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10 Top Places to See in Estonia

 Situated in the northern Baltic region of Eastern Europe, Estonia is still a relatively little known hidden gem. Not only is this proud ancient nation eminently affordable, it also boasts medieval cities, riveting history, and majestic coastlines. Even putting aside its celebrated capital city Tallinn, Estonia is full of sumptuous castles and boundlessly beautiful national parks. Here are 10 of the best cultural hot spots that every visitor to Estonia just has to see for themselves.
 
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1. Viljandi
Located in the south of the country, Viljandi is a small, ancient city, marked out by splendid old architecture, including the ruined 16th century Viljandi Order Castle. The city is also the host site of the country's largest music festival, dedicated to folk music. Around 20,000 visitors annually attend the many concerts held throughout Viljandi in virtually every kind of venue imaginable.
2. Soomaa National Park
The magnificent national park is mostly peat bog, cut by a variety of beautiful meandering rivers. The best way to explore Soomaa is by canoe, which you can rent or use as part of a guided tour. Paddling through the park's grounds you'll be able to see golden eagles, beavers, boars, elk, and deer. The best time to visit is spring, which is locally referred to as the fifth season. 
3. Rakvere Castle
In the north of Estonia, no visit would be complete without seeing Rakvere's spectacular castle, built in the 16th century. Today it is used as a kind of theme park for the middle ages. The staff are fully costumed - and so are many of the visitors. It's a great location to try a bit of medieval food, served at the Shenkenberg Tavern inside the castle, and you can also visit an alchemist's workshop and see knights polishing their shining armor. If you are history buff this is the place for you.
4. Hiiumaa
Hiiumaa is actually one of several Estonian islands in the Baltic sea. Accessible by airplane or ferry, this place is loved by people seeking some peace and quiet. Among the many interesting landmarks are the local lighthouses (one of which dates back to the 15th century) and some charming windmills. If you are a surfer, sailor, or simply like a good walk, Hiiumaa has much to offer you.
5. Narva Castle
Narva is the easternmost city in the whole of the European Union, and right by the 13th century Narva Castle is the river that borders Russia. In fact, the Russian side of the bridge also has its own castle, that of Ivangorod. Bearing in mind that Narva Castle was actually a Danish construction for Denmark's Vice Regent, you can really get a tremendous sense of the rich history of Narva standing here. The city itself was heavily bombed during WWII, but fortunately the beautiful castle is still intact.
 
6. Parnu
The coast resort of Parnu is known locally as the nation's summer capital. Thanks to its long promenade, lush greenery, and pure white sandy beaches, the town attracts thousands of visitors seeking a summer getaway from the major towns and cities of the region. The resort also features an indoor water park known as Vee Park which is great fun for all the family, come rain or shine.
7. Saaremaa
Estonia's biggest island, Saaremaa, has a marvelously rich 8,000 year history, during which it has been ruled by Danes, Swedes, Germans, and Russians. You can do many wonderful things on this peaceful and beautiful island including hiking, sightseeing, and birdwatching. We heartily recommend visiting the Sorve peninsula for some truly spectacular natural sights, and the island's capital city of Kuressaare for its immaculately preserved medieval castle.
8. Lahemaa National Park
Lahemaa is probably the most popular of Estonia's national parks. A mere hour's drive from Tallinn, it's the ideal day trip. The best part of the area is the Viru Raba, a swamp with trees poking up out of the water. A 3-mile (5 km) boardwalk surrounds the swamp, allowing you to get close enough to admire the ethereal scenery. The park also contains Sagadi Village, where you can tour a grand Manor and learn all about the local history.
9. Tartu
While Tallinn gets all the attention nowadays, discerning visitors always make sure to come to Tartu, the intellectual and historical powerhouse of Estonia. Housing the highly-regarded Tartu University, the oldest city in the country is handsomely lined with superb neo-classical 18th century buildings. In the soup neighborhood part of town, where each street is named after a prominent soup ingredient, like potatoes, leeks, or peas, the houses are mainly wooden.
10. Tallinn

The undoubted highlight of Estonia is the unmissable city of Tallinn, the country’s proud capital. Full of medieval architecture, the best place to enjoy the city is from Toompea. On this historic hill, cobblestone streets compete with delightful 15th century buildings for every passing spectator’s attention. Ascending on foot to the top of the hill, you’ll be able to see much of the city below, including Viru Street’s bustling shops, the city’s 14th century town hall, and the lavish 19th century cathedral.


H/T: touropia.com

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