Estonia is a rising star among European tourist destinations. This small Baltic state made a quick transformation from being part of the Soviet Union to acceptance in the EU. It packs tons of unusual charm into a small space and prices for the traveler are definitely lower than most other parts of Northern Europe. The summer is short, so Estonians celebrate it very heartily. And where else can you tour a formerly off-limits Soviet Army base so easily?

What To Do

The coastal city of Tallinn is the capital and largest city in Estonia. It’s only 70 km across the Gulf from Helsinki and is actually considered a suburb of the Finnish capital. Tallinn’s city center is small and almost perfectly preserved. There are ancient walls and buildings dating back to the 15th Century and earlier. The city also contains an interesting museum dedicated to the occupations by the Nazis and Soviets showing what life was like during those periods.

The 1,000-year-old city of Tartu is the second largest in Estonia and you can imagine that it also contains an amazing amount of history packed into a small center. Tartu is also Estonia’s university town so youth culture is more broadly on display and English is widely spoken.

Getting There

Tallinn is obviously the transportation hub of Estonia and Eurail Pass holders can arrive by rail from neighboring countries, but most people will want to book a flight into Tallinn Airport. It’s close to the city center and buses and taxis make the trip quickly. There are also regular ferries to and from Helsinki and other nearby port cities if you are in more of a nautical mood.

Where To Stay

Anyone arriving into Tallinn should book a hostel or a hotel there for at least a night or two even if you intend to go elsewhere. The capital is small and easy to visit and places near the center are probably worth paying a bit more for. There are hostels in Tartu and of course many hotels, and prices tend to be reasonable.