Travel recommendations from Regio employees near and far

Spring is a great time to dream and make travel plans for the summer. Working as we do in Regio with data and maps on a daily basis, we’re always travelling in our minds, especially in Estonia and the Baltic States. In eager anticipation of summer, we looked back on our most memorable trips and events from last summer, which we’re happy to share with all of you! After all, personal recommendations from near and far are always welcome. Regio employees reminiscing about their travel destinations include Kertu, Püü, Iris, Kristel, Liisi, Triin, Merle, Riivo, Õie and all three Kadris. Incidentally, many of them make great year-round destinations!

1. Church of the Holy Cross (Estonia)

This wayfarers’ church in Harju-Risti is open to all comers. You can climb its semi-circular tower, admire the views from it and even ring the oldest church bell in Estonia. The church also has a unique tower café where you can serve yourself tea, coffee and biscuits, paying whatever you feel is a fair amount. A monument to the War of Independence still stands in the churchyard, having survived 50 years of Soviet occupation.

2. Ott & Matilda Café in Laulasmaa (Estonia)

This is a particularly lovely café to stop in at if you’re on your way to Paldiski.

3. Song and Dance Celebrations (Estonia)

This was without question the big event of summer 2023, and one that several Regio employees attended. The feelings evoked by the concert (and the thunderstorm that followed) were unforgettable. You’ll find Regio employees dancing at festivals this spring and summer as well – at the Fifth South-Eastern Estonian Dance Festival in Põlva (25 & 26 May), the Tartu Song and Dance Celebrations (15 & 16 June) and the Fifth Estonian-Swedish Song and Dance Festival in Haapsalu (6 July).

4. Prangli Island (Estonia)

Estonia’s small islands are a classic travel destination. Despite the many tourists it attracts in summer, a trip to Prangli remains a genuine and authentic experience. The island is the perfect size for cycling and has everything you’d want from a vacation: sandy beaches, untouched forests, a variety of places to eat (from burger shacks to restaurants), bars, holiday homes, a splash of culture and military heritage. There’s something for everyone!

5. Mohni Island (Estonia)

Situated around 5 km off the coast of Viinistu, this small island boasts diverse nature. Traverse the boardwalk across its eastern moors or go swimming in one of its lovely coves. The island can be reached by boat from Viinistu Harbour, and it only takes three or so hours to explore the entire island.

6. Palmse Manor (Estonia)

For the first time in years, Palmse Manor’s park is free to visit once again! You can also take a peek at the orangery and visit the café during the summer season.

7. Toolse Castle and Lahemaa National Park (Estonia)

If you’re pressed for time, you can take a day trip from Toolse to Käsmu on the north coast. There’s lots to see, including the Toolse Order Castle, Vainupea Chapel, the Sagadi Forest Museum, the Altja fishing village, Võsu beach and the Käsmu Sea Museum with its unique rocky sea views. The water can of course be enjoyed in various locations as well.

8. The upper course of the Narva River (Estonia)

From Vasknarva through Jaama, Karoli and Permisküla to Kuningaküla, the Narva River offers panoramic views towards Russia that feature uniquely Russian rural settlements. Kuningaküla is a dead end, as mines block the way north. For a long time, the two sides of the river formed part of one country. People from both banks often fished and spent time together. Now, border guard boats patrol the river. By land, the nearest sizeable towns are dozens of kilometres distant. Despite the paved roads and regular buses, locals still gaze longingly across the river to the other side. The Narva River is a natural traffic route – a waterway that has always connected people, but also left them vulnerable to their enemies. Everyone can visit the ruins of the Vasknarva Order Castle, where history buffs will find a detailed information board. On the opposite bank lies the village of Skamja, where an enormous white, blue and red flag flies menacingly…

9. Home Café Days (Estonia)

Home cafés offer a peek into people’s backyards – you get to see what they’re up to, buy handmade crafts directly from their makers and eat your fill of homemade food. Many such cafés are open year-round, especially on weekends – so it’s worth Googling them!

10. Heroes’ Obstacle Race by Seiklushunt (Estonia)

It’s always good to challenge yourself and do something new – and the Heroes’ obstacle course events are a great opportunity to do both. Last year’s race in Lähte had easier obstacle courses like crawling across a field, as well more difficult ones like crossing a 60-metre ditch with mud up to the participants’ chests. Jewellery and shoes alike were lost in the gloop. And even if you didn’t lose your shoes, they likely fell apart after constantly getting stuck in the mud! The most surprising obstacle involved diving into a muddy field covered with tyres, where the only way forward was by swimming through the mud itself. Although people were still finding bits of mud clinging to them a week later, they’re already looking forward to participating and challenging themselves again!

