Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

If you're looking to travel in Europe, Estonia is a great choice. This tiny country is packed with interesting history. From the capital city of Tallinn to the rural villages in the countryside, this Baltic country is definitely worth a trip. I spent time in the country travelling alone and share my recommended places to visit and where to stay. 

Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

Tallinn at night

Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

Whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures, cultural immersion, or serene nature escapes, Estonia has something for every type of traveller. 

Active traveller: Embark on outdoor adventures in Estonia's diverse landscapes. Explore the Lahemaa National Park for hiking trails amongst the forest. Take on the challenge of kayaking along the picturesque coastline of Saaremaa Island or go cycling through the scenic countryside of Tartu.

Backpacking traveller: Estonia is good for backpackers with a vibrant hostel culture. Explore the medieval streets of Tallinn's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and mingle with fellow travellers in cozy cafes and bars. Venture into the wilderness of Soomaa National Park for a unique bog-shoeing experience or join a guided tour to discover hidden gems off the beaten path.

Culture traveller: Immerse yourself in Estonia's rich cultural heritage by exploring its historic landmarks and vibrant arts scene. Visit the KUMU Art Museum in Tallinn or attend a traditional song and dance festival, known as “Laulupidu,” to experience the essence of Estonian culture. Don't miss the chance to indulge in local cuisine at the Balti Jaama Turg market or learn about Estonian folklore at the Seto Farm Museum.

Historic traveller: Delve into Estonia's fascinating history by exploring its medieval castles and ancient ruins. Wander through the cobblestone streets of Tallinn's Old Town to discover well-preserved medieval architecture. Explore the ruins of the Rakvere Castle or venture to the island of Saaremaa to visit the Kuressaare Castle, one of the best-preserved medieval fortresses in the Baltics.

Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

Estonia has lots of nature to explore

Nature traveller: Estonia's pristine nature offers endless opportunities for solo nature enthusiasts. Explore the Soomaa National Park to experience the unique phenomenon of “fifth season” flooding and go wildlife spotting in the vast wilderness. Discover Estonia's islands, such as Hiiumaa and Muhu, known for their beaches. Or join a birdwatching tour in the Matsalu National Park to spot migratory birds and diverse wildlife.

Ocean traveller: Estonia's coastline is dotted with charming seaside towns and pristine beaches. Head to Pärnu, Estonia's summer capital, to enjoy sunbathing and swimming in the Baltic Sea or try your hand at windsurfing and kiteboarding. Explore the coastal cliffs of the Pakri Peninsula or take a ferry to the picturesque island of Hiiumaa for a peaceful seaside retreat.

Party traveller: Estonia has a great nightlife scene especially within its lively cities and beach resorts. Join the locals for a night out in Tallinn's bustling nightlife districts, such as Telliskivi Creative City and the Old Town. Dance the night away to live music at local pubs or experience the underground electronic music scene in Tallinn's hidden clubs. Head to the beach bars of Pärnu or Haapsalu for beachfront parties and summer festivals, or visit the island of Saaremaa for a unique island nightlife experience.

Wellness traveller: Unwind in Estonia's tranquil spa towns and wellness retreats. Indulge in a relaxing spa treatment at one of Tallinn's luxury spas or immerse yourself in the healing powers of Estonia's natural thermal springs in the resort town of Narva-Jõesuu. Join a yoga retreat in the picturesque countryside of Viljandi or escape to the island of Saaremaa for a wellness retreat surrounded by nature.

Wildlife traveller: Explore the dense forests of Lahemaa National Park to spot wildlife such as lynx, wolves, and brown bears, or go birdwatching in the Matsalu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a wildlife safari tour in the Soomaa National Park to encounter beavers, moose, and wild boars in their natural habitat, or embark on a seal-watching cruise along Estonia's coast to spot seals basking in the sun on the islands.

Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

Rakvere Castle is a must for history lovers

Is Estonia Safe To Visit?

