Friday, September 29, 2023


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Estonia Estonia -


Official Language:

Languages Mostly Used for Work:

Ideal Working Season:
All year round

Maritime; wet, moderate winters, cool summers

Time Zone:
EET (UTC+2), summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

1.3 Million

Euro (EUR)

Parliamentary republic / Republic of Estonia

54% no religion, 16,15% Orthodox Christians, 9,91% Lutheran

45,339 km2


Estonia_Banner Estonia -

Estonia is a Baltic state in Northern Europe having land borders with both Latvia and Russia. Estonia’s coastline lies on the Baltic sea and the Gulf of Finland.


Estonia is a Baltic gem offering visitors the chance to see a tiny dynamic land on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Glorious beaches pepper the extensive coastline, although the swimming season is short. After all, the Baltics are not renowned for warm weather – something that any visitor to Estonia must be aware of — the summer is short and the winter is severe.

Tallinn‘s medieval old town was built by German crusaders in the Late Middle Ages and is in magnificent condition, with the medieval city walls and towers almost completely intact and it rates as one of Europe’s best preserved medieval old towns. Visitors can also experience an ex-Soviet occupied country that is now part of the European Union. Traces of the Soviet era are still there to be seen — e.g. Paldiski, a deserted Soviet army base that was once off-limits to Estonians themselves, can easily be visited on a day trip from the capital, Tallinn.


After 7 centuries of GermanDanishSwedishPolish and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcefully annexed into the USSR in 1940, it re-gained independence in 1991 through its Singing Revolution [1], a non-violent revolution that overthrew an initially violent occupation.

Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia moved to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe. It is now one of the more-prosperous former communist states, enjoying a high-tech environment, an open and liberal economy and a transparent government system. On the other hand, it is faced with a fairly low (but growing) GDP per capita (in a European Union context), as well as a very low birth rate, which is creating a slight population decline. Between 1991-2007, the country saw rapid economic expansion, leading it to be among one of the wealthiest and the most developed of the former Soviet Republics. However, its economy was badly damaged during the ongoing global recession, although more recently, it has been recovering quickly. In 2011, the Euro was adopted as the official currency.

Since its accession to the EU, Estonia is becoming one of the most popular destinations in North-Eastern Europe with (EU highest) 30% growth in the number of visitors in 2004, according to Eurostat.



maritime, wet, moderate winters, cool summers


marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south

Elevation extremes 

lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Suur Munamägi 318m (in the south east of Estonia, 20km north of the main highway that runs from Riga to Russia close to the borders of Estonia with both countries).

Geography – note 

the mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands and islets


World War 2 and the subsequent occupation were devastating on humans, but the destruction and the closure of large areas for military use actually increased Estonia’s forest coverage from about 25% before the war to more than 50% by 1991. Wolves, bears, lynx, elks, deer as well as some rare bird and plant species are abundant in Estonia. The wild animals from Estonia are exported to some EU countries for forest re-population programmes. Most animals can be hunted – according to yearly quotas..


Estonia celebrates a national holiday:

  • Independence Day(iseseisvuspäev): 24 February; it is celebrated on the first date of independence in 1918, when Estonia declared independence from Soviet Russia. Estonia also declared independence from the Soviet Union on 20 August 1991, which is celebrated as a public holiday. There is always a military parade somewhere in the country on 24 February, although the weather can be too cold for some to come and watch.

Estonia also celebrates several public holidays:

  • New Year’s Day(uusaasta): 1 January; New Year’s celebrations were promoted during the Soviet times, while Christmas was forbidden. After the restoration of independence, the significance of the New Year decreased, but it is still a celebrated as in the rest of the World.
  • Good Friday(suur reede): moves from 17 March to 20 April (always on Friday).
  • Easter Sunday(ülestõusmispüha): moves from 22 March to 26 April (first full moon Sunday after the spring equinox).
  • May Day(kevadpüha): 1 May; first a Soviet-imposed Labour Day, when students and public employees were forced to take part in political processions, the importance of the May Day has moved to the preceding night on 30 April. Many Estonians then celebrate the Germanic Walpurgis Night (volbriöö) and dress up as witches and roam the streets. In the university town of Tartu, the mayor gives the power symbolically over to the students, who then gather to student organizations for the following night.
  • Pentecost(nelipühad): moving from 10 May to 14 June.
  • Victory Day(võidupüha): 23 June; celebration of the Estonian victory over the Baltic German Landeswehr in the Battle of Paju in 1919. There is usually a smaller military parade somewhere in the country on 23 June.
  • Midsummer Dayor (jaanipäev): 24 June; the summer solstice, which is however celebrated on the previous night on 23 June, on St. John’s Eve (jaaniõhtu or jaaniöö). It is recommended to attend the semi-public celebrations in any Estonian village. Most villages and many residents themselves organize large bonfires for the evening. There is also a tradition to jump over the bonfire. In the West Estonian islands, there are sometimes old fishing boats burnt within the bonfires. The sun only sets for a few hours on that night and it never really goes completely dark and many Estonians have the tradition to stay awake at least until sunrise.
  • Day of Restoration of Independence(taasiseseisvumispäev): 20 August; celebration of the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
  • Christmas(jõulud): from 24 to 26 December; Christmas in Estonia is a mix of Estonian and Western traditions. Celebrating Lutheran Christmas in December instead of Orthodox Christmas in January was forbidden during the Soviet Occupation and Christmas were celebrated in secret. Today it has remained a strictly family holiday.

All national and public holidays are a day off for workers in general, but most convenience stores remain open during regular hours.


Estonia itself is divided into 15 counties (or maakonnad, singular – maakond). However, to bring out the unique characteristics of Estonia, we use 4 distinctive regions in this guide. As the country is small, most destinations can be reached within a couple of hours from Tallinn.

North Estonia
It’s the most industrialized region with over 1/3 of the population of Estonia. Tallinn, with its nightlife and UNESCO-protected medieval Old Town, is a well-known tourist attraction. Nonetheless, there are many small and beautiful beach villages on the coastline as well (such as KaberneemeLaulasmaaNõvaKäsmu and Võsu). Furthermore Lahemaa National Parkcan be reached within an hour from Tallinn.


East Estonia
East Estonia is as close as you can get to Russia. Seaside resorts, such as Toila and Narva-Jõesuu, are considered to be among the best in Estonia.


West Estonia and Islands
West Estonia is well known for its resorts, Haapsalu and Pärnu (the summer capital of Estonia), and its islands (Saaremaa and Hiiumaa being the biggest). This region also has historical significance. Noarootsi and the islands of Ruhnu and Vormsi have been (and are) inhabited by coastal Swedes. Other unique places include the islands Kihnu and Muhu with their rich cultural heritage and the national parks — Vilsandi National Park and Matsalu National Park.


South Estonia
Centered around the lively university city of Tartu. Further south and south-east there are Setomaa and Mulgimaa with their unique cultural heritage that’s still visible today. Karula National Park and Soomaa National Park are also part of the region, as are the ski resorts near Otepää.


  • Tallinn— capital city with an enchanting medieval core
  • Tartu— Estonia’s second-largest and oldest city, intellectual hub famous for its universities
  • Haapsalu— seaside resort town
  • Kuressaare— home of the Kuressaare castle
  • Narva— the easternmost point of the mainland European Union
  • Rakvere— known for its castle ruins and unique character
  • Pärnu— historical resort seaside city with a small harbour, Estonia’s summer capital
  • Valga— border-town with Latvia
  • Viljandi— home of the annual Viljandi Folk Music Festival

Other destinations

Estonians have a special love for nature, and many will tell you that they would rather sit under a tree in an empty forest or hike in a national park than almost anything else. Estonia’s tranquil, laidback and unspoiled Baltic islands provide a splendid getaway to nature.

