Nices Places To Visit In Estonia
The last truly European nation before the great swathe of Russia takes over in the east, Estonia offers travelers a fascinating mixture of Slavic, Russian, Scandinavian and altogether unique local cultures. It ranges from the beautiful, windswept coastlines of the Baltic Sea and the Finnish Gulf to the rolling forests around Tartu in the south, and offers up some amazing and wondrous destinations along the way.
Lets explore the best places to visit in Estonia:
The mighty rises of Toompea Hill are what define Estonia’s magnificent capital; soaring in a curious medley of Orthodox onion domes and medieval bulwarks right in the heart of the town. Below this sprawls one chocolate box of a walled city, where stony streets and shadowy alleyways open up onto an enthralling market square and curiously-named keeps like ‘Fat Margaret’ soar above the crenulated fortifications. Given the UNESCO tag, the glorious array of historical monuments and the buzzing collection of shops, beer halls and Estonian eateries, it’s hardly surprising that this one’s on the up as one of Europe’s most coveted capitals. And that’s not even mentioning the bohemian streets of Kalamaja, or the palaces and parks of the Kadriorg district!
Nestled neatly on the edge of its very own little coastal inlet on the Gulf of Riga, Parnu comes complete with one of the Baltic’s best stretches of pearly-white sand. It’s backed by the all-new and indelibly lively Beach Promenade, where babbling fountains abut al fresco restaurants and the courses of a truly excellent bike track. And in the centre of the town itself, the remnants of an Art Deco boom in the 20s add a real dash of class to the resort, spas rise unexpectedly on the street corners, Ruutli Street beats to a night time tune, and charming timber villas dot the outskirts. In short: this one’s every inch Estonia’s summertime capital!
In the warmer months of the year, Otepaa draws in modest crowds of hikers and mountain bikers to the winding trails of Valga County, for strolling through the thick fir forests and walking around the banks of Puhajarve Lake. However, it’s when the snows come that this self-proclaimed winter capital of Estonia really hits its stride. Nordic ski tracks delve deep into the woods, the ski jumps roar with local cheers and the various downhill alpine runs offer a smattering of beginner and intermediate pistes. Aside from the outdoors action, Otepaa also boasts one gorgeous church spire and the crumbling remains of an aged citadel for the history buffs.
4. Soomaa National Park
The flooded forests and mystical bayous of the Soomaa National Park represent unquestionably one of the most beautiful and enchanting destinations in all of Estonia. All-in-all the site encompasses a whopping 359 square kilometers of undulating dunes and low-lying peat bogs, which oscillate between ochre-brown, verdant green and ice-caked white with the changing of the seasons. Unsurprisingly, ecotourism has boomed here in recent years, and today outdoorsy travelers and intrepid types flock here to hit the water capillaries of the Raudna River and Parnu Basin on canoes and kayaks, or to hike the alluvial meadows in the company of cranes and crooked wooden farmhouses.
5. Saaremaa Island
Straddling the border with Russia in the deep eastern recesses of Estonia, Narva has an altogether different character than the other major urban areas in this Baltic land. For one, the locals overwhelmingly speak Russian, and the character tends to lean eastwards to Moscow rather than westwards to Tallinn and the EU. Hermann Castle is the jewel in the Narva crown, standing tall and proud in whitewashed keeps and stony bulwarks above the city, while the brutalist reconstructed centre offers an interesting taste of the indelible Soviet influence. And then there’s the nearby resort strips of Narva-Joesuu, which come complete with the longest beach in the country and some acclaimed spas to boot.
7. Matsalu National Park
A truly beautiful patchwork of riparian wetlands, reed grass plains and blooming flood meadows on the courses of the Kasari River Delta, the Matsalu National Park is a veritable wonderland for nature lovers and wildlife seekers making their way through Estonia. The 400-square-kilometer park’s birds are particularly famous, coming complete with endangered species like the white-tailed eagle, colossal flocks of barnacle geese, tufted ducks and the single largest migrating amount of cranes on the continent (which can be seen stopping by here in Autumn). Wild horses can also be spotted grazing amidst the wetlands, roaming between the timber fishing huts and the tracks of the Suitsu hiking trail.
8. Hiiumaa Island
Tartu may officially be Estonia’s second city, but the locals prefer to see themselves more as joint first. Fiercely independent from the much larger capital in the north, this southern stronghold of students and Russian speakers is known for its intellectual accomplishments above all else. It has the most prestigious university in Estonia, which rises in a series of neoclassical columns right in the midst of the town. Nearby stands the leafy reaches of Toomemagi; the historic citadel of the city where now the ruined nave of Tartu Cathedral exudes a haunting historicity. Tartu also pulses with youthful energy thanks to its many lecture halls, and al fresco beer bars and underground clubs claim the summertime nights.
Traces of human habitation dating back more than three millennia have helped to make Tuhala one of Estonia’s major historic sites; a place offering a glimpse at the centuries before Tallinn’s great medieval bulwarks were even raised. Yes sir, this earthy region is home to mysterious collections of cult stones and ancient religious statues, curious cup-marked carvings and sacred sites oozing pre-Christian traditions. There are also aged timber roads dating from the fourth century, and – of course – the legendary Witch’s Well – a unique phenomenon that occurs when the subterranean channels of the region’s karst system bubble up and overflow from a rustic well into the surrounding farmlands.