All you need to know to prepare for your trip to Estonia

Source: Port of Tallinn

All you need to know to prepare for your trip to Estonia

COVID-19 and travelling to Estonia


Getting to and around Estonia is pretty straightforward with a number of direct routes to key destinations in Estonia. Here’s a crash course to everything you need to know about Estonia before taking off including the local currency, time zone, public holidays and transport.

 

Fast Facts

  • European Union membership: since 2004
  • Official language: Estonian, with English widely spoken
  • Currency: Euro € (check conversion rates)
  • Time zone: GMT +2 in winter and GMT +3 in summer
  • Country dialling code: 00372 or +372
  • Emergency number: 112 (all emergencies)
  • Plug socket: type F, with voltage of 230V and frequency of 50Hz

Estonian public holidays

Most shops, banks, and restaurants are open on public holidays – the 25th of December and 1st of January are the only days when most businesses are closed.

  • 1st of January: New Year’s Day. Usually a very quiet day after celebrations.
  • 24th of February: Independence day. Celebrated with the military parade in the morning and festive family dinners in the evening.
  • Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Commonly known as lihavõtted or munadepühad in Estonian. Celebrated by springtime (dairy-based) treats, eggs, and folk festivities.
  • 1st of May: May Day. The night before (Walpburg night) is celebrated with parties and witchcraft.
  • 23rd of June: Victory Day. Celebrating decisive battle (1919) during the War of Independence
  • 24th of June: Midsummer Day. Commonly known as Jaanipäev. Celebrated with bonfires, different events and festivities taking place all around Estonia. One of the most important dates in a year for Estonians.
  • 20th of August: Day of Restoration of Independence. Celebrated with national festivities, events, and family gatherings.
  • 24th December – 26th of December: Christmas.

Getting to Estonia 

Travelling to Estonia is quick and convenient thanks to frequent connections with Scandinavia, Russia, Eastern and Central Europe. You can fly to Tallinn with a number of direct routes from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Paris, Vienna and many more cities. Ferry routes connect Tallinn with Helsinki and Stockholm. You can also take a ferry roundtrip to St. Petersburg via roundtrip through Scandinavia. You can arrive to Estonia by train from Petersburg, Moscow and Riga. Driving is another hassle-free way to travel to Estonia from Russia and Latvia.

Major international companies offer rental car services in Tallinn and you can hop on a rental upon your arrival in Tallinn Airport. This is a great way to discover gems along the way, including small towns and national parks.

 

Visas

Estonia is a member of the Schengen area, meaning that travellers coming from other Schengen countries do not need a visitor visa to enter Estonia. Nationals of the EU, EEA, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, in addition to further countries, do not need a visitor visa to visit Estonia. Please consult the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for a full list and details. If you do require a Schengen area visa, you can submit an application at an Estonian representation abroad. If there is not an Estonian embassy or consulate in your country, you can apply at the office of a Member State representing Estonia in issuing visas.

 

Local transport 

There is a wide variety of local transport options available in Estonia. For cross country coach routes, schedules and tickets visit T-Pilet.ee. For train routes and tickets, please visit Elron.ee. For information about domestic ferries to the most popular islands suchs as Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Kihnu, Vormsi, Manilaid, Ruhnu, Aegna, Piirissaar and Prangli see Veeteed.com and Tuulelaevad.ee. There are also domestic flights from Tallinn to the island towns of Kuressaare and Kärdla. Most buses and trains have free Wi-Fi, allowing you to keep in touch with your loved ones and great for digital nomads.

Getting around in Tallinn

There is a direct tram line from Tallinn Airport to the city centre (line number 4). Bus number 2 connects the port with Tallinn airport. Trams only operate in Tallinn.

For routes and schedules of Tallinn public transport visit transport.tallinn.ee. Tickets can be purchased in cash from the drivers or a prepaid Smartcard (Ühiskaart) can be bought and reloaded online or at a number of supermarkets, kiosks and post offices. Taxi rates vary by company but are posted on a yellow sticker in the right rear window of each vehicle. You can easily order taxis and verified private drivers via the Bolt and Uber mobile app.