I found Estonia really safe. I wandered around the old town at night alone and didn’t have any problems. In general the country is really safe. But when you visit Estonia, you do just need to be careful in the bars and clubs in Tallinn, the capital. There can be pickpockets so just keep an eye on your valuables if you sample the nightlife. 

Is Estonia worth visiting?

Make sure to try the local cuisine when you visit

Estonia Culture 

Estonian culture is a rich tapestry of traditions, music, and folklore which is deeply rooted in its history and natural surroundings. Known for its vibrant choral singing and folk dancing, you can discover Estonia’s heritage if you visit during one if its annual festivals.

One of the things that makes Estonian culture unique is its focus on nature. The country's forests and lakes are an important part of its culture and history, and it’s reflected in its agricultural heritage too, with dishes like black bread, smoked fish, and hearty soups. But you can also find international food such as sushi or pizza and there are also a number of bakeries and cafes that serve pastries, cakes, coffee and pastries.

Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

Viru Gate in old city of Tallinn, Estonia.

Where is Estonia?

Estonia is a country located in northern Europe. The country is bordered by the Baltic Sea to the north, Latvia to the south, and Russia to the east. The country was once ruled by Russia before gaining independence in 1918 after World War I ended.

During World War II, Estonia became part of Soviet Union territory again and remained part of the Soviet Union until it regained independence in 1991. Since gaining independence, Estonia has been working to rebuild its economy and become a member of the global community. 

Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

The old town of Tallinn

Tallinn

The capital of Estonia is Tallinn, which is also where most of the country's population lives. The Tallinn Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved old towns in Europe. The old town is full of charming streets, squares, and churches, as well as a number of museums and historical landmarks. If you only have one day in Estonia, spend the day in Tallinn.

One of the most popular things to do in Tallinn Old Town is simply wander the streets, exploring every corner. I took a walking tour here which was a great way to learn more about the city’s history and get my bearings. 

There's a medieval walking tour you can take to learn more about this UNESCO Old Town and see all the major historic sites. Or if you’re feeling lazy and prefer to be driven around, you can jump in a car tour of Tallinn for 2 hours instead! 

There are also a number of interesting historical landmarks in Tallinn, including Toompea Castle (the seat of the Estonian parliament), the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and the Town Hall. For art lovers, there is also the Kumu Art Museum and the Estonian Open Air Museum.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is an Orthodox church also located in Toompea, a neighborhood of Tallinn. The cathedral was built in 1900 and is one of the most important churches in Estonia.

Solo tip – Kohtuotsa viewing platform is on the northern side of Toompea hill. Make sure not to miss the Kohtuotsa viewing platform for sunrise. It's stunning! – Laura Fox, solo female traveller from the UK

The view from Kohtuotsa viewing platform at sunrise

Is Tallinn Worth Visiting?

Yes! As well as all the above historical sites to visit, there's plenty to see if you're here longer than a day. 

The KGB Prison Cells are a museum located in Tallinn that was once used as a Soviet prison during World War II. The museum includes several rooms where you can learn about the conditions prisoners faced during that time.

The Vana Tallinn Distillery is a distillery located in the heart of Tallinn's old town. The distillery produces a number of different types of vodka, liqueurs, and spirits, all made with traditional methods. The distillery offers tours where you can learn about the history of vodka, see how it's made, and get to sample it too!

Kadriorg Palace was built in the 18th century for Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great of Russia. It is located in Kadriorg Park in Tallinn, Estonia, and is surrounded by other historical landmarks such as the Presidential Palace and KUMU Art Museum.

Today, Kadriorg Palace is home to the Kadriorg Art Museum, which features a large collection of art spanning from the 18th century to the present day. The palace is also used for official functions and events in Estonia.

For the best views of the city, head to the Tallinn TV Tower, which is Northern Europe's highest open viewing platform! It's open everyday from 10am to 6pm and you can make the most of your time here having enjoying a 2-course lunch with incredible views with your entrance ticket

For another good view, climbing to the top of St. Olaf's church tower in Old Town means climbing more than 250 steps. But it's worth it because the view from up there is amazing (though you have to pay a small fee to go up). If you're lucky, you might hear someone playing the organ or the choir practicing, giving you a free concert.

