Eco-friendly travel guide to Tartu advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Tartu, Estonia.
- Air quality: 4 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 4 / 5
- Public transportation: 3 / 5
- Parks: 3 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 3 / 5
- Locals' English level: 3 / 5
- Safety: 3 / 5
- Accommodation: US$10 - $30
- Budget per day: US$20 - $90
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
It is a city which is present in Estonia and has an area of approx 40 km2. This city's population is around 100,000 which makes this place, the second most populated city in Estonia. The elevation of this city is 57.2 meters, and the highest peak is measured to be around 79 meters. The majority of the people living in this city are Estonian, and the rest are Russians. It is a very old city of Estonia which was established in 5 A.D.
Air Quality and Pollution
Tartu, mostly has good air quality and pollution levels throughout the year. Reports show that the mean concentration of the air pollutant PM2.5 is 0.5 micrograms cubic meter. The air pollution level due to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) shows a decreasing trend. The main reason for this is because of the introduction of catalytic converters in passenger vehicles. The air quality levels in Tartu is degraded to some extent by a range of different particles such as pollen, dust, smoke, soot, and liquid droplets, which can harm your health. The main sources of emission of pollutants in this city are road abrasion, fuel-burning in vehicle engines, especially diesel, and also some construction works.
Respect the Culture
As it is the European Capital of Culture, Tartu brings together all ideas and thoughts of people to improve the quality of their life. It has an extraordinary cultural life and an ideal environment for people engaged with folks and traditions of various culture. The city is home to various interesting museums and theatres, and concert halls with diverse repertoires. Millions of tourists visit here to see its extraordinary life and culture over here all year round.
Top 10 Places to Visit
• The Old Town
The Old Town is the most beautiful part of Tartu tourism. It is an old city with a rich history of their struggles in past. While exploring this part of the town, you will come across various attractions, including restaurants and museums. This place also has a lot important places related to Tartu and Estonia's cultural history; hence, it is a must-visit place while traveling in Tartu.
• Tartu University Botanical Garden
Tartu University Botanical Garden is one of the finest and popular gardens in the Baltic States, where you can see a lot of different varieties of plants while enjoying while moving around the garden. You need to pay to visit in the exhibitions organized inside this place.
• The Kissing Students fountain
The Kissing Students fountain in Tartu is a must-visit for lovers in the city and is the most recognizable symbol. The most exciting part about this place is visiting the statue of two students kissing under the umbrella as it is considered a sign of everlasting love.
• Estonian National Museum
Estonian National Museum is one of the most popular and among the top museums in the country, opened in 1909 in memory of Jakob Hurt, the most influential Estonian collector. It is the best place in the entire city to learn about Estonian history, including weaponry and folk culture. The museum displays the history, traditions, and life of the Estonian people and the minorities in Estonia.
• AHHAA Science Centre
Being the only biggest technology center in Estonia and the entire Baltic States, AHHAA Science Centre's main purpose is to promote science and technology. It shows people that how science can be both interactive and useful in everyday life. Apart from a huge planetarium and 4d Adventure Cinema, the center houses hundreds of different exhibits and displays.
• Tartu Dome Church
Located on the beautiful Toome Hill, Tartu Dome Church is one of Estonia's most popular and largest church. Although the church was destroyed in the Livonian War, the Tartu Cathedral ruins are among the most prominent examples of brick-Gothic buildings in Old Livonia. This place's highlight is that it is the only medieval church left in history with two spires in Estonia, making it a must-visit tourist destination in Tartu.
Toomemagi is a beautiful hill in Tartu and a part of the Emajogi's ancient valley. This place has several important landmarks of Tartu, including Tartu Cathedral, Gunpowder Cellar of Tartu, several monuments to people related to Tartu University, and many more. There was also a bishop's castle whose ruins/remains since medieval times are still present.
• St. John’s Church Tartu
Built in the 14th century in the Gothic style, St. John’s Church in Tartu is one of the oldest churches in Estonia, making it a hotspot for most followers and tourists. The church's uniqueness makes it list under the top places to visit due to its original terracotta sculptures. You can see almost 1,000 terracotta sculptures in this church, which are nearly 700 years old. Along with the spectacular views of the historical Old Town of Tartu, you are also welcome to visit its arts and crafts shop.
• Aura Waterpark
Aura Waterpark in Tartu is a famous and most-visited tourist attraction in the city. The main attractions are the water slides (55 and 38 meters long), a fountain, a waterfall, jacuzzis, and the possibility of swimming against the stream. The place also provides you a platform to practice your basketball skills or put yourself to test under the streams of the water cannon. Here, you also have the facility of a sauna, café, cloakroom with lockers, in addition to the swimming complex where visitors of the water park can spend their private time with families and friends.
