100 Reasons to Visit Estonia

1. It’s Medieval AF!

Tallinn’s Old Historic Centre (Old Town) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Need a guide book? Check out Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania travel guide – 8th edition by Lonely Planet.

2. Day trips to Helsinki!

Several ferries run between Tallinn and Helsinki. It takes about 2 hours and is very cheap. Need a guide book for Finland? Check out Finland travel guide by Lonely Planet.

3. The Forests and Fresh Air

WHO ranked Estonia’s air as some of the cleanest air in the world, along with countries like Finland and Iceland. About 50% of Estonia is forest.

4. Estonian Design is Cool!

Estonians are designers. Visit “Eesti Disaini Maja” / Estonian Designer House for a collection of products. Download the Tallinn Design Map which leads you to the best Estonian design – whether in cafes and restaurants decorated with Estonian design, museums, galleries or urban spaces exhibiting design and design shops.

5. It’s Europe on a Budget

Estonia is very affordable despite offering a high standard of living comparable to its more expensive neighbours. Compared to Australia especially, Estonia is budget friendly.

6. You’re Single?

Estonia has the highest number of international supermodels per capita in the world. You’ve heard of Carmen Kass, right?

7. You like Smart People

Estonia’s education is the best in Europe according to PISA (2018). Globally, the OECD ranks Estonia 5th if the world for performance in Mathematics, Science and Reading. Australia by comparison ranked 21st, Switzerland ranked 22nd and the United States of America ranked 37th.

8. You Drink Craft Beer

Estonia is traditionally a beer country. They’ve been brewing beer for thousands of years, but remain open to new ideas. The craft beer industry has taken off and offers a range of unique flavours like honey mead.

9. Luxury Spa Hotels…

Estonia has several luxury Spa Hotels which are focused on water and sauna related activities. Several Spa Hotels are located in Pärnu.

10. Because… Hipster Cafés

Estonia has many Hipster Cafés like F-Hoone in Tallinn. There are several located in other places like Viljandi, Pärnu and of course Tartu (Estonia’s second city).

11. Personal Space and Privacy!

Much like their Finnish brothers (pictured above in famous Nissan advert), Estonians are a quiet, reserved people (there are exceptions). Generally Estonians respect each others privacy and personal space. It is unlikely that you’ll be approached by strangers but in the right situation, Estonians are welcoming.

12. Mushroom Season

Mushroom Picking in Estonia is a favourite family activity. There are plenty of edible mushrooms in Estonia, the Chanterelles or Kukeseen is the most well known. For obvious reasons, it’s recommended to do this activity with an Estonian.

13. One of Largest Folk Music Festivals in Europe

The Viljandi Folk Music Festival or Viljandi Pärimusmuusika festival is one of Europe’s largest folk music festivals. The event caters to everyone including children. It is a celebration of culture, music, food and drink in Viljandi – a southern Estonian town. The event includes folk performers from all around the world.

14. European Sauna Marathon

The European sauna marathon is all about seeing how many saunas as possible you can visit during the event. It’s not about enduring record high temperatures for as long as possible, such events are banned (but were a thing of the past). The goal’s just to have fun!

15. Startup Capital of Europe

Estonia is the Startup Capital of Europe. Home of Pipedrive, TransferWise, Bolt (formerly Taxify), Wire Jobbatical. The Estonian government provides an ecosystem for Startups, connecting entrepreneurs with various forms to support including a visa program. Need help with your startup? Hire a Freelancer at Fiverr.

16. The Estonian Language

The Estonian language is melodic and closely related to Finnish. It is neither slavic nor related to Russian. This beautiful sounding language is extremely difficult for English speakers, but that’s all part of the allure. Just pronouncing ‘hello’ ‘tere’, is likely to win over the locals. Need something translated? Hire help on Fiverr.

17. They Speak English and German and Russian

According to the EF English Proficiency Index, Estonia ranks higher than Thailand, France, Japan, Mexico and Indonesia. If you’re speaking with younger Estonians, English will certainly not be a problem. In-fact, if you speak Estonian in Tallinn, it’s not uncommon for the response to be back in English – even between Estonians. Russian, German and Finnish is commonly spoken in Estonia too.

