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Holidays in Estonia

Understanding Estonia

Estonia is a Baltic gem offering visitors the chance to see an ex-Soviet occupied country that is now proudly part of the European Union Traces of the Soviet era are still there to be seen — eg Paldiski, a deserted Soviet army base that was once off-limits to Estonians themselves, can easily be visited on a day trip from the capital, Tallinn Tallinn's medieval old town was built by the Germans in Middle Ages and is in magnificent condition, with the medieval city walls and towers almost completely intact and it rates as one of Europe's best medieval old towns Glorious beaches pepper the extensive coastline, although the swimming season is short After all, the Baltics are not renowned for warm weather - something that any visitor to Estonia must be aware of — the summer is short and the winter is severe

History

After 7 centuries of German, Danish, Swedish, Polish and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918 Incorporated into the USSR in 1940, it re-gained independence in 1991 through its Singing Revolution 2, a non-violent revolution that overthrew an initially violent occupation Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia moved to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe It is now one of the more-prosperous former Communist states, enjoying a high-tech environment, an open and liberal economy and a transparent government system On the other hand, it is faced with a fairly low but growing GDP per capita in a European Union context, as well as a very low birth rate, which is creating a population decline

Since accession to the EU, Estonia is becoming one of the most popular destinations in North-Eastern Europe with EU highest 30% growth in the number of visitors in 2004, according to Eurostat

Geography

Climate 
maritime, wet, moderate winters, cool summers
Terrain 
marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south
Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Suur Munamägi 318 m in the south east of Estonia, 20km north of the main highway that runs from Riga to Russia close to the borders of Estonia with both countries
Geography - note 
the mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands and islets
Nature 
World War II and the subsequent occupation were devastating on humans, but the destruction and the closure of large areas for military use actually increased Estonia's forest coverage from about 25% before the war to more than 50% by 1991 Wolves, bears, lynx, elks, deers as well as some rare bird and plant species are abundant in Estonia The wild animals from Estonia are exported to some EU countries for forest repopulation programmes Most animals can be hunted - according to yearly quotas

Holidays

  • National holiday : Independence Day, 24 February 1918; note - 24 February 1918 was the date of independence from Soviet Russia, as 20 August, 1991 was the date of re-independence from the Soviet Union Each 24 February, a grand ball is held by the president for the prominent and important members of society and foreign dignitaries
  • Jaanipäev : St John's Day or Midsummer Day held on the night of 23-24 June The evening of the 23rd and well into the morning of the 24th is celebrated with bonfires and a traditional festive menu concentrating on barbeques and drinking
  • Võidupüha Victory Day : 23 June is celebrated to commemorate the decisive victory over Baltic-German forces in the War of Independence
  • Christmas : or Jõulud is also celebrated in Estonia, this is strictly a family event
  • New Year's Eve : As a Soviet province, the authorities sought to promote the New Year holiday as Christmas was all but forbidden for its alleged "religious" and "nationalist" character After the restoration of independence, the significance of the New Year decreased, but it is still a day-off and celebrated This day is used by the leaders of the country to address the nation

Talking in Estonia

The official language is Estonian which is linguistically very closely related to Finnish At the same time many in urban areas especially younger people speak English well According to the Eurobarometer poll of 2005, 66% of Estonians can speak some Russian This does not include native-language speakers Thanks to heavy tourism and TV broadcasts from the other side of the gulf, Finnish is also spoken quite well by many people in Tallinn, the capital German is taught at school in Estonia and a large number of people can speak some 22% according to Eurobarometer

There is a large Slavic minority, particularly Russian and Ukrainians some 25%

What to see in Estonia

Estonia's top tourist attractions


  1. Tallinn's Medieval Old Town, Tallinn
  2. The Rotermann Quarter, Tallinn, Shopping district
  3. Kadrioru Park, Tallinn, Park
  4. KUMU, Tallinn, Art museum
  5. Tartu Jaani St John's Church, Tartu
  6. Pärnu Beach, Pärnu
  7. Narva Hermann Castle, Narva, Museum
  8. The Kaali meteorite craters, Saaremaa
  9. Setumaa 19, South-East Estonia
  10. Rakvere Ordu Castle, Rakvere, Museum

Medieval History & Manors

The main reason most people first come to Estonia is to see the best protected and intact medieval city in Europe - Tallinn The unique value of Tallinn's Old Town lies first and foremost in the well-preserved intact nature of its medieval milieu and structure, which has been lost in most of the capitals of northern Europe Since 1997, the Old Town of Tallinn has been on UNESCO's World Heritage list

