10 days in Estonia
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Sep 28, 2012 3:18 AM Last Post By: wizardoftheeast
Jul 12, 2012 5:47 AM
10 days in EstoniaHi there! This is my second post on the forums about an upcoming trip - I have copy pasted the list of interests (below) which I hope isn't a problem but they seemed useful in my last query.
My boyfriend and I will be spending approximately 3 months travelling together in Asia and Eastern Europe from mid-November this year to the end of February '13. We are planning on spending about 10ish days in Estonia in January. If possible, I would appreciate some tips about spending time in Estonia in winter, as lots of great outdoorsy activities and the like seem to be more suited to warm weather.
We are Australian, I am 22 and he is 25, and here are some of our interests (I'll try to be specific):
-I did a history degree and find medieval customs such as food, dress, daily life interesting
-libraries and books
-sports (atmosphere of watching live or in a bar)
-trying new foods
-I enjoy crafts, especially knitting
-hiking/scenic walks (although it will be winter so I don't expect to be able to do much hiking)
-I like to travel with a mixture of fun activities and sights, otherwise I get a bit church/museumed out after a while, and also with time here and there just to relax
With that information in hand, I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction as to some fun things to do while we're there!
We will be coming from St Petersburg and will likely be in Tallinn a day or two before New Year's Eve.
We've had a look at some blogs and books for things to do in Tallinn and I think we have probably 2 or 3 days worth of things to do already - notably the Old Town, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Christmas Markets if they are still around, Museum of Occupations, Kumu Art Museum and the Energy Discovery Centre (looks like the type of science centre we went to for primary school excursions!). We are quite flexible with the length of time we can stay.
I'd appreciate if you'd let me know of any particular sights/museums/cafes/bars/craft stores etc that you enjoyed or have heard good things about. Also, as we will most likely be there for New Year's Eve, something fun to do that night, even if just a nice bar to have some drinks. I know lots of cities have fireworks and free celebrations.
And finally, we would like to stray out of Tallinn as well. From Estonia we are going to Poland, so would preferably like somewhere in that general direction. I was thinking around Lake Peipsi? This is where the weather becomes a bit of a hurdle because lots of great villages/islands look more suitable to summer. We may be doing some skiing elsewhere so that's not a priority.
Thanks so much for helping me out, any information will be much appreciated!
Jul 12, 2012 9:04 AM
1Based on what you have listed, you've already identified some of the key things to do and see. You could also head out to the outdoor rustic museum- a large area of reconstructed 18th Century farm buildings. Tsar Peter the Great's old summer residence is in a park two kms from the centre and there's a very impressive art museum there too. Check out the Estonian National Opera...excellent preformances at low cost. A brilliant puppet museum. Then there's an outdoor ice skating rink, and lots of cool cafes, some of which are part of the Medieval walls. You'll find these by wandering about the Old Town. There are a number of fake Medieval restaurants where boar etc is served by suitably dressed Medieval maidens. Lots of nice bars and restaurants too.
You are probably aware already but you'll need to bring some serious winter clothing..I was there in late Jan/early Feb this year and temperatures usually ranged between -15 to -20. We found that even with lots of layers and protective clothing we needed to get indoors every hour or so to warm up. A super city; we also took the train to Tartu, a student town, also worth at least a day.
Jul 12, 2012 9:05 AM
Jul 13, 2012 5:30 AM
It sounds like you have done some research on Tallinn already. It's definitely nice to spend a few days in the snowy Old Town, but I would also recommend you to go out of the city. Estonia has beautiful nature and the winter offers many opportunities for outdoors activities. You can go skiing, sledging, horse- or dog-sledging, ice-skating, simply walking. There are two types of accommodation where it's nice to stay in winter: the historical manor houses turned into hotels, and the "tourist farms", where you can stay in a family's farm in the beautiful countryside and they offer all kinds of activities.
You should also try the sauna (and jump into the snow from there, like Estonians do). Also, Estonians like to use the outside hot tubs in winter, so you can be outside in the hot water and watch the snow falling.
I think you might get some good ideas on this page, it's about visiting Estonia in winter:
Have a nice trip!
Jul 13, 2012 6:47 AM
It is great that you will go from St. Petersburg. Before Tallinn I recomend to do stop near Estonian-Russian border. Narva city on the border is a city worth a visit on this way. There is picturesquely located castle on the bank of river and also medieval bastions. And beyond the river you can enjoy nice view to Russian Ivangorod stronghold. Narva castle is open for visitors, it is interesting inside, + nice views from its tower. In the yard of the castle you can see how do different crafts (also food or tea..) are done and buy some.
