Estonia is a country that many travelers never think to visit. In fact, some travelers aren’t even sure where the country is located. Nesstled between Scandinavia, Europe and Russia, Estonia is a beautiful country with incredible food and a culture of it’s own. Avoid the crowds and the high prices in Europe’s most popular destinations and opt instead for Estonia, for Medieval old town centers, old-fashioned seaside towns and a modern, cosmopolitan vibe. These 8 reasons to visit Estonia by EstoniaTravel.Net will help put it on the map!
- 1 10 Reasons Why Should You Visit Estonia Now
- 2 Why Visit Estonia?
10 Reasons Why Should You Visit Estonia Now
This former Soviet territory has something for everyone: an interesting history, charming architecture, and very well-preserved nature. Estonia is a hidden gem packed with opportunities to try something new, and have experiences that you wouldn’t probably have in most other countries.
You can fly, sail, ride or drive to Estonia from anywhere in Europe. Located in northeastern Europe, this small coastal country is a short ferry trip away from Finland and Sweden, a coach ride away from such European capitals as Warsaw and Berlin, and an overnight train from Saint Petersburg will land you at the heart of Tallinn.
Explore The Historic Centre of Tallinn
No trip to Estonia is complete without a proper visit of its capital city, Tallinn. Its particularly charming old town never fails to enchant visitors, and I was no exception.
Old Town Dating from the 1100s, this is one of Europe’s best-preserved walled cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At its center are the 600-year-old Town Hall and its bustling square, ringed with modern art galleries and street vendors selling jewelry of Baltic amber, which many consider the best in the world. Colors range from pale yellow to deep gold.
Estonia’s UNESCO world heritage capital city Tallinn was granted city rights in the 13th century by the King of Denmark. Since then, the streets of Tallinn have seen many world powers, from the Danes and Swedes to Germans, and tsarist and Soviet Russia. Tallinn Old Town is filled with medieval houses and alleyways and is still protected by the remnants of the city wall. The wealth of architecture in Tallinn means that there are many legends and stories to explore.
Estonians tend to be at least bilingual, and according to recent studies, are among the best English speakers in Europe. Many visitors tend to think that Estonians speak elvish. This magical sounding language is in fact Estonian, belonging to the Finno Ugric branch of European languages.
Estonian is quite unique among European languages, belonging to the Finno-Ugric family along with Finnish and Hungarian. Most words look to be from a different planet sound mesmerisingly melodic. This so called “elven” language is spoken by around 1.1 million people globally. Estonia has one of the highest literacy rates in the world at 99.8% and nearly everyone speaks a foreign language, whether it be English, Russian, Finnish, German or Swedish. This makes getting around Estonia easy, though an aitäh (thank you) is always appreciated.
The Food Scene
If you are a foodie, now is the time to visit Estonia. Estonia’s restaurants are top notch. Many of the restaurants are Michelin star caliber, without the price tag. Almost every restaurant is farm-to-table, sourcing ingredients that are only seasonal. This means that everything is extremely delicious, because ingredients are all in-season, fresh and most importantly, local.
All throughout the country, handcrafted drinks are created with great imagination and consideration to detail. Sea buckthorn is a unique ingredient which is popular in many dishes and cocktails, and probably something you have not yet introduced your tastebuds to. The brown breads are served at almost every restaurant, it will inevitably be too enticing to pass up as each establishment has their own tasty twist on this Estonian tradition.
Estonia is almost 50% forest
Forests cover about 50% of the territory of Estonia, or around 2 million hectares, and so make out an important and dominating landscape type in the country. According to the Estonian Ministry of Environment, national policy recognises that forests are a natural and ecological resource, and the importance of forests is to be considered from an economic, social, ecological and cultural aspect.
Despite its relatively small size, Estonia displays a great variety in forest types. Two main types are forests growing on mineral soil (about 70%) and so-called swamp forests (about 30%), growing in the numerous wetland areas of Estonia. The forest types can further be broken down into smaller categories, many with their own ecosystem and unique biotope. In addition, large variations can be found within a single small area of land. The most common tree species are pine, birch and spruce.
Estonians love their forests, bogs and all the creatures that live there such as lynxes, brown bears, wolves, foxes, rabbits and deers. It’s right to say that Estonians come with a tree hugging trait.
Estonia has over 2000 islands
Life moves at a slower pace on the islands where Estonia’s traditional lifestyle still stands strong. Estonian islands are known for their rural charm and here you can explore how Estonians used to live before the modern age. The nature on the islands is mostly untouched, at times hiding traces of the past past medieval heyday and battles.
Most Estonian islands are tiny and uninhabited, so if you are a bird watching, canoeing, sailing or fishing enthusiast then you might just find a place remote and wild enough for a real nature getaway. Below are some of the largest Estonian islands with a wealth of cultural and natural history.
Estonia is the only Baltic country with far-stretching and deep rooted island culture. Although mostly uninhabited, Estonian islands tend to be rural, with some holding traces of local Viking and medieval culture.
The Locals are friendly
The locals in Estonia are kind, generous and happy to share their country with travelers. A proud Kihnu woman invited me into her home for freshly baked bread and to teach me about her local culture on the island. A man that lives off the land on the island of Muhu showed me the area and then danced with me to say farewell.
All over the country, Estonians are welcoming and proud to share their culture with foreigners. Meeting incredible locals who are willing to share their lives with a stranger is one of the most sacred experiences for a traveler. To have so many people willing to do that in one country is astonishing and special, and a great reason to visit.
E-Society and Healthcare
It is amazing that Estonia came up with e-society. Everything can be done online, it is all connected to your digital ID card, you can even vote online or refill your prescriptions without meeting a doctor in person. Signing documents is the best part for me — no more printing, signing and scanning — forget about these times. You receive a document, login via mobile or pc with your ID card and simply press “sign document”.
Healthcare is good and almost free of charge. By almost I mean that you would pay around 5 eur for the doctor’s visit and then if doctor needs to see you for the second time — it would cost you nothing. Compared to other countries like USA — this is just perfect.
It’s Still “Undiscovered” by Tourists
One of the worst parts about visiting a new place, is finding that you are one of many tourists waiting in line to see the sights. Even Estonia’s busiest city, Tallinn, has been spared from mass tourism, maintaining the authenticity of the area.
Although Estonia is an incredible destination, there is no dodging gigantic groups over pushy tourists when you visit, even during their “high season”, the way that you would in cities like Paris or Rome. Traveling during high season without loads of crowds was a refreshing experience. Estonia feels more authentic and relaxing without the crazy crowds.
Why Visit Estonia?
By now, you should be convinced to visit Estonia. It is much more than the old town of Tallinn! (although Tallinn is amazing).
Estonia is a modern country – Skype was born there and it is the world’s most digitalized government (meaning all the usual paperwork can be done online).
It is equipped with impeccable roads and modern transportation which, combined with its small size, make it very easy to go around.
Even if you just have a week, it is already enough to try all these experiences. To give you an idea, I could do all these (and more) during a 2-week trip to the Baltic States. I have spent about a week in Lithuania and Latvia, and a week in Estonia.
Now you have no more excuses to not visit this wonderful country and live all these surprising and unique experiences.