Living under the rule of Scandinavian kings, Russian empire and Teutonic Knights has left Estonia with unique and rich blend of historic landmarks Over one thousand manors were built across Estonia from the 13th century onwards Some of the manors have perished or fallen into ruins but a lot have been reconstructed and now are favourite attractions with tourists Nowadays there are about 200 manor houses 20 under state protection as architectural monuments and 100 in active use

Islands & Coastline

Estonia has over 1500 islands The nature is essentially untouched and offers quite a different beach experience with their remoter rustic feel Most of the public beaches are sandy and the average water temperature is 18°C in summer Inland waters and some shallow bays' water are even warmer

The largest island is Saaremaa with an intact and well-restored medieval castle in its only city, Kuressaare Stone fences, thatched roofs, working windmills and home made beer are all distinctive to Saaremaa Hiiumaa on the other hand is well known for its lighthouses, unspoilt nature, Hill of crosses and the sense of humour of its inhabitants Both islands have an airport so they can be quickly reached from Tallinn

Other important islands include Kihnu, Ruhnu with its "singing sand" beach, Muhu and Vormsi, each with its own unique characteristics Most of the other tiny Estonian islands don't carry much cultural significance but can be appealing for bird watching, canoeing, sailing or fishing etc

In July and August Pärnu, Estonia's summer capital, is the main attraction The coastline itself has loads of untouched beaches and a tour from Narva-Jõesuu in the East towards Tallinn is great for exploring the coastline Some of the well known places include Toila, Võsu, Käsmu and Kaberneeme

What to do in Estonia

Tickets for events can be bought online via Piletileviee 21 or the lately established Ticketproee 22

There's quite a good list of various events in Estonia at Visitestoniacom 23


Film Festivals

  • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival PÖFF http://2009poffee/eng/esileht November/December The festival combines a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films and children/youth films


Music Festivals

  • Tallinn Music Week Tallinn http://wwwtallinnmusicweekee Spring Showcase festival, aiming to stage the best and most outstanding Estonian talent on two nights in Tallinn's most vibrant live venues, as well as a networking event for the music industry professionals
  • Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar http://wwwjazzkaaree/eng/ April In addition to Tallinn jazz concerts also take place in Tartu and Pärnu
  • Tallinn Old Town Days Tallinn http://wwwvanalinnapaevadee May/June
  • The Estonian Song Celebration In Estonian: Laulupidu http://wwwlaulupiduee/eng First held in 1869, takes place every five years In 2009, 35,000 choral singers gathered to perform for an audience of 90,000 people It is recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
  • Õllesummer Festival Tallinn http://wwwollesummeree/eng July Approx 70,000 people attend the festival each year over the course of 4 days
  • Viljandi Folk Music Festival Viljandi http://wwwfolkee/festival/en July Annual folk music festival in a small but picturesque town of Viljandi Each year the festival draws over 20,000 visitors
  • Saaremaa Opera Days Saaremaa http://wwwconcertee/indexphp?lang=eng July
  • Leigo Lake Music Festival near Otepää http://wwwleigoee/en August Open-air concerts are held in completely natural venues on the hilly landscapes of the Otepää highland The musicians' stage is on an island in the lake, surrounded by thousands of listeners on the sloping shore
  • Birgitta Festival Tallinn http://wwwbirgittaee August Music and theatre festival, held at the ruins of the historical Pirita St Bridget's convent

Sport Events

  • Simpel Session Tallinn http://wwwsessionee Summer/Winter International skateboarding and BMX event

Self Guided Tours

Self guided tours are a good way to discover Estonia by yourself For more information please visit the self-guided tours and interactive maps sections on the official tourism website

Buying stuff in Estonia

The local currency is the Estonian kroon, EEK One kroon is divided into 100 sent Since 1992, the kroon has been fixed first to the German mark, and now to the Euro at a rate of 156466 eek to 1€

ATMs and currency exchange offices valuutavahetus are widely available You will get the best rates by exchanging only after arrival in Estonia Avoid changing money in the airport or port as the rates are lower

Estonia will adopt the Euro in 2011

Costs

It is no secret that in most post-soviet countries consumer prices are considerably lower than in Western Europe, in part due to lower taxes This has been one of the main driving forces behind the inflow of the Nordic guests to Estonia through the 1990s, but prices are rising steadily and surely In heavily touristed districts say, Tallinn's Old Town prices are already equivalent to Scandinavia

