Estonia - the perfect city break destination

Source: Visit Estonia

Estonia - the perfect city break destination

Estonia is the perfect city-break destination for travellers wanting to get off the beaten track and escape the tourist crowds. Visitors can explore Northern Europe's most well preserved Old Town or trek out into the unknown and discover a town rich in Soviet-era culture, a bustling university city or Estonia's summer capital. There has never been a better time to visit Estonia, with flights to the capital city, Tallinn, taking just 2.5 hours and direct-route offerings from easyJet, AirBaltic, Ryanair and WizzAir.

North Estonia – Tallinn, 2023 European Green Capital

First established in the early medieval era, today's Tallinn is an exciting mix of old and new, making it the perfect weekend getaway for lovers, friends, and families alike. Readers of the UK-based travel magazine Wanderlust agree; tens of thousands voted and named Tallinn the second-most desirable city to visit in Europe. Start the day at the Baltic Station Market, known for its fresh local produce, versatile street food and traditional crafts.

Visitors can then check-out the street art in Tallinn's trendiest neighbourhood, Telliskivi Creative City, featuring several small designer stores and galleries and unique dining and drinking places. For lunch, stop by the newly opened Fotografiska  restaurant, which serves up instagenic Estonian cuisine with a zero-waste mindset. Visitors will be taken back to the Middle Ages with a stay in the St. Petersbourg boutique hotel, with the building dating back to 1850 and located in the midst of the UNESCO World Heritage listed, Tallinn Old Town. Travellers can explore the Old Town on their own or take a walking tour, with the guide introducing Tallinn through colourful legends, myths and mystical folklore, passing by the Town Hall Square, Estonian History Museum, Patkuli viewing platform, Alexander Nevsky CathedralToompea Castle and Maiden Tower.

Later, visitors can stop by the PROTO Invention Factory and go back in time to the 19th and 20th century. The exhibition features VR technology and historical inventions for visitors to try out themselves, such as the world's first car, airbike, locomotive and hot air balloon.

Noblessner area

Photo by: Martin Dremljuga, Visit Estonia

As the afternoon approaches, travellers can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and watch the sunset at Restaurant NOA, known for its Estonian flavours and breath-taking view of the Tallinn skyline and sea. For evening entertainment, a new cultural hub in Noblessner, Kai Art Center has been opened in the former submarine production plant. The cultural centre will showcase international contemporary art exhibitions, movie programs and other cultural events.

Events for the diary:

  • Tallinn Restaurant Week allows visitors to enjoy local cuisine and learn about the latest cooking trends. Delicious cuisine can also be enjoyed at many of the participating restaurants.
  • Black Nights Film Festival  (PÖFF) is an annual film festival in Tallinn, held since 1997 and is the only A-category film festival in Northern Europe. The festival showcases over 600 films, has over 1,200 attending film professionals and journalists and attracts a crowd of more than 80,000 people each year.
  • Tallinn Christmas Market was awarded the title of European Best Christmas Market in 2019, with the world-renowned market being held in the medieval Town Hall Square. Travellers can enjoy black pudding and sour cabbage, as well as warm Christmas drinks. A full cultural programme with dancers, singers and more takes place on stage and visitors are joined by Santa.
  • Medieval Days takes place in Tallinn's Old Town every year in July. Travellers get to feel the atmosphere of the flourishing Hanseatic era at the large medieval market in the Town Square Hall with merchants and workshops, musicians and dancers, theatre performances, knight tournaments and other exciting activities.

East Estonia – Narva

Estonia's easternmost town, Narva, a mix of Estonian and Russian cultures, is known for its iconic historical sights, Soviet-era architecture and world-class spa facilities. Start your day passing by the Baron von Velio's house, dating back to 1845.

For lunch, stop by Rondeel, which offers exquisite fish and meat dishes, with fresh local ingredients. A visit to the museum in Narva Castle is a must, where travellers can try out various techniques for handicrafts and explore the history of the town. Visitors can then head to the Narva-Jõesuu beach for some afternoon sun or alternatively, the infrared sauna and salt chamber at Meresuu Spa & Hotel  if the weather takes a turn.

Narva castle

Photo by: Visit Estonia

The Dark Garden in Narva is ideal for a night stroll, offering spectacular views of the Narva River Promenade, which separates Estonia and Russia.

Events for the diary:

  • Narva Opera Days ContempArt introduces contemporary classical music, showcases world premieres and includes pieces by young artists (musicians, artists and directors), who perform well-known Estonian classics. Visitors can experience chamber-like performances in the historic Narva Castle, the Kreenholm settlement and the freshly opened Free Stage.
  • Winter Fair at Narva showcases products from traders and craftsmen from Estonia and other Baltic countries. Additionally, guests can participate in master classes and purchase Christmas presents.
  • Narva Battle has grown into the main event of summer in Narva and brings together military-historical clubs from all over Northern Europe, to meet at the courtyard of Narva Castle.

