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Estonia

Estonia (Estonian: Eesti) is the northernmost and smallest of the Baltic states. While the country has charming old towns and heritage back to the Hanseatic League, it is a leader in technology.

Tourism to Estonia has been growing. According to Statistics Estonia, 1.3 million foreigners visited Estonia in 2000, and that number climbed 38 percent to 1.8 million foreigners in 2005 and up to 6 million in 2015.

Regions

Estonia is divided into 15 counties (or maakonnad, singular - maakond). To bring out the unique characteristics of Estonia, we use 4 regions in this guide. As the country is small, most destinations can be reached within a couple of hours from Tallinn.

Cities

  • Tallinn – The capital, and financial and cosmopolitan centre of Estonia, with a medieval Old Town. Beautiful and expensive (compared to other Estonian towns).
  • Tartu – Museum-rich and hanseatic city on the banks of the Emajõgi River. Also, Estonia's second-largest and oldest city, intellectual hub famous for its universities, and a lively student city.
  • Narva – Estonia's eastern-most and third largest city, on the Narva River, which is the border with Russia. Famous for the Hermann castle, right opposite of the Ivangorod's castle, and the Kreenholm factories. Even though it might seem grey and dull.
  • 4 Pärnu – Estonia's 4th largest city and the summer capital of Estonia, popular for its balneo-therapy complexes and spa centres, surrounded by numerous beaches.
  • Rakvere – Estonia's fifth largest city, east of Tallinn, famous for its Punk and Rock festivals and spirit.
  • Haapsalu – "Venice of the north", and a major seaside resort and medium-sized port city, good for visiting spas, taking mud baths, sailing, swimming, interesting monuments of the middle ages, like the cathedral and the Ruins of Haapsalu Castle, and the picturesque Railway Museum.
  • Viljandi – A beautiful, ancient and hilly city, known for its annual Viljandi Folk Music Festival, beautiful old town and overwhelming and picturesque park around the old castle.
  • Kuressaare – The capital of the island of Saaremaa, the only town on the island, and home of the Kuressaare castle. It also has many spas, water parks and one beach.
  • Valga – A town on the border with Latvia, where it literally grows into the Latvian town of Valka.

Other destinations

Estonians have a special love for nature, and many will tell you that they would rather sit under a tree in an empty forest or hike in a national park than almost anything else. Estonia's tranquil, laidback and unspoiled Baltic islands provide a splendid getaway to nature.

National Parks

  • 1 Lahemaa National Park – On the coast within an hour east (50 km) of Tallinn. Given its size it is the largest park in Estonia and one of Europe's biggest national parks, with 1000 km2 of bogs, trails, and forests.
  • 2 Soomaa National Park – The second largest national park in Estonia, famous for its "fifth season". A peat bog formed from a glacier melt from around 11,000 years ago.
  • 3 Matsalu National Park – One of the largest and most important autumn stopping grounds for migratory birds in Europe. Excellent for birdwatchers, due it is rich ornithological species.
  • Vilsandi National Park – Rich in marine fauna, and international bird sanctuary with over 250 recorded bird species, on the west coast of Saaremaa. Covers 238 km2, including 163 km2 of sea and 75 km2 of land, plus 160 islands and islets.
  • Karula National Park – The hilly landscapes of Southern Estonia. Estonian’s smallest national park between Valga and Võru.
  • Meenikunno Nature Park – A 5 km hike and wooden trail with an observation platform in the middle of the swamps.
  • 6 Otepää Nature Park and Lake Pühajärve – Part of the Otepää recreational region with an area beyond 3,000 km². Trails along the lake and paths in the hilly forests.

Islands

  • Saaremaa – The largest Estonian and wild seaside character island with castles and fortresses, one perfectly preserved, a beach, a spa and famous mills. Saaremaa is even sometimes called Sparemaa. Furthermore, the island is surrounded by a myriad of tiny islands including Abruka with its nudist camps.
  • Hiiumaa – The second largest Estonian island. Popular for its lighthouses, ancient churches, historical values and the sense of humour of its inhabitants, but scarcely populated. In winter, it can sometimes be reached by car via an ice bridge on the Baltic Sea.
  • 9 Kihnu – The southernmost group of islands, Khinu, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Cosy and warm yet exotic – folk costumes are worn here every day and the handicraft of older generations remains highly valued.
  • 10 Muhu – The third largest Estonian island, and a rural municipality connected to the nearby Saaremaa by an artificial embankment, where ferries to the harbour of Virtsu arrive. Has an open air museum, and its locals are known for still sewing woollen clothes. Sleepy fishing villages, working windmills, thatched cottages, plenty of deer, moose and birds.
  • 11 Ruhnu – The communal territory corresponds to that of the homonymous island, formerly known as Runö.
  • 12 Vormsi – The fourth largest Estonian island, very close to the mainland. Vormsi is a small island covered with forests and a Swedish community. A unique blend of Soviet and Swedish history mixed with unspoilt nature.
  • Osmussaare – A small and mostly inaccessible island in the mouth of the Gulf of Finland, 7.5 km off the mainland, and part of the Noarootsi Parish.
  • Pakri – Two islands in the Gulf of Finland: Suur-Pakri and Väike-Pakri (Swedish: Stora Rågö and Lilla Rågö), administratively part of Paldiski.
  • Naissaar – An island mostly covered by forest northwest of Tallinn with about 35 residents.
  • Prangli – A small island with, harbour (for ferries to Leppneeme on the mainland), mainly fir trees, and a lighthouse from 1923.

Understand

Estonia is a Baltic gem offering visitors the chance to see a tiny dynamic land on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Glorious beaches pepper the extensive coastline, although the swimming season is short. After all, the Baltics are not renowned for warm weather – something that any visitor to Estonia must be aware of; the summer is short and the winter is severe.

Tallinn's medieval old town was built by the Germans in Middle Ages and is in magnificent condition, with the medieval city walls and towers almost completely intact, and it rates as one of Europe's best medieval old towns. Visitors can also experience an ex-Soviet occupied country that is now part of the European Union. Traces of the Soviet era are still there to be seen, e.g. Paldiski, a deserted Soviet army base that was once off-limits to Estonians themselves, can easily be visited on a day trip from the capital, Tallinn. Estonia is renowned for its bucolic islands and extensive bogs that are now national parks with easy access for tourists.