• Lake Raadi
It lies in Tartu, Estonia, and is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. It is situated in the township of Raadi and is present on the premises of the Raadi Manor. The lake provides ample area to relax and enjoy a nice evening stroll along its shore. Lake Raadi is another popular destination for tourists and locals who want to spend a peaceful time.
Home to one of Northern Europe's oldest universities, Tartu has a wealth of historical sites, mainly museums, and an upbeat nightlife. Upon your arrival in Tartu, you are most likely to visit the nearby museums, cafés, or a large park around the hill. The city has tonnes of stories to tell its visitors, starting from the most significant sights and restaurants to amazing nightlife. It is the second largest town in Estonia and a brilliant place for creative and scientific culture. Have a look at Tartu's most-visited sites under the following categories:
City Parks are in abundance in this part of the nation. Below is a list of such city/public parks where visitors/travelers can enjoy a peaceful walk. Besides having a pleasant walk, you can enjoy doing several outdoor activities, including jogging, sightseeing, exercising, and many others.
• Tartu Keskpark
• Vaksali Park
• Toomemae Park
• Barclay Square
• King’s Square (Kuningaplats)
• Luke Manor Park
Lahemaa National Park is nearer to this city where you can see a wide range of rare floras and wild animals. It is Estonia's largest and oldest national park lying on the coast of northern Estonia, covers both land and sea. It has numerous forest trails, fishing villages, beautiful bogs, and manors such as Sagadi and Palmse Manors, Kasmu captain village, Oandu forest trail, and Viru bog. Other nearby national parks include Matsalu National Park, Soomma National Park, and few others.
Tartu is not a beach destination, but it has several places where you can enjoy stunning scenic views. One of the best-known sights in the town of Elva is Lake Verevi Beach. It gains additional value from beach volleyball courts, a diving tower, and a separate children's swimming area. Here are few other popular beach destinations near Tartu that are a couple of hours away from the city center:
• Vosu Beach
• Mandjala Beach
• Kuressaare Beach
• Pirita Beach
Tartu is a compact city and home to its compelling history. It is the oldest city in Estonia dates back to the 11th century. It truly is one of the most important destinations to visit in this Baltic nation with its numerous historical landmarks. The city of Tartu houses several important milestones that tell you about its history and local culture of Estonia. So, make sure to visit these historical places in Tartu:
• Pirogov Park
• Angel’s Bridge & Devil’s Bridge
• Wilde & Vilde
• Town Wall route
Tartu is a cultural city through the centuries where the first national elite stemmed from the local university; the first newspapers and cultural societies began their work here; in addition to the first national theatre and the national song festival took place here. Reflecting Tartu's cultural history, there are dozens of museums surprising their visitors with unique architectural sites. Here are some best places in town you might not want to miss:
• Tartu Toy Museum
• University of Tartu Museum
• Tartu Art Museum
• Estonian Print & Paper Museum
• KGB Cells Museum
• Estonian Literary Museum
Estonian cuisine contains unusual combinations of nutritious ingredients, often giving a specific taste to the food. Tartu is a little town with many universities, rich history, interesting museums, friendly people, and, most importantly, delicious foods. To find a good place to eat in Tartu might be challenging but you can surely explore by visiting different places. Here is a list of top places to eat:
Traditional Local Restaurants
To understand the culture and tradition very closely, you must start with experiencing traditional cuisine in your desired destination's conventional local restaurants. Tartu, however, gives you several opportunities in restaurants to indulge in delicious local cuisines. Here are few restaurants in the city you can pay a visit to have some pretty amazing dishes:
• The Gunpowder Cellar Restaurant
• Tokyo Sushi Bar
• Vilde Ja Vine
Vegetarian and Vegan
With the global boom in vegan menu options popping in Tartu's restaurants and fast-food chains across the country, many vegans and plant-based eateries make their move in the country. The city also boasts several vegetarian restaurants, mostly crowded with tourists from across the globe. Such places are 100% hygienic and use plant-based nutritious ingredients in preparing meals for their customers. Here are few top-notch vegan restaurants where you can crash on expecting good food:
• Asian Chef
• Chi Asia Express
• Kolm Tilli
• Ossu Burger
• Pahad Poisid
The streets in Tartu offer delicious food and drinks, which help every tourist/visitor to quench their thirst and hunger and keep you hydrated throughout the day. Local shops and food stalls offer you great food with lots of varieties; one of the most common dishes in Tartu is the floury oatmeal "kama." Estonians mostly start their day with traditional sandwiches with butter and herring, tomato paste, toasts fried in butter and egg, beans, cheese, and jams. Various popular snacks enjoyed in Tartu are liver pate, meatballs, herring with sour cream, and stuffed eggs, which you can find in almost every eatery and local food stalls present at every corner of the city.
