Inhabited since around 9,000 BC, culture-rich Estonia has many a unique story to tell. Once successively owned by Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Germany, and finally Soviet Russia, the country has finally broken free, blossoming into a truly beautiful destination characterised by ancient, fairytale-like settings… and plenty of unusual places to stay!
Obviously, when it comes to Estonian travels it would be a crime not to mention the capital city of Tallinn. Its UNESCO-listed Old Town is a jewel of cobbled medieval streetscapes, historic churches, and charming old houses.
For a soothing visual treat, climb Toompea, a limestone hill in the heart of the city, and savour those mesmerising panoramic views from the top.
But Tallinn aside, there are many wondrous Estonian cities to explore, including the oldest, Tarnu, famous for its university, classical buildings… and a quirky town that’s completely devoted to soup!
Meanwhile, Narva boasts a scenic 13th century castle, and coastal Parnu the most beautiful beach, complete with white sand and towering dunes. In fact, this is where many Estonians choose to roll out their towels in summer.
If you’re in need of an escape from city life (no matter how magical!), the ethereal Lahemaa National Park is just an hour’s drive from the capital. Here you can explore the Viru Bog, or the fascinating Sagadi Manor in the centre.
Nature lovers will adore Matsalu, a vast nature park specifically created to preserve Estonia’s diverse bird life. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot the highly endangered white-tailed eagle… while if you head to the Soomaa National Park, a former peat bog created from centuries of melting glaciers, you could catch sight of beavers, boar, and golden eagles.
Did you know that Estonia also consists of a large number of islands? Some of the most scenic include Saaremaa, resplendent with well-preserved medieval castles and the stunning Sorve Peninsula, and tranquil Hiiumaa, which boasts a romantic 19th century lighthouse… the tallest in the country.
However, if it’s more a sense of fun you’re after, no problem. The Northern city of Rakvere is home to a spellbinding castle that doubles as a 16th century theme park, complete with authentic activities, free-roaming animals, and a friendly cast of characters in full costume!
And in the southern region you’ll discover Viljandi, a charming city that attracts a plethora of visitors for its lively calendar of music festivals.
Simply relax with your plate of Estonian rye bread and smoked fish… oh, and a healthy glug of Vana Tallinn – the national drink! – and let the spirit of this awe-inspiring country captivate your soul.
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