Places in Estonia
Toompea Hill, Tallinn, Estonia
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Toompea Hill, Tallinn, Estonia

© 123rf.com / Andrei Nekrassov

Estonia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

45,228 sq km (17,462 sq miles).

Population

1,251,171 (UN estimate 2017).

Population density

30 per sq km.

Capital

Tallinn.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Alar Karis since 2021.

Head of government

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas since 2021.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.

From reluctant Soviet state to one of the European Union's brightest young stars, Estonia has undergone something of a transformation in recent decades – and finally the world has woken up to its many charms.

The smallest and arguably most scenic of the three Baltic states (which also includes Latvia and Lithuania), Estonia is a wildly beautiful land of pristine forests, biodiverse wetlands and remote offshore islands; its natural assets offer a spectacular contrast to the brooding, gothic aesthetic of its medieval capital, Tallinn.

In Tallinn, the cobbled streets are peppered with historic churches, monuments and cosy cafés, not to mention a burgeoning restaurant scene that pays homage to the country's Baltic and Nordic heritage. The nightlife is pretty lively too, which has made it a popular destination for stag parties, although not everybody has welcomed that.

Most adventure travellers escape the city and make for the primeval forests and lakes of rural Estonia. And who can blame them? These areas offer landscapes and ecosystems which have, for the most part, been lost in much of Europe. More than 1,000 lakes shimmer in the Estonian countryside, while bogs and swamplands cover an astounding one-fifth of the country. These habitats are a haven for birds and birdwatchers.

Estonia's natural wonders are on impressive display in its national parks; most notably, Soomaa, in the heart of the country, and Lahemaa, on the northern coast, which rewards visitors with challenging hikes and impressive views of the Baltic Klint, a 1,200km-long (745 mile) ridge of limestone cliffs that stretches from Sweden to Russia. Elusive wolves, bears and lynxes can also be spotted in these parts.

Estonia's history, like that of its Baltic neighbours, has been almost singly devoted to maintaining independence from its powerful neighbours, most notably Russia. Annexed by Stalin in 1944, Estonia never entirely became the Soviet republic it might have done, retaining its language and culture far more strongly than other members of the USSR. This plucky, independent spirit endures in Estonia today.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Estonia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

Travellers arriving from the UK are required to self-isolate for 10 days.

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Estonia, options for shortening the self-isolation period and list of exemptions from the restrictions, including for travellers who are double vaccinated.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities, obtaining test certificates and obtaining proof of your vaccination status (if vaccinated in Estonia). You should check that the test result can be provided in the correct format and language.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Estonia

Information on Nationwide restrictions related to coronavirus is available on the Estonian crisis website

You should read the full list of nationwide restrictions.

Travel via neighbouring countries

Check country-specific FCDO Travel Advice for details on travel restrictions in the neighbouring countries Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.

Health

Check Estonian Health Board website for up to date information in English about coronavirus in Estonia. Information on this website includes advice on:

  • how to protect yourself from infection
  • COVID-19 symptoms and spread
  • what to do in case of suspected infection while in Estonia
  • what to do if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • what to do if you were in close contact with person diagnosed with COVID-19
  • testing for the coronavirus

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, Estonian Health Board advises calling family physician advisory line on + 372 634 6630 or 1220 if dialling within Estonia (service in English is provided between 3:00pm to 5:00pm every day).

If you experience breathing difficulties or shortness of breath, call the emergency number: 112.
If you have any coronavirus-related questions, please call the Rescue Board’s free 24-hour crisis line: +372 600 1247 or 1247 if dialling from Estonia.

For contact details for English speaking doctors and 24/7 pharmacies visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Estonia. This section includes information on medical cover while overseas and what you need to do before travel to make sure your medical costs are covered during your stay. The section also covers:

  • the use of European Health Insurance Cards after 1 January 2021
  • how to check if your prescription is valid in Estonia

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Estonia

We will update this page when the Government of Estonia announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Estonian national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Please note that the Government of Estonia recommends that only those aged over 50 receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Government of Estonia has stated that British nationals resident in Estonia are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Government of Estonia Ministry of Health website.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Estonia, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Estonia, you can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate from the national authorities. The Certificate proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It will help facilitate your travel within the EU and, in some countries, you can use it to demonstrate your COVID-19 status to businesses and other organisations. For further information visit the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate page.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime  

Crime levels are low although there is some petty crime. Pick pocketing can be a problem in bars, pubs, nightclubs and hotels in Tallinn’s Old Town when tourists are targeted for passports and cash. Be vigilant in bars, don’t leave your drink unattended, take sensible precautions and avoid unlit side streets and parks at night. If possible, leave your valuables in a hotel safe.

If you wish to report a theft, you should do so in person to Tallinn Central Police Station, Kolde pst 65, 10321 Tallinn, telephone: +372 612 5400.

Public transport

A plastic smartcard and e-ticket system is in use in Tallinn for buses, trolleybuses, trams and inner-city trains. Information on buying and using smartcards can be found on the Tallinn Tourism website.

Taxis are widely available and reasonably priced. Transport apps like Bolt, Taxigo and Uber are also widely used. Make sure there’s a price list on the back window of the taxi, the taxi driver has a licence in a visible place, that there’s a visible meter and that it’s being used. Don’t use taxis that are unmarked; they’re illegal, unsafe and usually cost a lot more than registered taxis. Take extra care to avoid fake taxis in Tallinn Passenger Port.