History

See also: Soviet Union

After seven centuries of German, Danish, Swedish, Polish and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, it re-gained independence in 1991 through its "Singing Revolution", a non-violent movement that overthrew an initially violent occupation. Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia moved to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe. It is now one of the more prosperous former Communist states, enjoying a high-tech environment, an open and liberal economy and a transparent government system. On the other hand, it is faced with a fairly low (but growing) GDP per capita (in a European Union context), as well as a very low birth rate, which is creating a population decline. From 1991 to 2007 the country saw rapid economic expansion, leading it to be among one of the wealthiest and the most developed of the former Soviet Republics. However, its economy was badly damaged during the global recession that started in 2008, although it recovered by 2013. In 2011, the euro was adopted as the official currency.

Since accession to the European Union (EU) in 2004, Estonia is becoming one of the most popular destinations in north-eastern Europe with (EU highest) 30% growth in the number of visitors in 2004, according to Eurostat.

People

Estonia is bigger than the Netherlands or Denmark by area, but is one of the least densely populated countries in the EU, with 1.3 million people. Ethnic Estonians make up 69% of the population, and Russians 26%. The heaviest concentrations of Russians are in the north-east (Ida-Viru County) and Tallinn. Many ethnic Estonians consider themselves Nordic, as they are not Balts, and regard Estonia's classification as a Baltic state as mainly a geographical convenience.

Estonians are the least religious people in the European Union. Fourteen per cent are Lutherans and 13% are Eastern Orthodox (mostly Russian Orthodox, although there is an Estonian Orthodox church).

Geography

Climate  Maritime, wet, moderate winters, cool summers Terrain  Marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south Highest point  Suur Munamägi (literally Big Egg Mountain) 318 m above sea level, in the south east, 20 km north of the main highway that runs from Riga in Latvia to Russia, close to the borders with both countries. It is the highest point in the Baltic states. Geography  The mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands and islets. Nature  World War II and the subsequent occupation were devastating on humans, but the destruction and the closure of large areas for military use actually increased Estonia's forest coverage from about 25% before the war to more than 50% by 1991. Wolves, bears, lynx, elk and deer as well as some rare bird and plant species are abundant. Wild animals are exported to some EU countries for forest re-population programmes. Most animals can be hunted, subject to annual quotas.

Holidays

  • National holiday : Independence Day, 24 February; this day in 1918 was the first date of independence from Soviet Russia (20 August 1991 was the date of re-independence from the Soviet Union). Each 24 February, a grand ball is held by the president for the prominent and important members of society and foreign dignitaries.
  • Jaanipäev : St John's Day or Midsummer Day held on the night of 23–24 June. The evening of the 23rd and well into the morning of the 24th is celebrated with bonfires and a traditional festive menu concentrating on barbeques and drinking.
  • Võidupüha (Victory Day) : 23 June is celebrated to commemorate the decisive victory over Baltic-German forces in 1919 during the War of Independence.
  • Christmas or Jõulud : Celebrated strictly as a family event.
  • New Year's Eve : As a Soviet province, the authorities sought to promote the New Year holiday, as Christmas was all but forbidden for its alleged "religious" and "nationalist" character. After the restoration of independence, the significance of the New Year decreased, but it is still a day off and celebrated. This day is used by the leaders of the country to address the nation.

Get in

Visa

Estonia is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

  • There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
  • There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
  • Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
  • Please see Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality.

By plane

Tallinn (TLL IATA) is Estonia's main international gateway. In addition to direct daily flights to/from all major Scandinavian (Stockholm Arlanda, Copenhagen Airport, and Oslo) and Baltic cities (Riga and Vilnius), there are direct flights from all major European hubs like London, Frankfurt Airport, Munich Airport, Brussels and Amsterdam Schiphol and regional hubs like Prague and Warsaw. Eastward connections are from Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kiev. Estonia's flag carrier Nordica provides half of the services and the rest is provided by Finnair, SAS, Lufthansa, LOT, Aeroflot, Air Baltic, British Airways and others. Easyjet is one of a few low-cost carriers that provide regular services to Tallinn. Ryanair operates several summer flights as well.

Close proximity and excellent ferry services with Helsinki allow for combination of open-jaw air travel. Riga is only 2-3 hr bus ride from southern Estonia and may be another good option.

Other Estonian airports are mostly used for domestic services, although Tartu has a daily connection to Helsinki, whereas Pärnu and Kuressaare may have sporadic flights to Stockholm.

By car

Good road connections are to the south (Via Baltica routing Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas-Warsaw) and east (Tallinn-Saint Petersburg, Tallinn-Pskov). Any car travel to Russia involves unpredictable delays at the border. The Narva/Ivangorod border crossing is notorious for its half-day-long queues, so use the southern crossing in Pechory whenever possible and pay special attention to the ticketing system that books you a place in the queue on the Estonian side. Baltic Sea ferries often also take cars.

By bus

Lots of good and cheap connections from Riga and Saint Petersburg to Tallinn. Long-distance service from Vilnius, Kaunas, Kaliningrad, and even Warsaw or Kiev is also available. The most popular regular service provider is Luxexpress Group, others include Ecolines and Hansabuss.

Since, the available bus companies might change over time, use bus comparison sites like this one: https://www.busradar.com

By boat

Ferry lines connect Tallinn with Sweden (Stockholm) and Finland (Helsinki, Mariehamn). Tallinn-Helsinki is one of the busiest sea routes in Europe and has daily 11 ferry crossings and 6-7 different fast-boat crossings (not during the winter) in each direction. Ferries are operated by Tallink, Viking Line and Eckerö Line and the fast boats by Linda Line. Ferry tickets can be as low as €19 for a single or return (usually the return is free if returning the same day; they want day cruisers who supposedly spend more on board).