South Estonia – Tartu

The second largest town in Estonia, Tartu, is known as a hub for students, intellectuals and creatives, home to one of Northern Europe's oldest universities, a wealth of museums and an upbeat nightlife. Upon their arrival, travellers will be welcomed by the Kissing Students fountain, a well-known symbol of Tartu and a must for lovers visiting the city. Next up, the Estonian National Museum is sure to intrigue, filled with pieces of Estonia's past and providing insight into the countries traditions and rituals.

Upside Down House

Photo by: Konstantin Sedev, Visit Estonia

Travellers can 'do it for the gram' and have their world turned upside down at the Upside Down House, where they will find furniture, a refrigerator and everything else usually found on the floor, on the ceiling.

As the afternoon approaches, visitors can take a guided tour of Tartu's Old Town, starting at the Town Hall Square and passing the University of Tartu Museum and the greenery of Toomemägi Park. Another option is to discover Tartu from an alternative angle and take a Street Art Tour in Karlova. If the weather takes a turn, the V Spa and Sauna World features 11 different pools and hot tubs and three types of saunas, with the Kneipp Therapy trail of cold and warm water sure to keep visitors entertained. A night spent in the Aparaaditehas Creative City will be sure to delight, with the venue hosting a variety of different art and cultural events each week to suit all tastes; from concerts and workshops to parties and exhibitions.

Aparaaditehas in Tartu

Photo by: Riina Varol, Visit Estonia

For dinner, Restaurant Kolm Tilli is the perfect spot to try Aparaaditehas Creative City's street food, with an open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant and separate areas for making pizza and bakery products. Located in the heart of Tartu, the elegant and luxurious Hotel Antonius will be sure to provide a restful night's sleep, with valuable antiques coupled with modern design in the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Events for the diary:

  • Festival in Aparaaditehas features a concert and nightclub programme over two evenings. The flea market and Estonian street food are always a highlight.
  • Wintry Tartu Folk Dance Day takes place on Town Hall Square, with approximately 800 folk dancers expected to come together this year, to dance on the wintertime cobblestones.
  • Tartu Christmas Fair the traditional Tartu Christmas Fair takes place in the Tartu Town Hall Square, where visitors can enjoy warm drinks, smoked meat, honey, sweets, baked goods and local handicrafts.
  • Tartu Food and Wine Festival offers authentic Estonian flavours from small producers and pop-up restaurants from South-Estonia, as well as a rich selection of wines. Guests can participate in open tastings and get advice from the best Estonian sommeliers.
  • tARTuFF is the largest outdoor film festival in the Baltics. It is held in Tartu Old Town and showcases a diverse selection of genre and documentary films in a cosy midsummer atmosphere.

West Estonia – Pärnu

Pärnu is the ultimate summer holiday destination in Estonia for those wanting to escape the crowds, with only 60 people per square kilometre residing in the town. The summer capital attracts locals and visitors with its sandy beaches, laid back vibe and trendy bars and restaurants. Start the day with an early morning hike along the Pärnu coastal meadow hiking trail, which is positioned by the sea in the midst of Pärnu beach.

Relaxing in Hedon Spa & Hotel

Photo by: Mart Vares, Visit Estonia

Later, enjoy a lunch at the elegant Mon Ami, known for its combination of classic and contemporary trends and 'something special' offering with traditional dishes. Afterwards, the Mole of Pärnu is perfect for a romantic stroll, with it believed that walking to the end of the mole
and kissing will bring couples luck. Visitors will be glad to know that Pärnu is the perfect weekend break during any season, with several festival, cultural shows and entertainment events organised throughout the year. Visitors can wind down at the Hedon Spa & Hotel, with spectacular views of the beach promenade and world-class spa facilities in the historical mud baths building.

For dinner, the Rannahotell Restaurant offers mouth-watering Scandinavian cuisine and has glamour of the 1930's.

Events for the diary:

  • The Night of Ancient Bonfires: Lighting bonfires in summer has become a folk tradition in Estonia, used in ancient times to guide sailors back home from the sea. The Night of Ancient Bonfires is a celebration of this tradition, with locals lighting campfires all across Estonia. Pärnu Beach is an ideal destination to witness the celebration.
  • Night Festival of Light (Öövalgel): The Night Festival of Light showcases nine performances of unique visual productions and installations on both days of the festival. The projections are displayed on the Pärnu Town Hall, Mohri House and Tallinn Gates.
  • Kihnu Violin Festival: The UNESCO World Heritage listed, Kihnu Violin Festival on the island of Kihnu, just a short ferry or boat ride away from Pärnu, showcases the best violinists of Estonia. Travellers can immerse themselves in island culture and the rich song traditions of Kihnu, as they enjoy the festival's spectacular violin concerts and discussions.
  • Pärnu Café Week : During Café Week, local meals such as salads, desserts and tea and coffee are offered at a discounted price at participating cafés. The event was created to promote local businesses in Pärnu, following the success of Tallinn Restaurant Week.
Last updated : 03.02.2023

In category: Tallinn, South Estonia, West Estonia, North Estonia