WITH a capital city that combines the magic of a medieval Old Town with bustling nightlife, it would be easy to visit Tallinn and think you’ve seen the best of Estonia.
But outside the city you’ll find unspoiled nature, fantastic food and a wellness culture that won’t break the bank. Over half of the country is covered by forest, and stretches of coastline look out to the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, making for some of the most beautiful vistas you’ll ever see.
Sweat the small stuff
Enjoy a salt scrub or a “whisking” – being gently slapped with a bunch of tree twigs to improve your circulation – £27 per person
Estonians are sauna-mad, so most hotels boast impressive spa facilities, but the real gems are the rustic outdoor saunas.
In Võru County in the south, you’ll find Mooska Farm, where you can experience centuries-old smoke-sauna rituals (Mooska.eu).
Owner Eda leads you out of a dimly lit cabin to jump into a chilly pond, while chanting mantras connected to the ancient history of the practice.
Enjoy a salt scrub or a “whisking” – being gently slapped with a bunch of tree twigs to improve your circulation – £27 per person.
Eat, beach, sleep, repeat
Resort town Pärnu’s wide, sandy beach, shallow waters and promenade make it the place Estonians flock to in the summer.
Hire a bike to take in the parks and neoclassical buildings, finishing at Pastoraat Cafe to refuel with freshly baked sweet treats – the towering Napoleon cake, £3.50, is a standout (Rosenplanter.ee/en/pastoraat-cafe).
The luxe Hedon Spa & Hotel offers a three-hour “silent spa” experience, with nine saunas and pools to work through, from £14.
Afterwards, head to the hotel’s Restaurant Raimond for a three-course locally sourced dinner that will set you back £43 but tastes as good as a Michelin-starred feast.
Bright, spacious rooms here cost from £92 B&B (Hedonspa.com).
Half an hour from Pärnu lies Soomaa National Park, where you can book a guided wilderness day trip for £64, combining canoeing and bog-shoeing – hiking across a peat bog in special shoes that stop you from sinking (Soomaa.com).
You can even go for a swim in a bog pool if you’re feeling brave!
Afterwards, enjoy a delicious lunch of local speciality mulgipuder – barley porridge – and bread, before you launch your canoes for a relaxing hour-long paddle.
Tallinn is the best-preserved medieval city in northern Europe, so make time to roam its cobbled streets.
The Town Hall Square hosts an award-winning Christmas market in winter.
At night, head to the hip Telliskivi area, where industrial buildings decorated with street art are home to craft breweries, restaurants and a weekly flea market.
Then climb the 157 steps up to the Patkuli viewing platform for enchanting views of the Old Town – the perfect farewell to your trip.
Return flights to Tallinn start from £118 (Airbaltic.com).
Plan your trip at Visitestonia.com