Being the country's intellectual center, Tartu offers you dozens of places where you can enjoy alcoholic, non-alcoholic, and regional drinks. Since Tartu boasts several universities, with so many young people in the city, you can be sure that the party never stops, especially in the best local pubs. From traditional Indian drinks to cold drinks, there are several hotspots in Tartu that offer regional beverages. Some most-consumed drinks in Tartu are:
• Vana Tallinn
• Fruit wines
• Kali (Estonian Coca-Cola)
It is a country that offers you safe and portable tap water. Therefore you can consume it directly from the tap. It can help you save a lot of money you would have to spend on bottled water. Also, bottled water creates an increase in plastic consumption from your side. Even the rate of water pollution in this city is low. However, the current list of the amount of water pollution present in this city is still because of the fertilizers, especially the nitrogen mixed with the water, impacting water quality. The primary source of drinking water available in this city is groundwater. Veevark is a company that extracts 90% of the groundwater and supplies it to its residential areas.
There are different organic cafes which are present in this city. A restaurant called Kohvipaus Tartu opens at 7 in the morning and closes at 5 in the evening, but it is closed on Sunday. This cafe serves organic dishes, and the specialty of this cafe is a salad which contains all the organic vegetables which will be very healthy for you. If you want to try out any fruit dish, then there is a dish served in this cafe called Kaerahelbepuder, which is entirely made from fresh fruits. This cafe offers a takeaway facility that means that you can pre-order your dishes and take once it is prepared, but they will not deliver it to your residence. Another organic cafe in this city is Veg Machine Tartu, and this cafe offers delivery at your home, for which you have to pay the delivery charge. This cafe's highlighted dishes are Potato waffles and Mother Trucker Burger made up of organic vegetables freshly supplied from the local farm. The V cafe is also present in this city, present in the Rila 2 area of this city. You can even get some special chicken or other non-vegetarian dishes cooked in organic vegetables. The fruit juices available in this cafe are made up of organic fruits without adding any additional preservatives. These juices are made for daily consumption; therefore, they are fresh.
There are breweries present in this city, especially microbreweries, and the most famous brewery is Puhaste Brewery. This brewery even offers a tour where you can see the production, packaging, and other things involved in a show of beer and a representative of the brewery to explain different procedures and steps in detail. Various beer bars are also present in this city that offers a variety of flavors. Some of the bars have taps attached to a pot where different flavors of beers are placed. You can fill your glass with any of the flavors you wish to taste. There is a brewery named A Le Coq, which is the oldest Estonian brewery present in this city. This company was started in 1807, and it is still running. Some of the beers of this company include Premium Export, a strong beer rich in taste. Another is A Le Coq Premium which is a traditional beer. Porter is another brand and a type of beer brewed in this city. There is an old traditional beer which is distributed and brewed since the Russian Empire. It is a royal beer that is brewed with the conventional method. Another old traditional beer is Special 1807, a light beer, but its quality is high. The taste and the color of this beer are perfect, and the smell is aromatic.
There are a lot of things and activities to do in this city. There is a Garden present in this city where you can explore various plants. There are many different species of roses present in this garden which fills this Botanical Garden with Aroma. If you are interested in archaeology, then there is a ruin of a church built in the 13th century, but a fire broke out in this church in 1624, which caused heavy damage. If you love to walk and explore new things, then a bridge is divided into two parts. And the first point was built in 1838, and the other part was built in 1913. There is a museum in this city where various types of toys are present if you're traveling with kids, this is a must-visit place, and even you can relive your childhood by visiting this museum. There is a water park present in this city that can help you enjoy various water rides.
Yoga and Retreats
There are various yoga studios present in this city. Some of the studios even have partnerships with different hotels, so some hotels in their premises organize weekly sessions. YOGAFUNC is one of the best yoga and retreat classes available in this city. The specialty of these classes is that the teachers and the experts teach in traditional methods, which are more effective. You can get a membership by directly visiting this studio for the number of days you are present in this city. Other than this, you want a meditation center which is also present in this city, and the name of this studio is Art of living Tartu. Similarly, there are other retreats also current, such as Zumba classes or aerobics classes.