Afterwards, you can relax at the cozy Katharinenthal Cafe & Bakery, which is next to a pond with swans. This is a great place to hang out after exploring Kadriorg Park and all the cool things there. And it's super easy to get there from the Kadriorg Tram stop – just a few steps away.

If you fancy some company for dining instead of eating alone, there’s a food, drinks and history tour where you get to experience Tallinn’s cosy restaurants and try the local cuisine and drinks in a group. It’s great for the bad weather and you get to visit authentic local restaurants. 

Is Estonia worth visiting?

Go up the Tallinn TV Tower for a great view

The Estonian Open Air Museum

The Estonian Open Air Museum is a large outdoor museum located just outside of Tallinn. The museum is home to a number of different traditional buildings from all over Estonia, including farms, mills, and churches. The museum includes exhibits on traditional Estonian life, showcasing aspects of how people lived and worked in the past.

Pirita Marina and Beach

If you're looking for some beach time, head to Pirita Marina and Beach, which is located just 6 kms outside of the city. Pirita Marina and Beach is a large beach located just outside of Tallinn. The beach is a great place to relax in the sun or go for a swim, and there are also a number of restaurants and cafes located nearby if you get hungry. The marina is also a popular spot for sailing and windsurfing, and there are a number of schools where you can learn how to sail or rent a boat.

Is Estonia worth visiting?

Colourful Tartu (photo by Unsplash)

Tartu

If you're looking for something a bit quieter and more rural, then the area around Tartu might be a better option. Tartu is the second-largest city in Estonia and is known as the “academic capital” of the country with a number of universities including Tartu University, which is the oldest university in Estonia. 

It's also a good base for exploring the surrounding countryside, which is filled with forests and lakes. There are also a number of things to see and do in Tartu, including the Town Hall Square, Kadriorg Park, and St. John's Church.

Is Estonia worth visiting?

The Resurrection of Christ Cathedral in Narva

Narva

Narva is a city in Estonia that was once part of the Russian Empire. The city is located on the border with Russia, just across from Saint Petersburg, which was also part of Russia at one point in time. It's home to the Ivangorod Fortress, which was built to protect the Russian city from attack.

The fortress is located on the Narva River, which runs from Lake Peipus in Russia down into Estonia and then out through the Gulf of Finland. It's one of Estonia's most popular tourist attractions and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Don't miss the Resurrection of Christ Cathedral which stands as a symbol of resilience, overlooking the border between Estonia and Russia. Its Neo-Byzantine architecture dates back to the late 19th century. This cathedral has survived wars (the bombing of the city during WW II left only this church untouched) and occupations and is worth a visit. 

Is Estonia worth visiting?

Lahemaa

Lahemaa National Park

If you love hiking and nature, head to the northern coast of Estonia to Lahemaa National Park, one of Europe’s most important reserve forests. This National Park has diverse ecosystems, with rare species of plants and animals. Within its coastal landscapes, dense forests and rivers, you’ll find numerous hiking trails and scenic spots where you can immerse yourself in the nature beauty.

The region also gives you the opportunity to delve into Estonia’s cultural heritage as you explore traditional fishing villages, historic manor houses and archaeological sites. 

On the way to Lahemaa is the Rummu Quarry, one of the hidden gems in Estonia. This limestone quarry has trees and structures submerging from its blue lagoon. It's really unique! And whilst you're here, you can pay a visit to the nearby Murru prison and learn about what happened inside this former prison. 

Is Estonia worth visiting?

Rummu Quarry, such a unique place to visit!

Soomaa National Park

Soomaa National Park is a large national park located in the south of Estonia. It's great for nature lovers. The park includes many things to see and do, including hiking trails through forests and swamps, canoeing on rivers, and an observation tower from which you can see all of Soomaa's wildlife.

Is Estonia worth visiting?

