As a country starting with E by COUNTRYAAH, Estonia is just as big as Lower Saxony, but the wealth of different landscapes and the variety of interesting cities and places worth seeing is almost unbelievable. As diverse as the travel destination Estonia is, so are the interests addressed by the small Baltic state. The expectations of those interested in history and nature are met here as well as those of cycling holidaymakers, families or campers.
Those interested in culture and history
No question: if you want to walk in the footsteps of history, you will find it in Estonia at every turn. The country has had an eventful history. The very well-preserved architectural substance of different epochs and the distinctive national culture with its still living traditions clearly reflect this.
The time of Christianization by the Teutonic Order and the Order of the Sword Brothers between the 13th and 16th centuries can be seen in the massive order castles, some of which are very well preserved. Rakvere (Wesensberg), the formerly very powerful castle of Viljandi, which today is only preserved as a ruin, or the Hermannsfeste of Narva are worth seeing contemporary witnesses. The castles often house a museum on the castle history and are the scene of “medieval” festivals and events that bring history to life. The Teutonic Order and the Order of the Brothers of the Sword shaped a time in Estonia that was determined by fighting and cruel. A look into the torture chambers of Rakvere Castle makes the visitor shudder.
Manor houses are another architectural landmark in Estonia’s history. They are omnipresent and represent a time when many Baltic Germans lived here. Palmse, Sagadi, Kolga and Pädaste on the island of Muhu are good examples of nowadays mostly beautifully restored properties, which are now often a museum, restaurant, hotel or visitor center of a national park. The heyday of the manors was in the 18th century. Classicist and baroque buildings, but also Art Nouveau houses, are spread all over Estonia. Their decline began with the uprisings in Russia in 1905. With the land reform in 1919 and the expropriation of the landowners, their time was finally over. Many of the originally more than 1,000 farms fell into disrepair.
It is worth traveling in the footsteps of the manors and taking time to explore the most important properties. On a round trip, which can be booked through the Baltic specialist Schnieder Reisen, you can explore the most beautiful manor houses and let them completely affect you.
The Soviet era represented another significant phase. The occupation museum in Tallinn is a must for anyone interested in history, the foreign rule between 1940 and 1991 is clearly presented here. Anyone interested in Soviet history can also go on a “Soviet and Military Tour” in Tallinn. A museum about the KGB history, the occupation museum and the sea fortress Patarai with the prison rooms used by the Soviets are on the program. More information on this on the website of the Estonian Tourist Office. Please note that this link leads to an external website. We have no influence on the content and design of the website, nor on the processing or storage of the data collected.
Nature lovers can observe animals and discover rare plants in five national parks and numerous nature and biosphere reserves.
The Estonian landscape is extremely diverse. Moors and wetlands, forests, meadows and the coast are the most distinctive landforms. About half of Estonia is forested, 20 percent of the country’s area is dominated by moors, and more than 3,500 kilometers of coastline provide a habitat for marine fauna and flora. A quarter of the country is under nature protection!
The Soomaa National Park in West Estonia brings nature lovers closer to the bog habitat on a multi-lingual signposted nature trail, and a lookout tower allows a beautiful panoramic view.
In the Lahemaa National Park, the coast is in the foreground, but deep coniferous forests, boulder fields and limestone meadows also come together in the park.
The Matsalu National Park on the west coast is a Mecca for ornithologists, it is home to numerous breeding and migratory birds. In spring they take a break here – coming from the south – in August they take the opposite route. The best time for bird watching is in mid-May, when bird migration reaches its peak.
Nature lovers will surely prefer accommodation that offers a good starting point for hikes and discovery tours. Campsites are well suited for this, they are often in the middle of the reserves. The manors in the Lahemaa National Park (Palmse or Sagadi), for example, are also a good starting point, as are holiday homes, bed & breakfast accommodations or smaller hotels.
The Estonians are a child-friendly people. In many places there are playgrounds on the beach, on campsites or in the cities, high chairs in restaurants are common, child-friendly events, museums and adventure parks are often there – you rarely get the impression that children are not being considered. But regardless of the infrastructure offered, the sparsely populated country with relatively little traffic, flat sandy beaches and numerous opportunities for outdoor activities (bike, canoe, swimming) is simply a very good family travel destination.
Tip: Especially when visiting a city, the little ones don’t always get their money’s worth. That’s why you should consider a child-friendly balance. In Tallinn, in Kadriorg Park, there is a large playground and a playhouse for children. You can stop here if the little ones are bored after sightseeing. Also very close to Tallinn is the Vembu-Tembumaa theme park, which offers go-karts and water fun in summer.
In Tartu, close to Toompea, is the toy museum that will delight young and old. Participation is also thought of here: there is a play and handicraft room.
Those seeking relaxation
An untouched nature, fresh sea air and numerous seaside resorts offer those seeking relaxation a good setting for a holiday to take a deep breath. If you want to relax, this is the right place. Stress and hectic pace: none in Estonia. Instead, you can enjoy nature to the full on walks and hikes. Health resorts and spa hotels offer a wide range from wellness vacations to medical spa stays. And all this at a favorable price-performance ratio.
Many places in Estonia have been known as health resorts since the early 19th century. Medicinal mud treatments have a long tradition. Even the tsarist family appreciated this. A train station was built in Haapsalu on behalf of the tsar, making it possible to travel by train. The Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky also appreciated the recreational value of the place. Today there are some very good wellness hotels here. The tradition has also been maintained in Pärnu, the charming place is still popular for spa and relaxation holidays.
Saaremaa is also a popular destination for those who want to relax. The clock ticks more slowly here. In Kuressaare there are excellent spa hotels such as the Grand Rose Spa Hotel, the Rüütli or the Georg Ots Spa Hotel.
Otherwise, of course, Tallinn or, further to the east, Narva-Jöseuu is also known for spa and relaxation holidays. But you can also relax in other places along the entire coast of Estonia.
Tip: A stay outside the high season is significantly cheaper, and a wellness holiday is a relaxing experience even in autumn or winter.