Minor international ferry connections include Paldiski - Kapellskär (Sweden) and Paldiski - Hanko (Finland). They are operated by DFDS Seaways.

There is also a connection between the Latvian port of Ventspils and the island of Saaremaa.

With your own boat or yacht you can visit State Port Register and the Estonian Maritime Administration webpage for Recreational Craft.

By train

International train services Tallinn on the one hand and Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia on the other have been suspended several times in the past. The Russian Railways (RZD) runs the connection Moscow-Tallinn (via St. Petersburg) with daily night trains. Trains depart from Moscow at 21:20 and arrive in Tallinn at 13.38. Services from Tallinn depart at 15:20 and arrive in Moscow at 09:32. The widely (and somewhat blatantly) advertised Riga-to-Tallinn train connection is anything but reasonable, because it makes a long detour and takes you nearly a whole day for a simple trip between the neighbouring Baltic capitals. However, local trains from northern Latvia to southern Estonia (connection in Valka/Valga) may be useful.

Get around

In Estonia, the public transport system is well-developed and it is preferable to walk, cycle or use public transport, given that the local Eastern European style driving culture may be dangerous for the uninitiated.

As of July 1, 2018, Estonia will have created the largest 24/7 free public transit zone in the world.

By bus

Estonia has a comprehensive bus network all over the country. Nearly every city can be accessed by a direct bus from Tallinn or Tartu. Other big cities have their own bus routes, such as Narva–Pärnu. Beside that, most of the towns and villages have regular bus connections to the nearby larger cities and towns. Smaller places are often only served in the morning or noon, and late afternoon (17:00/18:00). City connections generally operate up to 21:00. Make sure not to miss the last bus, or not to get stuck during daytime in a smaller town or village.

All connections are available online through Tpilet.ee (for long distance connections) and Peatus.ee (for short distances and local connections – enter/choose the exact station name to get meaningful results; e.g. "Tallinna bussijaam" and not "Tallinn"). The websites are mostly available in Estonian, English, and Russian. You can always buy tickets from the driver.

You can also buy tickets for many connections online with Tpilet.ee. Sometimes the mobile site does not show the purchase option, and you might want to switch your smartphone web browser to "Desktop mode". It is sometimes more preferable to buy a bus ticket online, especially with Simple Express or Eesti Buss buses. So check ahead, and if there is still time, buy right before the trip, or even in advance if you have a specific plan. This even applies to short distances, where instead of €2.50 the online price is €1.50 (or so) with Simple Express. If the purchase is not displayed with Tpilet.ee, check directly with Simple Express, Eesti Buss or Lux Express.

Nevertheless, tickets bought online are only cheaper with certain companies, like Simple Express, which also allows e-tickets on your mobile. For other companies, online tickets need to be printed and cannot be used on your mobile (like for Go Bus). But there are self-service terminals in the city bus terminal to print out such tickets. Some buses do not have power, in case you want to charge you phone (Simple Express has, Go Bus does not). Either way,

Regarding finding the right bus stop, especially for longer distances, buses do not go into each and every town but rather stop at the nearest point along the highway. These stops are denoted with "... tee", like "Loksa tee" instead of Loksa the town. Make sure you know where to enter and where to get off the bus, considering this. Also, an online search for a connection might not come up with any connection because you simple chose the wrong bus stops.

By train

Estonia's train network does not cover the whole country. The quality of railway tracks and services is steadily improving, thanks to substantial EU funding. The old Soviet diesel machines have been replaced with newer trains.

Since 2014 all domestic passenger rail operations have been taken over by Elron, whose website does offer timetables, journey planner and prices. Tickets are sold on board. You can also buy them online, at major stations, or in one of the rare ticket machines, but this makes sense mostly for 1st class tickets that are limited in number and may be sold out. All ticket prices are discounted -10% when purchased from the Internet.

Train connection and price information is also available through Peatus.ee.

Ticket prices are fairly low – 1st class travel from Tallinn to Tartu costs €12.60–15.00 one-way.

By car

Road quality varies. Most roads have only two lanes, but Narva–Tallinn road is a good 4-lane highway.

The speed limit is 90 km/h in the countryside and 50 km/h in cities, unless specified otherwise.

Only in summer is 110 km/h introduced on selected highways (generally dual carriageways with at least 2 lanes in each direction), and the scope is reconsidered every summer. Motorway signs are not present in winter.

Stationary speed cameras are frequent on major highways. Waze mobile app has a decent coverage of speed limits and stationary cameras, which is most helpful on long drives.

Unlike Russia and some other countries, urban areas are always marked with an "urban area" sign. Conversely, per se a road sign with a settlement name on it is not necessarily an indicator of urban area.

Fines for exceeding the limit by 20 km/h is up to €120, for +21-40 km/h up to €400 and risk of license withdrawn; up to €1200 for more. Ignoring red traffic signal is up to €800. Violating the no-overtaking is up to €800.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is fined up to €800 for exceeding 0.20‰. Beware of drunk pedestrians, as they are not uncommon.

Lights must always be switched on. Passengers are expected to wear seat belts.

Parking should be paid for in the central areas of bigger cities. Prepare coins in advance, as credit cards and paper money are only accepted by parking machines in large indoor parkings, while breaking money can be difficult to find nearby. Payment with mobile phone is inpractical for short-time travellers: it requires local number and a hefty balance on it.

Estonia has lots of car rental companies, and the level of English spoken by their representatives is generally very high. Rental is somewhat cheaper than in Western Europe.

Driving in Estonia is fairly easy, although it may be slightly more annoying than in Western Europe and US. Drivers are generally polite, but they may not strictly follow speed limits and other traffic rules, especially when overtaking.

There isn't very much traffic on the Estonian highways compared to Western Europe or for example Poland. Traffic jams may occur in Tallinn, but they are bearable.

By thumb

Hitchhiking in Estonia is generally possible. Where in the past it was more common, people are quite reserved nowadays, especially when seeing tourists that they expect to only speak English, which many Estonians cannot understand.

Hence, success is very volatile. You might be lucky within 10 min, or you might just wait 1½ hr without anyone stopping, especially in remote areas with less traffic. Do not count on getting picked up eventually, but be sure to know when the last bus departs.