Day Trip From Estonia

If you have a spare day, you could hop across to Helsinki like I did. It’s really easy to reach the Finnish capital from here. There are 3 different companies that operate from Tallinn and you depart from the port of Tallinn at the Old City Harbour. Tickets cost from €40 for the 2 hour ferry journey. You can spend up to 10 hours there before returning in the evening. * Book your Helsinki ferry ticket

Is Estonia worth visiting?

Where To Stay in Estonia

There are plenty of accommodation options in Estonia, from budget hostels and apartments to more luxurious hotels. If you're looking for something unique, there are a number of historic properties and old mansions that have been turned into boutique accommodations that you can find in Tallinn, Tartu, and Parnu. Or opt for a spa hotel instead as you’ll find hotels with saunas too. Below are recommended accommodations by both myself and other travellers from our solo female community. * Check rates and availability for all Estonia accommodations here

Tartu

$$ – Hotel Tartu. Close to the bus station, located near a shopping mall, Hotel Tartu offers spacious and clean rooms with a desk if you need to work. Breakfast is included and there’s a restaurant serving international and local cuisine. * Check rates & availability: Hotel Tartu

$$$ – Dorpat Hotel. If you want to treat yourself, this 3-star hotel is a short walk from the old town and close to the bus station and shopping mall. There’s a bar and restaurant onsite and breakfast is included and they arrange airport transfers too. * Check rates & availability: Dorpat Hotel

Tallinn

$ – Imaginary Hostel. This sociable hostel is situated in the old town, a walkable distance from the train station. Dorms are mixed but you can opt for a double room if you’re looking for more privacy. The Wifi is good and late night check in is available if you are arriving late at night. * Check rates & availability: Imaginary Hostel

$$ – Tallinn City Apartments Old Town Suites. If you prefer to stay in an apartment, these 4-star apartments are in the centre of Tallinn and come with everything you need for an independent stay including a coffee machine! * Check rates & availability: Tallinn City Apartments

$$$ – IgluPark. If you’re in need of some rejuvenation and quiet time, this gorgeous place in Tallinn is perfect. Enjoy a morning sauna or an ice swim and stay cosy and warm in your own igloo where you can even have your own sea view. * Check rates & availability: IgluPark

Narva

$ – Inger Hotell. This 3 star hotel has lots of communal space. Located in the city centre, you’re close to the Narva Castle, restaurants and shops but the hotel also offers breakfast. * Check rates & availability: Inger Hotell

$$ – Noorus SPA Hotel. This 4-star hotel has a wellness centre where you can pamper yourself in the sauna or hot tub, and enjoy good food and a drink at the bar and restaurants. Expect to be sharing the facilities with families. * Check rates & availability: Noorus SPA Hotel

Is Estonia worth visiting?

See stunning nature when you travel around the country

Travelling Around Estonia

Getting around Estonia is really easy. No where is that far and within 3 hours even if you choose to explore the entire country. One of the best ways to get around Estonia is by car. The country has a well-developed road network making it easy to drive in. Just don’t go above 90 km/ in the countryside or 50 km/h in urban areas. 

If you don’t want to hire a car, there’s a bus service called LuxExpress that has many connections across the country. Buy tickets from the bus station or from here

There is also a railway station in Tallinn. Balti Jaam train station is the central station where there are trains running to all of Estonia's larger cities such as Tartu, and Nara as well as smaller towns. You can also reach neighbouring countries such as Latvia and Russia.

Tallinn's old town is pedestrian-only, so you'll need to walk or take public transportation to get around. The city has a good public transportation system, with buses, trams, and trolleybuses running throughout the city. The tram network is particularly good because it features historic trams from the 1950s and 1960s that are still in use today!

If you’re an active solo, you can also bike around the country (you need to buy a bicycle ticket if you take them onto the train). Plus there are taxi apps such as Bolt and Uber that you can order online if you need a cab. 

From The Airport

There are two airports in Estonia: Tallinn Airport (TLL) and Tartu Airport (TAY).

