In many ways, Estonia is a unique country. On the one hand, it has striking cultural parallels with its Scandinavian neighbors; on the other hand, centuries of relations with the Slavic world have also left their mark on the country. Always forward-looking, this nation in northeastern Europe has carved out a niche for itself and offers something quite unique for a short vacation.
The mystery of Tallinn's Old Town — cobblestone streets, churches with slender spires and medieval architecture — has long been solved, but the Estonian capital is also a modern and progressive city, a growing center of creativity and technology. Add to that beautiful baroque mansions, great beer, and an established sauna culture, and you've got a lot more than you can squeeze into one weekend.
There's no denying the beauty of Tallinn's Old Town. The magnificently preserved medieval Hanseatic architecture attracts visitors from all over the world. If you're traveling alone, Town Hall Square (the square next to Tallinn Town Hall) will help you get your bearings. The buildings framing the square are endlessly photogenic — none more so than the mighty Gothic Town Hall — but look out for Raeapteek, a pharmacy that has been operating since the 1400s and is thought to be the oldest in Europe. Then follow the cobblestone streets and alleys and climb Toompea Hill to admire the buildings of the Estonian Parliament, the majestic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and views of the city.
With historic Tallinn behind us, it's time to take a look at the more futuristic side of the city - the creative town of Telliskivi. This neighborhood is home to dozens of creative startups. Don't miss the place Fotografiska - half museum, half gallery, with permanent and temporary photo exhibitions. If you get houngry, La Muu is an incredibly popular local ice cream store in this area. Around the corner you'll find Junimperium Distillery, a coffee shop, brewery, and distillery that produces artisanal gin, and across the street is Vintage Beauty OÜ, a furniture store.
In the evening, head to the beach where Põhjala Brewery & Tap Room awaits you. Located inside the cavernous room, which also has its own restaurant and sauna, the bar offers 24 varieties of homemade beer. You can also check out the Proto Invention Factory, a sort of virtual reality and prototype technology theme park located in a former warehouse. From here, head to the new Iglupark and its ebony saunas, then admire the sunset and end your day in a steam room on the Baltic Sea.
Fifty miles east of Tallinn, located in Lahemaa National Park, Palmse Manor is one of several grand Baroque manor houses. It has existed since the early 16th century; the present incarnation dates from 1785. The magnificently symmetrical exterior of the estate would look more than appropriate in a Wes Anderson movie! Take a tour of the gorgeous grounds and house and, if you're not driving, finish with a tasting of wine and various Estonian spirits.
Moving further south, you'll reach the coastal town of Pärnu. The trip can be interrupted with lunch at Põhjak Manor, near the town of Paide. The menu, dedicated to seasonal local products, depends on what comes from the restaurant's suppliers this morning.
Soomaa National Park is an expanse of rivers and forests and is perhaps the best place in the country to watch the water of rivers go over the banks and inundate fields, forming new waterways. The park is also home to huge stretches of peat bog. If you don't think it's that interesting, a tour with a local guide will definitely change your mind. These tours are not just lectures on biology!
In late summer, Pärnu Beach fills up with local tourists, drawn here by the golden sand and colorful historic houses behind. Another major attraction is the town's excellent spas. The Hedon Spa & Hotel, perhaps the largest center in town, offers a wide variety of treatments, including quiet spas and even a night spa. Don't miss the on-site Raimond Restaurant, which offers a tasting menu of gourmet dishes including caviar, venison, and topinambour ice cream.;
Lee. Founded by chef Janno Lepik and sommelier Kristjan Peaske, Lee restaurant is famous for such dishes as Estonian venison and local trout. Can't decide what to order? Choose the Lee Experience: many culinary delights on one menu at a time.
Ülo. A short walk from Telliskiwi, Ülo offers beef cheek tacos and tiger prawns with fried pineapple. More than half of the menu is vegan.
Lore Bistro. Down by the Noblessner docks, Lore Bistro is a great place to eat if you're visiting the nearby Proto Invention factory or the Estonian Maritime Museum. Inventive seasonal dishes made with Estonian ingredients await you.
Rataskaevu 16. At this popular little spot in Old Town, most of the dishes are made with products sourced from Estonia, whether it's duck fillet, herring or a stunning roast moose.
Pegasus. Pegasus has been an integral part of Old Town since the early 1960s, but with its modern décor and elegant serving of local dishes, it can't be accused of not keeping up with the times.
Do not wait for vacations or holidays to enjoy cultural activities in Estonia's capital! And GetRentacar's car service will help you do it.