  • Hiiumaa— second largest island of Estonia
  • Karula National Park— the smallest national park, located in South Estonia
  • Lahemaa National Park— 50km east of Tallinn, with 1000km² of bays, peninsulas and forests
  • Matsalu National Park— one of the largest and most important autumn stopping grounds for migratory birds in Europe
  • Saaremaa— including the town of Kuressaare and one of few well-preserved medieval castles in the Baltics
  • Soomaa National Park— a peat bog formed from a glacier melt from around 11,000 years ago
  • Vilsandi National Park— covers 238km², including 163km² of sea and 75km² of land, plus 160 islands and islets

Get in

Estonia is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty – the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs checks but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).

Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information about how the scheme works and what entry requirements are.

A growing number of foreign visitors have been travelling to Estonia in recent years. According to Statistics Estonia [2] the nation’s statistics agency, 1.3 million foreigners visited the country in 2000, and that number climbed 38 percent to 1.8 million foreigners by 2005.

By plane

Tallinn is Estonia’s main international gateway. In addition to direct daily flights to/from all major Scandinavian (StockholmCopenhagen, and Oslo) and Baltic cities (Riga and Vilnius), there are direct flights from all major European hubs like LondonParisFrankfurtBrussels and Amsterdam and regional hubs like Prague and Warsaw. Eastward connections are from MoscowSt. Petersburg and Kiev. Local carrier Nordic Aviation Group [3] provides half of the services and the rest is provided by Finnair, SAS, Lufthansa, LOT, CSA, Air Baltic, Ryanair and others. Easyjet is one of a few low-cost carriers that provide service between Tallinn and major European cities. Travelers can pay as little as EUR 120 (US$160) or £80 Sterling to fly roundtrip from London to Tallinn.

From London’s Stansted Airport, Easyjet provides nonstop service to Tallinn. From Frankfurt, choose from Lufthansa and Estonian Air. From Brussels, select from KLM, Estonian Air, Finnair, SAS, RyanAir, Lufthansa and Czech Airlines. From Amsterdam, choose from KLM, Lufthansa, SAS, Czech Airlines, Finnair, LOT Polish and Estonian Air. From Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, select from Alitalia, Czech Airlines, Estonia Air, KLM and Finnair. From Helsinki Vantaa airport select from Estonian Air, Finnair, FlyBE.

Close proximity and excellent ferry services with Helsinki allow for combination of open-jaw air travel. Additionally, even if you are only visiting Estonia, it is frequently still significantly cheaper (particularly on flights from North America) to fly into Helsinki and then take the ferry to Tallinn.

Daily domestic flights are from Tallinn to the islands of Hiiumaa (Kärdla) and Saaremaa (Kuressaare).

Tartu is one of Estonia’s oldest towns and a key to South-Eastern regions of Estonia, ancient Russian Pskov or further to Latvia. Flights map of the local airport includes Helsinki by FlyBE airline and Tallinn by Estonian Air, which makes a roundtrip Helsinki-Tallinn-Tartu very easy in any combination.

  • Lennart Meri Tallinn Airportor Ülemiste Airport [4] (IATATLL) (ICAOEETN), about 5 km from the city center, is increasingly becoming an airport hub of the Baltics. Estonian Air [5] provides good quality services to a series of European cities. Other major airlines include Finnair, SAS and EasyJet. Bus line 2 runs from the airport to downtown Tallinn and taxis are also available.
  • Tartu Airportor Ülenurme Airport [6] (IATATAYICAOEETU) is located 10km from Tartu centre. The airport’s bus stop is located in front of the terminal. Bus travels on the route Ülenurme – Tartu City Centre. The bus fare is about €1 and tickets can be bought from the bus driver. There is also the airport shuttle service at 3EUR from/to any location in the city.
  • Kuressaare Airport[7] (IATAUREICAOEEKE) is situated 3 km from the town of Kuressaare on Saaremaa island and offers regular flights to Stockholm and domestic flights.

By train

International train services are to/from Russia, Moscow. Domestic services [8] connect Tallinn with Narva in the east and Viljandi in the south, Pärnu in the south-west, Tartu and Valga in the south-east. Baltic Station railway terminal in Tallinn can be used to start your journey. The station can be accessed from town center and vice versa by tram number 2 – use the “Balti jaam” stop. The platform and trains are modern and the fares are reasonable. Free wifi is available on Elron trains.

