Estonia

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A Little About Estonia

Estonia is located in Northern Europe. It makes up one part of the three Baltic countries, along with Latvia and Lithuania. It lies on the Baltic Sea, and shares an eastern border with Russia. It’s also just a short distance from Finland, with the ferry ride connecting Tallinn and Helsinki taking around 2 hours.

Estonia has a long and interesting history of occupation and independence.  Once a Soviet satellite state, it gained it’s independence in 1991.  It’s now a part of the European Union, and is a hub for budding entrepreneurs, with the highest per capita amount of start-up companies of anywhere in Europe.  (We covered Tallinn and Estonia’s history a bit more in depth here.)

Lots of people include Estonia as part of a trip exploring the Baltic region, combining their visit with trips to Latvia and Lithuania. Our trip to Estonia was combined with visits to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which is a common route for many travellers. If you’re thinking about doing a similar trip, check out our country pages on Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (coming soon).   Also have a look at our Journey Idea: The Baltics and Poland, where we’ve detailed all the info we picked up from our trip through the region.

  • Population: Around 1.35 million
  • Capital city:  Tallinn
  • Official Language:  Estonian
  • Currency:  Euro

Places To Go

Tallinn

The capital city of Estonia, and also its largest city with a population of around 450,000.  Tallinn is where most people base themselves to explore Estonia.  The country is quite small and there are a lot of a good day trips that you can do from there.

Read:  Overview and tips for Tallinn
Read:  A brief history of Tallinn
Read:  Things to do in Tallinn

Other Places To Go

As we mentioned above, most people tend to base themselves in Tallinn and do day trips to explore the rest of the country. This is also what we did. Some of the other great places that we explored in Estonia included Viljandi, which we saw as part of a full day transport tour from Tallinn to Riga, and Lahemaa National Park, which you can see as a day trip from Tallinn.

While in Tallinn, many people also choose to do either a day or overnight trip to Helsinki.  It’s easy to get to, being only a couple of hours away on the ferry.  It’s well worth the trip if you have the time.

 

 Lahemaa National Park.  @Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA

Travel Tips And Things To Know

Best time to visit:  For weather and daylight hours, the summer months of June to September are the best time to visit Estonia.  Average temperatures in summer are 16-18 degrees celsius.  In the winter months, temperatures can drop well below zero.  If you are going in winter, Tallinn has some great christmas markets throughout December.  There are also a lot less tourists, making December another good time to visit.

Getting around:   Transport in Estonia is mainly via buses.  Bus company Lux Express run buses between Tallinn and Riga, as well as to many other destinations in Estonia.  Depending on if you’re looking at doing different day trips, it can sometimes be best to book these as tours, as the other public transport options can be a little confusing and time consuming.

  • Tip:  Traveller Tours also run a daily transfer between Tallinn and Riga.  It’s a little more expensive at €55, but you get to see a lot of the Estonian countryside.  It’s definitely worth it if you have the funds.

Expenses:  Estonia is a relatively cheap country compared to many countries in Europe.  Saying that, it’s probably the most expensive of the three Baltic states.  A cheap meal out will cost €10 or less, and a pint of beer costs €3-4.  A dorm room in a hostel will probably set you back around €15.

Onward Travels:  There are three common places that people come from or go to either before or after visiting Tallinn.  They are Riga, Helsinki, or St Petersburg.  Both Riga and St Petersburg can be reached by bus, and Helsinki is a short ferry ride away.  It’s worth keeping in mind that if you’re looking at going to St Petersburg, you’ll need to organise a Russian visa well in advance of your trip.  For more details on the best way to get between Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki, check out our Journey Idea: The Baltics and Poland.