Grab the wheel! Your road trip itinerary to exploring central and south-western Estonia

Source: Karl Ander Adami, Visit Estonia

Grab the wheel! Your road trip itinerary to exploring central and south-western Estonia

 The saying goes that you have not really visited a country until you leave its capital. We must admit, Tallinn is glorious and you can spend days exploring its crooked medieval streets, exciting museums and buzzing food scene. However, other Estonian cities come with their own charm and secrets to discover. Head south of Tallinn to explore these unique places.

This suggested road trip itinerary is doable in a weekend but if you prefer a more relaxed pace, you can easily stretch the experience for a few days more. As always, feel free to use this itinerary as a spark of inspiration - let your eyes, ears and GPS do the rest.

LEG #1: Tallinn to Viljandi

Head out of Tallinn in the early hours of the morning and set your course to Viljandi. This charming southern town is so uplifting and relaxing a place, that even the New York Times calls it “the kind of small town for which it’s worth going out of your way”. Once you get to Viljandi, park your car and head out to stretch your legs in the ruins of the Viljandi Order Castle. There are plenty of cafes to visit for a bite to eat. Depending on the season, you can also enjoy Lake Paala either on a boat or just as a beautiful backdrop to your wandering. 

Viljandi is a perfect place to explore on foot.

Photo by: Jaak Nilson, Visit Estonia

LEG #2: Viljandi to Soomaa National Park

Leaving the hills of Viljandi, head out to Soomaa National Park. This is one of Estonia’s most beloved national parks, where walking in a landscape of giant bogs surrounded by deep forests will leave you feeling like you’re truly in the wild hinterlands of Scandinavia.

Soomaa offers activities for every season.

Photo by: Karl Ander Adami, Visit Estonia


Don’t worry, there’s no need to get your feet wet as you can take in your surroundings on the various boardwalks. Between April and October, canoe rentals are also available for water lovers.

LEG #3: Soomaa National Park to Pärnu

A day of exploration should always end with a good meal and a comfortable bed! This is what the resort town and summer capital Pärnu is famous for. There are various hotels to choose from and if spas are your cup of tea, Pärnu is the best place to treat yourself. Rest assured, Pärnu will leave you feeling rejuvenated and rested!

Estonia's summer capital is a great stop for recharging.

Photo by: Kertin Vasser


LEG #4  Pärnu to Tallinn

Breakfast in Pärnu is a must. If you prefer eating your breakfast in grand historical surroundings, head to Ammende Villa for a morning coffee, Art Noveau style. If you’re yearning for cosiness, then Café Supelsaksad, a 150-year-old log house, is likely to be the right choice for you. Coffee aside, there are several other places to choose from.

Pärnu's beautiful nature and its selection of spas will put a spring in every traveller's step.

Photo by: Tanel Murd, Visit Estonia 


After breakfast, you can either grab the wheel again or visit one of the most contemporary museums in the Baltics - the Pärnu Museum. An exciting experience can be had by all ages so don’t hesitate to pop in. After your visit, you’ll understand life in Estonia - and especially Pärnu – much better!

For something truly special on your way home, take a quick detour to Pulli to see the oldest known human settlement in Estonia. It’s the most unique settlement in all of North Europe, proving that the first people arrived here 10,000 - 11,000 years ago.

Fun fact: A dog tooth found at Pulli is the oldest evidence of domesticated dogs in Estonia. History, archaeology and dog lovers will especially appreciate the site.

It’s approaching time to head back to Tallinn but there’s still time for one final stop. It’s worth checking out Laitse Castle which resembles a knight’s castle, with various elements from medieval architecture playfully on display. Relive the past with this romantic sight to end your day!

Last updated : 29.11.2021

In category: Tallinn, South Estonia, West Estonia