Located in northeastern Europe on the border of the Baltic Sea, the small country of Estonia is the northernmost of all three Baltic states. But don’t let its size fool you: Estonia’s breathtaking landscape is comprised of approximately 1,500 islands and islets, rocky beaches, old growth forest, and countless lakes. And that’s not the only beauty this country holds! As a part of the former Soviet Union, Estonia’s cities and towns are dotted with gorgeous old castles, cathedrals, and fortresses for travelers to explore. Needless to say, there are numerous spots for tourists, and even residents, to visit throughout the various regions of Estonia.
Here, we’ve laid out the best of the best cultural spots to check out in Estonia! So, the next time you’re in the area, or the next time you’re planning to travel to Estonia, you’ll already have some options laid out for you!
Let’s get started!
Local residents and touring tourists of all ages are welcomed to visit the AHHAA Science Center, one of the largest science centers in all three Baltic States. When there, you’ll experience a variety of hands-on activities, from dissecting small animals tp making homemade chocolate! You’ll also walk through numerous workshops and watch incredible shows in the science theater. Make sure to step into the Hall of Technology, the Hall of Nature, and the Hall of Temporary Exhibitions to soak in the the entire experience!
2. Baltic Exchange Building
The year was 1992; that’s when an IRA bomb was dropped on the original Baltic Exchange in London, killing three people. Since then, the astounding marble columns, the exquisite arches, and the breathtaking staircases have been taken down and stored away, until someone got the urge to purchase the well-crafted architecture that held the building together. Estonia made the purchase over a decade ago, and the salvaged items are still being worked on to this day. Though the finished result isn’t there, you can still stop on in to check out what we call a work in progress.
3. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Mikhail Preobrazhensky built the lovely cathedral in the late 1800s, and to this day, it’s the grandest and largest orthodox cathedral in town. What should you aim to check out while you’re there? Well, the bells of course. The cathedral is decorated with eleven of these bells, with the largest one weighing in at approximately 16 tons. Don’t miss the stained-glass windows and carved wooden iconostases while you’re there, either!
4. Estonian History Museum
The town pharmacist, Johann Burchard, founded this beautiful history museum in 1802. Initially, he started a collection of Easter eggs, in which he called Mon Faible, or “My Weakness.” This began the search for other historical items founded in Estonia, such as historically dressed mannequins and collections of army uniforms and weapons.
5. Estonian Open-Air Museum
This museum is more like a town inside of a building. It showcases a life-sized reconstruction of the villages in Estonia back in the 18th century. The building houses many farmhouses, a schoolhouse, a church, and an inn, amongst other things for your eyes to see.
6. Jagala Waterfall
The Jagala is Estonia’s highest and widest all-natural waterfall. It reaches a height of eight meters tall and a width of fifty meters wide. The waterfall runs from the Jagala River and falls into the Gulf of Finland. All are welcome to visit during the summer and/or winter months; the beauty isn’t any less during either time. During the summer months, the waterfall is surrounded by eloquent greenery; during the winter months, the waterfall becomes frozen solid, showcasing naturally crafted icicles.
7. Museum of Occupations
The Museum of Occupations is famously known as Estonia’s memorial museum in remembrance of the country’s history from 1940 to 1991. During this time, Estonia was ruled by the Soviet Union and later ruled by Nazi Germany. The exhibits within the museum include photographs from the eras along with many other relevant artifacts.
8. NUKU Theatre, Museum and Centre for Puppet Arts
If you’re looking for the most fun spot to visit, here it is. Head over to the NUKU to try on costumes in their Costume Room, then head on over to the Cellar of Horrors (don’t worry, they’ll fill you in beforehand on what it consists of). Make sure to stop by the Tunnel of Masks to try on a mask or two, it’s quite fun. That’s not all they have, though. You can catch a few shows in the museum's theatre if they have the schedule lined up, too!
9. Tallinn Botanic Garden
If you’re interested in setting your eyes on some rare flowers, the Tallinn Botanic Garden is the place to go. The most extensive botanical garden in Estonia, and it houses outdoor greenhouses, rock gardens, and a rather large rose garden, amongst other things. The beauty it holds is exquisite.
10. Tallinn Song Festival Grounds
The Estonian Song Festival may happen once every five years, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun place to visit. The fields have had famous groups and singers perform there, such as Lady Gaga, David Guetta Elton John, and even Michael Jackson. Check out who they have coming before you book your trip!
11. Walls of Tallinn
The Walls of Tallinn were built back in the 13th century, when Queen Consort, Margaret Sambiria, built it as a defense mechanism. Maybe not all parts of the wall, but most parts of the wall are still standing today, along with many of the gates and towers. You can walk the distance of the entire wall or check out the parts that you want to check out, the choice is yours.
Now that you have the places, it’s time to map out the locations you want to visit the most. If you have limited time, pick a few that are in the same general area. If you have a span of time, see as much as you can! Have fun with it, that’s all we hope for!