Travel Estonia by bus and train. This Estonia 7 day itinerary with public transport highlights what to see and what to do in Estonia beyond the capital Tallinn.
Honest Estonia backpacking guide including the best places to visit in Estonia. Tallinn, Tartu, and Saaremaa itinerary without a car - whether you travel the Baltics as a whole or just Estonia.
To be honest, we’re not big fans of the Estonian local buses. They just don’t run often enough for touristy purposes (I directly quote the nice lady at the tourist information who told me a bus that runs 6 times per day runs “very often”). Hence it is super hard to do day trips by public transport in Estonia. The situation is even worse on the weekend.
The long-distance bus situation is not much better. There is one daily bus from Tartu to Saaremaa and some more between Tallinn and Tartu as well as Tallinn and Saaremaa. LUX express is a nice alternative here.
The train network is not as extensive as in Estonia’s neighbouring countries. The only train you will likely take as a tourist is the Tallinn - Tartu route. During the day it should run every 1 to 2 hours, take around 2 hours, and cost around 10€. You can buy tickets online.
While many travellers only spend a couple of days int he capital, we think it’s worthwhile to spend at least 7 days in Estonia to venture off the beaten path.
Yes! Many bloggers rave about the medieval city centre of Tallinn and yes, it’s amazing. What really surprised us is the modern side of the city: The Telliskivi area full of street art, the market right behind the train station, exceptional museums, relaxing seaside walks and cool rooftop bars in the modern skyscrapers.
There are loads of blogposts detailing what to do in Tallinn so we only mention our highlights here.
We’d suggest three days in Tallinn: One day is enough to see the historic city centre but you need another one to venture outside and explore the modern side of Tallinn. You need an additional day if you want to go on a day trip to Helsinki, which is a 100% recommendation.
There seem to be loads of hostels in Tallinn with similar ratings in a similar price range. We ended up staying at The Knight House which was a decent choice.
The Instagram famous bog walk in Lahemaa National Park.
To be honest, we tried. First, we contemplated the local bus but it only ran twice per day on the weekend with either way too little or too much time for the walk.
Here are some tour options instead:
Instead of day-tripping in Estonia, go to Helsinki.
There are multiple ferries by multiple companies daily and the price is very reasonable. You can get a round-trip ticket for as little as 15€ even if you book last minute.
Yes! Estonia’s second-largest city is going to be the European Capital of Culture in 2024. The university city has a very alternative vibe with loads of street art as well as cool shops and cafes.
As Tartu is quite a small city, 2 days should be enough to explore the highlights and soak up some of the atmosphere in the hip bars and restaurants.
With LUX Express buses and trains, you can make the journey between Tallinn and Tartu pretty much hourly during the day.
We stayed at Looming Hostel. The vibe was great and it’s super close to the train station but a bit far always from the centre. Next time, we’d probably stay at Hostel Tartu which is much closer to the centre and has its own sauna.
Honestly, it depends. Estonia’s biggest island is a prime seaside destination in the country. The downside? The coastline is much more rugged than the long sandy beaches in Lithuania and Latvia and the public transport situation in Estonia overall makes moving around the island a challenge. If you’re travelling to all three Baltic countries, we suggest visiting Klaipeda/Palanga, Lithuania and/or Jurmala, Latvia, instead.
I wish I had read an honest review before going so here it is: The one thing you cannot seem to do here is hiking. There are no hiking trails along the coast around Kuressaare - trust us, we tried to walk to the left and to the right for a while. Defeated, we asked at the tourist information and learned that there are only very few short hiking paths around town.
To the west, there’s a hiking path to a bird-watching tower but it leads mostly along a busy road and through an oak wood.
To the east, you can hike towards the Roomassaare viewing platform. You mostly hike along a road as well although it’s not as busy as the other one.
The beach is quite small so unless you’re not seriously into beach bumming in summer or want to take a spa break 1-2 days should be enough.
There is one daily bus from Tartu to Saaremaa at stupid o’clock (we bought our ticket here). It’s a direct bus hopping on the ferry with you.
There seems to be one hostel in Kuressaare, Kuressaare Central Hostel. As the price was not higher in a private room, we opted to stay at Guesthouse Laurits with an unbeatable price right in the centre of Kuressaare.
Kaali is a group of nine meteorite craters created by an impact event. Most recent estimates put its formation shortly after 1530–1450 BC.
There are 6 buses per day so it’s manageable but you have to plan your trip. You can check out the timetable here.
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. You would help us a lot if you do so. Thanks.
Your guide on how to travel the Baltics. Including a 14 days Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia itinerary with a map. All the resources you need for your Baltics backpacking trip plus the best Baltic country to visit.
The best things to do in Riga for your Riga city break - whether you spend a weekend in Riga or a whole week. Including a Riga sightseeing map with all the Riga must see attractions.
Travelling the Baltics: Travel Lithuania by bus and train. This Lithuania 7 days itinerary highlights what to see and what to do in Lithuania beyond the capital Vilnius. Including our handy bucketlist2life map!
Visiting Helsinki? Our Helsinki guide and itinerary advise you on what to see in Helsinki including the best public sauna Helsinki has to offer.
Finnlines is currently the only way to take the ferry to Helsinki from Germany and back. Here’s our complete travel guide including budget, public transport, cabins, and food.
Untouristy Vilnius places to visit. Vilnius sightseeing off-the-beaten-path!