Estonia

Country Facts

Estonia has been occupied by Russians, Swedes and Germans. Each has left their mark on its landscape and culture. Although the smallest of the Baltic countries, Estonia makes its presence felt in the region with its lovely seaside towns, quaint country villages and verdant forests and marshlands, all of which set the scene for discovering many cultural and natural gems. Tallinn the capital city is the best protected and intact medieval city in Europe. Estonia is also known for its magnificent castles, pristine islands and deserted beaches. It's no wonder Estonia is no longer Europe's best-kept secret.

  • Capital: Tallinn
  • Official Languages: Estonian
  • Government: Parliamentary Republic
  • Currency: Estonian Kroon
  • Time Zone: +2 GMT. (3 ½ hours behind India) Like most states in Europe, Summer (Daylight-Saving) Time is observed in Estonia, where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour; so +3 GMT.
  • Telephone Calling Code: 00372

When To Go

Best time to visit: The weather in Estonia is largely dictated by its closeness to the Baltic sea. In summer the skies are blue and temperatures can reach 30° C and the summer average is a very pleasant 16.4°C. In summer there can be 19 hours of daylight, known locally as the "white nights".

Light rain can fall in spring and autumn and in winter there is snow when temperatures go down to 0. Some winters, it's even possible to drive on the ice roads constructed between the islands.

What To Do

Local cuisine heavily depends on pork, potatoes and garden vegetables and has its roots in the countryside. The main culinary influence came from Germans, who ruled here for centuries.

What to eat and drink
  • Leib: Black bread. Estonians don't horse around about their leib. It's almost taken on a sacred quality. It's so prized, some Estonians refer to meat only as "something to go with the bread"
  • Kartulid: Potatoes, were introduced here in the 1700s. They're now part and parcel of virtually all genuine Estonian meals
  • Kotlet: Hamburger patty with onions
  • Verivorst: Blood sausage. An acquired taste, to say the least
  • Sült: Jellied meat. As with Scottish haggis, it's better if you don't know what's in it (One hint: pig's feet)
  • Kohupiim: Cottage cheese-like, often used in cakes and pastries
  • Kringel: A sweet German-style bread knotted and sprinkled with nuts and raisins
  • Other foods you'll commonly find on an Estonian's table are pancakes, beet salad, honey, herring, pickled pumpkin, and crayfish
  • Vana Tallinn: A 1960's concoction that's considered the quintessential Estonian beverage, is sold in every alcohol shop
Shopping
  • Amber: Ranging in shades
    from green to white to deep brown, it's made into all manner of jewellery and figurines.
  • Ceramic figures: Souvenir shops do a good trade in ceramic figures, especially little ceramic buildings.
  • Confectionery: Anything by famous local confectioner, Kalev. One of the big favorites is their Maiasmokk chocolate candy box.
  • Sweaters: Knit caps, gloves and mittens.
  • Traditional fabric: From centuries-gone-by, this is still a popular handicraft item.
  • Antiques
  • Modern artistic ceramic and glass products.
  • Handicrafts: Toys, dolls, beer mugs, kitchen utensils and anything else carved out of juniper.

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