People from larger countries may find it odd that there are in fact no distant places in Estonia – one can travel from one end of the country to another in just four or five hours without having to rush. And yet Estonia is larger on the inside than on the outside, the “secret” well known and shared by the locals. It is quite unusual to find such a variety in landscapes, flora, seasons, weather and moods within only a couple of dozens of kilometres. At the same time the traveller in Estonia has plenty of space: on the territory with a size comparable to that of Denmark or Holland there are four and twelve times less inhabitants here, respectively.
Everything that you see while travelling around in Estonia is inseparable from our history. Estonians belong to the oldest peoples in Europe and were already living on the coasts of the Baltic Sea at the time when the first pyramids were erected in Egypt. Since the 13th century we have been invaded and ruled by Germans, Danes, Swedes, Poles and Russians, but each one of them have left behind also something good. The Republic of Estonia was declared on 24 February, 1918, and for a couple of decades the people felt pride in their home country, work, children and achievements. The destructive occupation by the Soviet Union which lasted half a century interrupted the natural development of many spheres of life in Estonia, which until then had been keeping up well with its northern neighbour Finland. In 1991 Estonians regained their independence in the course of the “Singing Revolution” and returned to their rightful place in Europe.
Most tourists who visit Estonia arrive first in Tallinn. Since this medieval Hanseatic town, the capital and the business and cultural centre of Estonia deserves a guidebook of its own. Tallinn, Estonia's crown jewel, boasts cobbled streets and rejuvenated 14th-century dwellings. North Estonia is a mixture of colourful history and the dynamic present time, contrasts in lifestyles and nature, a journey from trendy Tallinn to the quiet of bogs and romantic fishing villages, an ascent from the primeval forest to the height of a limestone cliff and a view over the sea.
South Estonia is unique and mysterious: the rich nature, lakes and hills of the heartland nourish the character of the hard-working country people, the nostalgic atmosphere of small towns and the academic-bohemian ambience of the university town Tartu. We also recommend you the hilltop town of Otepaa with its laidback atmosphere and lovely ski trails. West Estonia is characterised by vast expanses of land, peace of mind and fresh sea air, bays abounding in birds, juniper fields, pine trees and people toughened by the sea breeze on the coast.
Further West, Estonia’s largest island Saaremaa is a beloved destination for hiking, holiday-making or for just enjoying sea breeze and beautiful sights. After taking a ferry from Virtsu you arrive first in Muhumaa. There is Muhu Vhurch in the Gothic style (1267), Koguva Village with its old farm buildings, stone fences and draw wells, and Pädaste Manor which offers luxury accommodations and top-of-the-line cuisine. The atmosphere and nature on islets such as Kõinastu, Võilaid and Suurelaid are also worth discovering.
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