If you are interested in Soviet architecture and history - town of Sillamae (close to Narva) shows nice example of Soviet town.
Next "point" where I recomend to go is a town of Johvi - it is surrounded by interesting places and sights that are worth a visit. Sea side is close to Johvi - fantastic cliff and frozen waterfall in Valaste will look magic!! Great place for hiking. Toila - picturesque place, sea resort with amazing park. Also popular in winter.
One of interesting places - Kuremae convent - it is large complex of orthodox convent buildings, churches etc. surrounded by wall, towers and gates. Nunns live there and you can see how do they live, lifestyle, handcraft.
You mentioned Lake Peipsi - it is great place for a visit and for hiking. Villages like Alajoe, Remniku, Kauksi - nicest forests and locate there.
Not far from Lake Peipsi - Iisaku (iisaku) village is situated - small local bakery locate there - you can try real village breads there and also very tasty cakes.
Good foods you can eat in cafes and restaurants for example in town of Johvi.
Both Narva and Johvi locate on Tallinn-St. Petersburg motorway and there are buses and trains to Tallinn and St.Pb.
I recomend this region, you can spend there at least 2 days. If you have questions please write.
Jul 16, 2012 3:04 AM
Jul 18, 2012 9:51 PM
Aug 1, 2012 12:12 PM
7I second Narva - fascinating place with a beautiful castle facing off against its Russian counterpart across the river.
In Tallinn, I recommend the Estonian History Museum in Maarjamäe Palace for its collection of Soviet-era statues dumped higgledy-piggledy at the rear of the building. They comprise an artwork of their own, particularly when partly buried in snow. The museum itself is far less interesting (labelling only in Estonian when I was there last year).
Aug 1, 2012 6:43 PM
8I found the Estonian Tourism site to be very helpful when planning my trip: http://www.visitestonia.com/en/
If you're going to be in Tallinn for a few days, you might want to purchase a Tallinn Card. As well as free public transport, it gives free entrance to a lot of attractions and discounts and some shops too.
Aug 16, 2012 12:59 AM
9Hello! You will love Estonia! Tallinn is our favorite city ever! We were just there a few weeks ago. I will include a link to the blog we wrote that discusses a lot of the things you are interested in. If you are looking for an inexpensive place to stay, we stayed at Munk's Bunk Hostel right by Old Towne and were very happy with it. http://happytobehomeless.com/2012/07/dont-forget-about-estonia/
Happy Travels and Enjoy Estonia!
Aug 19, 2012 1:46 AM
10For crafts - Narva city is good.
I recomend to buy handmade soaps made in Voka (between Johvi and Sillamae towns). You can buy it in Narva castle yard or in Kukruse manor (there is interesting museum).
Aug 21, 2012 8:36 AM
11Hello, you have still lots of time for planning. I have been in Estonia last week and I can share my impressions, maybe you can find something of interest.
Travelling by car from Latvia we stopped for a night in Parnu, very beautiful in summer, with a wide beach and a rich nightlife, and on the following day we stopped in Haapsalu, which is worth visiting in winter as well for its famous castle. The town is charming itself, with all the wooden houses (I thought about Pippi as well!) housing shops and cafes.
About the nature and landscape I have the same opinion fo jaoto above, maybe because I am used to Alpine scenery: inland Estonia is quite unremarkable to my eyes, and you get bored of the endless sight of the forest. We only liked the chance to see storks and their nests, for they are very unusual in my country.
As for Tallinn, I liked the city quite a lot, the Old Town is rather impressive. So are, in the opposite way, the ex Soviet block of flats in the uter neighbourhood - we didn't have to visit them, for our hotel was right there, and though it was rather cheap I don't recommend it (hotel Lillekula).
We liked the Kadriorg park, seen in a very rainy day, and Kumu, the modern Estonian museum, also the cafe there is very good for lunch. Komoressor is not in Nunne as stated above, but in Rataskaevu and it serves tasty and cheap pancakes, very fulfilling and filling. But we found food in Tallin cheap and good everywhere; I can also recommend the Vapiano Italian fast food in the Solaris shopping centre (there's another one near the ferry terminal D) and the Bonaparte cafe and pastry, really gorgeous, to be found in many places, among them the Kumu restaurant.
As for bookshops, the Apollo bookshop in the Solaris shopping centre has everything, with also a big selection of English books - I have been fascinated by Estonian, but it seems quite a difficult language to master.
Sep 28, 2012 3:18 AM
12As you wrote that you like hiking/walking then I recommend to go to bogshoeing. That is very interesting, especially in snowy winter. You don't see any mountains but views are nevertheless spectacular.
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