When was the last time you took a train somewhere to just look around and see the local life. It would be like a city break or a tour, but using transport other than a car. What a cool way to travel – the fun starts at the train station. On the way, you can calmly look out the window, see Estonia from a completely new angle and talk comfortably with your loved ones.
We will remind you of the five Estonian cities you can visit and return from by train. Each of these cities has its own attractions and a unique atmosphere. We will suggest some great ideas for sightseeing.
Explore Narva by train! It sounds somewhat exotic. Located at the crossroads of the East and the West, the city is unique both culturally and architecturally. Let's start with Narva Castle, where the Narva Museum is located. This castle was built at the end of the 13th century as the residence of the King of Denmark's Deputy Governor. Today, it is the most versatile and best preserved fortification in Estonia. The river side wing of the castle has been opened to visitors; until recently, only museum staff had access. It offers a view of Russia, Estonia and the river between.
Next to the castle is a 1-km-long promenade that has been renovated, along which you can walk and enjoy the view of the richest river in Estonia. From there, you can head to the mightiest bastion in Narva – Victoria Bastion, where you can take a guided tour and listen to exciting stories about its completion and use.
There is also Narva Alexander Church with a viewing platform next to the promenade, in the hall of which the installation 'Heaven above Narva' is shown. It is displayed directly on the vaults of the church and can be watched from specially angled chairs, looking up for a quarter of an hour as the colourful history of Narva is revived.
From there, we recommend going to see the Kreenholm Manufacturing Company with its unique architecture. It is now used as a venue for organising events. If you wish to see the sunset, visit the port of the reservoir near the Narva power plant to enjoy it. This place is also called the 'Venice of Narva'. It is the place where the video for Nublu's song 'Für Oksana' was filmed.
Spend a little over an hour on the train from Tallinn and you will find yourself in Rakvere. You must see the castle. This medieval landmark at the top of the hill makes everyone gasp to imagine how such a powerful building was erected on such rough ground and how it was protected from the enemy. There is plenty to see inside the fortress, too – look at the medieval wine cellar, marvel at the torture instruments of the time, taste the timeless food or try your hand at archery.
Visitors of the castle do not have to go far to see the next important symbol of Rakvere – the Tarvas, weighing 7000 kilos and reaching 3.5 metres in height.
If you like a more hands-on approach, visit the Police Museum: take your fingerprints, detect counterfeit money, solve criminal puzzles, dissect a heart or try sudden braking with a seat belt. Or grab an automatic firearm and save the life of a hostage with a bomb belt. After that, take a walk along Pikal Street and go through Central Square to reach the renewed Vallimäe, which has become the city's new entertainment centre: it has an amphitheatre, a main stage, walking trails, seating and much more. Vallimäe also has a legendary outdoor area for lovers. The official name of this spot is now Kissing Hill (Musumägi).
This university town is known for its cycling paths. Grab a bike and enjoy the compactness of Tartu – in a short time, you can go on an adventure in the cafés of the city centre, visit Raadi Park near the Estonian National Museum and see the Upside Down House. Stroll through the bohemian wooden house districts with their eccentric atmosphere and enjoy the street art. Do not forget the markets and local designer shops, the Kissing Hill or the observatory. You can read more about Tartu's many charms.
And, of course, it's worth highlighting the Widget Factory (Aparaaditehas) – a small town built into an old industrial factory building with design and art shops, a unique bookstore, modern eateries, galleries and a concert venue. Many creative entrepreneurs and artists are situated there. Besides, the Widget Factory is currently the most modern place in Tartu for meetings and entertainment.
The over 700-year-old town of Viljandi is small and peaceful but very rich in terms of attractions. What's not to like about the big concrete strawberries in the city – no child (or playful adult) can pass by without climbing them. Some think that the most famous sight in the city is the suspension bridge; others think that it is the castle hills and the view of the ancient valley. Which do you prefer?
Take a look at Viljandi Church, the Equestrian statue of General Johan Laidoner, Viljandi Museum and definitely the old water tower, which you can climb to enjoy the view. Don't forget the cafés that are famous all over the country: for example, Fellin, Restaurant Harmoonia, Amrita Café and many others.
Valga has become a popular destination for many. It has a renewed central square that connects Valga and Valka: a spacious and cosy place with walking trails and lawns. If you wish to experience nature, visit the renewed nature trail, which runs along the banks of the Pedeli River and reaches Pudrumäe with a view of both Valga and Valka. The trail also crosses the border and continues on the Valga side with the coastal area. There is also an open-air stage on both sides of the river. The open-air stage on the Valka side has a unique structure: the spectator area is on one side of the Pedeli River and the stage is on the other. To get on stage, the performers have to cross a bridge.
When you arrive in Valga by train, the magnificent Stalinist main building of Valga railway station, which is familiar to cinema-goers from the film 'The Little Comrade', cannot go unnoticed. At the beginning of the last century, there was a magnificent red brick station building, which was unfortunately destroyed during World War II.
Of the exciting buildings, the wooden Town Hall, which is the most outstanding example of wooden architecture in Estonia, and the police house, which is the only Art Nouveau building in Valga, cannot be missed.
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