By car

Good road connections are to the south (Via Baltica routing Tallinn-RigaKaunasWarsaw) and east (Tallinn-Saint Petersburg). The domestic road network is dense and covers all regions of the country.

By bus

Lots of good and cheap connections from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Kaliningrad, Warsaw, and all larger Baltic and German cities. The most popular regular service provider is Luxexpress Group [9], others include Ecolines [10] and Hansabuss [11].

Domestic coach companies offer services nationwide. A schedule is available at The most popular route is Tallinn-Tartu, where busses depart at least hourly.

By boat

Ferry lines connect Tallinn with Sweden (Stockholm), Finland (Helsinki, Mariehamn) and also with Germany (Rostock) during the summer months. Tallinn-Helsinki is one of the busiest searoutes in Europe and has daily 20 ferry crossings and nearly 30 different fast-boat and hydrofoil crossings (the latter do not operate during winter). For details see Port of Tallinn passenger schedules [12].

Minor international routes include recently re-established connection between Latvia port of Ventspils and the island of Saaremaa and Paldiski – Kapellskär (Sweden) with two different operators.

Get around

In Estonia, the public transport system is well-developed and it is preferable to walk, cycle or use public transport.

By train

Estonia’s train network does not cover the whole country. Tallinn has three frequently-going local train lines (Tallinn-Keila-Paldiski/Riisipere and Tallinn-Aegviidu) see: [13].

The Tartu-Tallinn train route is good, fast and offers wireless internet access.

Domestic routes are operated by Elron [14].

By bus

Estonia has a comprehensive bus network all over the country. All bigger cities like Tartu, Pärnu, Viljandi and Narva are accessible by bus. There is a journey planner called, in Estonian, English and Russian. There is also a timetable search at But also check [15] (only between bigger cities and to outside Estonia). Low cost bus service offers connections from Tallinn to largest cities.

By bicycle

The international bicycle project BaltiCCycle [16] may provide you with a lot of information and help.

By thumb

Hitchhiking in Estonia is generally good. The Baltic countries have a strong hitchhiking culture.

By car

The road system is quite extensive although road quality varies. The speed limit in the countryside is 90 km/h and 50 km/h in the cities unless specified otherwise. Passengers are expected to wear seat belts. Lights must always be switched on.

In the central areas of bigger cities, a fee is levied on parking cars, but finding a provider of tickets is sometimes difficult as mobile parking is widespread.

Estonia has lots of car rental companies and the level of English spoken by their representatives is generally very high. If you go to Level 0 of Tallinn international airport, there are several car rental agency counters.

Car rental in Estonia is very cheap compared to Western Europe. You can get a decent car shared between two people for approximately €10/person/day e.g. a 2004 Fiat Punto.

An excellent day trip is to drive from Tallinn to Tartu. It takes about 2.5 hours each direction.

As of September 3, 2006, the drive from Tallinn to Tartu has been much improved. Outside of Tallinn, it is a two lane paved road with some construction ongoing to upgrade it. It takes two to two and a half hours. There are few sights of interest along the way. The terrain is flat and most of the road is bracketed by a birch tree and a few pines. Sam’s Grill (about 1/2 way between Tallinn and Tartu)is recommended as a place to stop. There is a gas station next door.

Driving in Estonia can be more dangerous than in much of Europe and the United States. Some drivers can be aggressive, recklessly overtaking vehicles and traveling at high speed, even in crowed urban areas. The best advice is to drive defensively: don’t assume your fellow drivers will do what you expect them to do, like avoiding overtaking in poor visibility or signal before they merge into your lane.

Estonian laws against driving under the influence of alcohol are strict and follow a policy of zero tolerance. Unfortunately, accidents involving intoxicated drivers are distressingly frequent.


