Old Town gates of Tallinn Estonia | Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay

How much does it cost to explore Estonia?

Paul Ryken Last Updated: Saturday 11 July 2020 Afford your trip, Estonia Leave a Comment

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Estonia is one of 51 countries that receive more tourists each year than its total population, and it is not surprising as to why. Tourism in Estonia is recognised as a major source for employment, and a significant contributor to Estonia’s economic growth.

While we (coming from New Zealand and Germany, respectively) are not the Estonian Tourist Board’s priority market, as independent travellers, we represent a growth market they will be targeting with the National Tourism Development Plan commencing in 2020.

So what did we get up to, and more importantly, how much did it cost to explore the Republic of Estonia?

Our daily expenses in Estonia were EUR47.30 / USD52.85 per person per day, which means, we went a bit over our budget of USD50.00. We spent a total of eight days in Estonia – two nights in Tartu, three nights in Tallinn and three nights on Saaremaa Island.

Assumptions

When reading our travel costs for Estonia, please keep the following in mind:

Where We Travelled

Map of Estonia and the destinations we explored
Map of Estonia and the destinations we explored

Accommodation

As we did in Lithuania and Latvia, we sourced our accommodation through Airbnb or Booking.com, renting a room in our host’s home or small apartments. Staying in residential neighbourhoods close to public transport allows us to stay within our accommodation budget while not compromising on certain comforts, such as our own bathroom and a kitchen where we can prepare meals, therefore reducing dining costs.

Accommodation NameCityTypeCost Per Room Per Night
Lille Park ApartmentTartuStudio apartmentEUR32.00
Private room near city center, 2 km to Old TownTallinnRoom in our host’s home (which we practically had to ourselves)EUR52.27
Romantic apartment in KuressaareKuressaareOne bedroom cottageEUR23.62

How much does it cost to explore the Baltics?

Visiting the Baltic countries in Spring 2019 cost us on average EUR45.17/USD50.54 per person per day. Check out our individual country costs here:

Tartu, a university town in the south-east of Estonia, was not only packed with history but also some interesting art works

Transport

Oh, to be a resident in Estonia! One of the benefits is that the majority of Estonian residents (in 11 of the 15 counties that make up Estonia) can ride public transport for free. For visitors and tourists, we had to pay to use the network of buses, trams, trains and trolley buses.

In Tartu, we stayed central enough to walk everywhere. The one time we used the city bus was to get from our accommodation back to the train station – we just couldn’t be bothered walking up the hill. The cost of a single ticket was EUR0.83. The Inner City Bus Transportation site was the best one for finding out about routes and fares.

We were able to take the express train from Tartu to Tallinn – again, a trip inspired by Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways television series (Season 4, Episode 2) for a cost of EUR10.20 per adult. We booked the ticket online, so saved EUR1.80 each off the on the train price.

By the time we got to Tallinn, we decided to get a little smarter with our ticket purchases. We had done some research and figured it would be cheaper to purchase a green Ühiskaart and load a 3-day ticket onto it, knowing that we had planned to go into town and return each day. An added benefit: any money stored on the card plus the deposit for the card itself will be reimbursed when you return it to a sales outlet (which we did at the airport).

We had several bus options to take from Tallinn to Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa. The ride, while comfortable, is an adventure in itself: You take a bus, the bus goes onto a ferry, and then you jump back on the same bus to complete the journey. Because of timetable options, we chose LuxExpress going to Kuressaare and GoBus for the return journey. Both had Wi-Fi on board and were not full, so we were able to spread out. A ticket cost us EUR12 per adult (which includes the ferry ride).

Taking the bus between Tallinn and Kuressaare includes a ferry crossing between mainland Europe and the island of Muhu
Taking the bus between Tallinn and Kuressaare includes a ferry crossing between mainland Europe and the island of Muhu

Groceries and Dining

By the time we arrived in Estonia, we thought we’d tried all different Baltic cuisines available. We were wrong and pleased to once again extend our culinary experiences.

As usual, we ate a hot lunch while out and about and a cold dinner of local cheeses, meats and bread in the evening. On average, our daily lunch cost us EUR9.54 per person.

In Tartu, our favourite cafe was Kohvik Crepp, a French cafe serving large portions at very reasonable prices. Choose any galette (savoury pancake served with a small salad) and you won’t be disappointed. Two meals and two drinks cost us EUR18.00.

Despite being in the touristy area of Tallinn, Von Krahli AED was a great choice on our first day in the capital. Our meals were delicious, and worth every cent of our total cost of EUR37.40 (including two drinks).

Activities

Tartu

Tartu is easily walkable. So, one Spring morning, we decided to do our own self-guided walking tour, using the guide map called Strolls in Tartu. Because it was self-guided, we were able to do it at our own pace, stopping longer at some sites and skipping sections we were less interested in. We walked around Tartu Old Town and up to Toome Hill Park as well as through the University of Tartu Botanical Gardens. Absolutely FREE.

I have an affinity for sports history and knowing that the Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum was in Tartu, it deserved a visit. Did I know any famous Estonian sportspeople before I visited the museum? No. Did I know what the national sport of Estonia was? No. But that’s why you go to museums. To learn, to take it all in, and hopefully, you walk away more knowledgeable. For EUR6 and two hours of my time, I learned a lot about the history of Estonian sports – from the very first sportsmen, through the twentieth century until the Soviet occupation and today.

