Estonia, officially known as the Republic of Estonia, is a country located in Northern Europe along the Baltic Sea. Estonia’s territory includes the mainland as well as the larger islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, making it a diverse and captivating destination. If you are curious about what Estonia is famous for, here are some of the top sights and things that the Baltic gem has to offer.
What Is Estonia Known For?
Estonia is famous for its young and lively cities, exciting history and traditions, as well as fantastic nature. Despite its size, the small country in the Baltics has numerous sights to offer. In addition, Estonia is also known for its white sandy beaches, dense forests, and solitude that cast a spell over outdoor lovers.
History, Culture, And Traditions Estonia Is Famous For
World Heritage Sites
Estonia possesses a pair of UNESCO World Heritage locations.
The most famous of which is the Old Town of its capital city, Tallinn. At the historic center, you can admire the Baroque architecture that has been carefully maintained and preserved. The charming cobbled streets and alleys take you back in time to the old days.
The other heritage site is the Struve Geodetic Arc. This arc, which spans nine additional European nations, played a crucial role in determining the meridian of the Black Sea and its initial measurement. It comprises 34 obelisk-like monuments, which are what remained from the original 265.
Estonia, like other nations, has greatly benefited from technological progress. In 2005, it became the pioneering country to embrace an online voting system.
Estonians keenly use Skype, with many of its early employees working in Tallinn. This has earned Tallinn the nickname “European Silicon Valley.” It is due to its association with Skype and its vibrant tech scene.
In addition, they are also one of the earliest countries to offer e-residency, attracting international entrepreneurs and businesses. This helped Estonia make its mark as an early digital nomad destination.
Dual Independence Days
Estonia is famous for its two significant independence days, each playing a crucial role in Estonian history.
The first and widely celebrated Estonian Independence Day takes place on 24th February. It commemorates the day when Estonia initially declared its independence.
The second independence day falls on the 20th of August. It symbolizes the restoration of Estonia’s independence when the country freed itself from Soviet Union control. Estonians mark these momentous occasions with enthusiastic flag-waving, vibrant concerts, and dazzling fireworks displays to celebrate and honor the nation’s independence.
The Majority Of Estonians Are Not Religious
Based on statistical data, Estonia ranks among the least religious countries globally. Despite the presence of numerous churches in Tallinn and throughout Estonia, a significant portion of the population shows little to no interest in religion, let alone actively practicing it. However, don’t let this surprising fact about Estonia fool you, as there are still some incredibly beautiful churches and religious sites in the country.
Estonians are famous for sharing the same level of enthusiasm for saunas as the Finnish people. It is not uncommon to find saunas in hotels, apartments, and houses. If one doesn’t have access to a personal sauna, communal saunas serve as popular gathering places for people of all ages.
During winter, an annual sauna race takes place in Otepää, known as Estonia’s winter capital. For Estonians, saunas are not only about reaping the health benefits but also about enjoying quality time with loved ones, including family and friends.
Legend has it that people planted the first Christmas tree in the town center of Tallinn in 1441. This joyous occasion marked the introduction of the first decorated Christmas tree in a European town square.
Estonia is famous for the Christmas market in Tallinn, where Estonians adorn the same tree today with lovely decorative hearts. Isn’t Tallinn lovely? We certainly think so!
From late November to early January, the Market becomes the focal point around the Town Hall. This extended period provides both locals and visitors with ample opportunities to enjoy warm mulled wine and savor the delectable Estonian Christmas delicacies.
Cities And Travel Destinations Estonia Is Known For
Tallinn – The Capital Of Estonia
The country’s capital, Tallinn, cannot be left out of the list of cities Estonia is famous for. You will experience an exciting mix of history and modernity: city walls, cathedrals, and alleys give rise to medieval flair, while it is also one of the most modern cities in Europe.
Nevertheless, Tallinn is probably the most intact medieval city in Europe. You can still find the original street system from the 13th century and many houses from the 15th century in their unchanged form and color.
Lahemaa National Park
If you like hiking or being out in nature, you should plan a trip to the Lahemaa National Park, which opened in 1971. It is on the north coast of Estonia, and you can reach it, for example, with a day trip from Tallinn.