See also: Hitchhiking

By plane

Estonia has several domestic flights, mainly between the mainland and islands. Transaviabaltica operates regular services between Tallinn and Kuressaare or Kärdla. Luftverkehr Friesland-Harle flies from Pärnu to Ruhnu and further to Kuressaare.

By bicycle

The international bicycle project BaltiCCycle may provide you with a lot of information and help.

On foot and navigation

Estonia has many picturesque 1-3 day hiking trails, like in and around the Lahemaa National Park. For reliable and comprehensive (offline) maps of these trails and full map information, consult OpenStreetMap, which is also used by this travel guide, and by many mobile Apps like OsmAnd (complex with many add-ons) and MAPS.ME (easy but limited).

Talk

See also: Estonian phrasebook

The official language is Estonian, which is very closely linguistically related to Finnish, and thus unrelated to other regional languages. Many in urban areas (especially younger people) speak English very well. Many Estonians can speak some Russian, although this is declining. Russian is often described as Estonia's unofficial second language and 50% of Tallinn natives have Russian as their native language. Finnish is also spoken quite well by many people in Tallinn, thanks to heavy tourism and TV broadcasts from the other side of the gulf. German is a popular language to learn at school in Estonia and a large number of people (Estimates vary from 10% to 25% of the population) can speak some. Though still rather uncommon, French and Spanish have become increasingly popular languages with Estonians.

It might be tempting to practise your Russian however, a foreigner starting a conversation in Russian can be seen as extremely rude by native Estonians. Always try to start conversation in any language other than Russian and then you might ask whether the other person speaks Russian. After first greetings, Estonians may be willing to interact in Russian with a tourist, but many are reluctant to converse in Russian with a local Russian. In Tallinn and north-east Estonia there is actually quite a big chance that you will meet a native Russian speaker, for example as a barman or a bank teller.

There is a large Slavic minority, particularly Russians and Ukrainians.

See

Estonia's top tourist attractions

  1. Tallinn's Medieval Old Town, Tallinn, Architecture and History
  2. Kadrioru Park, Tallinn, Architecture
  3. Lahemaa National Park, North Estonia, Nature
  4. Tartu Jaani (St. John's) Church, Tartu, Architecture
  5. Pärnu Beach, Pärnu, Recreational
  6. Lighthouses, Hiiumaa, Architecture
  7. Narva Hermann Castle, Narva, Museum
  8. The Kaali meteorite craters, Saaremaa, Nature
  9. Setomaa, South Estonia, Culture
  10. Otepää Winter Centre, Otepää, Sports

Medieval history and manors

The Old Town of Tallinn is the most intact and best protected medieval city in Europe, and is Estonia's première attraction. Its unique value is its well-preserved (intact) medieval milieu and structure, which has been lost in most of the capitals of northern Europe. Since 1997, the Old Town has been on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

Living under the rule of Scandinavian kings, Russian empire and Teutonic Knights has left Estonia with unique and rich blend of historic landmarks. Over one thousand manors were built across Estonia from the 13th century onwards. Some of the manors have perished or fallen into ruins but a lot have been reconstructed and are favourite attractions with tourists. There are about 200 manor houses under state protection as architectural monuments and 100 in active use.

Islands and coastline

Estonia has over 1,500 islands. The nature is essentially untouched and offers quite a different beach experience with their remoter rustic feel. Most of the public beaches are sandy and the average water temperature is 18°C in summer. Inland waters and some shallow bays' waters are even warmer.

The largest island is Saaremaa with an intact and well-restored medieval castle in its only city, Kuressaare. Stone fences, thatched roofs, working windmills and home-made beer are all distinctive to SaaremaaHiiumaa, on the other hand, is well known for its lighthouses, unspoilt nature, the Hill of Crosses and the sense of humour of its inhabitants. Both islands have an airport and so can be quickly reached from Tallinn.

Other important islands include Kihnu, Ruhnu (with its "singing sand" beach), Muhu and Vormsi, each with its own unique characteristics. Most of the other tiny Estonian islands don't carry much cultural significance, but can be appealing for bird watching, canoeing, sailing or fishing etc.

In July and August, Pärnu, Estonia's summer capital, is the main attraction. The coastline itself has loads of untouched beaches and a tour from Narva-Jõesuu (in the east) towards Tallinn is great for exploring the coastline. Some of the well known places include Toila, Võsu, Käsmu and Kaberneeme.

Do

  • Frisbee – Frisbee seems to be the secret sport of Estonians. You will find many places, especially in rural areas, where the disc golf baskets can be found. So, bring a Frisbee.
  • Hiking – There are at least three national parks in Estonia worth a day or two days hike. Check them out. Otherwise, there are many areas where hiking and putting up a tent near the sea can be worth it. The forest administration has marked several hiking trails spanning North to South and East to West.
  • Birdwatching – Especially in West Estonia and Islands, there are numerous viewing platform to enjoy bird watching in spring or fall when birds move from one continent to the other.
  • Self-guided tours – A good way to discover Estonia by yourself. For more information visit the interactive maps sections on the official tourism website.
  • Swim in the bogs – Nature parks like the Lahemaa National Park are full of black and beautiful bogs that are also possible to swim in. Take a dip if you dare and it is warm enough, but always know how to get out again.

Events

Tickets for events can be bought online via Piletilevi.ee or the lately established Ticketpro.ee .

There's quite a good list of various events in Estonia at Visitestonia.com.

Film festivals

  • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF). November/December. The festival combines a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films and children/youth films.