Navigating the local traffic by car

Estonia has right-hand traffic and an extensive road system, the quality of which varies. The speed limit in the countryside is 90 km/h and 50 km/h in urban areas unless specified otherwise.  Sometimes the speed limit is lowered due to security reasons to 70 km/h. Estonian highways tend to be narrow, therefore it’s important to pay attention to the speed limits and to pay extra attention when overtaking. Speed cameras are common in Estonia and speeding is rarely tolerated. While driving in Estonia, all passengers are expected to wear seat belts and lights must be switched on at all times. A child safety seat must be installed for toddlers. Estonian laws against driving under the influence of alcohol are strict and follow a zero-tolerance policy. Parking tends to be free for the first 15-minutes in certain times of the day in Tallinn and Tartu, but there needs to be a clear indication of the start time on the window of your car. Shopping mall parking lots tend to be more flexible (free for up to 4 hours). There are also secured paid bicycle racks available in Tallinn city center.

More information about parking in Estonia is available here.

Before taking off, make sure your car has a danger triangle, reflective vest, and a fire extinguisher. Unless your car has all-season tires, you are required to install studded tires for winter driving in Estonia. Studded tires are usually required from the 15th of October to the 31st of March.

Foreign vehicles must have third party liability insurance in Estonia. Vehicles registered in an EEA country can only be insured in that specific country of registration. For vehicles registered outside of EEA, a Green Card or a border insurance is required. Estonia recognises driving licenses from countries around the world, please check for specific requirements here: https://www.mnt.ee/eng/driver/driving-licence/foreign-driving-licence

Ice road driving is one of the most fun things in Estonia and comes with its own rules. The first thing to do before heading out is to check if the ice road is even open (visit https://www.mnt.ee/eng/roads/road-maintenance/ice-roads).

Here are other useful facts you should know about driving in Estonia:

  • Names of bus stops are good indicators of unmarked villages.
  • Estonia is a home to nearly 12,000 deer and other wild animals who cross roads regularly, especially during dusk and dawn.
  • It’s against the law to actively use a mobile device while driving.
  • Estonia has a network of charging stations for electric cars. Stations are roughly 40-60 kilometres apart. More information is available via elmo.ee
  • https://www.mnt.ee/eng/driver/driving-licence/foreign-driving-licence    


Weather and climate

The weather in Estonia is very seasonal. The average summer temperature is fairly mild, varying between 16 and 20 degrees Celcius, but can reach up to 30 degrees Celcius. Summer in Estonia tends to be very light, with 19 hours of daylight known locally as the "white nights". Spring and autumn see frequent light rain so bring an umbrella and a waterproof jacket. In winter, the rain turns to snow and the temperature drops below zero, so wrap up warm. The weather forecast in Estonia is available via weather.ee.

 

Safety

Estonia is a safe country with low crime rates. In busy urban areas, as in any country, you should look after your belongings and to be aware of pick-pocket thieves. It is required by law for pedestrians to wear a reflector in Estonia due to poor visibility on high traffic roads across the country. Reflectors come in lots of attractive designs and can be purchased for a few euros in supermarkets and souvenir shops.

Tap water is safe to drink all across the country.

 

Medical information

It is advisable to purchase travel insurance before a trip. Residents of Europe should check if their health care provider has a contract with the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. If so, you should also obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving. The EHIC isn't a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles EU citizens to state-provided medical treatment on the same terms as Estonian nationals.

People with disabilities

Major commercial carriers and hotels in Estonia have all been equipped with accessible entries and facilities. However, it’s always good to double-check ahead of time.

Elron trains in Estonia have priority seating (marked with international symbols) for people with limited mobility and there is a wheelchair spot in the C-area that is equipped with a safety belt and an SOS-button. Passengers in wheelchairs can board the train using the "C-area" doors, including a fully automated adjustable step and a button to open the door that is designed for use by a passenger in a wheelchair.

People with mobility disabilities have a right to get specific aid on buses and at bus stations free of charge. Larger bus stations catering for long-distances buses (e.g. the Tallinn Bus Station and bus stations at other larger towns) have ensured that disabled people and people with reduced mobility have access to the departure and arrival platforms.

Not all city buses in Tallinn can be accessed with wheelchairs, however, all buses in Tartu are low-floor vehicles. In Tallinn, all wheelchair accessible buses and trams are underlined in bus schedules.

Travelling with a pet

Full details of travelling to Estonia with a pet are available via Pet Travel website.

Tipping in Estonia

Tipping is becoming more common in Estonia but is usually limited to restaurants and delivery services only. 10% is a typical gratuity for exceptional service.

Last updated : 13.07.2020
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