ETIAS - Traveling to Estonia
U.S. citizens can travel to Estonia using an ETIAS visa waiver
Country of Estonia
- Euro (€)
- UTC+2 (EET)
Emergency Estonia Telephone Numbers
112 (112 is the equivalent to 911 in the US)
With only over a million in population, this smallest Baltic state is a true hidden gem among other European destinations. At the crossroad between Scandinavia and the Baltic region tucked to the north at the edge of dusky Baltic Sea, Estonia has its own unique identity. Almost half the country is forest land, it is rural but the cities like Tallinn and Pärnu offer a darling blend of ancient architecture, modern wellness spas, community-supportive art scene and unforgettable regional dining. Welcoming locals make this a place that juxtaposes dizzying discovery with a feeling of familiar, of home.
Estonia joined the Schengen zone in 2007 and welcomes more than 4 million visitors each year but its history is told in the fact that the country, The Republic of Estonia, is a babe, and gained its independence in from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the European Union in 2004. Breezy and easy to travel to, the country is off the beaten path and has remained one of the best ‘value for money’ propositions in Europe. Estonia is a country of contrasts and surprises. Dominated by various powers throughout its history, Estonia’s culture is an alluring mix of indigenous heritage with Germanic, Nordic and Russian influences. This is visible not only through the country’s rich customs and traditions but also its diverse architectural styles. Many facades from Medieval to Baroque to Rococo to Ultra-Modern put their best faces forward.
While mostly covered by pristine forests, Estonia is also one of the most high-tech countries in the world. With its modern market economy, the country has the most advanced e-government, free wi-fi virtually everywhere, and an exponentially increasing startup scene. This sort of accessible infrastructure and dynamic and creative environment attract ambitious entrepreneurs and digital nomads from around the globe. Two of the most known startups from Estonia are Skype and TransferWise.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization, ETIAS, is coming in 2021. With authorization for the ETIAS Visa Waiver Program for visa-free travel with a generous 90-day limit to diminutive Estonia, along with dozens of Schengen Area countries, your visions of enchanted forests, ancient cities and dramatic islands are closer than ever.
Where to Go
Lovely Tallinn. Estonia’s most popular attraction rightfully is the capital’s UNESCO-listed Old Town. With its exceptionally preserved 13th-century city layout, Tallinn boasts one of the best conserved Hanseatic town centers in the world. Encircled by imposing medieval walls with picturesque gates and towers, the Old Town resembles a village from a fairytale. With its ancient churches, charming cobblestone streets and charismatic merchant houses, the Old Town is a fascinating destination year-round. A couple of blocks away from the Old Town is Kalamaja, a former working-class neighborhood dating back to the end of the 19th century. Now a hip and lively district, Kalamaja’s distinct characteristic is its colorful traditional wooden houses with brightly colored panel doors. Sprinkled with contemporary yet cozy cafes and bars, Kalamaja attracts a youthful crowd of locals and tourists alike.
Unbeknown to most, Estonia has staggering 2,355 islands in the Baltic Sea, most within a short ferry ride from the mainland. In contrast to energetic Tallinn, Estonian islands offer peace and serenity with incredibly fresh air and a calming backdrop of wide sandy beaches, untouched pine forests and aromatic juniper groves. Although most islands are uninhabited, the remaining ones are home to well-preserved natural, historical and cultural artifacts.
Part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, the country’s biggest and arguably the most authentically Estonian island is called Saaremaa. The island offers a rich variety of unique activities to its visitors - from traditional Estonian spa, cycling or hiking on rural roads between fisherman villages, old churches and crumbling ruins to visiting thousands-years old meteorite crater lakes.
The island’s west coast is home to grey seal habitats which can be visited on organized boat tours through the Vilsandi national park. Besides picturesque views, the island is also famous for Kuressaare - the only intact medieval castle in the Baltics. Located in the island’s namesake capital, this episcopal 14th-century fortress now hosts the Saaremaa Regional Museum. Similar to other Baltic and Scandinavian countries, on June 23rd Estonians across the nation celebrate Jaanipäev, the summer solstice.
Deeply rooted in folklore, this important celebration has various ancient rituals, one of the most popular ones being jumping over a bonfire to secure good luck and prosperity. Other customs revolve around drinking, eating, and staying awake until the sun comes up again after the shortest night of the year. Being in Estonia and especially Saaremmaa on Jaanipäev is a unique opportunity to join the locals in their colorful centuries-old traditions.
The National Parks
With its strong ties to nature, it is little surprise that 22% of Estonia’s territory are wildlife preserves. With around 280 square miles, Lahemaa National Park, located in the north, is one of the country’s five national parks and one of the biggest in Europe. Encompassing a variety of landscapes, it offers its visitors picturesque walks along the sandy coasts, pristine pine forests or wetlands. As a bonus, hiking in the country’s characteristic bogs and swamps comes with an unlimited blueberry tasting when visited in the right season. Not overrun by tourists, it is the ultimate getaway for nature lovers.
Estonia is located between Scandinavia, the Baltics, and Russia. In the north-west, the country shares a maritime border with Finland and Sweden which can be accessed by one of the numerous ferries connecting the region. Estonia’s southeast land border is with Latvia and the Russian Federation. Except for the latter, all of Estonia’s neighbors are members of the Schengen agreement. Estonia, as a member of the Schengen Area, will require ETIAS authorization for the Visa Waiver Program being launched by the European Union in 2021.