Jõhvi has long been a focal point for travellers – centuries ago it was a hub for the postal roads between St Petersburg and Western Europe and ushered through everyone coming from and going to Russia. Today the trains that travel from Tallinn to Russia pass through the city. It also provides easy access to the popular tourist sites in Ida-Viru county and along the shores of Lake Peipus.
The most eye-catching sight in Jõhvi itself is St Michael’s church, which is the city’s oldest building. It is the biggest single-nave church in Estonia, and also the most heavily fortified defensive church in the country. Its arched cellars house a museum in which you will hear engrossing legends about the building’s history.
In addition to St Michael’s, it is worth visiting the stone and red brick Church of the Crucifixion of Our Lord. It was the first place of worship at which Aleksius II, patriarch of all Russia, would serve.
Entering Jõhvi from the direction of Tallinn, you will notice a sculpture of a deer, which is the animal depicted on the city’s coat of arms. A promenade winds its way from the sculpture to the city centre.
The colourful history of Jõhvi Concert Hall dates back to 1491, when the land it stands on was home to Jõhvi Manor. The buildings on the estate were surrounded by extensive parklands, which still add to the grandeur of the site today. The hall hosts dozens of first-rate concerts, plays and festivals every year. The biggest event on its calendar is the Jõhvi Ballet Festival, which is held in May. The building also houses the Amadeus cinema and Jõhvi City Gallery.
Jõhvi is a very multicultural city, which is why it hosts the ‘Creative Melting Pot of National Cultures’ minority festival each September and the ‘Slavic Light’ festival in the city park in summer. There is also a ‘National Cuisine Festival’ which is held throughout the year – for one week each month people can try the national dishes of different countries and peoples.
There is a lot to enjoy around Jõhvi, too. Just 5 km from the city is Kukruse, where you can visit the Oil Shale Museum and the Polar Manor.
15 km from Jõhvi is Toila, which is a popular recreational and holiday destination among locals and visitors alike. Be sure to explore beautiful Oru Park, which was the summer residence of Estonia’s first president, Konstantin Päts. And for total relaxation you can enjoy the baths and saunas at Toila Spa Hotel.