of geese and ducks can be seen on the floodplain, and the waters of the bay are replete with swans, coots and ducks. The national park is recognized as a nature reserve and covers more than 450 km² of land and sea. In addition, the park is inhabited by 49 species of fish and 47 species of mammals, as well as 772 species of vascular plants. You can explore the unique landscape of the national park on foot, by bicycle or by boat. For bird watching, there are seven observation towers, the most popular of which are located in Haesk, Keemu and Kloostri.
The Transition of St. Katharina is one of the most beautiful and most attractive places in the Old Town. Here ancient slabs hang on the walls of the alley, and the pavement has remained untouched since the Middle Ages. At the end of the street from the middle of the 17th century there is the Masters’ Yard – a nice place with a bunch of shops and workshops where artisans work: glassmakers, mosaic houses, carpenters, sculptors, potters, furriers.
The Dome Cathedral is one of the oldest Lutheran churches in Europe: construction began in the 13th century. The white-stone cathedral is located in Vyshgorod (part of the Old Town), the entrance to the temple is free of charge. In addition to ancient frescoes and tombstones, there you can see the grave of Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern. On Saturdays free concerts of organ music are held in the Dome Cathedral.
Anyone can enter the Town Hall pharmacy on the main square for free and look at the ancient methods of treatment: dried frogs, embalmed hedgehogs and worms, potions in dusty flasks, nests of swallows, powder from bats.
A visit to the Marzipan Museum Room on Pikk Street, 16 is also free of charge. Here you can watch the process of making marzipan figures and taste some sweets for free.
Tartu – the fifth of the total population here are students. And therefore a small town lives a turbulent life, and it is impossible to call it sleepy even at night, as I became convinced of having made an informative night walk in the surroundings of this town. Once a year, on the eve of May 1, the mayor of the city gives up his authority to students for 1 night. Many traditions and customs are connected with this night. For example, a real champagne wash with a statue of Baron von Baer is arranged, after which a tie bought in advance is put on him.
Lake Peipsi is Europe’s fifth largest lake and it has its own unique water and ice conditions, its own currents and storms. In 1242 the Russians under Alexander Nevsky defeated the Teutonic Knights on frozen Lake Peipus.
The most often sight in South Estonia is onion fields. You will notice a lot of onions which are grown, gathered and sold in local villages. Kolkja Kala is an interesting place to get acquainted with the culture and the cuisine of the Old Believers, which is based on fish from the local lake and onions grown on local beds. Simple and tasty. Recommended.
Tartu food and wine festival, which takes its place in the main town hall every year. Here you can try different edible souvenirs, such as goat cheese with raisins, canape with famous Estonian sprat, carrot cake and carpaccio with onion jam.
Tallinn, which looks like a fairy-tale illustration at any time of the year, in winter becomes completely magical. The streets lit by lights converge to the large Christmas market on the Town Hall Square. Here in the pavilion houses you can buy very cute little things and traditional products, eat sweets, admire ice sculptures and children can go to the real Santa Claus and tell him about their dreams.
The small town of Otepää is a great place for sports recreation. Located on the hills of Southern Estonia, Otepää has become the most famous winter sports center in the Baltics.
For this palace, which is one of the Estonian symbols, the locals need to thank Peter I and his romantic mood. A year after Peter occupied Tallinn during the Northern War, he travelled here with Catherine. The Russian emperor himself called the complex in German “Yekaterinental”, that is, “Catherine Valley”. But the locals began to call it in their own way – Kadriorg.
Despite the fact that Pärnu is considered to be the summer capital of Estonia, you can have a good time at this largest resort in winter. Especially those who want to enjoy the peace and quietness among the romantic wooden architecture without tourist crowds or those who do not mind wandering along the deserted beach of the Baltic Sea.
So as you see, there are a lot of great places to visit in Estonia!