The name Estonia evokes images of Viking ships sailing along the Baltic Sea or Teutonic Knights protecting their castles. While this may have been daily life a few centuries ago, it’s still very much a preserved country with remnants of its fascinating past embedded in every stone of its ancient walls and every blade of grass in its primeval forests.
After declaring independence in 1991, soon after the fall of the Soviet Union, Estonia slowly began opening its doors to tourists. Today this Baltic state has become a firm favourite among travellers looking for a European destination that’s not overrun by tourists. Tallinn, the capital city, is usually the first stop for travellers on flights to Estonia. Wonderful examples of feudal architecture line the cobbled streets of Tallinn’s Old Town. And those in search of a more laid-back town should take a trip to Pärnu where the sandy beaches provide an escape for city-dwellers as well as visitors from Scandinavian and Finland. Nature lovers coming off Estonia flights should make the Hiiumaa Islets Landscape Reserve their first stop. Here hundreds of bird species, swans, geese and more than 600 plant species all live.
Estonia has a cool, coastal climate thanks to the cool Baltic Sea breezes. Summers aren’t overly warm, with temperatures peaking around 32 degrees. Winters can be bitterly cold, with little daylight and lots of snow. Sudden rain and snow storms can happen in both summer and winter.
The summer months comprise the peak season for flights to Estonia, when the most visitors arrive by plane, train or by ferry from Scandinavia. Estonia is often visited as part of an Eastern Europe tour. Because of its location near the north, many visitors start here in early summer and work their way down through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and so on…
The winter months are the low season, when weather can be miserable. Tallinn, however, is increasingly becoming a year-round short break destination thanks to the introduction of flights here from low-cost airlines based in the UK and Germany.
Domestic flights are available which connect Tallinn to a few other major cities. These are generally cheap. Avies Airlines flies to Kardla and Kuressaare.
Train service is good, though somewhat slow. The bus network is more extensive than the railway. Most long-distance services start or end in Tallinn.
Hiring a car is the best option if you want to visit the more remote parts of the country.
(prices quotes are from London)