11. Kivitalu Country Hotel (Estonia)

Nestled in the hills of Otepää, the village of Nüpli is home to a truly cosy home restaurant where host and head chef Jüri Makarov both cooks for guests and, as sous chef, organises dinners based on a variety of national cuisines (including Italian and Uzbek). You’ll have to book a table in advance, so keep an eye on Kivitalu’s Facebook page or website!

12. Pärnu Music Festival (Estonia)

This festival has orchestral music to suit every taste. Last summer’s Babylon Pärnu concert was an absolute banger!

13. Viscosa Culture Factory and Virtsu Beach House (Estonia)

Culture has been overtaking old factories not just in Tallinn and Tartu, but also in smaller places like Viskoosa and Virtsu! There’s no denying the unique ambience of these renovated old factories, and even of those yet to be renovated. Since these venues are usually run by people from the local community in their spare time, they give off an air of freedom and independence.

14. Abruka Chapel (Estonia)

Last summer, a new house of worship was built on the island of Abruka: a modest log chapel with a shingle roof that’s open to all wayfarers. Stained glass windows by artist Mare Saar decorate the structure, depicting the four seasons on the island.

15. Saulkrasti Sunset Trail (Latvia)

Regio’s own Latvia Travel Guide introduced us to this spot. Several kilometres long, this hiking trail winds its way across dunes on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

16. Sigulda Tarzāns Park (Latvia)

This adventure park features obstacle tracks and a range of other attractions. It’s a must-do for families with children!

17. The outskirts of Riga’s Old Town (Latvia)

You’ll find all sorts of interesting places on the outskirts of the Old Town in Riga, including the Art Nouveau showcase that is Alberta Street with its many embassies. There are some lovely cafés in the area, too.

18. Kirkilai Karst Lakelets and Observation Tower (Lithuania)

These surface depressions are well below the level of groundwater and have thus turned into lakelets. They’re 20-30 metres in diameter on average, and 8-11 metres deep. More than 30 of these little lakes are interconnected. To enjoy stunning views of the landscape, climb the 32-metre, crescent-shaped observation tower.

19. Pakruojise Manor and Flower Festival (Lithuania)

This manor complex features numerous buildings and a park. Installations and festivals can be enjoyed here year-round, including a flower festival in summer and lantern shows during the colder months.

20. Treetop Walk (Lithuania)

This path through the treetops in Anykščiai reaches up to 20 metres above the ground. You can get up close and personal with the local flora and fauna in just half an hour. At the end of the trail, an observation deck provides magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding forest and the Šventoji River.

21. Republic of Užupis in Vilnius (Lithuania)

This riverside district of Vilnius has its own constitution – one which, among other things, grants dogs the right to be dogs. The constitution is also available in English.

22. Serlachius Art Museum (Finland)

Situated between the cities of Tampere and Jyväskylä, this magnificent museum features an annex built in 2014 that’s somewhat similar to the Estonian National Museum in Tartu. The collections of the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation are renowned for their pieces from Finland’s golden age of art and paintings by old European masters. A cosy café can be found in the museum’s courtyard.

23. Energylandia Amusement Park (Poland)

This park features rides for kids of all ages and is perfect for anyone travelling to Poland with children.

24. Gánt (Hungary)

West of Budapest lies an old mining area turned landscape protection zone which features peculiar red sand. Information about the former mines can be found in the local museum.

25. Malta

Malta is a land of sun and sea! But once you’ve had enough of the blazing sun, make your way to the Esplora Interactive Science Centre for hours of fun. Its outdoor area offers great views of the port and the city of Valletta. And when it comes to Malta, you mustn’t forget about its cats! If you love feeding, petting or just admiring felines, be sure to visit the Ġnien Indipendenza park, one corner of which is reserved for stray cats.

Of course, we can’t leave you without recommending some useful travel aids:

An Estonian road map – every car should be stocked with a comprehensive one! Our road map is printed on tear-resistant paper and features 75 destination recommendations with photos and introductory texts also in English.

The one-of-a-kind Estonian Road Atlas is accurate in scale and provides information on more than 5000 points of interest. The atlas is indispensable in areas where there’s no mobile signal (or your batteries die).

Travel guide to Latvia – the first in-depth travel guide to Latvia of its kind, with plenty of photos and destination recommendations! Latvia is near to us and dear to us, but uniquely different from Estonia.

In Latvia and Lithuania, our Baltic States Road Atlas will help you discover great hole-in-the-wall spots.

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