Food and eating in Estonia

Estonian food draws heavily from German and Scandinavian cuisine The closest thing to a national dish is verivorst, black pudding, served with mulgikapsad, which is basically sauerkraut stew

Many types of food are close to Russian and have their equivalents almost exclusively in former USSR, such as hapukoor, smetana in Russian, a sour 20%-fat milk dressing for salads, especially "kartulisalat" or "potato salad"

As Estonia used to be a food mass-production powerhouse in the times of USSR, some of its foods, unknown to Westerners, are still well-recognized in the lands of the CIS

Among other everyday food, some game products are offered in food stores in Estonia, mostly wild boar, elk sausages and deer grill Some restaurants also offer bear meat

For those with a sweet tooth, the national chocolate manufacturer is "Kalev", with many specialist stores around the country as well as supermarkets retailing the product

The more adventurous may want to try "kohuke", a flavoured milk-curd sweet covered with chocolate and available at every supermarket

Drinking in Estonia

Like their neighbours the Finns and the Russians, the Estonians know their alcohol Favorite tipples include the local beer Saku 24 or A Le Coq 25, the local vodka Viru Valge Vironian White 26 and the surprisingly smooth and tasty rum-like herbal liquor Vana Tallinn Old Tallinn 27, famous in the countries of former USSR

A local soft drink is "Kali" the Estonian equivalent of "kvass", made from fermented brown bread It can be described as an acquired taste

Many locals also swear by "keefir", a fermented milk concoction

Accommodation in Estonia

Number of hotels has exploded from few to tens and hundreds after Estonia restored independence In 2004 Tallinn achieved first place among the Baltic Sea cities in the number of overnight stays in hotels, though still behind Stockholm and Helsinki in the number of total overnight stays A list of bigger hotels as well as some restaurants and nightclubs could be found at Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association 28

As Soviet collective farms were disbanded many farmers switched to running "turismitalu" or tourism farms which are inexpensive and indispensable places for spending holidays in the nature, usually in former farm house Site on Estonian Rural Tourism 29 provides information on the tourism farms in Estonia Hostels are a another popular option for budget-sensitive travellers, see website of the Estonian Youth Hostel Association 30

The official tourism site Visitestoniacom 31 also has information and listings about B&B accommodation, youth hostels, camping and caravan sites etc

Working in Estonia

No obstacles exist to citizens of EU countries to come to invest and work in Estonia Citizens of developed non-EU countries are exempt from short-term tourist visas Swedes and Finns have by far the largest working community of post-Soviet foreigners in Estonia Estonia may have had rocketlike growth in recent years, but only from a very low base as a former Soviet republic, and average local monthly salary 4th quarter 2007 is around 800 EUR


Education is highly valued in Estonia because as a small nation with no exceptional natural resources, they believe that the only way to be competitive is to absorb knowledge There are so many highly educated people in Estonia that it is a problem in the labour market - there aren't enough workers for jobs that requiring minimal education

Considerable investments and some workers are constantly coming from CIS countries, though significant legal restrictions are imposed

Citizenship and Migration Board 32 is the authority responsible for dealing with the paperwork

CV Online 33 is one of the oldest Estonian recruitement and HR services operating in 9 countries as of 2005

