If you’re planning a trip to Estonia, make sure to include Tartu in your itinerary. This charming city is the second largest in the country and has a lot to offer to visitors. From beautiful parks and historic landmarks to great food and cultural events, Tartu is a destination you don’t want to miss.
What to See in Tartu
There are many interesting places to visit in Tartu, but here are some of the most important ones:
- Tartu Old Town: This is the heart of the city, and it’s a beautiful place to explore on foot. You’ll find medieval buildings, cobblestone streets, and charming cafes and shops. Don’t miss the Town Hall Square, which is surrounded by colorful houses and has a fountain in the middle.
- University of Tartu: Founded in 1632, this is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe. The campus is a great place to walk around and admire the architecture, especially the stunning main building with its white columns and red roof. You can also visit the university museum, which showcases the history of the institution and its impact on Estonian culture and society.
- Toome Hill: This park is located in the center of Tartu and offers great views of the city. You can climb to the top of the hill and see the ruins of a medieval cathedral, as well as the iconic Angel’s Bridge, which is said to grant wishes to those who cross it.
- AHHAA Science Center: This interactive museum is perfect for families and science enthusiasts. You can learn about physics, chemistry, biology, and astronomy through hands-on exhibits and experiments. Don’t miss the planetarium show!
- Estonian National Museum: This modern museum showcases the history and culture of Estonia, from prehistoric times to the present day. You can see traditional costumes, crafts, and musical instruments, as well as interactive displays and multimedia installations.
Routes in Tartu
If you want to explore Tartu in a more organized way, here are some suggested routes:
- Old Town Walk: This route takes you through the most picturesque streets of the Old Town, including the Town Hall Square, the St. John’s Church, and the Kissing Students Fountain. You can also visit the Tartu Art Museum and the Tartu Toy Museum along the way.
- University Walk: This route covers the main buildings of the University of Tartu, including the Botanical Gardens, the Library, and the Observatory. You can also see the iconic statue of kissing students and the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Tartu.
- Park Walk: This route takes you through the most beautiful parks of Tartu, including Toome Hill, the Emajõgi River Promenade, and the Raadi Park. You can also visit the Tartu Toy Museum and the Tartu Art Museum along the way.
Dining in Tartu
Tartu has a vibrant food scene, with options for all tastes and budgets. Here are some recommended restaurants:
- Werner: This restaurant is located in a historic building in the Old Town and offers gourmet Estonian cuisine with a modern twist. Don’t miss the smoked duck breast and the beetroot risotto.
- Pierre: This French-inspired bistro is a popular spot for brunch and lunch. You can enjoy omelets, quiches, and salads, as well as homemade cakes and pastries.
- Meat Market: This steakhouse is a meat lover’s paradise, with a wide selection of cuts and cooking methods. You can also try the fish and vegetarian options, as well as the craft beers and cocktails.
- F-Hoone: This hipster hangout is located in a former factory and has a cool industrial vibe. You can enjoy burgers, pizzas, and salads, as well as live music and art exhibitions.
Where to Stay in Tartu
Tartu has plenty of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Here are some recommended places to stay:
- Art Hotel Pallas: This stylish hotel is located in the heart of the city, just a few steps away from the Town Hall Square. The rooms are spacious and modern, with colorful artworks and designer furniture. You can also enjoy the sauna and the rooftop terrace.
- Hektor Container Hotel: This unique hotel is made of shipping containers and offers a cozy and eco-friendly atmosphere. The rooms are simple but comfortable, with wooden floors and minimalist decor. You can also use the shared kitchen and lounge area.
- Dorpat Hotel: This elegant hotel is located on the banks of the Emajõgi River, offering great views of the city. The rooms are spacious and well-equipped, with air conditioning and flat-screen TVs. You can also use the spa and fitness center.
- Looming Hostel: This charming hostel is located in a historic building in the Old Town, offering a cozy and friendly atmosphere. The rooms are clean and comfortable, with wooden floors and colorful decorations. You can also use the kitchen and the garden.
Free Tours in Tartu
If you want to explore Tartu on a budget, there are several free tours available. Here are some options:
- Tartu Free Walking Tour: This tour covers the main landmarks of the Old Town, including the Town Hall Square, the St. John’s Church, and the University of Tartu. The tour guides are local volunteers who share their knowledge and passion for the city.
- Emajõgi River Cruise: This boat tour takes you along the Emajõgi River, offering great views of Tartu and its surroundings. The tour is free, but you need to register in advance.
- Tartu Art Museum Guided Tour: This tour takes you through the exhibitions of the Tartu Art Museum, showcasing Estonian and international contemporary art. The tour is free on the first Wednesday of every month.
- What is the best time to visit Tartu? The best time to visit Tartu is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is warm and sunny and there are many cultural events and festivals. However, Tartu is also beautiful in the winter, especially during the Christmas season, when the city is decorated with lights and ornaments.
- Is Tartu a safe city for tourists? Yes, Tartu is generally a safe city for tourists. However, as with any city, it’s important to take basic safety precautions, such as avoiding dark and isolated areas at night, keeping your valuables close to you, and being aware of pickpockets in crowded places.
- Do people in Tartu speak English? Yes, most people in Tartu speak English, especially in the tourist areas and the university. However, it’s always helpful to learn a few Estonian phrases, such as «Tere» (hello), «Palun» (please), and «Aitäh» (thank you).
- What is the currency used in Tartu? The currency used in Estonia is the Euro. Most places in Tartu accept credit and debit cards, but it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for small purchases and tips.
- Can I use public transportation in Tartu? Yes, Tartu has a reliable and affordable public transportation system, including buses and trams. You can buy tickets from vending machines or from the driver. You can also use a contactless card or the Tartu mobile app.
Tartu is a hidden gem in Estonia, with a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a welcoming atmosphere. Whether you’re interested in architecture, science, or food, Tartu has something for you. Make sure to follow our tips and recommendations, and don’t forget to enjoy the free tours and the local hospitality. To learn more about Tartu and plan your trip, visit the official tourism website https://visitTartu.com/en/.