Places of interest in Estonia
As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Estonia, here's our selection of some of the wonderful places to visit across the country. Estonia has over 250 museums, galleries and visitor attractions documenting the country’s long and fascinating history, both along its long and varied coastline where castles, manors and forts have been important strategic strongholds (Estonia has more than 1,000 dating back to the 13th Century), as well as inland, where farming has been a way of life for centuries.
Discover time-honoured craftsmanship that bring history alive at the many visitor centres – both in its cities and throughout the countryside – that provide interactive art and craft workshops, as well as a range of elegant and historical architectural monuments, from the medieval to the modern age. Move to the rhythm of the nation, through stirring song and dance traditions given a fresh tempo by the younger generation.
Interactive Google Map: shows the location and details of all the places to stay, local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities in our Green Traveller's Guide to Estonia:
Green = Places to stay Blue = Local food & drink Yellow = Attractions Purple = Activities
Kaali crater The site on the island of Saaremaa of a large meteorite that hit the earth here approximately 7,000 years ago. Surrounded by trees, the crater (now filled with water) has a diameter of 110m and is 22m deep (there are also eight other small craters on the island that were created by the same explosion). It is thought that the site figured prominently in local mythology, perhaps as a sacrificial site. kaali.kylastuskeskus.ee
Lodjakoda See how an historic Estonian ship is constructed as this ship-building centre that doubles as a museum and theme park. Pride of place is the 24m two-master wooden trading vessel Emajõe-Peipsi (with its unusually round and flat-bottomed hull) sailed the shallow inland waters of Estonia for over 600 years. A cinema shows the chronicle of these fascinating barges and you can also join themed barge sailing trips led by a professional guide on the river Emajõgi, such as early morning birdsong, star-gazing and bat-watching. lodi.ee
Hara harbour and submarine base
On the north coast just east of Tallinn, the Hara harbour was an important strategic base during the Tsarist rule, in the period of independence before the Second World War, and also during the Soviet occupation when a military port was established here, including a submarine base where the vessels were demagnetised to make them less susceptible to mines. There are guided tours of the former submarine base and the nearby military town, and for those who want to explore the area further, there are boat trips around Hara Bay and to join the Majakivi hiking trail. harasadam.ee
Moe museum and visitor centre Vodka has been produced in Estonia since the 1400s and Moe is one of the few remaining places where Estonian vodka is still produced, using raw materials grown in Estonia and Estonian water. Book a 45-minute tour of the museum, take part in a tasting of hand-crafted flavoured vodka, or just come for a drink and enjoy the atmosphere of the second oldest working vodka distillery in the world. visit.moe.ee
Windtower Experience Centre An impressive 29-metre high windtower on the island of Hiiumaa off the west coast that’s an interactive museum, research centre and adventure centre. The museum celebrates the relationship of the islanders to the elements (land, sea and air) – visitors can walk on a muddy seabed and discover the sights and sounds of the island, including an ancient shipwreck and a NATO submarine. The centre is also home to a 20-metre indoor climbing wall - the highest in the Baltics. tuuletorn.ee
Estonian National Museum
Learn about the historical context of life in Estonia at the country’s largest museum through workshops, educational programmes and guided tours. There are two permanent exhibitions: ‘Encounters’ (about life in Estonia since the Ice Age) and ‘Echo of the Urals’ (about the life of the Finno-Ugric peoples) plus there are other several other temporary cultural and heritage exhibitions that change each year. www.erm.ee
TYPA Printing and Paper Art Museum
An innovative museum and visitor centre that pays homage to the country’s letterpress printing era. Learn how paper is made and marvel at the old historical printing presses, typefaces, and paper sculptures. There are also workshops on papermaking, binding handmade books and cyanotype. typa.ee
Kumu Art Museum
Become immersed with Estonia’s social and culture issues at the largest art museum in the country. Kumu (an amalgamation of the Estonian word ‘kunst’, which means art, and museum) opened in 2006 to document the country’s art from the 18th Century to the modern day and to stimulate discussion on contemporary issues, incubating new ideas for domestic and international artists. kumu.ekm.ee/en
Kuressaare Castle Originally constructed in the 14th Century, Kuressaare Castle (also known as Kuressaare Episcopal Castle) on the southern coast of Saaremaa island, is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Estonia. Inside, the museum, which was founded in 1865, tells the story of the stronghold’s remarkable history through four periods: the period of the bishops (first half of the 15th Century), the Danish period (16th/early 17th Century), the Swedish period (17th/18th Century) and the Russian period to 1918. saaremaamuuseum.ee
Samovar House A delightful small museum in the Old Believer’s village near Lake Peipus dedicated to a private collection of over 100 samovars – metal urns that are used to boil water to make tea. Here you can learn about their history and traditions associated with tea drinking in Estonia, and you can try drinking Ivan-chai from an authentic samovar. visitestonia.com/en/samovar-house-in-varnja
Hellenurme Mill Museum An historic watermill built in 1880 by the River Elva whose machines (bought by the great grandfather of the mill’s current owner) are still operational. Visitors can watch the entire process of turning grain into flour, while learning about the traditions and lifestyle of past occupants of the mill. veskimuuseum.ee
Rakvere Castle A great day out for the family. Re-live the adventure and splendour of the Medieval Ages, dressing up as knights and warriors at this beautiful castle that has belonged to Danish Kings, knight-monks of the Livonian Order, as well as the Swedish and Polish states. The museum has a range of exhibitions depicting life in the Middle Ages, including a wine cellar, torture chamber, barber, and an alchemist’s workshop. rakverelinnus.ee
Tammsaare Museum Visit the birthplace of Anton Hansen Tammsaare, one of the most famous Estonian writers who wrote the novel Truth and Justice, which depicts life in the late 19th Century battling with the elements in rural Estonia. The museum provides an insight into the parallels between the book and the writer’s cultural and literary heritage, as well as an overview of the harsh life at a 19th Century farm among the swamps and bogs of the Järva County. vargamae.ee
Historic lighthouses Lighthouse have long played an important part of coastal life in sea-faring Estonia – an ancient maritime nation – whose coastline extends for over 3,700 kilometres. Three of the most popular to visit for their spectacular architecture are the 500-year old lighthouse at Kõpu – the third oldest continually operating lighthouse in the world; the cast-iron lighthouse at Tahkuna on the north end of Hiiumaa, which is the tallest lighthouse in Estonia; and the red lighthouse at Ristna, which is built among the bogs of the northern cape and if often concealed by fog.
For nearby places to stay, as well as where to find local food and drink, and outdoor low impact adventure activities, see our Green Traveller's Guide to Estonia