Estonia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia, and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia, while across the Baltic Sea lies Sweden in the west and Finland in the north. Its capital, Tallinn, is the country's largest city found at the heart of the country.
Moreover, Estonia is a developed country with an advanced, high-income economy, and is a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Through its democratic parliamentary republic divided into 15 counties, it ranks high in the Human Development Index, with satisfaction ratings high up for its 1.3 million nationals. The country also performs favourably in measurements of economic freedom, civil liberties, education, and press freedom (third in the world in 2012). To cap all the achievements off, the country is also often described as one of the most wired countries in the region and in Europe, with high-speed Internet connection all throughout the country.
What to see & do
While the country is a nation in Europe and a member of the European Union, Estonia has not exactly followed suit to the practises of the rest of Europe. The country is more about simplicity, calmness, serenity, and just breezy and beautiful. And while the other key cities of Europe have been bustling throughout the ages, Estonia's Tallinn has kept quiet, but still charming some thousands of tourists in its open arms.
Tallinn – There's more to Tallinn than being the ghost of the Soviet regime. Tallinn delights its visitors with a beautiful mix of modern and medieval and vibrant, a rather appealing city filled with ancient church spires, glass skyscrapers, baroque palaces, eateries, brooding battlements, shiny shopping malls, wooden houses, alfresco cafes, with a few ruins from the Soviet reign as an added spice. Despite the baby-steps toward modernisation, the city still remains loyal to the fairy-tale charms of its two-tiered Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has beguiled even the fussiest tourists. Beneath all the splashes of modern and medieval, Tallinn has also created a reputation as the 'Bangkok of the Baltic', attracting groups of men – young and old – with the lure of cheap booze and rampant prostitution. But, nothing to worry about – the city has realised that being classy is better than being brassy.
Parnu – The premier seaside resort of Estonia, Parnu's name and reputation is almost synonymous to fun and fancy free under the sun, with all kinds of merry-makers and holiday troopers flooding the little town. Estonia's Miami, as it is fondly called, Parnu is found in the south-western part of Estonia, with a small harbour and a whole lot of water. The city is famous for its spas, shallow white sandy beaches, and beautiful parks, aside from having lush greeneries with lined and paved roadways and international health resorts.
Viljandi – One of Estonia's most charming towns, Viljandi overlooks a picturesque valley with tranquil Lake Viljandi at its centre. The Knights of the Sword founded a castle here, and if visiting in late July, make sure the accommodations are all sorted – as the Viljandi Folk Music Festival takes place and usually consumes the city as this is the biggest annual music festival in Estonia.
How to get around within Estonia
Previously, Estonians have been invested in using the railways as the primary mode of transport, but privatisation of the train network lowered the quality of services, and the now main means of local transport is through the bus. The country has a comprehensive bus network spread all over the country, and bigger cities like Tartu, Parnu, Vilijandi, and Narva are accessible through buses. Bus schedules are available online, and locals and tourists can check schedules there. Biking and walking are suggested when inside the city centres, while hitch-hiking is strong in the Baltic region – so this won't be a problem. Driving can be a pain especially for first-timers, even though roads are extensive and well-maintained.
How to get there
The Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport or Ulemiste Airport is the rising main international gateway of travellers going in and out of Estonia. The airport is found about 5km from the city centre of Tallinn. Estonian Air, Finnair, SAS, and EasyJet all serve the destination, so no hassle when looking for reliable airlines. For cheap flights and schedules, visit Skyscanner. Skyscanner is an online resource of the cheapest flights from over 600 airlines worldwide.
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