Tallinn Airport (TLL) – Lennard Meri Tallinn Airport is the main airport in Estonia and is located just outside of Tallinn. It’s really easy to get from the airport to Tallinn. There’s a bus that takes 5 minutes, a train that takes 8 minutes or you can take the tram (Line 4) for the 13 minute journey. Taxis are the most expensive option and only take 5 minutes from the airport to the city. * Check all transport options here 

There is also the option on an airport shuttle where you can feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, but it is more expensive than a taxi ride.

Tartu Airport (TAY) – Tartu Airport is a smaller airport located in Tartu, which is the second-largest city in Estonia. The airport has a limited number of services, including a cafe and a shop. You can take a bus from the airport into Tartu which takes approximately 20 minutes or a taxi for 12 minutes. * Check all transport options here 

Best Time To Visit Estonia

I recommend visiting Estonia in the spring or summer when the temperatures are warmer. The weather does go below freezing in the winter but accommodation is warm and insulated so if you do visit in the winter, expect to feel cozy inside. You can also take advantage of the winter activities too. 

Tallinn can experience a fair amount of rainfall, so be sure to pack your raincoat! Below is an annual chart of the weather in Tallinn to help you decide the best time to go to Estonia.

Banner that reads FAQs.

FAQs For Estonia

  • What country is Tallinn in? Tallinn is the capital of Estonia. If you're wondering is Tallinn a good place to visit? Yes it is! It's full of history, bars and restaurants and is a quirky capital. Read the above section to find out what to do there.
  • Can I drink the water? Yes. The tap water in Estonia is fine to drink.
  • Is tipping expected? Tipping is not expected in Estonia, but it's always appreciated. In general, the tip should be around ten percent of the bill.
  • Fixed price or barter? Fixed price.
  • Any ATMs? The currency in Estonia is the Euro (EUR). You can use your card to withdraw cash from ATMs, or you can exchange your money at one of the many banks located throughout Tallinn.
  • Which side of the road do they drive? They drive on the right-hand side in Estonia.
  • Good for vegetarians? Estonia is a great place for vegetarians and vegans. The country has a wide range of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, and most bars have at least one or two vegetarian dishes on the menu. There are also plenty of fruits and vegetables available in Estonia's supermarkets and farmer's markets. Find all the vegan and vegetarian restaurants here 
  • Any Seven Wonders of the World? No, but the country is abundant in nature.
  • Is Estonia Worth Visiting For Tourists? Yes! It's a safe country that is easy to get around. 
Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

Solo Travel Estonia

Solo female travel in Estonia is a great way to experience the country's culture and natural beauty. The locals are friendly and helpful and many speak English and it's easy to meet others in hostels and on the day and evening tours. Plus the country is small enough to navigate your way around without feeling overwhelmed. Not to mention that Estonia has a low crime rate, so you can feel safe walking around at night. That's why I've given it 5 out of 5 stars for being solo female-friendly. 

Plan a Trip to Estonia

I hope that this article has inspired you to visit Estonia. Is Estonia a good place to visit? Yes! And here are some useful links on how to plan a trip there.

Current Time in Tallinn

How expensive is Estonia? If you're wondering is Estonia cheap to travel? It depends on the comfort of accommodation. If you stay in a shared dorm room in a hostel and do an activity every day, expect to budget approx €60 a day but to have your own room €100 a day is a comfortable budget. 

Capital  Tallinn

Population – 1.349 million

Language spoken – The official language of Estonia is Estonian, which is a Finnic language related to Finnish and Hungarian. But many people also speak English.

Local Currency – Estonia uses the Euro

Estonia visa – As a British citizen, you can travel to countries in the Schengen area (including Estonia) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa.

Vaccinations Required 

Lingo – They speak English!

Useful Info

Airlines to Estonia

Which Plug Do I Need? 

UNESCO Sites in Estonia 

Events and Festivals in Estonia 

Local Cost Guide 

Local Customs & Etiquette 

Is Estonia Worth Visiting?

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