One of the largely untapped Baltic countries, Estonia is full of Medieval charm and unique natural beauty. It's one of the only places in the world where you can see a meteorite crater and still-intact Medieval fortifications. As a less-popular European destination, it's the perfect place to visit to take a real vacation, where you can enjoy the sights without the crowds.
An Estonia tour can provide you with more than a week's worth of varied activities. There are plenty of protected natural and wildlife areas to enjoy the country's landscapes. Don't let the idyllic countryside fool you, though -- Tallinn is also a really fun place to go bar-hopping through its various neighborhoods.
Estonia's cities make for a great tour destination, particularly its capital city. Unlike many other cities in Europe, Tallinn's Medieval architecture is largely intact. Old Town is surrounded by fortified stone walls and towers that give the city a fairytale look. As you walk through the cobblestone streets or wooden walkways of the defensive walls, you'll feel as though you're transported back in time -- even more so if you sit down at the 15th-century tavern, III Draakon, for a bowl of elk soup.
Outside of Tallin's Old Town, in what used to be an industrial neighborhood, you'll find the hipster oasis of Telliskivi. The area is full of bars and restaurants, some inside old shipping containers. Telliskivi is home to many artists and musicians, so it comes alive with galleries and performances.
Wildlife & Nature Tours
The country has stunning and quiet landscapes that you can take advantage of on a tour. For instance, Estonia is one of the few places in the world where a meteorite struck a populated area. On the island of Saaremaa, you can see the result of this at Kaali Meteorite Crater Field. Saaremaa also boasts an impressive collection of traditional Estonian windmills at Angla Windmill Park. You can even eat inside a windmill at Saaremaa Veski in the town of Kuressaare.
Some of the most beautiful natural landscapes of Estonia can be found at Lahemaa National Park. The park contains a series of nature paths that cut through bogs and forests. Within the parkland, you'll also find 16th-century manors, like Vihula Manor, where you can spend the night.
Soomaa National Park is another protected wetland in Estonia. Here you can rent a canoe for a fun and active afternoon around the wetlands. You can also take a night safari, which is led by a guide and includes a walk through the forest, canoeing, and visiting a beaver habitat.
Culture & History Tours
As one of the most unique countries in Europe, you may be interested in learning more about life in Estonia through a culture and history tour. Traditionally, Estonia's location made it a very important hub for trade in Northern Europe. You can follow the footsteps of 13th-century merchants through the popular trade cities of Parnu, Tartu, and Narva. You can also explore the historical architecture left behind from the Soviet Era in Estonia.
Planning Your Trip
Best Time to Visit Estonia
Since Estonia is so far north, winters can be pretty rough, making certain activities impossible. When spring starts to bloom, before the heavy influx of summer tourists, Estonia is at its most peaceful. A partially frozen bog at Laahemaa is stunning, and the nature hikes are nice and cool in the crisp spring air. That being said, Tallinn is never livelier than at Christmas or during the summer.
What to Look for in a Tour to Estonia
Estonia has a little something for everyone, and a good tour should reflect that kind of diversity. Even if you're not particularly outdoorsy, it would be a shame to visit Estonia and not explore its rare natural wonders. The nightlife in Tallinn is equally diverse and fun, so a good tour should include at least one or two weekend days off for you to experience it.
Typical Tour Cost
Tours to Estonia are often bundled with Latvia and Lithuania as part of a Baltic country itinerary. These tours cost upwards of $2,300, but you get three countries for the price of one. If you want to see more of Estonia in particular, a popular alternative is to stay in Tallinn as a home base and take day trips around the country. Day trips to Saaremaa island or Lahemaa National Park, for instance, go for around $150-200.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
If you want to experience all the wonders of Estonia, you'll inevitably have to do some hiking. Some comfortable hiking shoes are a must for visiting the national parks. Canoe rentals at Soomaa National Park include the paddles, life jackets, and a dry storage for your personal belongings. Don't forget to pack a hat and sunscreen to shield yourself from the sun.
Other Tips for Travel in Estonia
The local cuisine is exquisite and very closely linked to the seasons, so it's all fresh. If you're staying by the coast, make sure to enjoy some seafood. Estonians are also very proud of their craft beers, which come highly recommended when you sit down for a meal.
Estonians can appear unfriendly, but it's simply because of their reserved nature. They won't necessarily approach outsiders and make conversation, but they're perfectly warm and helpful if you initiate contact. Don't be shy, but don't be offended if people don't welcome you with a warm hug and their life story.
Health & Safety
The CDC recommends travelers obtain their Hepatitis A vaccine as a precaution when visiting Estonia, as it can be contracted through food or water. Nonetheless, the water in Estonia is safe to drink. If you're spending a lot of time outdoors, there's a small chance you could be exposed to rabies through animal bites, so it may be a good idea to get a rabies shot in addition to your routine vaccines.
Estonia is a peaceful and generally safe country, whether you're in Tallinn or one of the remote islands of the country. Like any major city in Europe, you should always be aware of your surroundings and watch out for pickpockets, especially in very touristy areas or bus stations.