The ancient Hanseatic city Tallinn is the oldest capital in Northern Europe. In fact, it has a wealth of historical and architectural monuments, particularly in the old town center which is dominated by the soaring steeple of the medieval Town Hall. More than two-thirds of the original City Wall still stands and a superb view of the narrow streets, the gabled roofs and the towers and spires of old Tallinn is afforded from Toompea Castle, situated on a cliff top. The Old Town of Tallinn has also been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
ROCCA AL MARE OPEN AIR MUSEUM
Estonian Open Air Museum is located in the beautiful park by the sea about 10 km from Tallinn center. The name of the place comes from the local Baltic-German villa. In the 84 ha park you will get acquainted with the 18th-19th century Estonian farm architecture. There is also a nice little wooden church, village inn, windmills and a water mill.
About two hours’ drive from Tallinn is Pärnu, a small town situated on the banks of the Pärnu River where it emerges into the Gulf of Riga. Established in the 13th century, the town is known as a seaport and a health resort. Among its attractions are its theater and its 3km- (2 mile-) long sandy beach, which is very popular with Estonians.
Estonia’s second-largest city lies about 180 km from Tallinn on the Emajõgi River. The city has a very old university dating back to the 17th century and other sights include the Vyshgorod Cathedral (13th to 15th centuries), the Town Hall (18th century) and the university’s Botanical Garden.
One of the oldest towns in Estonia. Situated on the western banks of the River Narva, it was first mentioned in the chronicle of Novgorod. The Herman Castle is the oldest architectural monument and the city museum, which is situated in the castle, is well worth seeing.
Haapsalu is a small town on the western coast and has been a well-known resort since the 19th century. It is the ideal place to get away from it all with its romantic wooden houses and tree-lined avenues. It is built on a strip of land that was formed of many islets only a few hundred years back. Narrow streets with the wooden houses not changed much from the beginning of XXth century bring you to the sea again and again. Haapsalu's Episcopal Castle is one of the most remarkable examples of Estonian Middle-Age fortress architecture, the glory of which can be traced today only by ruins.
The stronghold covered the area of two hectares and its construction, widening and reconstruction went on throughout several centuries, with architecture changing according to the development of weapons.
Beyond the cities...
Saaremaa is the largest island in Estonia. On here and on Hiiumaa (Estonia’s second-largest island) one can see old windmills, stone churches, fishing villages and a restored Episcopal castle (in Kuressaare) dating back to the 13th century. Saaremaa is known as a good recreation place with unique nature and a lot of sights. It has retained its uniqueness due to its location and insulation. In the villages there are still stone fences and houses with thatched roofs, beautiful national costumes and dialectal language are still used. Junipers, dolomite, windmills and the famous local home-brewed beer are considered the symbols of Saaremaa.
Mustvee, situated on the shores of the beautiful and vast Lake Peipsi, and Kuremäe, the site of the only functioning convent in Estonia, are also well worth a visit.
Lahema National Park (70km/44 miles from Tallinn) is one of Estonia’s three national parks, with almost totally unspoiled and untouched forest and swamps, picturesque old fishing villages and historic manor houses. The other two national parks are the Soomaa National Park and the Vilandsi National Park. There are also several nature reserves and protected areas.