The official language is Estonian which is linguistically very closely related to Finnish. At the same time many in urban areas (especially younger people) speak English very well. According to the Eurobarometer poll of 2005, 66% of Estonians can speak some Russian (this does not include native-language speakers) and 45% of Tallinn natives speak Russian as their native language. Thanks to heavy tourism and TV broadcasts from the other side of the gulf, Finnish is also spoken quite well by many people in Tallinn, the capital. German is taught at school in Estonia and a large number of people can speak some (22% according to Eurobarometer).


Estonia’s top tourist attractions

1.    Tallinn’s Medieval Old TownTallinn

2.    The Rotermann QuarterTallinn, Shopping district

3.    Kadrioru ParkTallinn, Park

4.    KUMUTallinn, Art museum

5.    Tartu Jaani (St. John’s) ChurchTartu

6.    Pärnu BeachPärnu

7.    Narva Hermann CastleNarva, Museum

8.    The Kaali meteorite cratersSaaremaa

9.    Setumaa [17], South-East Estonia

10.  Rakvere Ordu CastleRakvere, Museum


Medieval History & Manors

The main reason most people first come to Estonia is to see the best protected and intact medieval city in Europe – Tallinn. The unique value of Tallinn’s Old Town lies first and foremost in the well-preserved (intact) nature of its medieval milieu and structure, which has been lost in most of the capitals of northern Europe. Since 1997, the Old Town of Tallinn has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Living under the rule of Scandinavian kings, Russian empire and Teutonic Knights has left Estonia with unique and rich blend of historic landmarks. Over one thousand manors were built across Estonia from the 13th century onwards. Some of the manors have perished or fallen into ruins but a lot have been reconstructed and now are favourite attractions with tourists. Nowadays there are about 200 manor houses [18] under state protection as architectural monuments and 100 in active use.

Islands & Coastline

Estonia has over 1,500 islands. The nature is essentially untouched and offers quite a different beach experience with their remoter rustic feel. Most of the public beaches are sandy and the average water temperature is 18°C in summer. Inland waters and some shallow bays’ waters are even warmer.

The largest island is Saaremaa with an intact and well-restored medieval castle in its only city, Kuressaare. Stone fences, thatched roofs, working windmills and home made beer are all distinctive to Saaremaa. Hiiumaa, on the other hand, is well known for its lighthouses, unspoilt nature, the Hill of Crosses and the sense of humour of its inhabitants. Both islands have an airport so they can be quickly reached from Tallinn.

Other important islands include KihnuRuhnu (with its “singing sand” beach), Muhu and Vormsi, each with its own unique characteristics. Most of the other tiny Estonian islands don’t carry much cultural significance, but can be appealing for bird watching, canoeing, sailing, fishing etc.

In July and August, Pärnu, Estonia’s summer capital, is the main attraction. The coastline itself has loads of untouched beaches and a tour from Narva-Jõesuu (in the East) towards Tallinn is great for exploring the coastline. Some of the well known places include ToilaVõsuKäsmu and Kaberneeme.


Tickets for events can be bought online via [19] or the lately established [20].

There’s quite a good list of various events in Estonia at [21].

  • Real prison escape,Pärnu (Sillutise 1), ☎

+372 555 28376, [22]. Escape from a prison of Pärnu which was closed in 2007. The biggest escape room complex in Scandinavia

Film Festivals

  • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF),[23]. November/December. The festival combines a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films and children/youth films.

Music Festivals

  • Eesti Laul,Tallinn, [24]. February/March. The national selection process in Estonia for the Eurovision Song Contest, often called the alternative Melodifestivalen.
  • Tallinn Music Week,Tallinn, [25]. Spring. Showcase festival, aiming to stage the best and most outstanding Estonian talent on two nights in Tallinn’s most vibrant live venues, as well as a networking event for the music industry professionals.
  • Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar,[26]. April. In addition to Tallinn jazz concerts also take place in Tartu and Pärnu.
  • Tallinn Old Town Days,Tallinn, [27]. May/June.
  • The Estonian Song Celebration (In Estonian: Laulupidu),[28]. First held in 1869, takes place every five years. In 2009, 35,000 choral singers gathered to perform for an audience of 90,000 people. It is recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
  • Rabarock,Järvakandi, [29]. A 2 day Music festival in Mid-June since 2005.
  • Õllesummer Festival, (Tallinn),[30]. July. Approx 70,000 people attend the festival each year over the course of 4 days.
  • Viljandi Folk Music Festival,Viljandi, [31]. July. Annual folk music festival in a small but picturesque town of Viljandi. Each year the festival draws over 20,000 visitors.
  • Saaremaa Opera Days,Saaremaa, [32]. July.
  • Leigo Lake Music Festival,near Otepää, [33]. August. Open-air concerts are held in completely natural venues on the hilly landscapes of the Otepää  The musicians’ stage is on an island in the lake, surrounded by thousands of listeners on the sloping shore.
  • Birgitta Festival,Tallinn, [34]. August. Music and theatre festival, held at the ruins of the historical Pirita (St. Bridget’s) convent.

