Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer days in Estonia

Estonia is one my favourite countries for a weekend getaway... it's close, the travel is fast & easy, the food is tasty & cheap, there's lots of great shopping and I always some new places to visit.


This summer I made my first visit to Tartu - the second largest city in Estonia. While most summer visitors flock to the beach town Pärnu, Tartu is also a great place for a summer trip! Tartu is mostly know for its university, established in the early 1600's, making it one of the oldest in Northern Europe. It's a bit calmer & more compact than Tallinn and has lots of charming very old buildings and quiet streets to stroll around.

To get the best out of Tartu I'd say go walk the riverfront or even take a boat ride to get some fresh air if it's a hot day. Make your way to the parks and visit the old church, Jaani Kirik. In the evenings the hill behind the town hall is full of people, great for a pick-nick or drinks with friends. The old town is packed with restaurants for all tastes and you'll find the prices are a lot cheaper there than in Tallinn. From the market hall (Tartu Turg) you'll find the best food shopping if you want to cook dinner yourself or just get some snacks. If you're traveling with kids or in town on a rainy day I can recommend the Ahhaa science centre.

Jaani Kirik, St. John's Church


Millions of tourists come to Tallinn every year - and it still hasn't lost its charm. If you're visiting for the first time then the old town is a must, especially walk up to the viewpoint to see the whole city. During the summer the city centre is packed with tourists. Head out of the main square to eat! I have some personal favourites that I keep going back to every time, it's especially easy to get great steaks and my favourites, mexican food (try Texas Honky Tonk and Carramba) but you can find anything there!

This summer we wanted to see something different so in stead of heading to the old town we went a bit east of the city center to Pirita. It's definitely more quiet and you're surrounded by pine trees, right next to the sea. You can spend the day on the beach - you'll see the Tallinn old & new city skyline from Pirita. Between the city and Pirita there's a great seaside promenade, I'd recommend to rent a bike or go take a jog there. Stop by in the Kadrioru Park!

Kadrioru Park

Northwest from the city there's also another interesting area, Kopli. We spent one day there, getting lost in the woods around Kopli and the old city blocks with our bikes. There's also some great beaches and parks to enjoy the summer afternoons.

How to get there

Tallinn is well connected by land, air and sea! Tartu is a 2-2,5h bus ride from Tallinn, buses leave every half hour from the Tallinn bus station and cost around 10€ for a one-way trip.

On the way to Tallinn from Helsinki

Zouk in Estonia

In case you're wondering - Estonia also has a budding zouk scene. In Tallinn there are occasionally zouk workshops and parties. Check this Facebook group for more info! The capital has already an established latin dance culture and host some big salsa festivals so it looks very promising that the zouk will also catch on in Estonia!

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