The best of Tartu by Hear It From Locals

Source: Marek Metslaid

The best of Tartu by Hear It From Locals

There's no better (and fun) way to learn about a destination than through the eyes of a local. Nitasha, the founder of Hear It From Locals – a travel blog bridging the gap between wanderers and locals, follows around a Tartu-based photographer Anu Must to learn more about the 'nooks and crannies' of Estonia's second-largest town.

Tartu is among Estonia's oldest town and a base to one of Northern Europe's oldest universities – Tartu university. In addition to running Estonia's most successful bike share scheme, Tartu also has a large green area located right in the middle of the town centre. Toomemägi is a large natural park that looks down at Tartu's old town core. With seventh of Tartu's population made up of university students and scholars, Tartu is buzzing with young and intellectual vibes.

Kaarsild bridge in Tartu

...the former Stone bridge that was destroyed during World War II that is now Kaarsild. – A.M. 

Photo by: Riina Varol, Visit Estonia

The very best and common way to explore the city and get from point A to B is using a bicycle. There are plenty of opportunities. The newest system is Bike sharing. There are approx. 70 bike share stations around the city. 500 of them are electronic and 250 regular. You just need to purchase a season ticket ( one day, week, etc) – Anu Must, Hear it From Locals

Tartu has four distinctive seasons, and while all seasons show the town from a new angle, the autumn foliage is especially beautiful in Tartu. A number of handicraft and design fairs are regularly held during the warmer months of spring and summer.

Discover the city during spring time when everything is blooming. In Spring you can visit the annual traditional spring fair, where you will find numerous Estonian handicrafts, decorative plants, gardening stuff and also local food. – A.M.

Three must-visit places in Tartu

Kissing students in front of Tartu Town Hall

Photo by: Oliver Moosus, Visit Estonia

I personally advise you to take a walk along riverside banks of Emajõgi (Mother River in English). The banks are being constantly fixed up and offer beautiful sights. – A.M.

The Tartu Town Hall  and its famous kissing students' sculpture are impossible to miss, but make sure to also take a look at Tartu University's main building, which was established in 1632.

The historical buildings of the university are included in the European Heritage Label list as "embodiment of the ideas of a university in the Age of Enlightenment. It was erected by King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden in 1632.

One of the places in Tartu where you can still feel the pre-WWII vibes is Supilinn or Soup Town. The place is lined with wooden houses and streets named after ingredients of soup like peas and potatoes.

– A.M.


The revamped hip nook of Tartu

Photo by: Riina Varol, Visit Estonia

The opposite place for historical old town you could go and see is Aparaaditehas (The Widget Factory). A former factory complex is now a rapidly developing area that brings together entrepreneurs, designer studios and a nice meeting place with many different places to eat.

Also when you're already in Aparaaditehas, go visit Muhu bakery, you will get fresh and warm bread. I can't think of anything more Estonian than black bread. 

– A.M. 

Best day trips from Tartu for nature, culture, and history


The name "taevaskoja" translates roughly as "heaven's chambers".

Photo by: Aivar Ruukel, CC BY-SA 2.0

Go and discover Taevaskoja in southern Estonia. A beautiful place every Estonian has visited at least once in their lives. It is worth a visit regardless of the season. It's located in the Põlva County by the river Ahja which is popular for camping, kayaking and canoeing in whole of Estonia. If hiking is on your mind you can even consider halting there overnight at the Taevaskoja Holiday Center. At Taevaskoda on the river the Devonian sandstone cliffs rise to a height of 24 metres above the river. Reaching there is easy if you have a car or you can just take a train to and from Tartu. Trains run multiple times a day and journey takes a little more than an hour. – A.M.

Read the full interview!

Last updated : 23.04.2021

In category: South Estonia