Here you will find rocky and sandy beaches, picturesque bogs, pine, and cliff forests; rivers dug into the limestone cliffs, and boulders from the last Ice Age.
In addition, numerous wild animals such as moose, wild boar, foxes, brown bears, and lynx live here. There are also countless hiking trails on which you can discover the exciting landscape. Estonia is known for its beautiful nature, and you can certainly see why at the Lahemaa National Park.
Soomaa National Park
Soomaa National Park, established in 1993, is the largest area of peat, meadow, and alluvial forest in Estonia. It spans 390 square kilometers and is located in Pärnumaa and Viljandimaa. The national park is home to moose, bears, wolves, lynx, and beavers.
What’s special here is that the peat layer here can sometimes go up to 7 meters thick, which makes it a destination for bog shoe hiking. You can discover the landscape while trekking in the moors, at least when the landscape is not flooded.
During the so-called fifth season, snowmelt or long rains cause all the lower-lying forests, streets, and farms to become flooded. The peak of these floods is usually in late March or early April. During this time, canoe or dugout tours take place, with which people can discover the high moor.
Saaremaa – The Largest Island
Saaremaa is the fourth-largest island in the Baltic Sea and the largest island in Estonia. It is one of the top sights Estonia is famous for, and there is one thing above all here: variety.
The isolated location has allowed the island to develop a culture of its own, which is reflected in the architecture, clothing, and language. Due to the mild maritime climate and the calcareous soil, there is also a completely different flora and fauna here, for example, the yellow or purple flowering Saaremaa rattle pots and orchids.
In addition, many migratory birds use the island to rest, and seals feel comfortable in the bays, probably. The juniper willows and old fortified churches are also characteristic of Estonia’s largest island.
Pärnu – The Summer Capital Of Estonia
Pärnu is the largest city in Estonia, famous as a summer holiday destination right on the Gulf of Riga. The impressive location of Pärnu and its 3 km long sandy beach has been a magnet for many visitors for years.
There are also numerous restaurants, cocktail bars, spas, and a laid-back atmosphere. It is the most popular bathing town in Estonia and has many nice cafes and restaurants. If you are looking for a typical summer vibe destination, this is the place to be at.
Landmarks And Architecture Estonia Is Known For
Situated on Saaremaa Island in Estonia, this 14th-century castle stands as one of the country’s most well-preserved Medieval fortresses. After the Livonia War, the castle underwent modernization under Danish and Swedish rule, resulting in the addition of remarkable ramparts surrounding the original stone structure.
Kuressaare Castle continues to be a famous tourist spot, captivating visitors of all ages with its elegant Gothic architecture. Moreover, it serves as the venue for the annual summer Kuressaare Opera Festival Estonia is known for adding to its cultural significance.
Kadriorg Palace, an exquisite Baroque palace, was constructed by Peter the Great as a gift for his wife and the Russian Empress, Catherine I. Situated in Tallinn’s Kadriorg district, the palace was later visited by Catherine the Great and later served as the residence for the civilian governor of the Governorate of Estonia.
After undergoing extensive restoration, they opened the palace to the public in 2000, showcasing a remarkable collection of foreign artwork for visitors to admire. It’s one of the most famous attractions and palaces in Estonia.
Ruhnu Stave Church
Despite the lack of religious significance among the Estonian people, Estonia is famous for several remarkable churches. Among them is St. Madeline’s Church in Ruhnu, which holds the distinction of being Estonia’s oldest surviving wooden structure.
While numerous wooden buildings were set up by the people of Ruhnu during the 17th century, St. Madeline’s Church is the sole survivor, standing as a testament to the island’s architectural heritage. It’s an incredible time-tested structure that you should see for yourself.
The Jägala Waterfall
The Jägala Waterfall holds the distinction of being the widest and tallest natural waterfall in Estonia. With a width exceeding 50 meters and a height of approximately 8 meters, it is an impressive sight to behold throughout the year.
During the summer season, the Jägala Waterfall cascades gracefully into the vibrant green surroundings. However, during winter, you will witness a captivating transformation. The waterfall freezes completely, forming enormous and glistening icicles.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Jägala Waterfall in winter is the creation of a unique ice tunnel crafted from frozen icicles and water, which presents a truly stunning spectacle.
