Top Destinations for 2016: Estonia
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It’s not quite Russian and it’s not quite Scandinavian – instead Estonia offers a fascinating blend of cultures, gorgeous natural scenery and high living standards, all on a reasonable budget. A ferry ride from Helsinki, Estonia is remarkably accessible considering its under-the-radar reputation. The country didn’t come into its own existence until the end of World War I and has had a busy history of changes since then – throughout the last century it has been occupied by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Today, Estonia offers a much calmer way of life. It’s one of the least populated states in the EU, but it’s anything but remote – it has a reputation for being one of the most internet-focused countries in Europe. It also has one of the fastest growing economies in the EU. Where to go You’ll likely start your trip in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital. It’s the country’s most populated city, and one look at the cityscape might give you an idea as to why people flock there. The Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral shows off impressive Russian architecture – it was built while Russia’s influence was at full force in the late 1800s. You’ll also want to explore the Estonian Open-Air Museum, a rural village within the city area that shows off Estonia’s rural history. If you just want to get a taste of the city and its culture, go to town hall square and get a look at the Old Thomas vane on top of the town hall tower – it’s been there since 1530. Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city, is home to the nation’s oldest university, the University of Tartu. It also boasts botanical gardens and the Hanseatic Days festival, a celebration of Hanseatic heritage. It’s Estonia’s own haven for museums as well – explore the Estonian National Museum, the Tartu University Museum, the Tartu Art Museum and the Tartu Toy Museum. You’ll feel smarter just for having been.
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