If you’re planning a trip to Europe, and are looking for something a little off the beaten track, yet still interesting to see, visiting Estonia is a must.
With tons of history, old and recent, Eesti should be on the radar of both photographers and history buffs. Evidence from the ancient past: castles and other churches and buildings lie scattered all over this tiny country. Then there’s the aftermath of two World Wars and the Cold War, as well as Soviet occupation and withdrawal, making it a fascinating country to visit.
This relatively new member of the EU has a ton of amazing things still to be discovered by travelers.
5 places not to miss when visiting Estonia
1. Old Town Tallinn
Like many other backpackers I met, The UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Town in Tallinn captured my heart. What planned to be a one week visit, turned out to be much much longer.
This amazing little-walled city, with its cobblestone streets, old brickwork buildings, and giant churches is extremely beautiful and photogenic.
I felt at home here and did not want to leave. Be sure to try out Kompresor for some amazing meat pancakes, and Kodu bar for a Saku beer. To get the most from the Old Town consider a guided tour from a local Estonian. Get your walking tour tickets here.
2. Saarema Island
A short bus and ferry ride from Tallinn, is Estonia’s biggest island of Saarema.
It is good to visit for a night or two and hike around the entire island. The island is abundant is quaint light houses and windmills, along with 12th century or older castles and churches.
The island has been conquered and later returned to Estonia so many times that I can’t keep track: Denmark, Sweden, Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, Estonia.
From Vikings to Communists, there’s a ton of history to see.
Saarema Island made this list of secret hidden destinations in Europe on a budget. See what other European destinations made it!
This pretty little city is known as Estonia’s summer city. It’s most famous for its spas and mud baths and is the most popular health tourism destination in the area.
Since the first spa was built in 1837, Parnu Mud Baths have rapidly expanded into international recognition. Today, disorders of the joints, spinal column and peripheral nervous system, gynecological problems and dysfunction of the central nervous system are treated at Pärnu Mud Baths.
The therapies include hydrotherapy, mud and ozocerite therapies, massage, laser and electrotherapies, lymph and inhalation therapies, aromatherapy and ECG.
The student city! High-end shopping, a science center, and a fantastic water-park are just a few attractions that one can enjoy in Estonia’s second largest city.
Called “The City of Good Thoughts”, Taru has been a student city since Swedish occupation in the 1600s. Many holidaymaker and stag partiers take the cheap Ryanair flights from London or Dublin, and are content with just staying in Tallinn.
It only makes sense that there are more bars and night clubs here than in the capital, as it is Estonia’s biggest student population.
There are so many other things to discover than just the partying, like the KGB museum and it’s torture chambers. Don’t miss them!
5. Naissaar Island
This is one tiny island in the Baltic Sea that you probably never heard of. Unlike the big island of Saaremaa, Naissaar is tiny, but just the same, it is still full of untapped wonders, and far less touristy.
My hostel offered a day trip from Tallinn, and I took it, not knowing a thing about it beforehand. It turned out to be a very unique and interesting deserted island. Only a few guides live here, and some Estonians come here to pick mushrooms in the forests.
We took a tiny train car through the forest cut-out, and what was most interesting to me were all the old soviet era sea-mines and bombs. They even have a tiny museum with artifacts from the era when the Soviets used the island as a submarine base. Definitely worth a visit! Check out this tour to Naissaar here.
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BIO – In 2011, Justin went on a university trip to South Africa. By the end of that trip he knew that he couldn’t return home. That was 3 years, 59 countries and 6 continents ago, and he hasn’t slowed down! He started travel blog, True Nomads, to inspire others to see the world and live the life of freedom!