18. Jaanipäev, Saint John’s Day, Midsummer

Estonians celebrate midsummer similarly to Finns and Swedes. Expect bonfires, songs and dance. Midsummer’s eve is important for lovers. Among Estonian fairy tales and literature there is the tale of two lovers, Koit (dawn) and Hämarik (dusk). These two lovers see each other only once a year and exchange the briefest of kisses on the shortest night of the year. Earth-bound lovers go into the forest looking for the flower of the fern which is said to bloom only on that night because ferns are not seed-bearing plants and do not flower. Also on this night, single people can follow a detailed set of instructions involving different flowers to see whom they are going to marry.

19. Rye Bread. Try it!

Estonian’s like dark Rye bread. Supermarkets in Estonia will often feature an entire wall to more than 20 types of bread. They eat bread like Asians eat rice. Rye bread, in my humble opinion really comes into its own when grilled with garlic butter as a beer snack – küülauguleib. AirBnB Experience “Estonian food, drinks and history tour”. Get €30 / $50 credit:

20. Day trips to Russia

From Narva – the Eastern most city of Estonia, Saint Petersburg is about 2 hours drive away. Check out Lonely Planet’s Russia travel guide for more.

21. Day trip to Latvia? Yes!

Riga, capital of Latvia is about a 3 hour drive away from Viljandi, in Estonia’s south – but the border is much, much closer than that. Latvia also has many instagram worthy towns like Cēsis and Sigulda, but Riga is an absolute must if it’s your first trip to Latvia. Riga has a similar vibe to Tallinn although it is the biggest city in the Baltics. Lonely planet has a guide which covers Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania – all in one. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/2ZlyiUa

22. An Ice Road

During the peak of winter, it’s possible to drive to the island of Hiiuma, right across the frozen sea. The longest known ice road originating from Estonia was located between Saaremaa and Lübeck in 1323.

23. Dance Festivals

Every 5 years Estonia holds its national Song and Dance Festival. There is nothing more impressive than watching thousands of dancers, dressed in traditional costume perform on a massive stadium. The Dance festival is a celebration of Estonian freedom and identity with a rich history.

24. Kiiking, it’s swings on steroids

Kiiking is an Estonian national sport invented in 1993. It involves a person makin a swing gain increasingly more momentum. The goal is to pass over the spindle with the longest shafts possible. It’s like a swing on steriods.

25. Excellent Public Transport

Estonia’s a small country, the mainland is about 300K in every direction. Public transport includes Trams, Trains and Buses. This retro tram aside, the public transport is very modern, affordable and also bicycle friendly – even buses. Sometimes, public transport is even free – for everyone like the buses in Viljandi. Travel during the summer is very easy in Estonia.

26. Creepy Abandoned Mansions and Manor Houses

Estonia’s history is long and complex involving many other neighbouring countries and fallen empires. At one stage the Germans took fancy to Estonia and they built many manors, mansions and castles all over the place. A few of them are even abandoned, some are renovated open to the public and others are privately owned.

27. Hiking in RMK National Parks

Estonia is full of well maintained government owned national parks free for everybody to enjoy. Often they have easy to follow tracks, signage, toilets and sometimes hiking huts too (some for free even). Check out the Estonian Maiu Takes a Hike for more on YouTube or visit RMK‘s (national parks in Estonia) website.

28. Free Camping and Cabins

Similar to much of Scandinavia, wild camping is legal in Estonia – and there’s even some free campsites by the RMK department. If you don’t have a tent you can also rent cabins or summer cottages. Some campsites by RMK (like hiker’s cabins) are free too.

29. Georgian Food

Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings). Enough said. Use Wolt to get 3 free deliveries, discount code PGBC.

30. Digital Nomad Lifestyle

If you’re a freelancer or digital nomad you’ll be among your own tribe in Estonia. Cafés with fast internet are great but co-working spaces are available too, like Lift 99 in Tallinn.