Music festivals

  • Tallinn Music Week, Tallinn. Spring. Showcase festival, aiming to stage the best and most outstanding Estonian talent on two nights in Tallinn's most vibrant live venues, as well as a networking event for the music industry professionals.
  • Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar. April. In addition to Tallinn jazz concerts also take place in Tartu and Pärnu.
  • The Estonian Song Celebration (In Estonian: Laulupidu), Tallinn. First held in 1869, takes place every five years. In 2009, 35,000 choral singers gathered to perform for an audience of 90,000 people. It is recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
  • Õllesummer Festival, Tallinn. July. Approx 70,000 people attend the festival each year over the course of 4 days.
  • Viljandi Folk Music Festival, Viljandi. July. The festival runs for 4 days on the last weekend in July. More than 100 concerts take place in Viljandi castle's ruins, churches, and other venues throughout Viljandi County. It is the largest annual music festival in Estonia. Each year the festival draws over 20,000 visitors.
  • Leigo Lake Music Festival, near Otepää. August. Open-air concerts are held in completely natural venues on the hilly landscapes of the Otepää highland. The musicians' stage is on an island in the lake, surrounded by thousands of listeners on the sloping shore.
  • Birgitta Festival, Tallinn. August. Music and theatre festival, held at the ruins of the historical Pirita (St. Bridget's) convent.

Sport events

  • Simpel Session, Tallinn. Summer/Winter. International skateboarding and BMX event.

Buy

Money

Estonia uses the euro, like several other European countries. One euro is divided into 100 cents. The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

All banknotes and coins of this common currency are legal tender within all the countries, except that low-denomination coins (one and two cent) are phased out in some of them. The banknotes look the same across countries, while coins have a standard common design on one side and a national country-specific design on the other. The latter side is also used for different designs of commemorative coins. The design on the national side does not affect the use of the coin.

The Estonian kroon (EEK) ceased to be legal tender on 15 Jan 2011, but any kroons you have left over can be changed into euro at the Bank of Estonia at a fixed rate of 15.6466 kroon to €1.

Banking and cards

ATMs and currency exchange offices (valuutavahetus) are widely available. You will get the best rates by exchanging only after arrival in Estonia. Avoid changing money in the airport or port as the rates are lower.

Credit cards are accepted most of the time, exception are limited with parking machines, countryside farms and the like. Contactless payment with credit cards (Paypass/Paywave and Android/Apple Pay) is supported by roughly half of terminals in use.

Tipping

Tipping has been common in Estonia only after the restoration of independence, and therefore isn't always requested. A 10% tip is usually added to the price in restaurants and taxi drivers often keep the change. Some restaurants and pubs have a jar or box on the counter labelled 'Tip' on it, where customers can put their change.

Costs

Estonia is overall much cheaper than Western Europe, but it is no longer the bargain it used to be in 1990s; in touristy areas (like Tallinn's Old Town), prices are comparable to those found in Germany and Scandinavia. It is still possible to spend less when you go off the beaten track.

Here are some prices of regular goods: 1 kg of apples – €0.80, regional dish in a café – €3-5, 30 km by bus – €2, hostel – €10+, local beer at the shop – €1.20. But when it comes to touristy places, suddenly prices sky-rocket: Rakvere Castle – €9, tour to National Park Lahemaa from Tallinn – €55, beer at a touristy bar – €3-4.5. Try to avoid this touristy ripoff – there is enough to see and do even without a big budget.

Eat

Estonian food draws heavily from German and Nordic cuisine. The closest thing to a national dish is verivorst, black pudding, served with mulgikapsad, which is basically sauerkraut stew.

Many types of food are similar to Russian dishes and have their equivalents almost exclusively in the former USSR, such as hapukoor, smetana in Russian, a sour 20%-fat milk dressing for salads, especially "kartulisalat" or "potato salad".

As Estonia used to be a food mass-production powerhouse in the times of the USSR, some of its foods, unknown to Westerners, are still well-recognized in the lands of the CIS. This is also true the other way around; in Estonian grocery stores products from countries of the former Soviet Union like Georgian mineral water are widely available.

Among other everyday food, some game products are offered in food stores in Estonia, mostly wild boar, elk sausages and deer grill. Some restaurants also offer bear meat.

For those with a sweet tooth, the national chocolate manufacturer is "Kalev", with many specialist stores around the country as well as supermarkets retailing the product.

The more adventurous may want to try "kohuke", a flavoured milk-curd sweet covered with chocolate and available at every supermarket.

Drink

Like their neighbours the Russians, the Estonians know their alcohol. Favorite tipples include the local beer Saku, or A. Le Coq, the local vodka brands Viru Valge (Vironian White) and Saaremaa Vodka and the surprisingly smooth and tasty rum-like herbal liquor Vana Tallinn (Old Tallinn), famous in the countries of former USSR.

A local soft drink is "Kali" (the Estonian equivalent of "kvass"), made from fermented brown bread. It can be described as an acquired taste.

Many locals also swear by "keefir", a fermented milk concoction.

Sleep

The number of hotels has exploded from a few to tens and hundreds after the reestablishment of Estonian independence. In 2004, Tallinn achieved first place among the Baltic Sea cities in the number of overnight stays in hotels, though still behind Stockholm and Helsinki in the number of total overnight stays.

As Soviet collective farms were disbanded, many farmers switched to running "turismitalud," or tourism farms, which are inexpensive and indispensable places for spending holidays in the nature, usually in a former farm house. A site on Estonian Rural Tourism provides information on the tourism farms in Estonia. Hostels are another popular option for budget-sensitive travellers; see the website of the Estonian Youth Hostel Association.

Often accommodations give a discount if you book with them directly (e.g. phone) instead of using one of the monopolistic online middle men. This is due to the reason that most accommodations in Estonia can be booked without credit card anyhow. So, there is no real guarantee that someone does turn up. Just that via phone owners are at least not stuck with an online fee without receiving the room rent.

Camping is allowed virtually anywhere, except for private grounds. Some tourists have even camped in the city parks of Tartu because locals told them so. Otherwise, if you do not have a tent, some national parks (like Lahemaa) have observation towers with roof and thus space for up to 10 people at night and protection against the rain.

Learn

Estonia has a fair amount of foreign students studying in its universities, especially from Nordic countries, as Estonian diplomas are recognized throughout the EU. See the articles for university town Tartu and capital Tallinn for details.

