F or a country that’s just a bit larger than the State of Maryland, Estonia packs a punch. Nestled in a corner of the Baltic south of Finland and west of Russia, it has evolved into a major tourism destination in recent years.
The reason for its popularity has been its mix of splendid castles, charming country villages and seaside towns, as well as the medieval old town within Tallinn, its capital. Walk the cobbled streets of the old town and you’ll find 14th-century buildings, elegant courtyards and back alleys, cafes and boutiques.
Further east of Tallinn, Lahemaa National Park, with its forests and coastal trails that run along the Baltic Sea, lures those who love the outdoors. To the west, the picturesque town of Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaais a jewel. Around it windmills and medieval ruins pepper the land.
Pärnu, called the country’s “summer capital” because of the throngs that flock to its beach in the warm weather, is a mix of 19th-century villas and pastel-colored wooden houses
Good to Know
Tallinn’s Old Town
Following its founding by the Danes in the 13th century, Tallinn later became one of the powers of the powerful the Hanseatic League. Today, its old town, which still retains its ancient aura, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Peter the Great’s Kadriorg Palace
In the early 18th century Russian, Tsar Peter the Great ordered a palatial summer residence built for the Imperial family. Designed by Nicola Michetti, the famous Italian architect, it was named Kadriorg, meaning “Catherine’s Valley” in Estonian, in honor of Empress Catherine, his wife.