Cities in Estonia

aakre  aasmae  aaspere  abja-paluoja  adavere  aegviidu  ahja  ahula  aksi  alatskivi  alavere  albu  alliku  amari  ambla  annikoru  antsla  aravete  aravu  ardu  are  arukula  aseri  assaku  aste  audru  avinurme  eidapere  elva  erastvere  esku  essu  haabneeme  haademeeste  haage  haapsalu  habaja  haiba  haljala  halliste  harju-risti  harku  harkujarve  helme  himmaste  hulja  hummuli  huuru  ignase  iisaku  ilmatsalu  imavere  jamejala  janeda  jarva-jaani  jarvakandi  jarve  joesuu  jogeva  johvi  joopre  juri  juuru  kaagjarve  kaapa  kaardi  kaarepere  kabala  kabli  kadrina  kaerepere  kaina  kaiu  kallaste  kambja  kanepi  karavete  kardla  karjakula  karksi  karksi-nuia  karla  karstna  karu  kauksi  keava  keeni  kehra  kehtna  keila-joa  keila  kihelkonna  kiili  kiisa  kiiu  kilingi-nomme  kivioli  kivi-vigala  klooga  kobela  kodila  koeru  kohila  kohtla-jarve  kohtla-nomme  koigi  kolga-jaani  kolga  kolkja  kollino  koluvere  koo  koonga  koosa  kopu  korvekula  kose  kose  kose-uuemoisa  kostivere  krootuse  kudjape  kuimetsa  kulitse  kullamaa  kumna  kunda  kuremaa  kuremae  kuressaare  kurtna  kuusalu  laagri  laekvere  laeva  lagedi  lahte  laiuse  lasva  lavassaare  lehola  lehtmetsa  lehtse  leie  leisi  lelle  libatse  lihula  linna  linnamae  linte  lohkva  lohusuu  loksa  loo  luganuse  luige  luke  lullemae  lustivere  luua  luunja  maardu  maetaguse  mammaste  marjamaa  melliste  miiduranna  mikitamae  misso  moisakula  mooste  muraste  mustjala  mustla  mustvee  napi  narva-joesuu  narva  nasva  noo  oisu  oisu  olgina  olustvere  orava  orgita  orissaare  oru  osula  otepaa  padise  paide  paikuse  paistu  pajusti  palamuse  paldiski  palivere  panga  papsaare  pari  parksepa  parnu-jaagupi  parnu  peetri  peetri  piira  pisisaare  polgaste  poltsamaa  polva  prillimae  pringi  puhja  puiatu  puiga  puka  purtse  pussi  puunsi  puurmani  raasiku  rahinge  raikkula  raja  rakke  rakvere  ramsi  randvere  rani  rannu  rapina  rapla  ravila  reiu  riisipere  risti  roela  rohuneeme  roiu  rongu  roosna-alliku  rosma  rouge  rummu  saarepeedi  saase  sadala  saku  salme  sarevere  saru  saue  sauga  saverna  seljametsa  selja  sihva  siimusti  sillamae  simuna  sindi  sinimae  sipa  soe  soinaste  somerpalu  someru  sonda  sooru  suigu  suislepa  surgavere  surju  suure-jaani  suuremoisa  tabasalu  tabivere  taebla  tali  tallinn  tamme  tammiku  tammiste  tamsalu  tapa  tapa  tarbja  tartu  tihemetsa  tilsi  toila  tootsi  toravere  tori  torma  torva  tostamaa  triigi  tsirguliina  tsooru  tudulinna  tudu  turba  turi-alliku  turi  ubja  uhti  uhtna  ulenurme  ulila  ulvi  uuemoisa  uulu  uusna  vaatsa  vaida  vaike-kamari  vaike-maarja  vaimastvere  vaimela  vajangu  valga  valjala  valkla  vana-antsla  vanamoisa  vana-vigala  vana-voidu  vandra  vao  vara  varbola  varska  varstu  vasalemma  vaskjala  vastemoisa  vastse-kuuste  vastseliina  veltsi  veriora  vihtra  viimsi  viiratsi  viljandi  vinni  virtsu  viru-jaagupi  viru-nigula  vohma  voisiku  voiste  voka  vonnu  voore  voru  vosu  

What do you think about Estonia?

How expensive is Estonia?
(1 EUR = 1.17 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant5.7 EUR
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)33.18 EUR
McDonalds meal5.51 EUR
Local beer (0.5 draft)1.98 EUR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 2.2 EUR
Cappuccino2.01 EUR
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)1.13 EUR
Water (0.33 bottle)0.99 EUR
Milk (1l)0.63 EUR
Fresh bread (500g)0.72 EUR
White Rice (1kg)1.23 EUR
Eggs (12) 1.15 EUR
Local Cheese (1kg) 6.42 EUR
Chicken Breast (1kg) 5.11 EUR
Apples (1kg) 1.16 EUR
Oranges (1kg) 1.44 EUR
Tomato (1kg) 1.67 EUR
Potato (1kg) 0.49 EUR
Lettuce (1 head) 0.95 EUR
Water (1.5l)0.87 EUR
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 6.62 EUR
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)1.06 EUR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.11 EUR
Cigarettes3.87 EUR
One way local bus ticket1.21 EUR
Monthly pass for bus22.54 EUR
Taxi start2.99 EUR
Taxi 1km0.59 EUR
Taxi 1hour waiting15.53 EUR
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.16 EUR
Utilities for a "normal" apartment196.78 EUR
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 26.01 EUR
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 368.3 EUR
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 281.52 EUR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 600.46 EUR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 397.12 EUR
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