Sport Events

  • Simpel Session,Tallinn, [35]. Summer/Winter. International skateboarding and BMX event.

Self Guided Tours

Self guided tours are a good way to discover Estonia by yourself. For more information please visit the self-guided tours and interactive maps sections on the official tourism website.



Estonia has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. These 24 countries are: AustriaBelgiumCyprusEstoniaFinlandFranceGermanyGreeceIrelandItalyLatviaLithuaniaLuxembourgMalta, the NetherlandsPortugalSlovakiaSlovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as AndorraKosovoMonacoMontenegroSan Marino and the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members. Together, these countries have a population of more than 330 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.
The Estonian kroon (EEK) ceased to be legal tender on January 15, 2011, but any kroons you have left over can be changed into euros at the Bank of Estonia [36] at a fixed rate of 15.6466 kroon to €1.

ATMs and currency exchange offices (valuutavahetus) are widely available. You will get the best rates by exchanging only after arrival in Estonia. Avoid changing money in the airport or port as the rates are lower.


Estonia is generally cheaper than Western Europe, but it is no longer the bargain basement it used to be in 1990s; and in touristy areas (say Tallinn‘s Old Town), prices may be at Scandinavian levels.

In July 2012 bottle of local beer (0,5l) costs around 1€ in shops and 2,5-3,5€ in modest pub.


Estonian food draws heavily from German and Scandinavian cuisine. The closest thing to a national dish is verivorst, black pudding, served with mulgikapsad, which is basically sauerkraut stew.

Many types of food are close to Russian and have their equivalents almost exclusively in the former USSR, such as sour cream hapukoor, smetana in Russian, a sour 20%-fat milk dressing for salads, especially “kartulisalat” or “potato salad”, which isn’t that rare anywhere else either, really.

As Estonia used to be a food mass-production powerhouse in the times of the USSR, some of its foods, unknown to Westerners, are still well-recognized in the lands of the CIS.

Among other everyday food, some game products are offered in food stores in Estonia, mostly wild boar, elk sausages and deer grill. Some restaurants also offer bear meat.

For those with a sweet tooth, the national chocolate manufacturer is “Kalev”, with many specialist stores around the country as well as supermarkets retailing the product.

The more adventurous may want to try “kohuke”, a flavoured milk-curd sweet covered with chocolate and available at every supermarket.


Like their neighbours the Finns and the Russians, the Estonians know their alcohol. The two largest breweries are Saku [37] and A. Le Coq [38], which both offer a variety of different beers. Recent years have seen a surge in local micro-breweries, the products of which are becoming more and more available in larger shops. Baltic Porters (Põhjala ööSaku Porter) are strong and heavy dark beers with a touch of caramel to be had in winter. The best-known local vodka is Viru Valge (Vironian White) [39] and then there’s the surprisingly smooth and tasty rum-like herbal liquor Vana Tallinn (Old Tallinn) [40], famous in the countries of former USSR.

A local soft drink is “Kali” (the Estonian equivalent of “kvass”), made from fermented brown bread. It can be described as an acquired taste.

Many locals also swear by “keefir”, a fermented milk concoction.


