Do you love to capture the natural beauty and cultural essence of your destination? Then welcome to Estonia! There are over 100 exiting, unique and important reasons to visit us. You might ask, what could a small country like Estonia offer you after seeing the riches of tourism capitals in Europe or elsewhere. So have asked many people before you and after visiting us – they couldn´t get enough and still keep coming back. For car or bus travellers Estonia is the perfect destination with its versatile landscape, abundant sea border, many islands, and of the short distances. Considering that Estonia’s longest absolute distance is just 393 km, you can see major part of the country and its people with one run.
Here are just some of the reasons to visit Estonia:
Location. Indeed, Estonia is located at the crossroads of East and West. A ferry ride across the bay to Helsinki takes about 2 hours. From the European Union´s eastern city of Narva to St. Petersburg takes also only 2 hours to reach. Since the absolute longest distance between two points in Estonia is 393 km, you can grab a largest part of the country and its people with one run.
Cultural richness. Its nordic and medieval history, contrasted with the folklore traditions of ethnic minorities, provides Estonia with a colorful and rich cultural diversity. What is more interesting is how the Estonian culture has adapted and evolved with the German, Russian, and Swedish occupation. Also is interesting a mixture of modern and medieval, which you can touch it every step on your way.
Estonian identity. There are lots of forests here, and therefore our identity is often called as the „forest people“. Although Tallinn is over 1,000 years old and is no stranger to urbanization, for Estonia, you cannot find large metropolises here. Over 55% of the territory is covered by forest and more than half of the population still prefers to live in the countryside. Estonia ranks fifth in Europe with afforestation. On our free time estonians like to go to forests gathering berries and mushrooms, as well old hunting rituals are still well-preserved amongst our modern huntsmen. A feeling that the man is a guest in an environment, which is only lent to him or her and therefore must be well-kept, is normal among Estonians.
Historical Place. Estonia’s previous place in the Soviet Union has left the country with a distinct historical post. Today, old Soviet buildings and vehicles are still ubiquitous. Estonia is a Must Visit for history and war-buffs alike.
Estonia is a land of high-tech. Confirmed by the US magazine „Wired“ most successfully launched start-ups per capita comes from Estonia. Here you can find successful companies such as Skype, Transferwise, CrabCad, Fortumo, and many others.
Island hopping. Did you know that Estonia has more than 2300 islands? Life seems to slow down the moment you set foot on the islands, the most visited of which are Saaremaa, Kihnu, Ruhnu, and Vormsi. Island life has also preserved traditional ways of living and is home to many ethnic minorities.
Road tripping. The small size of the country makes Estonia a perfect destination for a summer road trip. From Tallinn to Tartu – the country’s second largest city after the capital and the oldest city on the Baltic – is just a 2 hour drive away. On the way there, enjoy Estonia’s beautiful meadows and forests, which are home to a myriad of wildlife including bears, lynxs, deers, and elks.
Singing. There are world-famous composers, musicians, conductors coming from Estonia. For the fourth consecutive year, the world’s most performed living composer is our own Arvo Pärt. The most popular cultural activity amongst Estonians is choir singing, which is more than 6% of locals.
Language. There are about 1 million native estonian speaking people and it is considered as one of the world’s 200 most advanced languages out of world’s 6,000 languages.
Super shopping with much cheaper prices than the other Nordic countries. Estonia’s arts and crafts scene is in synch with the burgeoning food scene. Both respect traditional methods and utilize local products but add a contemporary, creative spin.
And last, but not least: Tallinn – the oldest capital in Northern Europe. It’s got a mix of modern and medieval, and is so far unspoilt by mass tourism. Tallinn had so much going on! You can wander around the medieval Old-Town, which attracts you every step – Tallinn belongs to the UNESCO world heritage list with reason. Or walk in the district of Kalamaja browsing the art and design shops. Visit the Roterman Quarter, which is a stylin’ district where old dilapidated industrial buildings have morphed into an avant-garde complex filled with lively restaurants and eclectic boutiques. Check out Rotterman Salt Storage, now the Estonian Museum of Architecture, a magnificent limestone building which hosts interesting exhibitions and art events in the basement. Or spend a beatiful day at the castles and parks in the greenery of Kadrioru. Obviously you´ll lack of time wherever you get into – it´s just magnificent!
With our history and development of statehood, language and culture, number of population and nature – there simply has no other to compare. The years have passed of a private conversation with one of the Dublin University´s professor´s, where the question he asked from one of our team members, Marion, is still ringing in her mind: „How is it possible that we, as a nation in number much higher, Irish, have deaden our mother tongue to almost oblivion, but you Estonians have managed to preserve it?“. In considering the answer, and then, being a young person herself, she realized for the first time what it means to be a part of such a tiny number of a culture.
