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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some parts of the shore near Kallaste have steep sandstone formations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An interesting stairway leads down the coastal cliffs to the beach.
The sky looked promosing so I went down to the beach after dinner for some sunset photography.