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Estonia Travel guide

Pärnu Beach in summer Kadriorg Palace The Narva Fortress and Ivangorod Fortress on the banks of the Narva River
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Estonia : Michelin's recommendations

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Luxuriant forests, long beaches with white sand, radiant flora, and untamed fauna that has only survived here: that's Estonia, the smallest of the Baltic states, as well as the most maritime with its 3,800 km of coastline and 1,500 islands. Separated on the east from Russia by huge Lake Peipus, Estonia (50 % of which is forest land) is bordered on the south by Latvia.

Tallinn, the northern city that is the capital of the country, is a beautiful nature-loving town full of high spirits. Only a few sad-looking warehouses and decrepit buildings on its outskirts remain from the Soviet era - so as not to forget. Estonia was annexed by the USSR in 1949, took steps toward freedom during the "singing revolution" in 1988, and finally gained independence on 20 August 1991.

People all over the country are true nature-worshippers, a legacy from their pagan ancestors. Estonians really enjoy and respect nature, whether they're out gathering mushrooms and wild berries or strolling arm in arm through the woods in search of flowering ferns. This is a land full of country houses, mills and cranberries.

But suddenly I'm seized with doubt. Is Estonia wallowing in the past and a backward-looking cult of nature? Not to fast! The atavistic rural bond is strong, but the population is mainly urban; and although they are attached to the values of their forefathers, they have a pronounced inclination toward the technologies of today. The country values its traditional past while embracing modernity with gusto. Estonia: somewhere between choral music and rock and roll!

Estonia - See all cities and regions

Estonia : Must-see towns and regions

  • Tallinn

    Estonia’s dynamic capital is Tallinn, situated on the north coast. It is also the main port on the gulf of Finland, a stone’s throw away from Helsinki. A historic city with Unesco World Heritage site ...

  • Kuressaare

    Kuressaare lies on the south coast of Saaremaa on the gulf of Riga and is the most important town on the island. Don’t miss the 14C bishop’s castle with an interesting museum, and look out for a barga...

  • Tartu

    The emphasis in Tartu is on quality of life. The fact that it is a university town ensures that it has a youthful and lively atmosphere; its streets are lined by fine neo-Classical buildings and many ...

  • Pärnu

    Sun umbrellas and beach towels are in order for a visit to Pärnu, this seaside resort which is highly regarded among Estonians for its fine sandy beach nestling in a sheltered bay. From the early 19C ...

  • Käsmu

    Elegant wooden villas set in gardens descend towards the sea in the residential settlement of Käsmu, known as the “village of captains” since it was once home to a naval academy. Its bygone maritime a...

  • Koguva

    This typically Estonian village is one of the country’s finest on account of its architectural unity and harmony. Composed of an attractive group of granite-walled houses with thatched roofs surrounde...

  • Rõuge

    Rõuge’s waterfront houses are scattered in little hamlets situated on no less than seven lakes, strung out like pearls along a cordon of rivers. The 38m-deep Suurjärv is Estonia’s deepest lake. Don’t ...

  • Võru has a special place in the hearts of all Estonians since it was here in the 19C that the famous epic poem Kalevipoeg was written. Its author, Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, spent the last 50 year...

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