We only spent 4 days in Estonia, so we stayed in the capital Tallinn, but we’d love to go back and explore more of the countryside. Estonia only has a population of around 1.4 million so it doesn’t have that overwhelming hustle and bustle feeling you get in big cities, but there’s still plenty to do.
No visa required if you’re an Aussie. It’s one of the 26 odd countries that make up the Schengen area (you can travel around in the Schengen area for 90 days within a 180 day period without needing a visa).
- Although Estonian is the official language most people speak English, well most young Estonians speak English anyway.
- WiFi is EVERYWHERE. As Estonians will tell you, they’re pretty advanced electronically and at all things IT – thus, loads of good free WiFi!
- We did Estonia on 38 Euro a day per person ($65 AUD) that includes accomodation. We bought stuff for breakfast from the supermarket and for snacks, but we still were able to splash out and eat at restaurants/cafes and go to a few bars.
- The Old Town is pretty small and the cobblestone streets make walking the easiest way to get around.
- Trains and buses connect most major cities including Tartu and Narva.
- Helsinki, Finland is only 87km north by water and there’s regular ferries going there (2/3 hours)
- Check out: The Old Town – you don’t need a map, you can seriously just go walkabout around town. There’s a plethora of food options to choose from, the bar district is “off chops”. And, did I mention you’re in a medieval town, that’s surprisingly well preserved considering Estonia has been occupied by more nations than I’ve had hot dinners? Free Walking Tour – the best way to find out the main historical points around the old town and to get a crash course in Estonian history. St Olaf’s Church – the tallest building in Estonia (it’s apparently Estonian law that there can’t be anything built taller than it). It’s a good hike up a narrow winding staircase to the top of the public area but the view is very much worth it. Craft Beers – there’s more craft beer pubs and micro breweries than you can point a stick at, definitely get amongst the amber fluid. The Epic Bar Crawl Tallinn – a fun way to meet locals and travellers (please note the ‘Watch out for’ section below though!) Kalamaja – this area is new and hipster. It’s cool to take a walk around – full of timber houses and up and coming bars (like Puu – a very cool bar completely decked out in timber. ‘Puu’ actually translates to ‘tree’ or ‘wood’ in English). A really lovely parkland area on the waters edge near Russalka Memorial – a great place to have a picnic or relax and take in the afternoon, and watch the ships come in. Walking here was also a cool way to see other parts of Tallinn.
- Eat at: Tallinn Street Food Festival – we were lucky enough to arrive on the weekend of the festival which was in Telliskivi (just out of Old Town). It had a huge variety of food – from burgers to crepes, and from fish to fried crickets. Must Puudle – a really cool cafe that serves delicious food that’s good value for money. Try anyone of their cakes on display (or pasta!) and wash it down with one of their craft beers. Frank – a trendy US styled bar in old town with a solid range of cocktails. The food is also reasonably priced. Supermarkets – Phoebe got a little bit excited in Estonia, because the supermarkets actually had a abundance of fresh produce (something we have discovered is rare for a lot of supermarkets in Eastern Europe). It’s also a very cheap way of eating!
- We stayed at: Red Emperor Hostel – great hostel run by a bearded Australian. You can buy a pint of the local beer (Saku) from the reception desk for 2 Euro but in Super Happy Hour it’s 1 Euro! Definitely a major drawcard of the hostel. There’s also a bar attached to the hostel! Good vibes all round at this place, and activities happening each day. The rooms were fairly small (once full of people), but the chill out area makes up for that.
- Watch out for: If partaking in The Epic Bar Crawl – make sure you pace yourself because it’s a BIG night. Otherwise you’ll find yourself driving the porcelain bus…not going to mention any names here. The beaches are very shallow, (well at least the beach I went to was) which is good if you’re not a competent swimmer but if you’re looking to get out in the deep water and refine your butterfly technique, get ready for the long walk out to get past the sandbank.
Did You Know?
- Estonians vote and pay their taxes all online, they were one of the first countries in the world to do so.
- The Estonian National Anthem has the exact same tune of the Finnish National Anthem (they have different lyrics…obviously).
- In August 1989 close to 2 million people formed a human chain from Tallinn through Riga, Latvia to Vilnius, Lithuania (close to 700km) protesting for their independence from the Soviet Union. At the time it was the longest human chain ever!
A Final Word
Estonia can often be forgotten about and overshadowed by their big Russian and Scandinavian neighbours but its really a hidden gem. We absolutely loved Tallinn and would recommended going there in the summer (like we did) to experience pretty much 24 hours of light! Definitely a place that we would return to!