Oh, and depending on who you talk to, the national sport is basketball or ice hockey. Or is it kiiking?

The self-guided walking tour in Tartu takes you past important sites of one of the oldest universities in Europe

Tallinn

We did, and certainly recommend, the Free Walking Tours (wherever they exist). Heli – our guide in Tallinn was enthusiastic, extremely knowledgeable and able to deliver the tales of the old city with humour and a little bit of gusto. She was not scared to embellish some history to get a point across but then reminded us of the reason Estonians are such a proud but diverse people.

We normally miss out on free events as we travel from city to city, but this time, we were fortunate. The biggest museum event of the year was happening while we were in Tallinn! Once a year, museums and heritage sites in Estonia open their doors longer than usual (until 2300h) and free of charge. So how many museum visits could we fit into one evening? – Here’s your chance to find out.

We started with a 30-minute concert at the Cathedral of St Mary the Virgin before I climbed the church tower for a spectacular view of the city. Next, we headed to the Museum of the Popular Front to get an in-depth understanding of Estonia’s struggle for independence in the early 1990s. Our final stop was for the rooftop views from the National Library of Estonia. All this for free.

On another day, we went to the Estonian Maritime Museum, located in a building originally constructed as a hangar for seaplanes over 100 years ago. The maritime museum has only been open for seven years and caters for young and old. The main attraction inside the museum is the 1936 submarine Lembit. Unlike a lot of retired submarines I have visited, this one retains a lot of the mechanical and functioning components. The ticket was a bit too expensive for what it was, at EUR15 per adult.

Saaremaa

While there are buses on Saaremaa Island, they are infrequent. So, to see the historic, cultural and natural highlights of the island, you do need a vehicle. We hired a car for 24 hours for that purpose and visited:

  • the Kaali Meteorite Craters – a group of nine craters that were created by a meteorite shower;
  • Panga Cliff – one of the few sea cliffs on an otherwise flat island; and
  • Angla Windmill Park (entry fee of EUR4 per adult).

Since we stayed in the town of Kuressaare, we were able to walk to the Kuressaare Castle – an eclectic museum representing different periods of Estonian history. Well worth the visit, but make sure you ask for a map to help guide you through the collection in chronological order. The entry fee was EUR8 per adult.

Kuressaare Castle is full of exhibits and information. The museum was very interesting, but with some reorganisation, it could be even better.

Miscellaneous

Be aware that public toilets, like a lot of public toilets in Europe, are not free – even in a shopping centre or a bus station. The average cost in Estonia was EUR0.50 per use.

Travel Costs Summary Table

CategoriesEUR per person per day
CommunicationsEUR0.321%
GroceriesEUR6.0913%
DiningEUR9.2119%
Leisure ActivitiesEUR7.4616%
AccommodationEUR14.9331%
MiscellaneousEUR0.561%
FinanceEUR0.000%
HealthEUR2.926%
TransportEUR5.8012%
Government CostsEUR0.000%
Total per person per dayEUR47.30

Eight nights in Estonia: USD845.52 / EUR756.87 (two people)

Daily Expenses in Estonia: USD52.85 / EUR47.30 (per person)

Cash Needs

From a safety point of view, we like to have as little cash as possible on us, yet enough to not feel uncomfortable. Of the expenses incurred in Estonia, we paid 30% in cash. The biggest cash amount was EUR64 for our accommodation in Tartu.

Withdrawing cash overseas can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. We can show you how to avoid unnecessary fees and make your travel budget stretch further.

How do you determine which card is best for your overseas trip? Using the right one can save bank fees and make your travel budget stretch further.

Ever been caught out by the bad FX rates and exorbitant commissions charged by FX bureaus? These tips allow you to minimise these charges in future.

Other Cost Summaries and Budgets

Other websites have calculated the costs as shown in the table below. We are unsure whether their data includes entry/exit cost. However, it is good to compare our actual versus their data.

NameDaily Amount Per PersonTravel Style
Budget Your TripEUR62.00Mid-range
The World Was Here FirstEUR40.00Budget
Rough GuidesEUR50.00Budget
Lonely PlanetEUR60.00Budget
SaleBestseller No. 1
DK Eyewitness Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Travel Guide)
DK Eyewitness (Author); English (Publication Language); 416 Pages - 08/15/2017 (Publication Date) - DK Eyewitness Travel (Publisher)
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Bestseller No. 2
Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania (Multi Country Guide)
Lonely Planet (Author); English (Publication Language); 456 Pages - 07/21/2020 (Publication Date) - Lonely Planet (Publisher)
$24.99
Bestseller No. 3
Estonia (Bradt Travel Guides)
Taylor, Neil (Author); English (Publication Language); 304 Pages - 05/20/2014 (Publication Date) - Bradt Travel Guides (Publisher)
$27.99
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Rick Steves Snapshot St. Petersburg, Helsinki & Tallinn
Steves, Rick (Author); English (Publication Language); 260 Pages - 10/30/2018 (Publication Date) - Rick Steves (Publisher)
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Have you travelled around Estonia? Where did you go and how much did it cost? Please leave a comment below or send us an email.

Feature Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay

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How much does it cost to explore Estonia?
How much does it cost to explore Estonia?
How much does it cost to explore Estonia?

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