Food Estonia Is Famous For
Estonian cuisine has a rich history rooted in ancient cooking traditions and the use of fresh local ingredients. However, the culinary influences of neighboring countries such as Finland, Sweden, Russia, Germany, and Latvia also shape it. These cultural interactions have contributed to the diverse flavors and culinary techniques found in Estonian food.
Estonia is widely popular for its tasty rye bread, which has become a national symbol of the country. The customs surrounding rye bread in Estonia go back thousands of years to when the nation was the leading exporter of rye. Rye bread, known for its nutritional value and affordability, played a vital role in sustaining the population.
Farmers and peasants held rye bread in high regard due to its significance. Traditional recipes often yield a denser texture, and while some may mistakenly consider rye bread to be chewy, commercially available rye bread in Estonia tends to be fluffy and soft.
People still regard rye bread as a healthful food due to its high fiber content. Estonians commonly enjoy it alongside traditional meals such as soup or as a standalone dish, complemented with toppings like salted fish.
“Eesti Kartulisalat” refers to the traditional Estonian potato salad, which is a highly popular dish served at various celebrations and gatherings. It features common vegetables typically found in Estonian households, including carrots, peas, potatoes, and cucumbers. Estonians also add additional ingredients like mayonnaise, sausage, and sliced hard-boiled eggs to enhance the flavors of the salad.
This delectable Estonian salad is famous for its simplicity in preparation, contributing to its widespread popularity in Estonian cuisine. It is a hearty and satisfying dish that evokes fond memories for many Estonians, making it an essential component of any festive occasion in this Baltic country.
Estonia is famous for its delightful and nutty confectionery known as marzipan. Originally sold as a medicinal product in Tallinn, marzipan is made from a blend of almonds and powdered sugar.
The first documented evidence of selling marzipan in Tallinn dates back to 1422, making it a 600-year-old tradition.
While modern doctors may not prescribe marzipan as a remedy, its irresistibly sweet flavor gives the impression that it could have some healing properties. Although you should consume sweet treats in moderation for health reasons, trying marzipan is almost considered a must-do experience in Estonia even today!
Sports Estonia Is Known For
Despite being a relatively small nation, Estonia has demonstrated its remarkable strength in various aspects. Since achieving independence, the country has accomplished an impressive feat, securing a total of 36 Olympic medals and counting. In addition, here are some of the famous and rather peculiar sports of Estonia.
Wife-carrying is a unique foot race where men compete while carrying their female partners through various obstacles. While the sport originated in Sonkajärvi, Finland, Estonians have excelled in perfecting the art of wife-carrying.
There are different techniques for carrying the wife, including the piggyback and fireman’s carry. However, Estonians have developed their distinctive style of wife-carrying.
In the Estonian-style carry, they position the woman upside down. They wrap her arms around the man’s chest and her legs resting over his shoulders. It comes as no surprise that Estonians often dominate wife-carrying competitions, given their expertise in the sport.
In Estonian, “kiik” translates to swing, but not the typical type found on playgrounds. A kiiking swing is much larger than its traditional counterpart and has a unique design. Instead of sitting on the swing, individuals stand on it.
A kiiking swing stands at least 6 feet (3 meters) tall. It has steel arms that allow the swinger to make a complete circle over the top.
You might wonder how people manage to stay on the kiiking swing without falling off. The swing is equipped with fasteners at the bottom, ensuring that the swinger remains secure while performing the circular motion.
Additionally, the swing’s arms are adjustable. The objective of kiiking is to achieve the longest possible swing arc, passing over the top of the swing. The Estonian Kiiking Association regulates this sport, overseeing its rules and regulations.
Discovering More Things Estonia Is Famous For
These are just a few of the many things Estonia is known for. There is an abundance of treasures to discover in this vast and culturally diverse country. Estonia has gained recognition as an excellent place to reside, whether as a digital nomad or as part of a family.
It holds the distinction of being the first country to introduce the digital nomad visa. This enables remote workers to live and work in Estonia as freelancers. While certain criteria and exceptions apply (such as meeting a specific income threshold), the introduction of this visa was groundbreaking for the burgeoning work-from-home community.