Estonia, about the size of Switzerland, is the smallest and most northerly of the Baltic States. Latvia borders the south and Russia adjoins the east. Islands make up roughly a tenth of Estonia’s landmass, with the two biggest being Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, lying just off the west coast. The landscape in Estonia is mostly unspoilt, with forests and peat bogs covering more than half the country.
The capital of Estonia, where most of the country’s small population reside, is Tallinn. Some parts of this city, particularly the old town area, almost feel as if they still belong in the 14th and 15th centuries. Here you will find old merchant houses and meandering cobbled streets along with a muddle of old walls and turrets. Some of the historic places to visit include Toompea Castle, the cathedral of Toomkirik and the Kiek-in-de-Kök tower.
Tartu is home to a university and could be described as the intellectual capital of the country. Here you will find a selection of galleries and museums, and the cobbled streets and pathways of Toome Hill are worth exploring. Likewise, Pärnu could be called the summer capital of Estonia with its beaches and water park. It is popular for its health spas and mud baths. You will also find a choice of eateries and pubs here.
Estonia is a nature lover’s paradise with a huge range of flora and fauna. There is a thriving population of mammals including wild boar, elk and brown bears. It is home to hundreds of species of bird, some quite rare like the black stork. Many of the islands feature glorious landscapes. The largest, Saaremaa, is home to Viidumäe, a botanical reserve where many rare plant species can be found.
Tallinn attracts the majority of visitors to Estonia and it is here you will find the best selection of hotels and guest houses. Prices are reasonable but the standard varies considerably. Outside of the capital choices are limited but decent places to stay can easily be found.
Tallinn is home to an international airport and most visitors use this as the gateway to Estonia. There are regular ferry crossings to Finland and Sweden. Several buses a day make the eight-hour drive from Tallinn to St Petersburg and there is a daily service to Kaliningrad that takes about 15 hours. There is also an overnight train that will get you to Moscow in around 16 hours.