Roadside attractions worth exploring

Source: Jaanus Ree, Visit Estonia

Roadside attractions worth exploring

From Tallinn to everywhere

Seven major roads run through Estonia, connecting the capital Tallinn with other larger Estonian cities, including Tartu, Narva, and Pärnu among others. Rather than just hopping from one city to the other, stretch out your journey by visiting these attractions along the way.

From Tallinn to Narva (L1 / E20)

A 45-minute drive from Tallinn across the E20 you'll come across the Viru moor. Here you can go for a walk and explore one of the most beautiful bogs in the country.

Back on the E20 we continue towards Narva. Shortly before the village of Viitna turn off onto the L176, which takes you to Palmse manor after about 5 kilometers. The parking is on the left side of the street. Palmse is one of the gems of Estonian estates. The whole ensemble is beautifully restored.

The restaurant Tulivee is located at the port of Purtse, directly on the Baltic Sea. It offers a magnificent view and a delicious fresh Scandinavian cuisine. From here you can jump back on the road on the E20 with direction to Narva. 

Stop for a nice walk on the beach on the cliffs of Ontika. About 15 minutes further east you will find the Saka Manor. Another 12 kilometers east is the Valaste waterfall. It's the highest waterfall in Estonia being about 40 metres in height. 

Now stay on the small coastal road L133 which will lead you directly to Toila. Here you follow the signs to the Toila Gymnasium ("Gümnaasium"), where you can park your car. From here, you can take a leisure walk to the historical Oru park to the small pavilion with a beautiful view.

The last stop on our detour route towards the Estonian-Russian border is the city ​​of Sillamäe. Sillamäe is known for its Stalinist architecture. Together with its straight avenues, the old buildings form a total work of art representing a past era. 

From Tallinn to Tartu (L2 / E263)

The L2 (E263) takes you from Tallinn on Ülemiste Lake and Lennart Meri airport to the southeast. After just half an hour's drive, you can take a long driving break, because there is plenty to discover near the village of Saula. Your children will especially enjoy the beautiful Viking village. It is right next to the highway on the river Pirita and you can also eat and even have a sauna.

Only a few meters further - but on the other side of the road - there is a parking lot. From here you walk through the woods to the famous Saula Siniallikad Sacrificial Springs. These colourful waters are said to have healing properties and considered sacred in the local folk culture. 

Continue towards Tartu and you will reach the quaint town of Paide. There is a wonderful centre for the whole family here, the Wittenstein Time Center featuring an exhibition on human history.

Next up on your route are two beautiful manors – The impressive Neogothic Lustivere manor can be enjoyed from outside. Puurmani manor is another 15-minute drive away. The large white manor house was built around 1860 in the neo-Renaissance style and today houses the local high school. 

The last stop on our way from Tallinn to Tartu is the huge nature reserve Alam-Pedja. Both nature lovers and hobby ornithologists should be extra pleased with the forests, moors, rivers, meadows and a living fauna and flora. A great hiking trail leads through the area featuring a birdwatching tower, two nature study trails, and various resting and fire pits. The 34,000-acre terrain can be accessed from all adjacent roads. The main hiking trail starts at the fishponds of Ilmatsalu.

From Tallinn to Pärnu (L4 / E67)

After about 40 minutes by car on E67 your first stop is Kernu manor –  a magnificent, beautifully restored mansion. There are a hotel and an excellent restaurant, perfect for lunch and a walk in the park.  

Continue on the L4 to the farm museum in Sillaotsa. The best way to reach the museum is to turn left onto the L171 shortly after passing through Märjamaa and at the end turn right onto the L165. You can immerse yourself in the life of the former municipality of Velise, as it looked too ordinary citizens in the second half of the 19th century. You can pre-order a carriage or a horseback ride. 

Just 20-minutes' drive away is the Jaanihanso cider factory. Delicious apple cider is produced here from Estonian apples - which, of course, can be tasted and bought locally.

The last detour on our tour takes us deep into nature. What awaits you here will not only make your kids' hearts beat faster, but also bring a smile to your face. The largest alpaca farm in Estonia, the beautiful alpacas can be petted and fed, there is also a petting zoo with other small animals. the farm shop sells souvenirs made from alpaca wool.

From Tallinn via Haapsalu (L9)

From Tallinn, take the E67 (L4) and then the L9. After about 40 kilometers, you will arrive in Laitse, where there are two stations away from our route, which are only a few kilometers apart.

Our first stop is the Laitse castle, one of the country's most impressive neo-Gothic style buildings. It looks like a medieval castle but was actually built around 1892. The castle has guest rooms, a restaurant, and a beautifully landscaped garden.

Less than 5 kilometers to the south on the other side of the L9, is the Laitse Rally Park. From electric cars to karts to real rally cars, all motorised vehicles can be driven by visitors.

On the grounds of the Laitse rally park, there is also a small but fine vintage collection. The tour of the collection and travel bookings must be requested in advance.

The 9-kilometre long Marimetsa bog is located 25 minutes drive southwest of Laitse. You should plan at least 4 hours for the whole route and definitely take rubber boots with you to avoid getting your feet wet. A large part leads over a wooden plank path to a lookout tower. On the way, there is an opportunity for birdwatching.

Once you've returned safely from the moor, continue west on the L9. In the village of Kadarpiku you will find a picturesque country house, built by the Estonian painter Ants Laikmaa. Laikmaa studied painting in Dusseldorf and brought Impressionism to Estonia. 

We now come to Haapsalu via the L9. Even the Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky loved this charming town and is said to have composed one of his symphonies here. Take at least two days to explore Haapsalu and make sure to take a walk on the promenade.

Last updated : 16.10.2020