Work

No obstacles exist to citizens of EU countries to come to invest and work in Estonia. Citizens of developed non-EU countries are exempt from short-term tourist visas. Swedes and Finns have by far the largest working community of post-Soviet foreigners in Estonia. Estonia may have had rocket-like growth from 2001 to 2008, but it was from a very low base as a former Soviet republic, and according to Statistics Estonia the average local monthly salary was around €1220 in 2017.

Education is highly valued in Estonia because as a small nation with no exceptional natural resources, they believe that the only way to be competitive is to absorb knowledge. There are so many highly educated people in Estonia that it has become a problem for the labour market - there just aren't enough workers for jobs that require minimal education.

Considerable investments and some workers are constantly coming from CIS countries, though significant legal restrictions are imposed.

Police and Border Guard Board is the authority responsible for dealing with the paperwork.

CV Keskus.ee is the most popular job portal in Estonia that holds the biggest number of job ads.

CV Online is one of the oldest Estonian recruitment and HR services operating in 9 countries (as of 2005).

Stay safe

Estonia has managed to avoid much of the crime and insecurity that has plagued many former Soviet Republics following the collapse of the USSR, and today it is among the safest European countries. Criminal activities are distributed unevenly across the territory with almost no crime in the island areas, modest petty crime in urban areas, and a considerable rate of drug dealing in the predominantly Russian-speaking industrial area of North-East.

In Tallinn, petty crime is a problem and there are some incidents involving tourists, mainly pickpocketing (especially in the markets). However, nowadays Tallinn's Old City and other main tourist attractions are closely watched by local police and private security companies.

Many Estonians drive carelessly. The number of deaths in traffic related accidents per 100,000 people are similar to South-European countries like Portugal or Italy. Estonia has strict drink-driving laws with a policy of zero tolerance, but accidents involving intoxicated drivers are nevertheless a major problem. Estonian traffic laws requires headlight use at all times while driving and use of a seat belts by all passengers is mandatory.

Estonian law requires pedestrians to wear small reflectors, which people generally pin to their coats or handbags. Although this law is rarely enforced in cities, reflectors are very important in rural areas where it may be difficult for motorists to see pedestrians, especially in winter months. Violators of this law may be subject to a fine of around €30-50, or a higher fine up to around €400-500 if the pedestrian is under the influence of alcohol. Reflectors are inexpensive and you should be able to find them at many supermarkets, kiosks, and other shops.

The police are very effective, and they are not corrupt.

The main advice to anyone worried about personal security is to stay reasonably sober despite tempting alcohol prices. When driving, make sure you have had absolutely no alcohol beforehand.

The single emergency number 112 is valid all over Estonia for rescue and ambulance outcalls.

It has been mentioned that ordinary Estonians are unlikely to approach a complete stranger or a tourist on their own. If somebody suddenly turns to you in the street (with questions or matters of small business) keeping a cautious eye on your belongings would be wise.

Open homosexuality may be met with stares, although violence is very unlikely.

Stay healthy

For an Estonian, it is considered mauvais ton not to criticize the Estonian healthcare system. EU studies have shown, however, that Estonia occupies a healthy 4th place in the block by the basic public health service indicators, on the same level as Sweden. Around 1998-2000, the Estonian healthcare system was remodelled from the obsolete USSR model, directed to coping with disastrous consequences of large-scale war and made more up-to-date by the experts from Sweden. Estonia has harmonized its rules on travellers' health insurance with EU requirements. Information about health care in Estonia is provided by the government agency Eesti Haigekassa.

For fast aid or rescue, dial 112.

Estonia has Europe's second highest rate of adult HIV/AIDS infections, over 1.3% or 1 in 77 adults (2013). Generally, the rate is much higher in Russian-speaking regions like Narva or Sillamäe. Don't make the situation worse by not protecting yourself and others.

Ticks spread diseases like viral encephalitis and Lyme disease, which can be transmitted to humans, their season usually starts in April and lasts till October.

Beware of poisonous plants like Sosnowsky's Hogweed and Giant Hogweed. Wear protective clothes and goggles. If burned, clean your skin with water and soap and protect it from the sun for at least 48 hours.

Respect

Estonians in general, when meeting a stranger, are remarkably reserved to start with. Don't expect them to deliver too many social niceties or small talk; they only say what's seasonable. Once you have broken the ice, you will find them open and candid.

Estonians tend to keep their physical distance. If there is a "long time - no see" situation, then a hug may be suitable.

Do not raise your voice in a conversation. A decent, quiet conversation is the Estonian way of doing business and is much appreciated.

Estonians are usually very proud of their nation and their country. As a small nation they have managed to gain independence and survived all the rough times that centuries filled with wars have served up to them. With that said, younger generations of Estonians might be more critical, and it is not uncommon for them to point out flaws quickly

Contemporary history may be a sensitive subject. Any positive talk about the USSR (or today's Russia) around Estonians will be anything but a good idea although they will tell you all about it if you only ask.

25% of the population of Estonia are ethnic Russians, and even more people understand at least some Russian. Still some people suggest not starting conversations in Russian with strangers, as this may be seen as rude by some Estonians. See the Talk section for more info.

Connect

Internet

  • Access to wireless, free internet is widespread in Tallinn and Tartu.
  • On the open road you will often find petrol stations which offer wireless internet access too
  • If you do not have a laptop, public libraries offer free computers
  • The number of internet cafes is dropping but you will find several open almost all night in Tallinn and Tartu (expect to pay around €2-3 per hour)
  • Most hotels also have a computer with internet access available
  • The departure lounge at Tallinn airport has several free internet access points for passengers

Landlines

  • For local calls, dial the 7 or 8 digit number given. There is no "0" dialled before local numbers
  • For international calls from Estonia, dial "00" then the country code and number
  • For international calls to Estonia, dial "00" from most countries or consult your operator, the country code "372" and the 7 or 8 digit number
  • For emergencies and police dial "112"

Mobile phones

  • "Everyone" has a mobile phone in Estonia
  • To ring Estonia from abroad, dial +372 before the number
  • Mobile access is available everywhere, even on the smaller islands and at sea
  • Prepaid (pay-as-you-go) SIM cards and their top up cards can be bought from R-kiosks (ask for a "kõnekaart" - calling card in English). Popular brands are Smart, Simpel, Diil and Zen. Start-up packages are in a range of €1.55-10. 1GB is typically €1, cheaper in prepaid packages.

