Nestled along the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland is the enchanting country of Estonia. Estonia is an affordable underrated country that is a part of the Baltic sovereign states, which also includes Latvia and Lithuania. It offers medieval castles, rocky beaches, and enchanting forests along the countryside. The beautiful capital city of Tallinn sits along the northern coasts. It is known for its castles and its picturesque old town.
What to Expect
Official language: Estonian, an Uralic language similar to Finnish.
Safety: Estonia is a safe country. I traveled there alone and never once felt uncomfortable.
Wandering the streets of Tallinn feels like you are in a real life fairy tale. South of the capital, there are many beautiful medieval towns, castles, and forests.
While many companies will offer flights directly into Tallinn, I found it was cheaper to fly into Helsinki, Finland and then take a ferry. Iceland Air offers affordable flights into Europe. I paid about 450 USD for a roundtrip flight from Chicago into Helsinki. It is a budget airline so if you are looking to pack extra, you will have to pay fees per bag. Once you arrive into Helsinki, there is a direct ferry to Tallinn. It will take about 2 hours. The ship does offer food and drinks, but with it coming from Finland, it is more expensive.
There are 3 popular companies to use: Eckero Line, Tallink Silja Line, and Viking Line.
Timetable and Prices
Price per person: 20-26 USD
Sunday-Friday: 0900, 1515, 2140
Saturday: 0900, 1515
Tallink Silja Line
Price per person: About 32 USD
They start at 0730 and run every 3 hours until 2230
Price per person: 35-40 USD
Saturday, Monday-Thursday: 1030, 1130, 2115
Friday: 0745, 1030, 1415, 2100
Sunday: 1030, 1130, 1900
Best Time to Visit
With Estonia being along the sea and in northern Europe, the winters can be quite harsh. Anytime between May and September is a great time to visit. Closer to the start and end of summer you will experience less crowds, but Estonia offers incredible summer festivals and parties that are definitely worth checking out.
Where to Stay
Tallinn, being the capital, offers many things to see and do. It is a great city to base yourself. Estonia is a small country so you can easily take day trips outside the capital to explore the countryside. Tallinn's "old town" is the perfect part of the city to stay in. It offers the best tourist attractions, including castle tours and beautiful spots to get a panoramic view over the city. I stayed at Tallinn Backpackers Hostel. It cost about 22 USD per night for a dorm style bed. It was within walking distance from the main square, which offers trendy bars and restaurants.