Estonia is a country in Eastern Europe that incorporates bays, straits, inlets, with about 1,500 islands. It is the smallest of the Baltic nations surrounded by Russia, the Gulf of Finland, Latvia, and the Baltic Sea. Estonia somehow carved its own unique identity, full of amazing coastal towns, charming villages, abundant forests, and marshlands. It also has its fair share of pristine beaches and medieval castles with Tallinn serving as its crown jewel.
Estonia has a history drawing various influences from Danes, Swedes, and Germans as these cultures were once conquerors of Estonia. Because of this, Estonian architecture screams of Old Danish or German town, and yet the independent, realistic, and the reserved nature of Estonians are much more reminiscent of the qualities of their northern and not eastern neighbors.
Even though Estonia is within near Lithuania and Latvia, it is culturally different from both. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Estonia has crawled from under the Soviet blanket and jumped right into the arms of Europe. Tallinn is one of the continent’s most charming cities. And in overcrowded Europe, Estonia’s sparsely populated countryside and broad swathes of the forest give spiritual sustenance for nature-lovers.
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Must See Destinations in Estonia
I’ve got most of my ideas for places to see in Estonia from my friends over at the Crazy Tourist from the article: “15 Best Places to Visit in Estonia.” I recommend you hop on over there and check out their recommendations as well.
Estonia is best known for its capital, Tallinn. Tallinn is one of the top eastern European cities to visit because of the exquisite old town. Amazing architecture isn’t the only thing that Estonia offers tourists, you’ll also discover stunning landscapes and beautiful shorelines; take the scenery in the beach town of Parnu. Parnu is one of the top 10 eastern European destinations to visit in the late spring and an incredible destination if you’re searching for cheap summer destinations in Europe.
Tallinn is a remarkable visiting point for a first-time vacation in the country. There are various things to do, and a standout among the fascinating places to visit is the stunning Old Town from the fifteenth century. Tallinn Old Town has captivating, beautiful cobblestone avenues, gabled houses with charismatic architecture. Landmarks, such as the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Hellman Tower, the Dominican Monastery, and Toompea Castle are all found in Old Town Tallinn. Another must-see is the Estonian Maritime Museum where you can learn about maritime navigation aids and shipbuilding techniques.
If the crowd in Tallinn becomes unbearable with tourists, you can check out the town of Tartu which attracts fewer tourists than Tallinn. It is the second largest city in Estonia and is the intellectual center of the country. Tartu has a lot of natural attractions where you can explore a different side of Estonia.
Haapsalu is a famous coastline resort during the late summer months and is another cool day trip from Tallinn. Visit the charming medieval town square with impressive architecture like the Haapsalu Castle and check out a few galleries such as the Laanemaa Museum and the Estonian Swedes Museum right after.
Hiiumaa Island is another remarkable place to check out. If you are planning to visit Haapsalu, you can add a side trip to this island and explore its incredible beauty. You will discover attractions like Kopu Lighthouse, Soru Museum, and Kassari Church.
Saaremaa Island is Estonia’s biggest island and home of Kuressaare Castle, which is the best medieval fortress in the Baltic region and known for its huge ceiling paintings. Kuressaare Castle is in the picturesque town of Kuressaare where you will also discover the Town Hall.
Check out some of Europe’s gorgeous countryside in Estonia’s three national parks. In Vilsandi, Soomaa, and Lahemaa parks you’ll discover endless forests, lakes, deserted shorelines, fishing villages and lots of wildlife.
Things to do in Estonia
Being one of the smallest countries in Europe, Estonia is full of things to do.
Admire the beauty of Alatskivi Castle
Dating to the sixteenth century, Alatskivi Castle was reconstructed somewhere around 1876 and 1885 by Baron von Nolcken contracted by the imperial home of Balmoral in Scotland. With its prominent towers with cone-shaped rooftops, the building is a standout among the most stunning neo-gothic villas in the Baltics.
Meet Old Believers at Lake Peipsi
Members of the Old Believers, a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, fled Russian domination in the seventeenth century; they settled on the edges of the Russian kingdom along the shorelines of Lake Peipsi. The lake is Europe’s 5th largest and is on the border between of Estonia and Russia.
Get cultured in Viljandi
The little town of Viljandi in southern Estonia overlooks a pristine lake and is home to the noteworthy hilltop ruins of the castle of the Teutonic Order. Viljandi’s enticing boulevards are decorated with eight large concrete strawberries that point to the gallery of painter Paul Kondas, where the artist’s brilliant works are in plain view.
Take a lesson at the History Museum, Tallinn
History Museum is in a magnificent fifteenth-century building. With its advanced woodwork and large cellars, it’s worth the visit for the architecture. The basement exhibitions shed light on the building’s former days dating to the mid-eighteenth century.
Reminisce at the Toy Museum, Tartu
The magnificent Toy Museum is in one of the most established surviving wooden structures of the city of Tartu. On display is an abundance of objects including Estonian farm kids’ toys, handcrafted wooden pastoral animals, and Soviet toys that were instructive.
Explore the Seaplane Harbour Museum, Tallinn
Tallinn’s award-winning Seaplane Harbor Museum is one of Europe’s most attractive museums. Bridges link the museum’s displays, which combine icebreakers and seaplanes. One of the museum’s top attractions is the only surviving warship of pre-war Estonia, the British-built submarine Lembit.
See artists at work on Estonia’s many handmade crafts
Handicrafts and folk arts have key influence in the country’s cultural legacy, and Estonia has a few, including icon painting, the art of stained glass, wooden toy production.
Ski, sled or snowboard in Otepää
Otepää is a beautiful spot to relax in the summer and spring months. Home to the stunning Lake Pühajärv it offers the ideal setting for walks in the area’s low hills. While the area may not have soaring mountaintops, it does get a lot of snow, and the surrounding landscape turns into a winter wonderland attracting skiers and snowboarders alike.
Ride a Stagecoach at the Estonian Road Museum
This Museum follows the history and developments of the world’s most seasoned form of communication, roads. The outer section of the museum allows visitors to walk through time and planned construction of the streets throughout history.
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