31. Naïve Art

Like Naïve art? Visit the Kondus Centre of Naïve art in Viljandi, Estonia.

32. The Internet is standard…

Estonia in 2018 had the 15th fastest internet in the world. Estonia has the second best public WiFi in the world (Lithuania’s no.1 – the other Baltic State). Internet coverage is everywhere and it’s very affordable too.

33. Island Life

Estonia has over 800 Islands. Saaremaa, Muhu, Kihnu, Võrmsi, Ruhnu and Naissaar to name just a few. Each of the islands has its own traditions, customs and dialects. Some even speak Swedish.

34. ERASMUS? Going to Uni?

Founded in 1632, Tartu University is one of the top 400 Universities in the world. It offers about 60 programs and includes Narva College as well as the Viljandi Culture Academy.

35. Vegan and Plantbased Food

Estonia has its own vegan magazine, food products, cosmetics, burger joints and fine dining. Everything and anything vegan is available in Estonia, especially in Tallinn, Tartu but also in towns like Viljandi and Pärnu. It’s possible to get vegan food products from all major supermarkets. Use Wolt to get food delivered!

36. Modern Food

Estonia has an abundance of modern restaurant specialising in new Nordic cuisine, Asian food and fusion dishes as well as the usual European options you’d expect in any developed country. Use Wolt to get food delivered!

37. Old School, Hearty, Germanic Food

Estonia’s German heritage are most noticeable in its traditional cuisine. Sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut are national dishes. and beer is in no short supply. Use Wolt to get food delivered!

38. Viks Bicycles

Viks Bicycles like this one. Estonian made. They sell them at Rattastuudio Jooks in Telliskivi, Tallinn: Estonia

39. White Nights

Summer Days in Estonia are long. Almost 24 hours!

40. Rooftop Views

Estonia’s view points are very accessible and mostly free. You can even take a roof-top tour of Tallinn.

41. You’re Welcome

The International House of Estonia (IHE), a part of the Estonian Investment Agency, opened its doors in November 2018 and since then it has attracted increasing visitor numbers weekly. ‘Good news spreads by word of mouth. Many of our customers say they heard about us from their HR department or other colleagues who found good advice and assistance. That is great to hear, because it shows we are on the right track,’ says Annely Tank, Manager of IHE.

42. You like to turn things Upside Down

It’s an upside down house! Located nearby the national museum in Tartu… Something fun to see.

43. Nomad / Startup Hostel, Hostel Draper

Previous “Tribe Theory Hostel”, Hostel Draper brings travellers, digital nomads and startup entrepreneurs under one roof. The idea Hostel for networking! Check out Booking.com for more.

44. Kringels, Cinnamon Buns and Pastries

Because Cinnamon Buns, Kringels and Pastries… Use Wolt to get food delivered!

45. Hung up on Soviet Nostalgia

Pining for the “good old days”, nostalgic for the soviet union? Estonia still has a soviet graveyard, the resting place for Lenin, Stalin and other mass murderers. It’s also possible to visit a range of museums and exhibitions dedicated to soviet oppression and suffering under the soviet union, guaranteed to cure your longing for the totalitarian regime. Find AirBnB Experience “Communist Stories of Tallinn”. Get €30 / $50 credit:

46. Autumn Leaves

Estonia has all 4 seasons. In Autumn maple leaves of earthy yellows, reds and browns cover the ground.

47. You like to Chill Out and Eat In

Similar to Uber Eats, Estonia has Bolt Food and Wolt. Order on your mobile get it delivered to your Hotel or Airbnb. Bolt also runs a ride share service! OK, this pic is from Stockholm…

48. Russian Culture

Estonia is home to around 320,000 Russians. It’s possible to speak Russian in some parts of Estonia like Tallinn and Narva. Estonia in addition to its own Baltic / Nordic culture offers a huge opportunity to experience Russian culture too! It’s easy to experience a little bit of Russia without actually going there, saving on travel and the whole visa process. But if you do go, take Lonely Planet’s Russia guide with you.

