Estonia is the smallest and the most northerly of the Baltic countries, with a close proximity to Finland (under two hours from Helsinki by ferry) that gives the nation a touch of Scandinavian flavor. A country of fascinating scenery, Estonia's extensive Baltic Sea coastline is pierced with more than 1,500 islands, great beaches, and atmospheric small ports. The capital of Tallin is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in northern Europe, a captivating cluster of old castles, fortresses and mazes of narrow cobblestone streets, which are fun to explore at your leisure. The intriguing Old Town is truly an open-air-museum of medieval architecture and the site of many colorful festivals throughout the month of June. Tallinn is also frequently referred to as the choral capital of the world. During song festivals, the world's largest choir of 25,000 singers performs to an audience of 300,000.
Like much of eastern Europe, Estonia boasts a picture-perfect countryside that merits meandering. A day trip by car to Tartu, a quaint old town founded in 1030, is an excellent way to enjoy the scenery and to explore the town’s rich classical architecture. Of Estonia’s many islands, Saaremaa is the largest and a perfect destination for nature and outdoor lovers. A mild marine climate lends itself to abundantly diverse fauna and flora, including 35 species of orchids, which few expect to find in the Baltic Sea! Also a bird watchers delight, Saaremaa is located along the "bird road," a major migratory path for waterfowl. The Kaali meteorite craters, unique geological phenomena, are also found on this island.
For history buffs, pristine and mostly uninhabited Naissaar Island is a fascinating visit. Only accessible by privately chartered yacht, a full day visit to the island allows you to visit the early 20th-century defense edifices, standing since the time of the last Russian Tsar. A quaint wooden church with an old cemetery and a lighthouse are also prominent features of the island. To fully immerse in the Soviet legacy, you can explore local sights via a Soviet-era truck, though traditional transportation is also available.
Interested in exploring Estonia or the other Baltic countries? Contact our Elegant Journeys team for additional information.
Photos courtesy of: Estonia Tourism Board, Lindblad Expeditions, and Three Sisters Hotel