View from Patkuli Viewing Platform, Winter in Tallinn, Estonia

7 Day Itinerary For Estonia – Complete Travel Guide

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Estonia is one of the lesser visited countries in Europe, tucked away in the north east of the continent bordering Russia and Latvia. But Estonia is a gem that is crying out to be explored.

If you have one week to visit Estonia, you will have enough time to tick off most of the main sites in the country, taking in medieval cities, modern towns, rural islands and a lot of pine forest amongst other jaw dropping scenery.

Before I went, I wondered what the best things to see and do in Estonia were, but the road trip that I did that took in plenty of the country and I can now give advice on what I saw. I think that one week is the perfect amount of time to get around the country and to get under its skin to experience what it has to offer.

There are friendly people, a melodic language and a land that is mostly untouched of concrete jungles, leaving you mesmerised in so many ways.

This itinerary can be completed using public transport, but it may be easier and more of an adventure to rent a car and complete a road trip of the country. Of course, the longer you spend in one place, the more you are likely to see and the more you’ll fall in love with the country. This can be completed in 7 days but it might be better to extend it to 10 days for the ultimate experience.

A 7 day itinerary for Estonia

Tallinn

(1-2 Days)

Almost all travels to Estonia will start in Tallinn.

And for good reason.

Tallinn has countless museums, an enchanting medieval old town and a modern city vibe with bars and restaurants to keep everyone busy. I used the Tallinn card which got me access to so many attractions within the city that I think it is well worth it. I have written a full review of the Tallinn card which you can read about here.

But there are so many more reasons to visit Tallinn than just the museums.

Hellemanns Tower and Town Walls, Tallinn, Estonia

It’s home to one of the oldest settlements in the Baltics having nearly 1000 years of history. The old town makes you feel like you are stepping inside Game of Thrones. But the modern and welcoming people give the vibe of a modern European city, with a few skyscrapers starting to pop up and a financial district and home to many of Europes tech start ups.

Start by visiting the city walls and explore some of the towers that surround the city. In the old town, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the most unique monuments in the city. The Eastern orthodox church, with its massive domes can be seen from all over the city. Head to one of the two main lookouts at Kohtuotsa or Patkuli Viewing Platform for views over the entire city.

The Tallinn town hall is one of the oldest in northern Europe, with winding cobblestoned streets sprawling away from the centre

Christmas market and town hall, Winter in Tallinn, Estonia

Saaremaa

(1-2 Days)

Saaremaa is the largest island in Estonia and is a beautiful but sparsely populated place to get back to nature.

This is the true Estonia with small communities and cabins with saunas instead of fine hotels. Normally a spa destination for tourists from Estonia, the Baltics and Finland, there are also plenty of spa hotels dotted around the main town of Kuressaare.

Castle reflection, landscape, Saarema, Estonia
The reflection in the moat of one of the towers in Kuressaare castle

One of the highlights in Kuressaare is to see the 14th century Kuressaare castle set in the beautiful star shaped moat that now contains the informative Kuressare Museum. It gives a fascinating look at the history of the island as well as being in a beautiful setting. I spent a couple of hours there but it would be easy to spend more.

The town is also a charm, a place that you just sit and enjoy

Outside of the main town, stop off at the Kaali meteor crater to see what happened when a meteor hit the Earth 3000 years ago. Ice covered when I went, there are information boards explaining how this crater was formed by a 30 tonne meteor.

Its also important to visit the windmills and lighthouses of Saaremaa to understand their history on this remote island.

Although most of the best things to see in Saaremaa can be seen in one day of going around the island, I would recommend staying for at least two nights to enjoy to tranquility and enjoy being back in nature.

Kaali crater, Saarema, Estonia, Dan

Parnu

(1 Day)

Parnu is Estonia’s beach resort town.

In summer, tourists flock to Parnu from all over the Baltics to see its beaches and visit the spas.

Known as one of the most sustainable destinations in the Baltics, the long white sandy beaches and large parks make it a place best visted in summer to enjoy the outdoor activities.

If you head there in winter, there is still plenty to explore without experiencing nature and the ourdoors. Its easy to spend a few hours exploring the Parnu museum and the sculpture of Gustav Peter Fabergé, father of the artist who designed the famous Faberge eggs.

Parnu Museum, Parnu, Estonia

See the Talllinn Gate, the only structure still standing from the old city walls, in its bright pink glory. Even in winter, it took a long time to get a photo without anyone nearby! See beautiful architechture in other parts of the city like the Punane Torn, Endla Theatre or just walking to streets of the old town.

Stop for a lunch at Elleni Pagariäri & Kohvik or VoVa Vorstid & Vahvlid KÖÖK & BAAR for a traditional Estonian experience.

