If you're planning to visit Estonia, or you are just a random info. junkie who wants information about the weather in Estonia, you are reading the right article! Estonia is a great country for tourists, especially the old town part of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. But let's back up. You may be saying, "I can't begin to think about visiting a country I know nothing about." This article will unveil the mystery, sharing with you information about where Estonia is located, some Estonia facts, information about Tallinn, a funny coincidence concerning the Estonian language, and some details about Paldiski (a very interesting day trip if you are staying in Tallinn). On a side note, I will also teach you how to be a Finnish booze tourist. I myself have personally been to Estonia twice in the last three months and find it to be a wonderful country.
First, a few boring facts to get you oriented:
Estonia is located in Baltic region of Northern Europe, south of the Gulf of Finland, and just to the East of the Russian Federation. Estonia was formerly part of the Soviet Union and only as recently as 1991 gained it's independence. Estonia has just recently become the 17th eurozone state and as of January 1st, 2011 they have begun to use Euros. The capital of Estonia is Tallinn, which is located in the North a short three hour ferry ride from Helsinki, Finland. Estonian tourism must suffer from the weather being so cold during winter, however I think the snow actually adds quite a lot to the charm.
Tallinn old town:
Tallinn is a great city to visit any time of year, but the old town looks particulary picturesque during winter. It has the real feel of a medieval town (maybe because it is one!) Medieval Tallinn enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. Many of the old buildings still stand. The streets are cobbled and winding, lined with wonderful shops selling all sorts of local handicrafts. There are some great restaurants, including one called Old Hansa which offers a surprising array of game meat, including BEAR! There is also great nightlife scene with lots of bars, full of random stumbling drunks and European tourists from all over.
As an English speaker, there is a funny coincidence regarding the way you say "Twelve Months." In Estonian this is "kaksteist kuud" Watch this Video
Paldiski is quite easy to get to from Tallinn. You just take a train from the main railway station and ride it to the end of the line. It takes around one hour so you can easily just visit as a day trip. Staying in Paldiski is not recommended as there is barely anything there. There is one hotel, two super markets, an alcohol store, and that's about it. It's a very desolate place. Strolling through the snow covered streets, a bitter wind added to the scary isolated feeling.
Big Soviet era block apartment buildings stand as powerful reminders of what this place used to be. There are empty buildings, formally military barracks, now in ruined decay. Most people here speak very little English. In fact, they also didn't speak Estonian! The population here is overwhelmingly Russian speaking. A very interesting trip, but after a few hours walking around in sub-zero temperature you'll be done. I do recommend visiting in winter since it really seemed to heighten the ominous feeling of Paldiski.
Finnish Booze Tourists:
Tallinn, Estonia is a popular destination for Finnish so-called "booze tourists." Ferries from Helsinki to Tallinn are relatively inexpensive. Many Finns, put off by their own country's high alcohol taxes, come down to Estonia to stock up. People bring their own handcarts and load them up with cases of beer. The man in this picture has 8 cases of 24 beers piled up on his. Finnish people like to talk about how much you can save by going to Estonia. If you buy enough, your savings will far outweigh the cost of the trip. To be an official "booze tourist" you need to buy enough alcohol to not only pay for the trip, but to actually make money by going. Many Finns bring cars and take orders from friends as the price difference really is actually quite great. The image below shows the price in Estonia (Laivalla) and the price at Alko (the Finnish liquor store). You can observe the difference in price.
Estonia is a great country with a lot to offer. It has a special place in my heart and I know I will continue to visit as often as possible. If have any Estonia stories I would love to hear from you! Hope you enjoyed this article!