Different types of accommodations are present in this city in which some of them offer a luxurious lifestyle. There is a bed and breakfast type of facility also available. Some resorts are also present in this city, especially spa resorts where you can get spa facilities and other premium features and Facilities that a resort offers to its customers. Else there are hotels which are also present in this city which charges different rent per night. Other accommodation options are also current, such as apartments, hostels, cottages, inns, and guesthouses. These are built for different situations and budgets.
There are green hotels present in this city which offers facilities in organic and natural ways. This hotel pays special attention to wastage and pollution. Therefore, they reduce the amount of waste through recycling as much as possible and find the entire hotel premises very clean. They conserve water and electricity, and usually, the electricity is generated by their solar power plants, and they have groundwater as a backup source of water. Even the restaurants offer organic dishes, including the juices extracted from fresh fruits.
Hostels and Guest Houses
There are various hostels present in this city, allowing basic amenities at a reasonable price. A hostel called Looming hostel is a neat and clean hostel, and you can even bring your pet to this hostel. There is a hostel which is also present in this city called Hector Design Hotel. It is a modern hostel that offers clean and furnished rooms and a modular kitchen to cook dishes. The breakfast is in a buffet form and is complimentary. Tamme hostel is top-rated among the locals, which does not allow pets but has accessible internet facilities and breakfast.
There are a lot of apartments available for rent which can be a great accommodation option if you are thinking to stay for a longer time. The apartment here has premium security along with complete privacy in your flats. Generally, two-bedroom, one hall, and one kitchen type of apartments are present where two to four people can accommodate at a time. Similarly, there are other apartments which are also currently offering kitchen facility. You must always select an apartment by looking at its location, and your apartment must have a grocery store or a supermarket nearby so that you can bring essential items from there.
Tartu is a safe city; therefore, you can couch surf here easily without any fear of getting robbed. There are around 3700 to 4000 hosts present in this city to welcome foreign travelers. You can save a lot of money with this method of accommodation. Also, you can make new friends with the help of this method by interacting with them and gaining their confidence and trust.
Camping is an inexpensive type of accommodation option which involves a lot of adventure. If you are camping in the jungle, you must be alerted all the time from the wild animals who might harm you. Camping is inexpensive only when you have all the required types of equipment. There are various campgrounds and camp parks available to experience camping. It can be used as a source of experience and fun but cannot be used as permanent accommodation. So, you should be prepared to face the challenges of camping as well.
How to Get There
There are various methods with the help of which you can reach to this city. There is an international airport which is present in this city through which you can come here. Other than this, there are ferry services which can help you to reach this city from—nearby cities. There are trains also present which can help you to travel from neighboring towns to this city. There are buses through which you can get here but only from other cities to this city.
There is an International Airport present in this city with the help of traveling to this city from other foreign countries. However, this airport does not have well-established relations with all the major countries. There is another nearby airport present in Tallinn, which is around 180 kilometers away, or there is an airport current in Riga, which is 250 km away. There is a bus stand connected to the airport which can help you to the city's center and the bus ticket costs only 1 euro. If you reach Tallinn, there is a Liu express bus through which you can come here.
There are buses with numbers 64 and 65 which can help you to reach this city if you are present within Estonia. This city has good land connections with Tallinn, which is present near to this city and many buses start from 5 in the morning till midnight. From tall in the ticket price costs around 6 to 11 euros and you can reach this city within 2 to 3 hours. While purchasing the ticket, you must always check whether there is any discount on or not because there are discounts offered to youth and very aged people. Riga is another city present near this city, and the journey from Riga to Tartu costs 14 to 18 dollars, and the time taken is 3 to 4 hours.
There is a train station present near the center of the city. There is a train called Elron which travels to and from Tallinn to this city. Since the train travels faster than buses, the journey takes around two hours, and this train has two classes: first class and second class. First-class is better in comfortability than the second class. Therefore, the second class costs 9 Euros and the first-class costs 13 Euros. There are train tracks built between Tartu and Riga; as soon as the construction is finished, trains will start between Tartu and Riga.
You can try hitchhiking in this city with the help of which you can travel without paying anything. This city's crime rate is meager; therefore, hitchhiking is safe here. If you are not patient enough, you must not try hitchhiking because sometimes you may have to wait for longer periods to get a vehicle. Even the city locals are very kind towards tourists, and there are very high chances that they will help you by giving lifts. Hitchhiking can be tough but at the same time it is very adventurous and thrilling.
Other ways of traveling to this city directly involve Ferry services as there are riverbanks and codes present in this city. Other than this, there are no other options to reach this city. You can take car on rent or even bicycle to travel inside the city. It would be best to walk around and explore the place in a better way.