49. Small Town Vibes

Estonia’s big on small things. It’s a small country with small towns, small villages and small farms. Escape the rat race and visit some place outside Tallinn. A few towns you might want to visit include Viljandi, Rakvere, Pärnu and Haapsalu.

50. Cute Kiosks

Estonia has many cute little kiosks. In the summer they’re handy and convenient, in the winter they’re a safe cosy haven from the cold weather. Can’t be bothered going out? Use Wolt to get food delivered!

51. Backyard Cafés, Bakeries and Lemonade Stands

Kohvikuuöö in Viljandi is a day when an entire town becomes a hub of little cafés and bakeries. Lemonade stands and cake sales are on almost every corner. The event happens every year.

52. Wild Animals like Foxes, Lynx and Bears

Let’s not talk about bears…

53. Grow Your Own

Estonians appreciate home grown produce and greenhouses are common place. Estonia sells well designed greenhouses and hosts agricultural events.

54. Floating Sauna

Forget your hotel infrared sauna. Opt instead for something more interesting, like a floating sauna.

55. Christmas Markets

Pictured: Christmas Market in Estonia’s 2nd city – Tartu. Several towns in Estonia have Christmas Markets the most famous is of course Tallinn’s but Tartu‘s is also worth a visit. Roasted almonds, Glöggi (mulled wine), Felt Clothing, Amber Lights and real Christmas Trees, Saurekraut, Snow… Are you feeling it yet?

56. Wool and Felt Clothes

Wrap yourself in wool and felt clothing. Handicraft or designer.

57. Blueberry Cheesecakes

Blueberry Cheesecakes…

58. Rohelisemaja Kohvik (Café)

Estonian vibes, flavours and ambience all captured in a single café. Highly recommended.

59. Viljandi the Cultural Heart of Estonia

Estonia is the cultural capital of Estonia. It’s a small town, easily accessible by car, bus or train south of Tallinn. This small town boasts a big reputation when it comes to cultural events and arts. It’s home to many youth and international students who attend the Cultural Academy (by Tartu University). Viljandi has a thriving expat community too. For the traveller, Viljandi offers a true Estonian experience.

60. Pärnu Beach

Pärnu is the summer capital of Estonia and indeed it has a beach. Even a few Aussie expats rate it!

61. Tartu the lively University Town

Tartu Ülikooli Linn (University City) is Estonia’s 2nd city. Lively and vibrant the city has much to offer.

62. Estonian Cosmetics

Estonia has its own range of cosmetic products, many focus on being as natural as possible, chemical free and vegan friendly. Noteworthy brands which embody the Estonian image use ingredients like hemp, honey, cucumber and sea buckthorn berry. Popular Estonian brands are Nurme and Lumi Kosmeetika.

63. A Berry Good Reason

Estonia has an abundance of wild growing berries. If foraging for mushrooms isn’t your thing, try your hand at picking wild Strawberries (Alpine Strawberries), Blueberries, Cranberries, Lingonberries and more. You can also get them at the market!

64. Street Art

Tallinn has a lot of street art but you can find several artist expressions all over Estonia. It reminds of Kaunas, Lithuania – another town famous for street art in the Baltic States.

65. Prison sounds like fun

It’s possible to tour an underway soviet prison in Rummu.

66. Get Bogged Down

Estonia is the land of fresh water bogs and national parks. Take a day trip to see these unique mineral rich wetlands. Wooden pathways take you across the otherwise quicksand-like soil to 360 degree views of small trees and incredibly fresh, clear water.

67. It’s Safe!

While every country has criminal activities Estonia is very safe. Statistics website Numbeo ranked Estonia has having a low crime rate, similar to that of Austria, Switzerland and Iceland. Unfortunately countries such as Sweden, France, Italy, Ireland and the UK were ranked far, far higher. https://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings_by_country.jsp?region=150&title=2019

68. Paganism

Estonia is one of the least religious countries in the world. Many people still hold dearly traditional customs and celebrations which have rather pagan origins. However, if you’re Christian, don’t worry. There’s many beautiful churches in Estonia worth visiting too. Usually their Orthodox or Lutheran.

