There are some places on this planet, so enchanting, that they are simply too good to share. Recently, I fell so deeply in love with an incredible country, and I don’t want to tell you about it because I don’t want to contribute to someplace authentic turning into another country overrun by an exorbitant number of tourists. Once word gets out about how wonderful it is, I fear mobs of tourists will come rushing in.
One of the joys of travel is finding the secret places that the tourists rarely visit and this country still remains unruined by tourists. This country is Estonia, and I doubt you’ve ever thought to visit.
Estonia has a rich history. From the height of the medieval period in Tallinn to the rich history on the island of Kihnu, this country is special. Not quite Scandinavia, and in close proximity to Russia, this Baltic state has a multitude of influences, yet the unique Estonian culture has remained intact.
The Baltic states are filled with stunning castles that look as if they just flew off the pages of a children’s storybook. One such castle is the Kuressaare Castle on the island of Saarema. Just gazing up at the magnificent towers will make you think Rapunzel will be letting down her golden locks at any moment. Every good castle needs a decent moat, and the giant moat surrounding the Kuressaare Castle makes it feel just like the castles of your childhood imagination.
The Perfect Country For A Road Trip
Estonia is the ultimate roadtrip country. With so many incredible islands and towns to visit, although not necessary, having a vehicle will only enhance your Estonian experience. Vehicles are perfect for visiting the bluffs in Muhu and the Jaanihanso Cider Farm.
Adding nearby Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania to your list can create the perfect road trip trifecta.
Spas & Manors
Whether time is spent participating in the 3 hour spa ritual at the Hedon Spa in Parnu, or getting a homemade scrub at Padaste Manor on the island of Muhu, Estonia is well known for decadent spa treatments. The spa therapist at the spa at Padaste Manor not only creates his own skin-soothing recipes on premises, he literally forages the island of Muhu for the ingredients for the spa treatments. This unique practice ensures that all spa ingredients are local, in-season and of the highest quality no matter what time of year you visit.
When compared to the rest of Europe, Estonia is a bargain destination. Hotels, meals and transportation are all a fraction of the cost you would expect in most European countries. Despite the low costs, there is no sacrifice of quality in Estonia. Even at Noa, the top restaurant in Tallinn, you can easily dine for under $75. Uber rides from Tallinn airport to the old town are only around 5 Euro each way, and luxury car rentals are cheaper than most economy cars in the US.
From the medieval cities to the nearby islands, Estonia’s scenery is magical. The islands of Muhu and Saaremaa boast dramatic bluffs. In Muhu you may catch a glimpse of wild horses playing in the water, and Saaremaa yields acres of fluorescent yellow rapeseed flowers blooming for acres.
Even the capital, Tallinn is picturesque. Tallinn delivers architecture and winding cobblestone streets that are straight out of the pages of a Grimm’s Fairytale book.
Un-ruined by Tourists
The least enjoyable part of traveling is realizing that there are a million other tourists visiting at the same place at the same time. Even Estonia’s busiest city, Tallinn, has been spared from mass tourism, maintaining the authenticity of the area. Traveling during high season without loads of crowds was a refreshing experience, and helped create a feeling of authenticity in the city.
Estonia is magical year-round. With stunning flowers in the summertime and chilling ice-roads to the islands in the wintertime, you are guaranteed to have a spectacular visit...
... just don't tell anyone.