Number of hotels has exploded from few to tens and hundreds after Estonia restored independence. In 2004, Tallinn achieved first place among the Baltic Sea cities in the number of overnight stays in hotels, though still behind Stockholm and Helsinki in the number of total overnight stays. A list of bigger hotels as well as some restaurants and nightclubs could be found at Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association [41].

As Soviet collective farms were disbanded, many farmers switched to running “turismitalud,” or tourism farms, which are inexpensive and indispensable places for spending holidays in nature, usually in a former farm house. A site on Estonian Rural Tourism [42] provides information on the tourism farms in Estonia. Hostels are a another popular option for budget-sensitive travellers; see the website of the Estonian Youth Hostel Association[43]. You may find lot of beautiful manor houses in Estonia, where you may have a delicious meal in restaurant or stay in comfortable hotel. One hour drive from Tallinn you may find Palmse ManorVihula ManorSagadi ManorKau Manor

The official tourism site [44] also has information and listings about B&B accommodation, youth hostels, camping and caravan sites etc.


Estonia has a fair amount of foreign students studying in its universities, especially from Nordic countries, as Estonian diplomas are recognized throughout the EU. See the articles for university town Tartu and capital Tallinn for details.


No obstacles exist to citizens of EU countries to come to invest and work in Estonia. Citizens of developed non-EU countries are exempt from short-term tourist visas. Swedes and Finns have by far the largest working community of post-Soviet foreigners in Estonia. Estonia may have had rocketlike growth in recent years, but only from a very low base as a former Soviet republic, and average local monthly salary (4th quarter 2007) is around 800 EUR.
Education is highly valued in Estonia because as a small nation with no exceptional natural resources, they believe that the only way to be competitive is to absorb knowledge. There are so many highly educated people in Estonia that it is a problem in the labour market – there aren’t enough workers for jobs that requiring minimal education.

Considerable investments and some workers are constantly coming from CIS countries, though significant legal restrictions are imposed.

Police and Border Guard Board [45] is the authority responsible for dealing with the paperwork.

CV Online [46] is one of the oldest Estonian recruitement and HR services operating in 9 countries (as of 2005).

Stay safe

The published crime rate increased dramatically in 1991-1994 after democratic freedoms were introduced. In a large part, this is due to the fact that crime was a taboo subject before 1991, as Soviet propaganda needed to show how safe and otherwise good it was. However, it is still a significant problem in Estonia. The murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants, as of 2000, was some 4-5 times higher than in Sweden and Finland, although still significantly lower than in its biggest neighbour, Russia.

Today, the official sources claim that the country has achieved a considerable reduction in crime in the recent years. According to Overseas Security Advisory Council crime rate in 2007 was quite comparable to the other European states including Scandinavia. Criminal activities are distributed unevenly across the territory with almost no crime in the island areas and a considerable rate of drug dealing in the predominantly Russian-speaking industrial area of North-East. In Tallinn, petty crime is a problem and there are some incidents involving tourists, mainly pickpocketing (especially in the markets). Tallinn Old City and other main tourist attractions are closely watched by local police and private security companies.

Many Estonians drive carelessly, with about 80-110 people killed and 1300 people injured per year. Number of deaths in traffic related accidents per 100 000 people are similar to South-European countries like Portugal or Italy. Estonia has strict drink-driving laws with a policy of zero tolerance, but accidents involving intoxicated drivers are nevertheless a major problem. Estonian traffic laws requires headlight use at all times while driving and use of a seatbelts by all passengers is mandatory.

Recently, Estonia enforced a new law requiring pedestrians to wear small reflectors, which people generally pin to their coats or handbags. Although this law is rarely enforced in cities, reflectors are very important in rural areas where it may be difficult for motorists to see pedestrians, especially in winter months. Violators of this law may be subject to a fine of around €30-50, or a higher fine up to around €400-500 if the pedestrian is under the influence of alcohol. Reflectors are inexpensive and you should be able to find them at many supermarkets, kiosks, and other shops.

The Estonian police are very effective and they are not corrupt as opposed to neighboring Russia or Latvia.

The main advice to anyone worried about personal security is to stay reasonably sober despite tempting alcohol prices. When driving, make sure you have had absolutely no alcohol beforehand.

