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Estonia

Estonia

Consider taking a cultural detour on your Nordic vacation to nearby Estonia, the most accessible part of the former USSR. Though its capital, Tallinn, is an easy boat ride from Helsinki and Stockholm, the nation is quite different from the Scandinavian countries. Tallinn boasts an evocative Old Town, as well as great restaurants, affordable shopping, and atmosphere in spades. Like its fellow Baltic countries, Estonia has an endearing pride in its uniqueness, and feels inspired by the prospects of an ever-brighter future.

Tallinn is a rewarding detour for those who want to spice up their Scandinavian travels with a Baltic twist. Since independence in 1991, its Old Town has been scrubbed into a pristine Old World theme park — a fascinating package of pleasing towers, ramparts, facades, striptiis bars, churches, shops, and people-watching. Among Nordic medieval cities, there’s none nearly as well-preserved as Tallinn, nor more dense with restaurants, cafes, and surprises — and the fun is comparatively cheap. Overlying all of that is the vibrancy of a free nation that’s just a generation old. Estonian pride is in the air…and it’s catching.

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