69. Musical Instruments

Nothing sounds more Estonian than the kannel, a plucked string musical instrument similar to the Finnish kantele. Click the picture to hear what it sounds like.

70. Outdoor Adventure Parks

Forget Disney Land and plastic show bags and enjoy fresh air, forest and nature adventure parks like the one in Otepää.

71. Instagram and National Geographic Yellow Frames

All over Estonia you can find these yellow national geographic yellow frames. They’re great for Instagram.

72. Unusual Music

What do you get when you mix a melodic language with unique musical instruments and old folk songs? Trad Attack and much more… Estonia has a lot to offer all arts, especially music. Click to listen.

73. Investing in Europe

Investing in Estonia is easy. You can earn euros through a Bondora investment account or save on money transfers through TransferWise, both are Estonian companies based in Tallinn. There’s countless investment options to consider, including real estate. If you’re looking for an investment pathway to Europe, Estonia might be worth a visit!

74. Hipster Bars like Romaan in Viljandi

Good Vibes and Hipster places to drink at like Romaan in Viljandi.

75. Romantic Seaside Town of Haapsalu

Haapsalu‘s a romantic seaside town on the Baltic Sea coast, 2 hours drive from Tallinn. Haapsalu’s home to Estonian Swedes and is renown for its sailing options, it’s Italian music festival, a railway museum, small town vibes and of course – there’s a castle too.

76. Expat Community

Estonia has a large expat community, jump on facebook and locate a group like Australians and New Zealanders Living in Estonia, Foreigners in Viljandi or Foreigners in Tartu. There’s meetup groups like Couchsurfing or Lingos Estonia (Tallinn) to get you connected with others.

77. Awkward Architecture

I promise Estonians are a skilled bunch who build spectacular houses in Scandinavia. They’ve improved at least since the leaning house of Tartu which is a story all on its own.

78. Skiing Marathons

Every year, good weather permitting, Tartu hosts the “Tartu Ski Marathon”. Most of Estonia is flat, with the exception of Otepää but cold weather and snow makes Estonia ideal for cross country skiing.

79. All Kinds of Sailing

Sailing options are endless. Take a boat out on a lake, hire a yacht with entertainment, learn to sail at a school in Haapsalu or take a massive ferry to Finland (2 hours) or an overnighter to Sweden. On Airbnb experiences search for “Sailing with yacht in Haapsalu Bay”.

80. Marathons and Fun Runs

Estonia has many sporting events from Marathons to 5K Fun Runs. Visit jooks.ee for more.

81. Charity Volunteering Programs

Kind-hearted travellers may wish to consider volunteering in Estonia. There are many programs available like EstYes and many charities in need of Volunteers like SOS Children’s Village which my mates over at The Might Ride sponsored on their bicycle adventure.

82. Hemp

Hemp has been used in Estonia since at least the days of shipbuilding during the Hanseatic era. Hemp is now serves in Estonian everyday life through clothing, cosmetics, “CBD oil” and as an edible seed / ingredient. There’s even a town called Hemp in Estonian (Kanepi) and its flag is a hemp leaf.

83. A Garlic Festival

There’s an entire festival dedicated to Garlic. They even sell garlic ice cream! It’s in Kuremaa. Look it up!

84. Estonian Cinema is pretty good!

Estonian cinema is pretty good. Movies like Tangerines, The Fencer and Truth and Justice are recent examples of good Estonian entertainment. Apparently the experience of going to the cinema in itself is entertaining enough for YouTubers Rachel and Nick of Australia to dedicate a story to it, which caught Estonia’s attention and became a bit of a talking point some time ago. Spoiler alert, Estonians don’t laugh during movies – allegedly. Click to see trailer.

85. You’re into Ballet…

The Estonian National Ballet is a thing. Tickets start from 11€ over at https://www.piletilevi.ee

86. You want a Kalashnikov

You can hire, well, use an AK in a controlled environment / shooting range. Check out Taktikalise Laskmise Keskus in Tartu.