Bastionide rada, gates of old city, Parnu, Estonia
Tallinn Gate in Parnu

Viljandi

(Pass through)

Viljandi is not really a foreign tourist destination in and of itself, but it’s worth a stop at the castle ruins overlooking the lake, as well as a ramble around some of the cobblestone side streets of the old town, with its well-preserved wooden houses.

Those who want to get really local might be able to take in a performance at Estonian Traditional Music Centre – Viljandi is known as an arts hub of Estonia and prides itself on helping to keep Estonian folk traditions alive and well. As far as foreigners go, there aren’t many to be found, and American author Justin Petrone’s book My Viljandi offers a glimpse into the life of one who dares to go native.

Lastly, if you’re just passing through and looking for a quick coffee or organic pastry, Rohelise Maja pood ja kohvik is not to be missed.

Tartu

(1-2 Days)

Tartu is the second biggest city in Estonia and home to a large student population thanks to one of the oldest universities in Europe.

The European Capital of Culture for 2024 has a cute town centre with cobbled streets and a large square in front of the town hall. The statue in front of the pink town hall building has two students kissing underneath an umbrella, with hearts dripping from the umbrella when it rains.

The bridges over the river light up at night, the parks are abuzz with students hanging out enjoying sunshine and socialising.

View up to Tartu tahehorn, Tartu, Estonia

Walk up the hill to Cathedral Hill Park (Toomemäe Park) and into the University of Tartu Museum to see some cool science exhibits. Even if science isn’t your thing, the park is lovely to walk around and being up on a hill gives lovely views over the city.

See the university and botanic gardens whilst keeping an eye out for the street art that adorn many of Tartu’s wall. Walk along the Emajõgi River, especially during summer when festivals and musicians take their place on the banks and take in the city, the young positive vibe mixed with the tradition and old town.

tartu2024, Tartu, Estonia

Voru

(Optional side trip from Tartu)

Voru is a unique town in Estonia which its own dialect of Estonia and culture that is unlike anything else in the country. In summer, enjoy the beach on Lake Tamula before heading to the main square to have a coffee and watch the world go by. Finish off in Voru by visiting the town museum to learn about the distinct culture that belongs in this corner of the country and see if you can see one of the traditional music or folk festivals held throughout the year.

Tallinn

Head back to Tallinn and tick off anything else that you may not have seen on your first visit before setting off on your journey home to tell everyone else how good Estonia is!

St Nicholas Viewing Platform, Dan, Tallinn, Estonia

How to get to Estonia

Estonia, and Tallinn in particular, can be reached easily by a number of methods from all over Europe

Fly to Tallinn

Tallinn airport has flights from numerous countries in Europe, from Baltic neighbours Latvia and Lithuania as well as all the Scandinavian countries, Poland, Germany and the UK. Ryanair and Air Baltic fly from Tallinn to plenty of destinations around Europe.

Get to Estonia by bus

Flixbus and Lux Express offer bus services to Estonia from Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. Flixbus are normally cheaper but my experience on Lux Express is slightly more luxurious with TV’s in the back of the seats like planes.

Tallinn to Riga is 4 hours on a bus.

These companies can also be used to get around within Estonia as well.

By ferry

Its easy to get a ferry to Tallinn from Helsinki and Stockholm using Tallink which offer overnight ferries from both destinations. These are often done as day trips with an overnight ferry, a day in the city and another ferry back that evening.

Ferry from Tallinn TV tower, Tallinn, Estonia
These ferry’s come over from other Scandinavian countries (view from the Tallinn TV Tower)

How to get around Estonia

Estonia is a great place to hire a car with wide open roads, a flat landscape and good drivers. I spent most of my time in a hire car, taking in a road trip of the country. Fuel is also affordable compared to other European countries. Distances between cities are barely more than 3 hours in this itinerary and it gives you the freedom of going when you want from door to door.

It is even possible to fly from Tallinn to Saaremaa on a 35 minute flight on NyxAir that fly a couple of times per day.

If driving in another country gives you the shivers, it is perfectly fine to use public transport to get around Estonia. Lux Bus or Flixbus make all of the connecting journeys here, although compared to other European cities, you may find that there are only a few connections per day (sometimes maybe even just one).

Dan Estonia flag, Saarema, Estonia

Summing up a 7 day itinerary in Estonia

Estonia is a beautiful country that deserves more attention than it currently receives. Spending one week touring the country is a perfect amount of time to get a good taste of what it has to offer. The capital, Tallinn, is a must see on any visit, and combined with Tartu and Saaremaa, you will get to see different sides of a beautiful country.

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