Things to do in Estonia

Updated 2017-11-27 11:09

In a country that is so digital, it’s citizens are actually very big on unplugging and spending stress-free time in nature — and Estonia’s untouched, almost mystical nature, can actually provide you with countless ways to do just that. As for the city life, there are way too many festivals and events taking place in cities such as Tallinn or Tartu. Your only challenge might be to make time in your calendar for all of them.

Experience the nature

Estonia may be a small country, but its population is also small, which practically means that three-quarters of it are just forests, bogs, and otherwise untouched nature. The locals take great pride on how clean the air is (among the cleanest in the world), and how diverse the natural landscape is (so much so, they claim they have five seasons instead of four). And the best thing? You are encouraged to roam freely and experience it all ' from the forests, the lakes and the cliffs, to Estonia's more breathtakingly unique places. Like the site of Kärdla crater, where a meteor hit the Earth 455 million years ago. Or the Blue Springs of Saula that may not actually be blue (their colours vary from greenish and greyish blue to brownish black, due to the way the light reflects on sand particles) but they do have a rich history. In Estonia, springs have always been considered holy places of mystical healing, and some old people would still advise you to bring silver jewellery, money or beads with you to 'sacrifice' when you visit them.'¨

But even if you're in the mood for more straightforward and adventurous outdoor activities, Estonia never disappoints. There are numerous hiking trails across the bogs and mires, bicycle tours, canoeing opportunities or just places to engage in birdwatching.

Experience culture

Culture in Estonia is something you experience. Not so much a theoretical thing, locked in a museum, but a vibrant aspect of daily life. Music, in particular, is one of the country's strongest points ' apart from being the birth country of Arvo Pärt, 'the most-performed living composer', Estonia is also the country with the largest collection of folk songs in the whole world. They're also passionate about music festivals, a tradition that dates back to 1869. All kinds of different music genres, from opera to jazz to folk to the choir, meet under one roof during one of Europe's leading city festivals, Tallinn Music Week, but also in several other 'specialised' festivals like the Saaremaa Opera Festival and Jazzkaar.

Cinema has its share of the limelight as well, with the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (scroll to the end of the article for link) being considered as one of the top 15 film festivals in the world. But theatre, literature, art, architecture and design are also all alive and well.

Good to know:
All you need to do is check Estonia's cultural events calendar (scroll to the end of the article for link) and take your pick.

Experience everyday life

Something most people may not know about Estonia is that it has quite the fashion sense. Almost hidden within its medieval alleyways, are fashion boutiques, workshops and pop-up markets that will surprise you with their innovative designs that combine traditional patterns with contemporary techniques and trends. And, you can shop everything from handmade fashion items and jewellery to glass, ceramics, and furniture, without breaking the bank.

Speaking of not breaking the bank, eating out is also something you can enjoy without having to worry about a very hefty bill. Estonia is becoming a destination for fusion gourmet food, with new restaurants popping up all the time even in unorthodox locations (in the middle of a forest, for example). The great thing about Estonian cuisine is that it carries influences of Scandinavian, Russian, and German cuisines, without failing to combine them in unique ways. Fresh, local and seasonal produce is of utmost importance to chefs, as well as a love for simplicity and healthy dishes.

There are also many options when it comes to going out for drinks. Of course, the more innovative ones are in Tallinn and Tartu, but you can find cosy wine bars and pubs throughout the country. And if you're a coffee person, you'll be delighted to know that Estonia is very good at placing cute cafes amidst stunning historical locations like medieval courtyards and cute wooden houses.

Good to know: Make sure to try some of the handmade chocolates and marzipans.

Useful links
Estonian events calendar
Tallinn Black Nights Festival

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