Things to do in Estonia
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 (inatct) 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 under state protection as architectural monuments and 100 in active use.
Islands & Coastline
Estonia has over 1500 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' water 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, 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 Kihnu , Ruhnu (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 or fishing etc.
In July and August Parnu , Estonia's summer capital, is the main attraction. The coastline itself has loads of untouched beaches and a tour from Narva-Joesuu (in the East) towards Tallinn is great for exploring the coastline. Some of the well known places include Toila , Vosu , Kasmu and Kaberneeme .
Tickets for events can be bought online via Piletilevi.ee or the lately established Ticketpro.ee .
There's quite a good list of various events in Estonia at Visitestonia.com .
- Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (POFF) , . November/December . The festival combines a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films and children/youth films.
Music FestivalsEstonian Song and Dance Celebration in 2009 Photo: Egon Tintse
- Tallinn Music Week , Tallinn , . 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 ,. April . In addition to Tallinn jazz concerts also take place in Tartu and Parnu.
- Tallinn Old Town Days , Tallinn , . May/June .
- The Estonian Song Celebration (In Estonian: Laulupidu) , . 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.
- Ollesummer Festival , ( Tallinn ), . July . Approx 70,000 people attend the festival each year over the course of 4 days.
- Viljandi Folk Music Festival , Viljandi ,. 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 , . July .
- Leigo Lake Music Festival , near Otepaa ,. August . Open-air concerts are held in completely natural venues on the hilly landscapes of the Otepaa highland. The musicians' stage is on an island in the lake, surrounded by thousands of listeners on the sloping shore.
- Birgitta Festival , Tallinn , [. August . Music and theatre festival, held at the ruins of the historical Pirita (St. Bridget's) convent
Estonia Places to Visit