Tallinn Surroundings: Islands and more
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If visiting Tallinn isn't enough of an escape in itself, there are some fantastic day trips leaving from Tallinn that will put you in touch with Estonian nature and history.
From the islands off the coast of Tallinn, vast national parks to curious nearby towns, there are many fascinating opportunities to explore the local life and surroundings. Taking a trip to these places requires a little bit of planning, so please consult the Tourist Information Centre or a tour operator for assistance.
Best options to visit Tallinn outskirts
Information about Tallinn’s nearby areas can be found from the following websites: www.visitharju.ee and www.northestonia.eu.
Islands: Aegna, Naissaar, Prangli
During the summer season, passenger ferries make regular trips to Aegna, Naissaar and Prangli islands just off the coast of Tallinn. The extensive military history of Aegna and Naissaar stretches back to the Tsarist era. During the Soviet era in Estonia, the islands were part of a tightly-controlled border zone, with restricted access to all three islands.
Nowadays the islands are popular for their nature, particularly for the quiet pine forests and secluded beaches. Naissaar is known for the remnants of its military infrastructure, as well as its narrow gauge railway.
Prangli on the other hand is unique among the three for having maintained its fishing-village culture since the 13th century. It is the only Northern Estonian Island, that has been continuously inhabited for more than 600 years now. It still has very strong traditions in fishing, its own dialect of Estonian language, very diverse nature and friendly locals. Prangli is untouched by mass tourism, and has wonderful sand beaches and pine forests that create enough fresh air to overwhelm the senses.
Transportation to the islands:
To Aegna: 60 min by vessel Vesta (operated by AS Kihnu Veeteed)
To Naissaar: 60 min by vessel Monica
60 min by vessle Katharina
To Prangli: 60 min by vessel Wrangö
The Viimsi peninsula
The rocky Viimsi peninsula, 15 km from Tallinn city centre, 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
, which is built around a historic farm. There are some great hiking and biking trails. The area is also a home to a few restaurants inspired by the coastal vibe. Lovely restaurants and bars like Paat, RootS Beach Bar, village restaurant RootS, China Red, Villa Mary Restaurant and Lavendel Cafe give plenty of opportunities to enjoy local cusine made available by Estonian top chefs. This spring the Estonia's first 4K Ultra High Definition cinema will be opened in Viimsi.
Top attractions in Viimsi
Jõelähtme Parsih, 24 km from Tallinn city centre, is appreciated for its archaeological and historical legacy. The area boasts a picturesque view of the winding coast, peninsulas, nature reserves and the highest natural waterfall in Estonia – Jägala juga. The river dives underground at the Kostivere karst valley, while the massive boulders attract many admirers since the ancient times. For some architectural delight, visit the Püha Neitsi Maarja church and the Saha chapel.
Lahemaa national park
Lahemaa National Park, approximately 60 minutes drive from Tallinn (70 km from Tallinn city centre), is well-known for its coast, Käsmu and Altja fishermen villages and for the beautiful Palmse, Sagadi and Vihula mansions. Viinistu Art Museum and the national park host many popular events during the summer season. Take a hike through the park and explore the local forests and bogs to familiarise yourself with the local wildlife. Your path will also cross Estonia’s highest waterfall of 50 metres called Jägala juga.
Make your plan to visit Lahemaa area
Two different day trips to Lahemaa National Parks:
The city of Paldiski
Paldiski, approximately 40 minutes drive from Tallinn (47 km from Tallinn city centre), is the favourite 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 a home to some rear local wildlife.
Taking the scenic, coastal route to Paldiski offers many beautiful sights. Stop at the Türisalu cliff, with its height over 31 metres, it’s one of the most impressive limestone cliffs in the country, opening to a scenic view of Naissaar island and nearby Vääna-Jõesuu sandy seashore. Nearby areas include Keila Joa, which has the third highest waterfall in the country, and a 19th-century Neo-Gothic manor house. Scenic areas also include Laulasmaa, the home of a popular beach area named after its “singing sands”. The beach is a perfect place for swimming during the summer, not to mention walking and jogging.
Top day trips from Tallinn