Estonia is a quaint European country resting north of Latvia and west of Russia. Its northern border neighbors the Gulf of Finland. Estonia’s rich culture, architecture, and history offer much to see for the wayfaring tourist.
1. The Old Town (Toompea) – Tallinn
Tallinn is Estonia’s capital city with a residential population of 400,000. Though small numbered in denizens, Tallinn’s population leaves no indication of the city’s abundance of sights and attractions. The Old Town, or Toompea, is Tallinn’s staple attraction. As visitors step from asphalt to cobblestone, they become surrounded by quintessential European architecture. Entranced by the refurbished remnants of times past, travelers wander further into the capital’s heart, finally reaching the famed open-air market. Here, local farmers and artisans sell their produce, hand crafted clothing, jewelry, and other national novelties to tourists. As part of the experience, shop owners and employees dress in traditional Estonian garb, compelling the diverse multitudes to feel transported back hundreds of years.
2. Lahemaa National Park
70 kilometers outside of Tallinn sits Estonia’s first and largest national park. Established in 1971 when Estonia was still under Soviet rule, the park offers beautiful wildlife and archaic manors. Once occupied by German commanders, the manors now serve as historical attractions. Vast gardens and ponds enclose these sites. A short walk up the road will bring visitors to a central area where locals sell their homegrown goods. The park’s history is well preserved and allows for a genuine touristic experience.
Though winter is no friend to Saaremaa’s tourism industry, summer grants the perfect weather for enjoying Estonia’s largest island. Located off of the country’s western coast, Saaremaa has picturesque beaches and a whimsical inner city. Kuressaare is Saaremaa’s capital with an iconic castle located in town. Internally and externally, the structure is well preserved. The castle has a museum, which gives a detailed history of Saaremaa and the castle’s role in its formation. A short walk from the castle are a number of cafes and local venues. Outside of the city are the renowned windmills. These are historically significant and are landmarks of the island’s landscape. Along with Saaremaa’s classical sights and sunny beaches, guests can also find rich wildlife and far-reaching forests.
Estonia is a peaceful country with much to see and do, and its plush culture and history grants vacationists a unique experience. It leaves its guests with a desire to return and a newfound appreciation for this small, yet flourishing nation.