If coming to Tallinn isn't enough of an escape in itself, there are some fantastic day trips you can take from here that will put you in touch with Estonian nature and history. From the islands off the coast of Tallinn to vast national park areas to curious nearby towns, there are plenty of fascinating options. Making these trips requires a bit of planning, so consult the Tourist Information Centre or a tour operator for help...
Aegna, Naissaar, Prangli
In summer, passenger ferries make regular trips to these three small islands just off the coast of Tallinn. Aegna and Naissaar have military histories stretching back to the Tsarist Russian era, and because they were part of a tightly-controlled border zone, access to all three islands was restricted during Soviet times. Nowadays they’re popular for their nature, particularly their quiet pine forests and secluded beaches. Naissaar is known for the remnants of its military infrastructure, as well as its working narrow gauge railway, while Prangli is unique among the three for having maintained its fishing-village culture since the 13th century.
Transportation to the islands
To Aegna: by vessel JUKU (operated by AS Kihnu Veeteed), from May 15.
Jutting out from the coast just 15km north of Tallinn's city centre, the rocky Viimsi peninsula is both a nature-lovers' getaway and a worthy destination for history buffs. Highlights here include the Estonian War Museum, the Museum of Coastal Folk and the seaside Viimsi Open-Air Museum, built around a historic farm. Just next to the Open-Air Museum stands one of Estonia's oddest-looking restaurants, Paat, which is shaped like a giantic, overturned boat.
This coastal town 45km from Tallinn is best known as a destination for history buffs – it was a highly restricted submarine and rocket base during Soviet times, and after the Russian military left in 1994 much of it fell to ruins. But apart from being covered in crumbling barracks, the Pakri peninsula on which Paldiski sits is also worth visiting for its striking limestone cliffs and is home to some rare wildlife.
Taking the scenic, coastal route to Paldiski can be just as rewarding as seeing the town itself. Your first stop should be the Türisalu cliff. Toweringup to 31 metres, it’s one of the most impressive limestone cliffs in the country. From here you’ll get a good view of Naissaar island (see above) and nearby Vääna-Jõesuu, a beautiful sandy seashore. Farther along is Keila-Joa, where you can see the third highest waterfall in the country and a 19th-century, Neo-Gothic manor house. On the coast nearby is Laulasmaa, a beach area named after “singing sands.” It’s a perfect place for swimming in summer, not to mention walking and jogging.