Estonia is a tiny country located in Eastern Europe that is quickly reforming itself after 50 years of Soviet domination. It may be out of the way for most tourists, but Estonia offers some great sights at reasonable prices and is a great place to visit for anyone willing to go off the beaten path, and the accession of Estonia to the EU in May 2004 makes it an easy destination for the European traveler.
Some Basic Facts
- Full Name: Republic of Estonia (Eesti Vabariik)
- Population: 1.3 million
- Location: Eastern Europe, on the Baltic sea. Bordered by Russia to the east and Latvia to the south. Just across the Gulf of Finland from Finland.
- Capital: Tallinn
- Languages: Estonian (official), Russian, English.
- Religions: Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Mormon, Jewish.
- Currency: Eesti Kroon (EEK). 15,67 EEK = 1 € at a fixed rate.
How to Get There
Estonia may not be on your normal route, but it is still easy to get to by air, land, or sea.
There is a small but attractive airport in Tallinn. It is served by Estonian Air, Air Baltic, Czech Airlines, and EasyJet for the budget traveler. More expensive tickets are available through SAS, Finnair, LOT Polish Airlines, and Lufthansa. There is also an airport in the smaller city of Tartu which is served only by Estonian Air and Air Baltic and is rarely used.
Another option is to come into the larger airports in either Helsinki, Finland or Riga, Latvia, both of which provide an easy step on the way to Estonia.
Bus service into Estonia is convenient. Most buses from more distant locations will stop over in Warsaw and proceed on to Riga. From Riga, there is one bus a day to Tartu and 9 to Tallinn. Both routes are very reasonable.
The easiest way to reach Estonia by sea is by ferry from Helsinki. A total of five companies offer ferry service between the two capitals: Tallink, Eckerö, Silja, NordicJet, and Viking. Tickets can be purchased online at WebMarine or at the ferry terminal. Each ferry company has its own terminal, widely dispersed throughout Helsinki, so it may be to your advantage to look into departure times and prices beforehand. There is also one ferry per day from Stockholm to Tallinn, operated by Tallink. From St. Petersburg Tallink operates one ferry per day to Helsinki, with a convenient connection to Tallinn. For more detail on all ferry routes to Tallin, see the Port of Tallin website.
Things to Know
Estonian restrooms are labeled in a confusing diversity of different ways. To avoid embarrasment, use these helpful hints:
- An arrow pointing up means women, an arrow pointing down means men. Think body shape.
- N stands for naiste, meaning women. M is for meeste, men.