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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Estonia (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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City Center Tartu, Estonia


Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Estonia (Plus, Itineraries)

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: If you're considering moving to Estonia and don't have a favorite city or town picked out, going on a look-see or exploratory trip to visit a number of popular expat destinations is really informative. Here are some recommendations for where to visit when exploring Estonia.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to Estonia is an invaluable step for anyone considering relocation. This exploratory journey offers a firsthand experience of the country's lifestyle, culture, and communities. It allows potential expats and digital nomads to assess the suitability of various cities and towns for their personal and professional needs. By visiting different areas, one can gauge the local amenities, housing options, and social atmosphere, ensuring a well-informed decision when choosing a new home.

Recommended Itineraries

For a comprehensive Look-See trip in Estonia, consider two itineraries based on the length of your stay. A 10-day trip could focus on the major cities and nearby towns, starting with Tallinn, then moving to Tartu, and Pärnu, with day trips to smaller towns like Viljandi or Rakvere. A 20-day trip allows for a deeper exploration, including the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, the northeastern region with Narva and the surrounding Ida-Virumaa county, as well as the scenic southern towns like Otepää and Võru. This extended itinerary provides a broader understanding of the diverse living environments Estonia offers.

Tallinn

Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, is a vibrant hub with a population of around 430,000. It offers a unique blend of medieval charm and modern amenities, making it a popular choice for expats and digital nomads. The cost of living is higher here compared to other Estonian cities, but it provides the most diverse job opportunities and a bustling cultural scene. The city is situated on the northern coast, providing easy access to the sea and ferry connections to Helsinki and Stockholm.

Travel Tip: While in Tallinn, visit the historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy a meal at Rataskaevu 16, a restaurant known for its cozy atmosphere and delicious Estonian cuisine.

Tartu

Tartu, Estonia's second-largest city with a population of about 100,000, is known as the intellectual heart of the country, home to the esteemed University of Tartu. It's a city with a youthful spirit, affordable living costs, and a strong sense of community. Tartu is located in the southeast and offers a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle compared to Tallinn, with plenty of green spaces and a focus on education and research.

Travel Tip: Explore the Toomemägi Hill in the city center, where you'll find the historical Tartu Cathedral ruins and a picturesque park perfect for a leisurely stroll.

Pärnu

Pärnu is a summer favorite for its beautiful beaches and relaxed atmosphere. With a population of around 40,000, it's a smaller city that appeals to retirees and those looking for a slower pace of life. The cost of living is moderate, and the city is known for its health and wellness resorts. Pärnu is also a cultural hub with various festivals throughout the year.

Travel Tip: Visit the Pärnu Beach Promenade for a refreshing walk along the coast, and dine at Villa Wesset for a taste of modern Estonian cuisine with a view of the beach.

Saaremaa and Hiiumaa

For those seeking a tranquil, nature-centric lifestyle, the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa are ideal. They offer a slower pace of life amidst stunning landscapes. Kuressaare in Saaremaa and Kärdla in Hiiumaa are the main towns, providing essential services while maintaining a small-town feel. These islands are perfect for remote workers and those who prioritize natural beauty and community over urban conveniences.

Travel Tip: On Saaremaa, visit the well-preserved medieval Kuressaare Castle and enjoy fresh seafood at the restaurant La Perla, located in the heart of Kuressaare.

Narva and Ida-Virumaa

Narva, located on the eastern border with Russia, is Estonia's third-largest city and offers a unique cultural mix. The Ida-Virumaa region is known for its industrial heritage and diverse population. The cost of living is lower here, and the area is gradually attracting more expats interested in its rich history and proximity to nature reserves. Narva's population is around 60,000, and it's an interesting choice for those looking to experience a different side of Estonia.

Travel Tip: Visit the Narva Castle and the Narva River Promenade for a glimpse into the city's past and beautiful views of the border river.

Otepää and Võru

The southern towns of Otepää and Võru are nestled in a region known for its hills and lakes, offering a peaceful environment and a lower cost of living. Otepää is a winter sports center, while Võru is known for its cultural heritage. Both towns have populations under 10,000 and are ideal for those seeking a close-knit community and outdoor activities.

Travel Tip: In Otepää, visit the Tehvandi Sports Center for year-round activities, and try the traditional Estonian dishes at the GMP Clubhotel's Pühajärve restaurant.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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City Center Tartu, Estonia

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