Local travel

Roads and pavements may become very slippery during spring. In accordance with the Estonian Traffic Act, all pedestrians walking on the road at night time or in inadequate visibility must wear a safety reflector, otherwise fines may apply. Reflectors are essential during winter months from October to March. The reflectors can be pinned to the right side of your coat or handbag and can be bought locally.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 52 road deaths in the Estonia (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 3.9 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

If you are planning to drive in Estonia, see information on Driving Abroad.

Licences and documents

You can drive in Estonia with a UK driving licence. You must have the original V5C vehicle registration document if you’re driving into Estonia. More information is available on the website of the Estonian road administration.

If you’re living in Estonia, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a GB sticker or a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September UK stickers will replace GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK before, on or after 28 September 2021.

Driving regulations

By law, headlights of vehicles must be on at all times, including during daylight hours. Winter tyres must be fitted from 1 December to 1 March every year, but if there are severe weather conditions outside these dates (likely in most years) the dates will change accordingly. Check local conditions if you are driving in Estonia between October and April.

Do not drink and drive. The legal limit is zero. Those found over the limit face a fine and possible imprisonment.

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Estonia.

Winter travel

Be prepared for extremely cold and possibly hazardous weather in the winter (October to March). There is likely to be snow on the ground and temperatures may drop to -25°C or below. 

Attacks in Estonia can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Don’t use, buy or possess drugs: sale and distribution is illegal and the possession of even the smallest quantities can lead to up to 10 years imprisonment.

Same-sex relationships are legal in Estonia, but same-sex marriages are not recognised in Estonian law. Public displays of affection may be frowned upon or attract unwanted attention. See our information and advice page for LGBT travellers before you travel.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Estonia set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

If you are resident in Estonia you should carry your Estonian ID card or residence permit, as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied for your residence permit but have not received it, you can carry your certificate of application.

If you have not yet applied for a residence card, you should carry evidence that you are resident in Estonia. This could include a tenancy agreement or a utility bill in your name that ideally dates from 2020.

If you cannot show that you are resident in Estonia, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped. This will not affect your rights in Estonia.

Full information about entry requirements for foreigners is available on the website of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. You can also contact customer support line by calling +372 6123000.

If you are travelling to Estonia for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.

Restrictions in response to coronavirus

Travel restrictions and borders

All passengers arriving in Estonia are required to follow the Estonian Government COVID-19 regulations that apply to their country of departure.

Travellers arriving from the UK are required to self-isolate for 10 days.

To shorten the self-isolation period, a negative PCR COVID-19 test needs to be taken no more than 72 hours before departure or a test taken on arrival in Estonia. A second negative test no earlier than 6 days after the initial test will allow you to exit self-isolation. Please read further information about the conditions that apply to test certificates

Those exempt from the self-isolating and testing requirements include:

  • individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and declared cured no longer than six months ago; or
  • individuals who have undergone a full course of COVID-19 vaccination and no more than one year has passed since its completion
  • or arrivals from a country in the European Union, European Economic Area and the Schengen area with an infection rate below 150 persons per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days.

See the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the full list of allowed entries, including from the UK and some other non-EU or EEA countries.

All passengers arriving in Estonia must submit a customer locator form. This can be done at the port of entry or electronically via the Health Board portal before arrival.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

Estonia will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Quarantine requirements

Travellers without symptoms arriving from countries where the COVID-19 infection rate is 150 cases or lower per 100,000 people for the previous 14 days before arrival do not need to self-quarantine on entry.

If you’re arriving in Estonia from the UK, you need to self-isolate for 10 days.

To shorten the self-isolation period, a negative PCR COVID-19 test needs to be taken no more than 72 hours before departure or a test taken on arrival in Estonia. A second negative test no earlier than 6 days after the initial test will allow you to exit self-isolation. Read further information about the conditions that apply to test certificates.

Those exempt from the self-isolating and testing requirements include:

  • individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and declared cured no longer than six months ago; or
  • or individuals who have undergone a full course of COVID-19 vaccination and no more than one year has passed since its completion. The vaccination course is considered complete when the time of full immunity is reached. Please refer to the website of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for information on full immunity times for each vaccine.

Full details on testing for coronavirus in Estonia can be found on the Estonian Health Board website. See also information on arranging private testing in Estonia.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

Information on restriction of movement and quarantine requirements together with a list of countries from which arrivals are not required to self-quarantine is available on the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website and is updated every Friday.

You should follow the local quarantine measures of the country that you are in.

If you need further information about entry requirements, contact the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, customer support +372 6123000 or the nearest Estonian embassy or consulate. You should also check with your airline or travel company for the latest information.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:

  • you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
  • if you are travelling to Estonia and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
  • to stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Estonian government’s entry requirements. Check with the Estonian Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need
  • if you stay in Estonia with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit

Any time you spent in Estonia or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

At Estonian border control, you may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay.

There are separate requirements for those who are resident in Estonia. If you are resident in Estonia, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel. For further information on these requirements, see our Living in Estonia guide.

Passport validity

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.

Make sure your passport is:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Estonia, or any other Schengen country
  • less than 10 years old

The 3 months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum 3 months needed.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Estonia.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Estonia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Estonia.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Healthcare

You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Estonian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment.

Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

If you’re living in Estonia, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Estonia guide.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

The currency of Estonia is the euro (€).

ATMs dispense euros. The currency is easily exchangeable.

Any person entering or leaving the EU must declare the cash that they are carrying if this amounts to €10,000 or more; this includes cheques, travellers’ cheques, money orders, etc. This does not apply to anyone travelling via the EU to a non-EU country, as long as the original journey started outside the EU, nor to those travelling within the EU.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.