For police, dial 110; for other emergencies like fires and the like, call 112.

It has been mentioned that ordinary Estonians are unlikely to approach a complete stranger or a tourist on their own. If somebody suddenly turns to you in the street (with questions or matters of small business) keeping a cautious eye on your belongings would be wise.

Open homosexuality may be met with stares. The civil partnership act was adopted in 2016.

Stay healthy

For an Estonian, it is considered “mauvais ton” not to criticize the Estonian healthcare system. Recent EU studies showed, however, that Estonia occupies a healthy 4th place in the block by the basic public health service indicators, on the same level as Sweden. In fact, around 1998-2000, the Estonian healthcare system was remodeled from the obsolete USSR model, directed to coping with disastrous consequences of large-scale war and made more up-to-date by the experts from Sweden. Estonia has harmonized its rules on travelers’ health insurance with EU requirements.

For fast aid or rescue, dial 112.

Estonia has Europe’s highest rate of adult HIV/AIDS infections, currently over 1.3% or 1 in 77 adults. Generally, the rate is much higher in Russian-speaking regions like Narva or Sillamäe. Don’t make the situation worse by not protecting yourself and others.

Information about health care in Estonia is provided by the government agency Eesti Haigekassa.


In general, Estonians are reserved but efficient. Don’t expect them to deliver too many social niceties or small talk, they only say what`s seasonable. Once the ice is broken, you will find them open and candid.

Estonians respect physical distance. The most common greeting is a handshake. Hugs are exchanged between family members and close friends.

Always deliver a simple apology even for being a few minutes late to an appointment. Punctuality is a norm and is much appreciated.

Do not raise your voice in a conversation. A decent silent conversation is the Estonian way of doing business.

If you are invited to an Estonian home, always remove your shoes. Bringing a small gift such as pastry, wine, or flowers to the host is appreciated.

Contemporary history and politics may become a sensitive subject because the country suffered greatly for the effects of WWII and its aftermath. However, Estonians are usually open to share the experience if asked.

Around a quarter of Estonia’s population is Russian-speaking with high concentration in the capital, Tallinn, and in North-East of Estonia. Make sure that you understand whom you are addressing. A foreigner who initiates a conversation in Russian may get a frosty reception from some ethnic Estonians.



  • Access towireless, free internet [47] is widespread in Tallinn and Tartu.
  • On the open road you will often find petrol stations which offer wireless internet access too
  • If you do not have a laptop, public libraries offer free computers
  • The number ofinternet cafes is dropping but you will find several open almost all night in Tallinn and Tartu (expect to pay around 2-3 EUR per hour)
  • Most hotels also have a computer with internet access available
  • The departure lounge at Tallinn airport has several free internet access points for passengers


  • For local calls, dial the 7 or 8 digit number given. There is no “0” dialed before local numbers
  • For international calls from Estonia, dial “00” then the country code and number
  • For international calls to Estonia, dial “00” from most countries or consult your operator, the country code “372” and the 7 or 8 digit number
  • For emergencies, dial “112”. For police only, dial “110”

Mobile phones

  • “Everyone” has a mobile phone in Estonia
  • To ring Estonia from abroad, dial+372 before the number
  • Mobile access is available everywhere, even on the smaller islands and at sea
  • Prepaid (pay-as-you-go) SIM cardsand their top up cards can be bought from R-kiosks (ask for a “kõnekaart” – calling card in English). Popular brands are Smart, Simpel, Diil and Zen. Start-up packages are in a range of €1,55-€10.

Postal Service

  • Within Estonia, the postage cost for a letter up to 50 grams is €0,45.
  • To other EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine the cost is €1,00 and to the rest of the world €1,10.
  • Be sure to mark all air mail pieces with “Prioritaire/Par Avion” stickers available at the post office, or clearly print it on the mail if needed.
  • Stamps are sold at post offices usually open during normal shopping hours, and also at newsstands.
  • Post offices open on Saturday but for shorter hours than during the week, and are closed on Sundays.

All information provided on this page is subject to change.
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