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Tourist attractions



Tallinn Old Town, photo: Jaak KadakTallinn is the oldest capital city in Northern Europe with a population of almost 420,000. The city’s Old Town center boasts a beautifully-preserved medieval character that was recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

Despite being one of the world’s least religious countries, Tallinn is home to a diverse range of religious architecture representing a cross-section of denominations. Among the inspiring edifices are the spire of 13th century St. Olav’s (Oleviste), the tallest building in the world from 1549 to 1625; the 13th century St. Nicholas’ Church (Niguliste), which is home to an extensive art collection, including a painting by Bernt Notke: “Dance Macabre” (Dance of Death), with an estimated value over billion dollars; and the 1900 onion-domed Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Tallinn Town Hall Square, photo: Jaak NilsonAt the heart of Old Town is the Town Hall Square, known as Raekoja plats. An immense cobble-stoned expanse, it is lined with historic buildings in sherbet shades of raspberry, lemon and mint and lively outdoor cafes. Anchoring one side of the plaza is the Town Hall, the only intact Gothic town hall in Northern Europe and now a museum and concert hall.

Wandering among the maze-likes alleys, you’ll find hidden courtyards, charming cul-de-sacs and more than 25 art galleries. Looming over the city is Toompea Castle, which dates to the 10th century. Thecity’s ancient walls feature 26 watch towers, including one known as “Fat Margaret.”





The route will take you south from the vicinity of Tallinn to Tartu, passing tiny villages, four manor houses, several major scenic attractions, and five regional museums commemorating facets of Estonian life.

Close to the start a spectacular manor house awaits in Albu, a village of 350 in northern-central Estonia. Albu Manor is the oldest manor in Järva County, and dates to 1282. Fragments of the medieval walls are still preserved in the basement of the current manor house. The main building, barn, arched bridge, granary, distillery and park of the manor complex have survived to the present day.

Albu is also connected with two Estonian Olympic medalists. Olympic winner Erika Salumäe inspired a local cycling race and Estonian cross-country skier and Olympic bronze medalist Jaak Mae organises a skiing competition every year at Valgehobusemäe in Albu.

Järva-Jaani Old Equipment Shelter is sure to appeal to those with an interest in mechanics. This collection of old vehicles, agricultural equipment, roadwork machinery and firefighting equipment offers a window into the evolution of engineering.

The Järva-Jaani Firefighting Museum is built on the foundations of the rectory’s old stables and opened its doors to visitors in 1999. In the museum you will see the old flag of the firefighting union (that was lost for 44 years), the new jubilee flag, photos, medals and diplomas. In the same building you can also visit the Järva-Jaani Cinema Museum

You then pass into Jõgeva County, the gateway to south Estonia. The area extends from the center of Estonia to the country’s border with Russia along Lake Peipus.

The countryside evokes images of royalty and legends, with castle ruins in Põltsamaa and Laiuse and and immense boulders that are associated with the legends of Kalevipoeg – the hero of the Estonian national epic.

Also in Jõgeva parish is Siimusti Pottery, established by Joosep Tiiman in 1886. The mostly hand-made ceramic pieces are available in the pottery store.

The town of Jõgeva has a population of around 6000 people and was founded
130 years ago, forming around the station built here when the Tapa-Tartu railway was created.


While you’ll be in Jõgeva in the spring, among Estonians, the town epitomizes the country’s frigid winters. Here, in 1940, the country’s coldest temperature was recorded! A “Frost Column” was erected in 2003 to mark the 43,5ºC  temperature. Jõgeva is also the headquarters of the Estonian Santa Claus—all letters addressed to Father Christmas arrive at the post office here.

Kuremaa features an estate built from 1837 to 1843 by the von Oettingen family--two million bricks were used in its construction. Kuremaa Manor house served as an agricultural school for decades; today it is a museum, used to host conferences. Many outbuildings have been preserved. Its windmill is a popular landmark, and its terraced gardens reach down to the shore of Lake Kuremaa.

Palamuse, first mentioned, is one of the oldest parishes in Estonia, with references to it first appearing in 1234.  Celebrated Estonian author Oskar Luts memorializes the town in his stories “Spring” and “Summer”. In an old parish schoolhouse, which was built in 1873, a museum housed in a schoolhouse built in 1873 commemorates Luts, life in a village school in the late 19th century and the history of Palamuse.

Elistvere Wildlife Park, photo: Evelin Anja



Moving on we get to Elistvere Animal Park. Native wild animals – foxes, roe deer, a bear, lynxes, elks, wild boars, buffalos – are settled in the conditions similar to those they experience in the nature. Those interested may also visit the small rodents’ centre. Nature study trails introduce various plant species with the help of information signs.

Close to Elistvere there is a whole family playground Vudila. There are spacious swimming pools, water slides, playgrounds and exciting attractions.







Lake Saadjärv, photo: Evelin Anja

As you leave Jõgeva parish and enter Tartu County, you’ll be greeted by Lake Saadjärv, the sixth largest lake in Estonia.

The Ice Age Centre in Äksi is a unique and original tourist attraction – a nature centre that combines popular scientific approach to ice age with entertainment. Exhibits feature animals from the ice age such as mammoths, Irish elk, and cave lion. An ice age playground is open for children.

Tartu Grand Prix

With a history that dates to 1030, Tartu is one of the oldest communities in the Baltic States, as well as Estonia’s second largest city with approximately 100 000 inhabitants. The gateway to Southern Estonia, Tartu is home to a medieval Hanseatic trade center and a modern university city renowned for its scientific achievements. It is the cradle of the Estonian Song Festival, Estonian Theatre and the Estonian State.


Tartu Town Hall Square, photo: Meelis LokkTartu’s elegant Town Hall Square in lined with classical buildings is pastel shades and al fresco cafes. The cobblestoned plaza has long been a gathering spot for citizens and visitors, particularly the city’s large student population. Forty percent of Tartu’s residents are connected with Tartu University. In recognition of this youthful spirit, in 1998 a sculpture of two kissing students was erected in front of the city’s Town Hall.



 Tartu University, Main Building, photo: Tiit Mõtus






Tartu University is one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe, founded in 1632 by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the era that Estonia was ruled by Sweden. Tartu University has produced many eminent scientists and scholars of international repute such as Baltic German biologist Karl Ernst von Baer and famous Russian semiotician and culturologist Juri Lotman.


Walking around in Tartu old town one should step in to Tartu Toy Museum which transports its adult visitors back to their most joyous childhood days and offers children plenty to see and do. The permanent exhibit displays toys that children in Estonia have played with throughout the ages. The museum also has play and workshop rooms.


The alley next to Aura Water Center is the ‘base’ in Tartu of Tour of Estonia – it is where Tallinn-Tartu GP finishes, Tartu GP starts and finishes and Tartu Rattaralli starts and finishes. The Aura Centre was opened on 1 October 2001. There pool, water park, health club, saunas, light therapy centre, V-salon, Cafe and during summer also a sun terrace.


Families with children will have a great time at the AHHAA science centre – the biggest of its kind in the Baltic States – which has attractions for the young and old alike. The purpose of AHHAA is to introduce science to everyone.

Science and history merge and come alive on Tartu’s waterways.  Visitors can experience the area as long-ago inhabitants did by cruising on Emajõgi River, Lake Võrtsjärv, and Lake Peipsi on an Emajõe-Peipsi barge, a unique wooden trading vessel. In Estonia Peipsi barges have sailed the inland bodies of water for more than 600 years, from the 14th century until the middle of the 20th century. The Nature Bargetrips are meant to educate people about the nature in the areas that are inaccessible by land, with trips taking place from spring to autumn.

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