Nestled in Northern Europe, Estonia remains a hidden gem often overlooked by travelers. Offering affordability and a plethora of delights, the country boasts captivating medieval cities, picturesque coastlines, and captivating history. Surrounded by Russia, Latvia, the Gulf of Finland, and the Baltic Sea, Estonia proves to be more accessible than anticipated. A wealth of attractions awaits visitors, from enchanting castles and serene national parks to vibrant cultural hot spots as they travel to Estonia.
Here is a list of 8 incredible things to do in Estonia
Whether you’re on a vacation in Estonia or taking a Baltic cruise with a stop in Estonia, don’t miss exploring Tallinn’s Old Town. This captivating area is one of the world’s best-preserved Hanseatic town centers, once home to wealthy merchants in the 13th century. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the Old Town delights with its cobblestone streets, medieval churches, and historic landmarks.
From Raeapteek, a fascinating ancient pharmacy, to the Town Hall Square with its circular stone and views of the historic churches, each step takes you on a journey through time. Don’t forget to visit the Tallinn Town Hall’s art and Gothic arches, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, and savor the breathtaking view from the Patkuli platform. It’s like stepping back into a bygone era.
In Northern Estonia lies Rakvere, a city with a history dating back almost 1,500 years. One of its main highlights is Rakvere Castle, a magnificent 16th-century construction. Today, the castle has been transformed into a captivating medieval theme park, where costumed visitors and staff create an immersive experience. Watch knights meticulously polishing their armor, witness the wonders of an alchemist’s workshop, and explore the ancient wine cellar. For a truly unique experience, indulge in classic medieval dishes at the Shenkenberg Tavern within the castle grounds. Visiting Rakvere Castle is an unforgettable journey that brings history vividly to life.
Located at the meeting point of the Parnu River and the Gulf of Riga, lies the charming coastal resort city of Parnu. Often referred to as the “summer capital,” it is a beloved destination for Estonians seeking delightful summer vacations. The primary allure of Parnu is its stunning beach, boasting fine, white sand and picturesque dunes. A beach promenade lines the shore, exuding a classic coastal resort ambiance. Even after the sun sets, the promenade comes alive with the help of illuminating lights, inviting people to continue strolling and relishing the coastal scenery. Should rain showers interrupt your plans, you can join the locals at Vee Park, a popular indoor water park in Parnu, promising a fun-filled time.
Up next on the list of things to do in Estonia is visiting Lahemaa, Estonia’s most sought-after national park, and thanks to its proximity to the capital, it makes for an ideal day trip, just an hour’s drive away. A must-see gem within the park is Viru Raba, also known as Viru Bog. Here, you’ll encounter a surreal landscape with trees emerging from the swampy ground, creating an ethereal atmosphere. To facilitate exploration, a 5-km (3-mile) boardwalk guides you through the bog, keeping you dry and offering an up-close view of the captivating scenery.
Nestled in the heart of the park, you’ll discover Sagadi Village, a captivating destination where you can explore Sagadi Manor and delve into the rich culture and history of the region. The combination of Viru Bog and Sagadi Village promises an unforgettable experience that brings you closer to Estonia’s natural wonders and cultural heritage.
Estonian cuisine draws direct inspiration from its geographical location near the Baltic Sea, its chilly climate, and a strong focus on quality rather than quantity.
Indulge in some of Tallinn’s most iconic dishes, such as Kiluvõileib, a traditional open-face sandwich featuring marinated sprat fillet, alongside smoked fish, Vastlakukkel (sweet rolls), and the national dish, Baltic dwarf herring.
To truly savor the essence of Estonian cuisine, consider embarking on a locally crafted food tour. This culinary adventure will introduce you to a diverse array of forest foods, fresh produce, and the farm-to-table ethos cherished by Estonian chefs. Additionally, you’ll gain insights into the local eating culture and holiday food traditions that shape the country’s culinary landscape.
While Estonian food exhibits some influences from Scandinavian, German, and Russian cuisines, it has evolved into a unique flavor, in which the locals take great pride. Uncover the secrets of these distinctive dishes and much more from knowledgeable Estonian food tour guides.
Tartu, known as the intellectual hub of the country, owes its reputation to the esteemed University of Tartu and its status as the oldest city in Estonia, making it an undoubtedly intriguing destination. The city’s picturesque center is graced with 18th-century buildings, showcasing classic designs that have been creatively repurposed. One of the most fascinating attractions in Tartu is the “soup neighborhood,” where streets are playfully named after soup ingredients such as potatoes, beans, and peas. Nestled alongside the Emajogi River, this charming district is adorned with old wooden houses, adding to its quaint allure.
Estonia’s diverse and captivating museum scene offers a gateway to the nation’s rich history and culture. One of the standout attractions is the Estonian Open Air Museum in Tallinn, where visitors can immerse themselves in traditional rural life, experiencing authentic buildings, and customs from bygone eras. For those intrigued by maritime heritage, the Seaplane Harbour Museum takes you on a voyage through Estonia’s naval past, displaying historic ships and seafaring artifacts. Art enthusiasts will be enthralled by the Kumu Art Museum, boasting an exceptional collection of Estonian and international art, showcasing the country’s artistic achievements. These museums combine to create a profound and unforgettable journey through Estonia’s heritage and creativity.
Saaremaa, the largest island in Estonia situated in the Baltic Sea, boasts a rich history spanning 8,000 years, with a past marked by rule under the Danes, Swedes, Germans, and Russians. Today, most visitors gravitate toward the island’s capital city, Kuressaare. Here, you can embark on a journey back in time as you explore the remarkably preserved medieval castle, which now houses the Regional Museum of Saaremaa. For nature enthusiasts, Saaremaa’s Sõrve Peninsula beckons with its breathtaking scenery, making it an idyllic destination for hiking, birdwatching, sightseeing, and photography. The peninsula’s natural wonders are a treat for the senses and a treasure trove of picturesque moments waiting to be captured.
Estonia may be small, but it leaves a lasting impression on every visitor. From the enchanting medieval charm of Tallinn’s Old Town to the pristine natural landscapes of its national parks and islands, there are several amazing things to do in Estonia for all kinds of travelers. Immerse yourself in its rich history, revel in its vibrant culture, and let the warmth of Estonian hospitality embrace you.
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