If you are looking for a unique holiday destination this year, then Estonia definitely fits the bill. A country which tends to be free from the usual swarming tourist crowds, but nonetheless a colourful and diverse land filled with lots of wonderful attractions, you're definitely making the right decision if you book Estonia holiday cottages, houses or apartments for your getaway! Estonia is located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, sharing borders with Latvia and across the water from both Sweden in the west and Finland to the north. In fact, you can very easily get across the Gulf of Finland from Estonia's capital to Helsinki by ferry, and the crossing only takes around 2 to 2 and a half hours. Estonia is full of nature and open, green spaces as well as expanses of forest for you to make the most of during your visit, and which also help to maintain its position as one of the countries with the cleanest air in the world. The currency used in Estonia is the Euro, it's capital city is Tallinn and it is one of the least-populous countries in Europe, although this doesn't stop it from having high living standards and a good economy. Did you know that Estonia has over a thousand islands? The largest is Saaremaa Island with its one city, Kuressaare, followed by Hiiumaa, and they can be reached by plane or ferry, or if you are here during the winter when the surface of the sea freezes over, it is also possible to drive across the impressive ice road from the mainland!
Explore Tallinn, Estonia's Capital
Tallinn is a capital which has large contrasts between the buzzing modern city and the medieval Old Town in its centre, one of the world's best preserved Hanseatic town centres and which is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with traditional architecture and cobbled streets dating all the way back to the 11th century! The Old Town of Tallinn (which is in fact divided into two different halves) tends to be the most popular part of the city amongst tourists, as here is where you will find all of the things that make this destination unique and traditionally Estonian. If you travel here by plane, it is easy to get to your Estonia holiday rentals if you booked in the centre of the city, as the airport is only around a 15 minute drive or a 20 minute bus journey away. One of the top attractions in Tallinn is a climb up the TV Tower, which offers views across the city and the sea beyond, and in good weather you can even see all the way to Helsinki! Tallinn nightlife is diverse, with a lot of hidden gems that many people don't know about, and thanks to its compact size, a lot of venues are close to each other, too. The main nights for going out are friday and saturday, which is when you'll find most of the clubs to be full, and the nightlife also tends to be a lot busier during the winter, as the summer months are usually spent enjoying the outdoors instead of clubbing! Bear in mind that public transport doesn't run between midnight and 6am, so you'll either have to walk or get a taxi back to your holiday rentals in Estonia. Also, the bouncers can sometimes be quite picky as to who they do and don't let in to their clubs, but as long as you haven't had too much to drink, are dressed reasonably and aren't making a scene, then you should have no problem! There is a medieval themed bar, Draakon, where you'll be served your traditional Estonian schnapps and elk soup by waitresses dressed in medieval costumes, or you can go to The Jane, which serves cocktails upstairs amongst old bookshelves and comfy armchairs, and has hidden doorways which head to other bars and rooms and a nightclub with a dancefloor downstairs. The Beer House just off Town Hall Square serves food and good beer and there is live music every Thursday to Saturday, or if you're looking for a large nightclub then head to Tallinn's most popular, Venus, with Djs playing from 10pm every day, or Hollywood, which is always full. December is a wonderful month to visit Tallinn; the city simply comes alive, and a wonderful Christmas market is held where visitors can drink mulled wine and buy traditional wooden Christmas gifts. Christmas is a perfect time to enjoy Estonia. If you like the markets here, how about visiting the best Christmas market in Germany, in Cologne? The summers in Tallinn tend to be warm, experiencing temperatures between 19 and 21°C, making this a good time to make the most of it's coastal location. Tallinn is situated on the north coast, which means that here you will be able to combine a city break with a beach holiday in Estonia, as the long beach promenade is close to the centre and you can take a stroll along it and enjoy the views looking out to sea, or you could even travel to one of the beaches which are less than an hour away from the capital city by car.
Don't Miss the Beaches of Estonia
Estonia has a long, beautiful coastline, which impressively stretches over 2,000 miles along the Baltic sea, and offers an enchanting alternative to the usual beach holidays in the Mediterranean. Its thousands of islands along the shore are the perfect place to travel to if you're looking to find a quiet, secluded beach that nobody else knows about yet. The islands are also home to many Estonians who have more traditional values and a slower-paced lifestyle, so they are a perfect place for you to really relax and experience Estonia's long-established culture, especially if you travel here during a calendar holiday. Only a 30 minute ferry ride from the mainland is Saaremaa, the largest of Estonia's islands, flat and therefore perfect for cycling as well as covered in thick forests, Doric lighthouses and Most of the beaches in the Estonian mainland are sandy, and there are also plenty of lakes and rivers where you can take the family for a picnic and a swim! Some favourite beaches which are less than an hour's drive away from Tallinn are Pirita, right in the centre of the city, Stroomi beach in northern Tallinn which is particularly child friendly and has games and a playground, Nõva, which was once inhabited by Swedes and thus has an interesting culturally diverse history, Laulasmaa, which is a popular spot for outdoors activities such as cycling, walking, windsurfing and diving to view the shipwreck in the bay, and sandy Vääna beach. Pärnu is a popular beach destination for visitors coming from abroad as well as Estonians themselves who are on their summer holidays. The water here tends to be warmer than elsewhere, as it is shallower. This, along with the attractions such as playgrounds, play areas and water fountains also makes it perfect for children. Pärnu is a great place to visit if you want an active holiday too, especially on the water, as there are lots of opportunities here to go water skiing or hire a canoe or kayak and discover some of the islets located nearby. The colourful Jekaterina Church and the Tallinna Gates can also be found here, and are popular buildings for sight-seeing, as are the Pärnu Mud Baths. Near to Pärnu you will also find Soomaa National Park, which is very unique in that it experiences a “5th season”! When the snow and ice melts after winter, this whole area floods, making it possible to glide along via canoe or kayak and catch a glimpse of many sights, birds and other animals that you wouldn't otherwise be able to see.
If you want to book one of the self catering Estonia holiday cottages further inland but you'd still like to be able to spend some time near the water, how about a trip to one of Estonia's almost 1,500 lakes? Go fishing, canoeing or sailing, or take a walk around a lake or along a river and appreciate the beautiful scenery. The biggest lake in Estonia is Lake Peipus, which is on the border into Russia, and its northern coast has some lovely pine forests and sandy beaches for you to enjoy. The city of Narva, for example, is located north of the lake right next to the border into Russia along the Narva river.
Cycling Holidays in Estonia
Thanks to its relatively small size, plenty of rural areas and the fact that it is also a fairly flat country, Estonia is an ideal destination for an active break cycling. Depending on what sort of thing you're looking for, you can rent Estonia holiday cottages in different areas in the country, for example in southern Otepää if you want to cycle through the hills or travel along the rocky coastline and even travel to the islands! There are lots of bike paths and cycle routes to follow, but of course you can also choose to make your own and go wherever you fancy. If you plan on exploring on your own and not following a particular set route, go to a local Tourist Information Centre for a map to plan your journey. The best time to come for a cycling trip is between the months of may and october, when there is no risk of snow or ice on the roads which could be dangerous! In the larger cities of Estonia, there are special events for cyclists and cycling culture, like Tallinn Bicycle Week, attracting visitors from all around to participate in exploring the city by bike.