Estonia’s capital Tallinn is the European Green Capital for 2023, but how much do you really know about this small Baltic nation?
For example, did you know Estonia has a fifth season in the year? But what does a fifth season even look like and how does it fit into the year?
And more importantly, how has Estonia come to have one of the most tilted cities in the world – rivalling even Pisa?
To find out more about why Estonia should be on your list of future trips abroad, here are some of the most weird and wonderful facts about this beloved European enigma.
Estonia is great for digital nomads and tech-lovers
Home to more start-ups per person than America’s Silicon Valley and with internet mega-companies such as Skype being created there, it’s no wonder Wired named Estonia as the most digitally advanced society in the world.
In fact, Estonia has also been praised for one of the world’s best internet connections, making it a prime spot for remote workers. With the country’s E-residency programme, digital nomads can gain a government-issued digital identity, gaining access to Estonia’s services and business environment.
So, if you’re looking to get away for a while, but still want to stay connected, Estonia is the place for you.
Did you know Estonia has more than 2,000 islands to explore?
Connected to the Baltic sea on its North and West sides, Estonia is home to a myriad of islands, all with their own charm and characteristics.
One of the most intriguing island communities is that of Kihnu, just a short ferry trip from Pärnu. Home to seafarers and fishermen, residents devote their lives to the ocean. The men spending much of their time at sea and so the women rule the island, akin to a matriarchy.
Look out for bears in Estonia
For most of us, the thought of being anywhere near wild bears is a frightening (albeit rather thrilling) thought.
For Estonians, who experience the highest population of the species in all of Europe, bears are built into their seasons, with mother bears and their new cubs commonly being seen throughout the spring and summer months.
Go foraging to learn more about Estonian’s food culture
With rich wilderness at their door, foraging is commonplace in Estonian cuisine, with the practice appearing in high-end restaurants, as well as in the average home kitchen.
For any keen foodies, there are many hiking tours run by experienced foragers. They’ll share their local wisdom on where to find the best delicacies, what to pick and how to store the produce through the winter.
What is Estonia’s fifth season?
Between winter and spring, Estonia experiences a wet season like no other.
With a significant rise in water levels as the winter snow thaws, the season is characterised by mass flooding, with residents taking boats and canoes as transport. Visitors can also enjoy this phenomenon by boat in the Soomaa National Park.
A particularly notable event in this strange extra season can be seen at Tuhala Witch’s Well in Nabala-Tuhala ecological reserve.
Each year, the 2.4 metre deep well overflows, creating an enormous flow of 100 litres per second, leaving residents mesmerized.
The leaning tower of…Tartu?
Much like the leaning tower of Pisa, Tartu’s Art Museum, located in the aptly named Leaning House, suffered as a result of its poor foundations.
Built in 1793 in Estonia’s second largest city, and originally belonging to a noble family, the building slowly began to sink. Luckily, after a major restoration project, the building ceased to fall, and became home to Tartu’s impressive art collection.