Postal service

  • Within Estonia, the postage cost for a letter up to 250 grams is €0.65. You can send a letter in a convenient way electronically in the e-service also, in case you have ID-card or Mobile-ID or contract with a Bank (Swedbank, SEB, Danske or Nordea).
  • To other EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine the cost is €1.40 and to the rest of the world €1.50.
  • Be sure to mark all air mail pieces with "Prioritaire/Par Avion" stickers available at the post office, or clearly print it on the mail if needed.
  • Stamps are sold at post offices usually open during normal shopping hours, and also at news stands.
  • Post offices open on Saturday but for shorter hours than during the week, and are closed on Sundays; locations and opening hours of post offices and parcel machines.

Go next

  • one of the less-obvious destinations is having a day cruise to Stockholm or Helsinki, see Cruising the Baltic Sea


Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Soak up history in Estonia's Old Towns, enjoy a midsummer bonfire and beer in Lithuania and take a traditional sauna and spa in Latvia; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania and begin your journey now!

Inside the Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, people, landscape, architecture, greetings, etiquette Over 70 maps Covers Estonia, Tallinn, Lahemaa National Park, RakvereNarvaTartuValga, Muhu, Saaremaa, Helsinki, Latvia, R?ga, Kurzeme, J?rmala, Kemeri National Park, Talsi, Lithuania, Vilnius, Paneriai, Trakai, Kalingrad and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania, our most comprehensive guide to the region, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Eastern Europe for a comprehensive look at all these countries have to offer

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards winner in Favorite Travel Guide category for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

DK Travel

Visit and explore Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania during your trip to the Baltic States.

From top restaurants, bars, and clubs to standout scenic sites and walks, our insider tips are sure to make your trip outstanding. Whether you're looking for unique and interesting shops and markets, or seeking the best venues for music and nightlife, we have entertainment and hotel recommendations for every budget covered in our Eyewitness Travel Guide.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania truly shows you the country as no one else can.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide. Visit TravelDK.com to learn more.

Estonia: A Ramble Through The Periphery HC

Alexander Theroux

Alexander Theroux accompanied his wife to Estonia, occasioning this penetrating examination of a country. Share Theroux's fascination with Estonians' language, manners, and legacy of occupation and subordination as it leads him to a revelatory examination of Estonia's peculiar place in European history. All the while, his trademark acrobatic allusions, quotations, and digressions — which take us from Hamlet through Jean Cocteau to Married... with Children — render his travels as much internal and psychical as they are external and physical. This travelogue of his nine months abroad also brims with anecdotes of Theroux's encounters with Estonian people and — in some of its most bitterly comedic episodes — his fellow Americans whom he at times feels more alienated from than the frosty, humorless Europeans. Estonia: A Ramble Through the Periphery is as biting and satirical as it is witty and urbane: as curious and lyrical as it is brash and irreverent.

Baltic Lenin: A journey into Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania's Soviet past

Keith Ruffles

The fall of the Soviet Union marked a new era of independence for the Baltic states. But what remains of the former Soviet Union in this tiny corner of northeastern Europe?

With humor and compassion, travel writer Keith Ruffles tells his story of visiting the little-known countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. On his quest, he discovers how Soviet rule impacted the infrastructures, environments, and cultures of these areas.

Travel highlights include the medieval capital of Tallinn, Lithuania’s baroque-style capital of Vilnius, the Estonian island of Saaremaa, and the cities of Narva and Nida, which border Russia.

Along the way, Ruffles meets quirky characters—from academics to alcoholics—and truly discovers what life is like in the region today. Perhaps, most importantly, he discovers the legacy of the Soviet Union. What does it mean for the future of this region, as tensions reminiscent of the Cold War increase between Russia and the West?

Estonia (Bradt Travel Guides)

Neil Taylor

Bradt's Estonia remains the only English-language guidebook to this Baltics destination and this seventh edition reveals more of the country than any previous guide. Readers now discover why Miss Estonia likes antique cars, where Eiffel built before Paris, and why Edward VII could not land in Tallinn to meet Tsar Nicholas II and had instead to spend three days in the harbour. Offering extensive coverage of Estonia's complex cultural history and its artists, writers and musicians, alongside comprehensive practical information, Baltics expert Neil Taylor proves that there's much more to Estonia than the cobbled streets and cafés of Tallinn. He won the 2012 Estonia Presidential Award for this guidebook.

The Girls, Alone: Six Days in Estonia (Kindle Single)

Bonnie J. Rough

A resurfacing writer hits the sauna, bares it all, and learns the true meaning of saga. In her latest work, award-winning author Bonnie J. Rough separates from her family for a surprising journey into the difficult past and precarious present of Estonia, the former Soviet state of her heritage. Embarking on a journey to learn the fate of her great-great-grandmother Anna, she encounters World War II ghosts, Vikings, crones, recycled meat, a seven-ton prehistoric bull, gray hairs, and the ultimate librarian, but finds no bully bigger than Putin—or is it her own self-doubt?—in an adventure that delivers surprising lessons from her foremothers about happiness, autonomy, women’s legacies and the writer’s life. From the ladies’ locker room to the edges of Russia, The Girls, Alone is a swift ride that brings its readers to the most unexpected places and triumphantly answers its own high stakes.Bonnie J. Rough is the author of the Minnesota Book Award-winning memoir Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA. Her essays have appeared in dozens of publications including The New York Times, Huffington Post, The Sun magazine, and Brain, Child, as well as anthologies including The Best American Science and Nature Writing, Modern Love, and The Best Creative Nonfiction. With past lives in Minneapolis and Amsterdam, she now lives and writes in her hometown of Seattle.Cover design by Hannah Perrine Mode.

