Estonia doesn’t have to struggle to find a point of difference; it’s completely unique. It shares a similar geography and history with Latvia and Lithuania, but it’s culturally very different. Its closest ethnic and linguistic buddy is Finland, and although they may love to get naked together in the sauna, fifty years of Soviet rule in Estonia have separated the two. For the last 300 years Estonia’s been linked to Russia, but the two states have as much in common as a barn swallow and a bear (their respective national symbols).
With a newfound confidence, singular Estonia has crept from under the Soviet blanket and leapt into the arms of Europe. The love affair is mutual. Europe has fallen head-over-heels for the charms of Tallinn and its Unesco-protected Old Town. Put simply, Tallinn is now one of the continent’s most captivating cities. And in overcrowded Europe, Estonia’s sparsely populated countryside and extensive swathes of forest provide spiritual sustenance for nature-lovers.
Need to know
If you’re labouring under the misconception that ‘former Soviet’ means dull and grey and that all tourist traps are soulless, Tallinn will delight in proving you wrong. This city has charm by the bucketload, fusing the modern and medieval to come up with a vibrant vibe all of its own.