Estonia is a strikingly scenic country located in the North of Europe. Its landscapes can be compared to neighbouring countries, Latvia and Russia, but in a cultural sense, it is distinctly unique. Estonia’s history is fascinating and begun back in 9000 BC when nomadic tribes and traders started migrating to Northern Europe from countries like Germany, Denmark and Russia. After Russian rule in the 1700’s and even German occupation in 1900’s, Estonia was finally established as the Republic of Estonia in 1991, and only became a member of the eurozone as recent as 2011. Estonia is known to be one of the European countries that are taking the lead in social progress as well as the technological arena.
The country has a wealth of forests, wildlife and quaint historical towns dotted along the Baltic coastline. The official language of Estonia is Estonian, linguistically related to Finnish, which is also widely spoken and understood in Estonia together with Russian, German and English.
Tallinn is Estonia’s largest city and capital located in the north of the country. It’s a beautiful blend of old and modern elements with many wonderful attractions to fill your sightseeing hours – the city offers age-old historical sights and technologically advanced marvels in equal measure and it’s also home to a thriving artistic community that continually fuels its creative fire.
Tallinn’s Old Town
Tallinn’s UNESCO-preserved old town is a beautiful old medieval town left over from the German crusades during the latter part of the Middle Ages can still be found. Traces of the former Soviet rule can also be seen – the deserted Soviet army base of Paldiski for instance, and many buildings leftover from the days of communist rule.
This perfectly preserved cobble-stoned burrow offers a fascinating overview of the region’s tumultuous past and exploring it on foot with a tour guide is a great way to immerse yourself in this intriguing heritage.
In this charming “small town” of Tallinn, was first established as a retreat exclusively for the Russian elite in the 18th and 19th century. When the tram line was built in 1888 it became within reach to the local city folk. You will find wooden villas from the 1800’s, the most exquisite parks, the Soviet State graveyard and many museums. One of the best-known museums would be the Kadriorg palace, now the Foreign Art Museum, that was built by Russian Tsar, Peter the Great.
Just on the other side of the Kadriorg palace, you can find the presidential palace. You can walk right up to the front door for a picture, but do not set foot on the steps (the guards are there for a reason!). Kadriorg is a 30-minute walk from the old town.
The Estonian Maritime Museum
Estonia’s history has to a large extent been shaped by its proximity to the Baltic, and the Estonian Maritime Museum gives visitors the opportunity to learn about and observe everything from rare Viking treasures to warships and mammoth icebreakers. And in true Estonian style, the museum does not keep its visitors on the sidelines – you are able to test your mettle in torpedo and flight simulators and crawl through a 600-tonne submarine!
The Balloon Tallinn provides visitors with a novel way to get a panoramic view of the city of Tallinn and the Gulf of Finland – a romantic balloon ride that takes you up 120 metres to enjoy a bird’s eye view of your surroundings, right in the heart of the city.
Local artist co-ops.
Tallinn is renowned for its thriving artistic community and you simply must include a visit to a gallery, studio or craft space to see their remarkable work for yourself. This is also a wonderful place to choose some unique souvenirs.
Find a restaurant (or farm) to taste fresh, local Estonian food!
With Scandinavian, Russian and Germanic influences, Tallinn and Estonia are in the midst of a culinary revolution that is extremely tasty to behold. Be sure to include a lunch or dinner at a restaurant that serves the fresh, hearty flavours of their farm-to-fork culture. Examples of this would be the Estonian national Sprat sandwich (Kiluvõileib ), Estonian bread, cheese and smoked meat and fish dishes. Also try the popular “Kohuke” bars (curd bars covered in chocolate) and if you love the countryside, work in a dairy farm visit and taste delicious homemade cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream.
This is literally just the tip of the iceberg where Tallinn and Estonia are concerned. Don’t even get us started on bogshoe hiking, smoke saunas, kaleboat trips and kayaking! For more in-depth information go to www.visitestonia.com or www.visittallinn.ee.
Explore Estonia with Expat Explore. Our 18-day Northern Explorer tour takes travellers through Scandinavia, Russian, Central Europe and the Baltic states, and includes an unmissable foray to Estonia and the gorgeous capital of Tallinn.