Estonia

Tallinn and Around the Country

Tallinn

I spent a long weekend in Tallinn together with a couple of friends from Germany. One of them, Peter, would later join me for the trip around Estonia as well. We got a really nice Airbnb not far from the city center.

Tallinn's historic old town is a major tourist attraction, and rightly so.

There's a considerable amount of modern architecture as well and many once neglected areas are being polished up. It's a very pleasant city.

Good beer is not hard to find in Tallinn
Beach not far from the city
There are also plenty of Bars and Pubs to choose from

Nõva

Coming from Tallinn we went west to Nõva. According to Wikipedia this small place has had 136 inhabitants in 2010 and I'd say it didn't grow much since then. But there is a quite old wooden church, lots of forests and a beautiful beach.

Small port near Nõva
Nõva Church
Fire places behind the dunes
Beach close to Nõva

Haapsalu

After the short detour to Nõva we continued south to Haapsalu, where we would spend the following two nights.

Haapsalu is a small and peaceful seaside resort town. The city centre is dominated by Haapsalu Castle which dates back to the 13th century. In the 19th century, Haapsalu became popular as a summer destination where people would go to get Spa treatments utilizing the local sea mud.

The old Railway station is another interesting sight in Haapsalu. It was constructed in 1904 and has been in use until the end of the 20th century.

Old Steam and Diesel Engines at Haapsalu Railway Station
Haapsalu Railway Station
The covered platform is over 200m long
Sunset over the Baltic Sea

Hiiumaa

Hiiumaa is the second largest island in Estonia. The journey with the car ferry takes about 90 minutes. It's a good idea to book your ticket online in advance.

The island was off limits for most people in the Soviet era and is mostly covered with dense forest. Things to see and do include several light houses, numerous beaches and hiking trails through the wilderness.

Forest on Hiiumaa
Forest path
Suuremõisa Manor
Roads are empty but in top condition
TT in the Forest
Beach on the western tip of Hiiumaa, seen from Ristna Lighthouse
More Beach
Ristna Lighthouse
Watersports equipment
Inside Ristna Lighthouse
Kõpu Lighthouse

Matsalu National Park

On our way south we stopped near Haeska to have a look at Matsalu Bay which is said to be a paradise for bird watchers. Summer is certainly not the right season for watching the large groups of migratory birds that can be seen here at other times of the year, but it's still an interesting landscape.

Pärnu

The Summer Capital of Estonia features a huge beach with shallow waters and very fine, white sand. The city is beautiful with lots of greenery and 19th century wooden buildings.

Pärnu Beach
Alley in Pärnu
Old city gate
Pärnu Beach

Tartu

Our next stop would be Tartu in eastern Estonia. Tartu is Estonia's second largest city and is mostly known for it's prestigious, 17th-century university.

The old town with it's beautifully restored buildings is close to the Emajõgi river, which was where the .

Tartu University
Church in Tartu
Tartu City Hall
Kissing Students fountain
Local Beef at Lihuniku Ari restaurant
Local Beef at Lihuniku Ari restaurant
Old town road leading down to the river

In the evening of our second day in Tartu we were lucky enough to witness the opening ceremony of the Gaudeamus 2018 student festival at the banks of Emajõgi.

Lake Peipus

On our second day in Tartu we set off to Lake Peipus. This large lake (5th largest in Europe, actually) lies on the border between Estonia and Russia. The shore is lined with small villages where time appears to be standing still. People mainly live off fishery and cultivation of onions.

Lake Peipus grassland
Lighthouse at Lake Peipus
Chairs
Church near Lake Peipus
Church near Lake Peipus

Some parts of the shore near Kallaste have steep sandstone formations.

Storks are a common sight in rural Estonia

Alatskivi

After visiting the lake we headed to nearby Alatskivi, which is home to Alatskivi Castle. The castle dates back to the 17th century but was rebuilt in the 19th century. It is surrounded by a big forested park. There's a nice walking trail around the park and nearby lake. Before that we sampled the local onion soup and Solyanka, both of which were great.

Alatskivi Castle
Alley lined with oak trees
Park around Alatskivi Castle
Alatskivi Lake
Stork's nest

Lahemaa National Park

From Tartu we drove north towards Lahemaa National Park. Roads were small and empty but in great condition - pleasant driving as everywhere in Estonia.

The park covers a beautiful stretch of forest along the northern coast of Estonia. It's located just 70km east of Tallinn and thus a favorite weekend getaway for inhabitants of the capital. They say there's a lot of wild life including wolves, lynx and bears in the park. Driving through by car we naturally didn't get to see any though.

Beach in Lahemaa National Park

Palmse Manor

There are four manors in the park. Due to time constraints we just went to see one of them, Palmse Manor. Beautifully restaurated in and out it was certainly worth the visit.

Palmse manor
Kitchen in the basement
Study
Dining room
Palmse manor greenhouse
Lake and park at the back of the main house

Saka Manor

On our last day before returning to Tallinn we spent the night at Saka Manor. This manor has been turned into a nice hotel. There's also a camp site.

Saka Manor hotel building
Sleepy manor cat
French camper van

An interesting stairway leads down the coastal cliffs to the beach.

Stairs down the coastal cliff in Saka
Coastal forest
Beach near Saka manor

The sky looked promosing so I went down to the beach after dinner for some sunset photography.