Rick Steves Snapshot St. Petersburg, Helsinki & Tallinn

Rick Steves

You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling in St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Tallinn.In this compact guide, Rick Steves covers the essential spots of each city, including the Hermitage, the Church of the Spilled Blood, Linnanmäki (a classic amusement park), and Toompea Castle. Take a day trip to the Peterhof, stroll through Kaivopuisto Park, or visit the Kumu Art Museum. You'll get Rick's firsthand advice on the best sights, eating, sleeping, and nightlife, and the maps and self-guided tours will ensure you make the most of your experience. More than just reviews and directions, a Rick Steves Snapshot guide is a tour guide in your pocket.Rick Steves' Snapshot guides consist of excerpted chapters from Rick Steves' European country guidebooks. Snapshot guides are a great choice for travelers visiting a specific city or region, rather than multiple European destinations. These slim guides offer all of Rick's up-to-date advice on what sights are worth your time and money. They include good-value hotel and restaurant recommendations, with no introductory information (such as overall trip planning, when to go, and travel practicalities).

Estonia 1:400,000 & Tallinn 1:8,000 Travel Map

ITM Canada

The Baltic States are a treasure trove of history, architecture and culture as well as nature diversity. Estonia, a state occuppied and ruined by the Soviet Union for five decades, has quickly become a well developed country with its current membership in NATO, European Union, Schengen area and Eurozone.

This double sided map includes a road and travel map of Estonia at the scale of 1:400,000 on one side and a detailed street plan of historical Tallinn 1:8,000 on the other side. The road map is a high quality cartography of European origin and distinguishes roads ranging from motorways to other categories. Legend includes railways with station, national parks/nature reserves, viewpoints, scenic spots, touristic sites, churches, monasteries, fortresses, castles, ruins, museums, monuments, windmills, hotels, filling stations, camping sites, watermills, spas, beaches, international airports.

The street map of Tallinn (1:8,000) has a large inset of the Old Town (1:4,000) and was designed for exploring the city on foot. Includes also Tallinn's Transit map. Extensive name index for each side.

Insight Guides Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Insight Guides

Insight Guides: Inspiring your next adventureGood to look at and easily assimilated, with cultural attractions and some good bars and restaurants, it is not surprising that the Baltic States have become popular short-break destinations. Be inspired to visit by the new, thoroughly revised edition of Insight Guide Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, a comprehensive full-color guide to the Baltic States.Inside Insight Guide Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania:A fully-overhauled edition.Stunning, specially-commissioned photography that brings the three distinct countries and their people to life. Highlights of the countries’ top attractions in our Best of the Baltic States, including Estonia's fairytale Tallinn with cobblestones, Lutheran church spires and any excuse for a song; Latvia's busy Riga, with guildhalls, an impressive Gothic cathedral and a great market in former Zeppelin hangars; and Lithuania's baroque Vilnius, where there is an emphasis on art and a background of Catholic shrines.Descriptive region-by-region accounts cover each of the three countries, starting from their bustling, culture-filled capitals.Detailed, high-quality maps throughout will help you get around and travel tips give you all the essential information for planning a memorable trip, including our independent selection of the best restaurants.Free app for every customer.About Insight Guides: Insight Guides has over 40 years’ experience of publishing high-quality, visual travel guides. We produce around 400 full-color print guide books and maps as well as picture-packed eBooks to meet different travelers’ needs. Insight Guides’ unique combination of beautiful travel photography and focus on history and culture together create a unique visual reference and planning tool to inspire your next adventure.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Country Map)

Cartographia

Folded road and travel map in color. Scale 1:700,000. Distinguishes roads ranging from motorways to secondary roads. Legend includes european roadnumbers, railways, ferry lines, international boundaries, border crossings, National Parks, nature reserves, churches, castles, ruins, museums, camping sites, beaches, viewpoints, golf courses, airports/airfields. Index to place names listed on back of map.

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Violent crime occurs, but foreigners are not usually targeted. Petty crime (pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging) also occurs, particularly in Tallinn’s Old Town during the summer tourist season. Thieves often work in small groups and target tourists in airports, train stations and other public areas. Avoid parks, poorly lit streets and certain areas of Tallinn after dark, including Kopli, Lasnamäe and Kadriorg.

Theft of vehicles or their contents is common. Keep vehicles locked and in guarded parking lots overnight.

Road safety

Road travel can be hazardous because of aggressive drivers, disregarded traffic laws, poorly lit country roads and wandering animals. Driving can be especially dangerous in winter, as roads are icy and snow covered.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations are rare but should be avoided, as all demonstrations and large gatherings can suddenly turn violent. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Public transportation

Use only officially marked taxis and make sure that the taxi meter is in use and that prices are posted.

City buses are reliable but often crowded. Rail service is usually good but is limited to local connections around the main cities in Estonia.

Bus, plane and ferry services to neighbouring countries operate frequently. Relatively good highways connect Estonia with Latvia and Russia.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Fraud

Credit card and debit card fraud occurs. Pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others during payment processing.

Internet frauds such as dating and financial scams occur.

See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

General safety measures

Exercise normal security precautions. Do not show signs of affluence. Ensure that personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

Emergency services

Dial 112 for emergency assistance.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to tick bites (e.g., those spending time outdoors in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Eastern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Eastern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Eastern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in Eastern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Standards of medical care in Tallinn and Tartu are comparable to Western standards. However, this may not be the case for other areas of Estonia. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.

Driving laws

An International Driving Permit and a Canadian driver’s licence are required.

Foreign motor vehicles are subject to strict regulations. Drivers should always carry original registration documents. Police checkpoints are routinely set up on major roads; drivers should pull over when asked.

Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.01 percent.

The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device.

Headlights must be on at all times. Vehicles must be equipped with winter tires from December 1 to March 1. Alternatively, studded tires can be used from October 1 to May 1. These dates are subject to change.

In the event of an accident, motorists must contact police to file an official report.

Identification

Carry adequate identification at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss or seizure.

Money

The currency of Estonia is the euro (EUR).

Foreign currency is easily exchanged. Some banks accept Canadian dollar traveller’s cheques. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available, and credit cards are widely accepted in urban areas as well as by larger establishments in remote locations.

When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000, or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.

Climate

Heavy flooding can occur in spring.

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