Welcome to Tartu
Small and provincial, with the tranquil Emajõgi River flowing through it, Tartu is Estonia’s premier university town, with students making up nearly a seventh of the population. This injects a boisterous vitality into the leafy, historic setting and grants it a vibrant nightlife for a city of its size. On long summer nights, those students that haven’t abandoned the city for the beach can be found on the hill behind the Town Hall, flirting and drinking.
Tartu was the cradle of Estonia’s 19th-century national revival and it escaped Soviet town planning to a greater degree than Tallinn. Its handsome centre is lined with classically designed 18th-century buildings, many of which have been put to innovative uses. Aside from its own attractions – including some interesting galleries and museums – Tartu is a convenient gateway to exploring southern Estonia.