Being Estonians ourselves, we are deeply interested to rummage through history, art and culture books. Not do embellish or varnish Estonia more gloomy, it has joined us as a team to put together a bunch of stories, which we can tell to our guests – stories about our country and people, among whom we belong to. The will and pride to introduce Estonia – just the way it is. Come find out yourself and be positively surprised!
More information about different holiday opportunities in Estonia can be found in the official tourism information website, which is run by the Estonian Tourist Board. They are now developing a website for people with special needs with information about accessible tourism.
If you wish to discover Estonia on your own, you should know that in Estonia the development of accessibility in public space is guided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Building Act regulation „Requirements for people with mobility, vision and hearing impairment to ensure the mobility in public buildings“ (unfortunately it is still only in Estonian, but you can find a little more information about it in English from our website Accessible Tourism in Estonia). For example, in city maps, public transport schemes etc. it must show the structural obstacles or accessibility of different sites and buildings (hotels, museums, theaters, cinemas, etc.), public transportation routes for wheelchair users.
However, we wish to highlight that not all obligated by law is applied in real life, and therefore sometimes the information offered on accessibility may be incomplete. In order not to remain on the sidelines and be sure that you can fully enjoy your holiday, we recommend to previously contact museums, restaurants etc. you are interested in to find out their true capability. While travelling it is good to participate your friends and family, or ask help from passer-by and service staff. Also, always feel free to contact us and together we will help you put together a wonderful and memorable trip.
Area: 45 227 km² (the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 defined 47 549 km²)
Population: 1 311 000 (Statistics Estonia, January 1, 2017)
Coastline: 3794 km
Land borders: 343,0 km with Latvia and 338,6 km with the Russian Federation
Distance from Tallinn to Helsinki 85 km; to Riga 307 km; to St.Petersburg 395 km; to Stockholm 405 km.
Type of Governement: Parliamentary democracy
Head of State: President Kersti Kaljulaid
Head of Government: Prime Minister Jüri Ratas
Legislature: unicameral Riigikogu
High court: Supreme Court
Suffrage: Universal for citizens who have attained 18 years of age for national elections. All legal residents, regardless of citizenship, who have attained 18 years of age can vote in local elections
Administrative regions: 15 counties
Official language: Estonian
The Republic of Estonia is divided into 15 counties, 30 towns and 185 rural municipalities. Each municipality is a unit of self-government with its representative and executive bodies. The municipalities in Estonia cover the entire territory of the country. The biggest towns in Estonia are Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Pärnu, Viljandi, Rakvere, Maardu, Kuressaare, Võru, Valga, Haapsalu, Jõhvi, Paide, Keila.
Facts about Estonia (*)
If you are still wondering why come to Estonia, then here are some interesting facts about us. Geographically, Estonia is on the north-eastern edge of the European Union, bordering Russia and Latvia. Finland is a short hop across the sea – just 80 km away. There are ferries to Tallinn from Helsinki (Finland) or Stockholm (Sweden).
- Estonia is in the Schengen Area, so we have open borders with the rest of Europe. Brits, Americans, Canadians and Australians can also enter Estonia visa-free.
- Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport, named after our President, has direct flights all over Europe.
- Estonia has a population of just 1.3 million but is larger than Denmark or Holland.
- The Estonian language is a finno-ugric language – resembles most to Finnish and is different from Latvian and Russian language.
- Everyone in tourism speaks good English and often German, Finnish, Russian and Swedish too!
- Estonia was occupied by the Soviets for decades but Estonia sees itself as more influenced by Nordic tastes and traditions – Scandinavia with a twist. Occupation by Germans, Swedes and Russians has influenced the architecture of cathedrals, cobbled streets, manor houses and palaces.
- Tallinn is our medieval capital and by far the biggest city, with a population of around 400,000.
- In 2011 Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture.
- Tartu, with 100,000 people, is our young yet timeless university town.
- Estonia has over 1,500 islands.
- Great food is everywhere and you can even eat marinated bear here!
- Roads are traffic jam free. NB! Reflectors are mandatory for pedestrians and cyclists at all times!
- In winter it gets very cold and we get plenty of beautiful snow. No, there are no polar bears in Estonia.
- Estonia is almost 50% forest.
(*) Facts about Estonia. EAS. [http://www.visitestonia.com/en/about-estonia/quick-facts]. 10.07.2014.