87. Rich History

Humans settled in Estonia from around 8500 BC. Estonia has been invaded by several nations and empires, all except Finland I guess. The country has seen it all and has stories for days if you’re interested any museum will expand your mind but the Estonian History Museum might be a good place to start. A huge, great amount of Estonia’s history has nothing to do with the USSR.

88. The A. Le Coq Beer Museum

There’s an entire museum dedicated to A Le Coq beer (not related to Le Coq Sportif). A Le Coq is Estonia’s biggest beer brand and Saku is its rival. Choose the team you decide to join carefully.

89. Freedom of Thought, Speech and Internet

Political correctness isn’t ramped in Estonia. It’s still possible to speak and think freely. Estonia has the second highest degree of internet freedom, just marginally behind Iceland. By comparison Germany ranked 4th and Australia 5th, China took last place in an internet freedom index by Statista.

90. Shhhhh.

Tired of big city noise? Go to the forest and sit in a giant megaphone. Listen to the sound of nature. Estonians are usually a quiet bunch so chances are the noise you’re looking to escaping isn’t from Tallinn or Tartu despite being “cities”.

91. Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

Need to stay in a Hostel but prefer Hotels? Stay at Hektor Design Hostel in Tartu.

92. Bicycle Friendly

Estonia is Bicycle Friendly. I never had a problem bringing my bicycle anywhere in Estonia. Trains have bicycle racks and a couple of times I’ve even taken my bike on long-distance bus trips and drivers have been very accommodating. Many people cycle in Estonia and drivers usually give plenty of room. I also take my bicycle into Hotels. It’s possible to cycle from Estonia to anywhere in Europe.

93. Family Friendly

Estonia is a family friendly country. Culturally children are cherished and strong relationships with grand parents aren’t unheard of. The abundance of nature, strong family values means children still play in Estonia the way they used to in the old days.

94. Wind Mill Landscapes

Wooden wind mills can be spotted across the green countryside landscape.

95. Flying Safe

The world’s safest airlines Finnair and Qantas fly into Estonia via Helsinki. Qantas has a flight-share arrangement with Finnair. You’ll feel safe flying into Estonia with these airlines.

96. Get Famous

In a country with a population of 1.3 million people, it’s pretty easy to get famous. However, it’s also easy to get your own space and privacy as Estonians are typically a shy bunch. You can have the best of both worlds.

97. COVID-19 Safe

As at 10 July 2020 Estonia’s had 69 COVID-19 related deaths. Estonia is a fairly safe country by comparison to many other countries both in and out of Europe. Estonia was one of the first countries to create a “travel bubble” – incorporating Latvia and Lithuania into its pandemic safe-travel bubble. Perhaps this concept inspired Australia and New Zealand. The death toll for other countries is as follows: Finland 329, Australia 106, Belgium 9778, Sweden 5550, Canada 8749, France 29979, Germany 9125, United Kingdom 44602, Brazil 69254 and the United States of America 135000. Source: Wikipedia.

98. Aurora Borealis

It’s possible to see the Northern Lights in Estonia. This youtube video by Hans Markus Antson captures the whole experience.

99. Ice Fishing

In Estonia it’s possible to go ice fishing as a hobby or even in a competition. IXA shows how he does it on a frozen lake in Viljandi, Estonia. Watch his youtube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IuT6Z4vfeI

100. World’s Cosiest Airport

“Cosy” isn’t usually a word you’d associate with an airport. Tallinn’s airport however is exactly that. Wooden structures, comfortable chairs, sleeping pods, nordic shops, cafés and chairs inspired by traditional folk dress make up the aesthetics. It’s a welcomed change to the usual fast-paced, dirty, uncomfortable and stressful international airports elsewhere in the world. Best of all, the airport is small, easy to navigate and once you’re outside you can take a tram directly to the city or a Bolt (Estonia’s Über) directly into town.

That’s it! 100 reasons. Did I miss anything?

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Published by Jaiven

Estonian based Australian Blogger, frequent traveller to Europe. Successful Airbnb Superhost, Investor and Entrepreneur.

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