Moving around in this city is very safe as the crime rates of the town are very low. Along with this walking and cycling are the best methods to move around the city as its area is not too much. However, there are other methods of moving around also present. There are public buses with the help of which you can move around the city. You can even hire a taxi which will help you in moving around.
It is not a very large city, and the city's area is 38.8 square kilometers which means that you can move around the city by walking. Walking and moving around the city will be beneficial for your health as it will provide energy and freshness to your body, especially if you’re working early in the morning. Walking will help you save your money which you would have to spend on different travel options. Even the crime rate of these cities is not alarming, which means that you can even walk at night without fear. You can also explore the city in detail while walking.
There are various bicycle rental shops available in this city. Even the city's government has launched a new scheme called bike-sharing system in which there are 70 stations built in this city, and the total bikes are 750. Out of the 750 bicycles, there are 250 ordinary bicycles, and the other are electric bicycles. If a person wishes to take a bike on rent, then a ticket needs to be purchased. And after that you can enjoy your ride.
There are electric vehicles which are also present in this city. These electric vehicles are in the form of electric bicycles, electric cars, and electric taxis. You can hire an electric cab if you want to reach any place in particular urgency or in a short time. Otherwise, you can use electric bicycles, which will also help you in maintaining your health. There is an electric bicycle available on rent by purchasing a ticket online through various mobile apps and they can be rented according to your convenience.
Public buses are the most common way of moving around the city, which is preferred not only by the locals but also by tourists. The majority of the local buses are operated by a company called gobos which even have night buses. The ticket system of these buses can be pretty confusing. There are two main options for purchasing a ticket offline: you can buy the ticket directly from the newsstand or the bus driver. Purchasing the ticket from the bus driver will cost more. If you are a regular traveler of bus, you can buy a one-day ticket, 10-day ticket, or a one-hour ticket.
Tram, Train and Subway
There are no trams which are present in this city, and even there are no metros. The city area is not big enough; therefore, there is no requirement for trams and metros, which can help move around. Other than this, the trains cannot be used for moving around the city as well. There are trains present in this city which can help you to travel from one city to another.
There are sustainable shopping stores present in this city. In terms of grocery, you must purchase organic grocery stores that sell organic fruits and vegetables, which is better for your health. Other than this, for shopping, there are second-hand stores which are also present in this city. There is a sustainable clothing store which is also present in this city. Second-hand things cost lesser than usual and original products. There are few flea markets which are also present in this city.
• Biomarker Tartu
• The Shopping Monster
• Tartu Market Hall
• The Tartu Bazar
Second Hand Stores
• MECCA consignment
• Voru Varblane
• Rillamae Shop
Recycling is done at a significant level in this city; therefore, a lot of waste gets eliminated. There are recycling centers present, and each of them recycles different things on a larger scale. Like some of the recycling centers recycle paper, aluminum, tin, and other metals at a larger scale. Recycled raw materials are better than everyday raw materials because recycled raw material consumes lesser energy and other resources. Recycling also helps in reducing pollution. It can be the best way to reduce pollution at an individual level if we don’t litter around our surrounding and use products that can be recycled and reused.
The waste management of this city is systematic and efficient enough to make this city clean. There are residential areas from where the trash collecting trucks collect waste. Later, all the organic waste is separated to prepare organic fertilizer. These trucks empty the leftover waste into landfills. All those waste from the landfills which can neither be recycled nor can be used as fertilizers are sent to incinerators. This city's people are quite aware of their surrounding and try to keep their area clean. Even if any local finds out wrappers or other waste spread on the street, they take the responsibility of cleaning it themselves.
Work and Study Abroad
This city's education is excellent, including schools with great built-in infrastructure, and every school has well-qualified teachers. The pre-primary education of this city starts when the child reaches three years. When the child attains seven years of age, they are sent for primary education which is a nine-year program. When the child comes to the age of 16, they are sent for vocational education. This city's basic education is divided into three major parts: primary, lower secondary, and senior secondary.
There is a university in this city which is called the University of Tartu. This university is responsible for the entire student exchange program. To be a part of this program and study in this university, your university or college must agree or partner with the University of Tartu. It is a well-established program which offers you to explore the foreign city while studying.
Au pair jobs available in this city can help you stay in this city without spending on accommodation and food. Even the crime rate of this city is very less. It is a very responsible work as in the exchange of food and shelter you have to take care of the child. So, you need to be really careful while doing this work.
There are few organizations present in this city that offers volunteering work. Volunteering can provide a different experience in various fields. You can experience the ground-level issues of a town. You can explore about the culture of that place more efficiently while interacting with your team and the locals.