Estonia is a Baltic country bordering Latvia and Russia by land and other two countries by water. It is separated from Finland by the Gulf of Finland and from Sweden by the Baltic Sea. Due to its Soviet past, the country has a large Russian-speaking minority. Its population is about 1.3 million and the official language is Estonian.
While not a mainstream tourist destination, Estonia is one of the Baltic hidden gems that has a lot to offer to people who look for beauty and authentic experiences. Here are some places we recommend you to see while visiting Estonia.
Tallinn is a boisterous and compact city where different cultures, architectures and lifestyles clash. The Old Town is lined by medieval walls and is an open-air museum of Estonian history. You can take a walk down the cobbled streets, absorbing the beauty of the medieval architecture and savoring the food in the traditional taverns and gastropubs. The century-old architecture creates a perfect contrast with the contemporary buildings.
The heart of Tallinn is dominated by the historical marketplace, Raekoja Plats. The Toompea castle is perched on a hilltop above the marketplace and was used by Danish knights to control the city during the Middle Ages.
Two kilometers east of Old Town is Kadriorg Park, a vast territory with diverse flora and idyllic walking trails.
One of the park’s attractions is Kadriorg Palace, a baroque residence built by the Italian architect Niccolo Michetti for his wife. The palace is home to the Kadriorg Art Museum featuring a collection of Dutch and Russian paintings.
At the eastern end of Kadriorg Park is the prodigious futuristic-style structure KUMU that hosts a vast collection of Estonian art representing different movements, such as surrealism, pop art and abstraction.
Don’t hesitate to visit other important museums including the Occupations Museum that shows the life of Estonians under Nazi and Soviet rule and the Maritime Museum that glorifies the country’s maritime history. You can take a boat ride from Tallinn’s Pirita Harbour to the picturesque Aegna Island. It is covered by lush forest and boasts some clean beaches and campsites, being a go-to destination for summer campers.
Other attractions in Estonia
Do not rush to leave Estonia after ending your Tallinn trip as there are some attractions outside the capital that are worth a visit.
The island of Saaremaa is loved by travelers for its sheer Estonian authenticity, top-quality spa treatments and magnificent countryside scenery.
The main attraction of the island is Kuressaare Castle built in the 13th century. The castle houses some stunning photography exhibitions and contemporary art collections.
For a seaside experience head to Parnu, a peaceful town that gets assaulted by people during summer. It takes pride in clean sandy beaches and world-class seaside resorts. Other than burying your feet in sand, you can stroll the city thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants and visit the Art and History museums.
If you are a nature lover, you can visit Lahemaa National Park. Located an hour drive from Tallinn, the park stretches over the west coast featuring heavily wooded lands, tranquil lakes and rugged coves.
The tiny villages are connected by paved roads so you can use a bike to explore the area at a faster pace, although exploring it by foot has its own charm. The forest is inhabited by brown bears, lynx, moose and other species. During your trip you can visit the 18th century Sagadi Manor and enjoy mouthwatering local dishes at a village tavern.