Estonia travel guide
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.
45,228 sq km (17,462 sq miles).
1,251,171 (UN estimate 2017).
30 per sq km.
President Alar Karis since 2021.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas since 2021.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Estonia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Estonian Embassy in London.
Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel provider for changes.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to get treatment there.
Entry to Estonia
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Estonia.
Passport validity requirements
To travel to Estonia, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
To enter Estonia (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:
- have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
- have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave
Contact the Estonian Embassy in London if your passport does not meet both these requirements.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document, or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
Checks at border control
Make sure you get your passport stamped
If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Estonia). Border guards will use passport stamps to check you haven’t overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.
If your passport was not stamped, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.
Read about passport stamping if you live in Estonia.
At Estonian border control, you may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- prove that you have enough money for your stay – the amount varies depending on your accommodation
You can travel to countries in the Schengen area (including Estonia) 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
- 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 (for example, to work, study or for business) you will need to meet the Estonian government’s entry requirements. Check the guidance from the Estonian immigration authorities.
If you stay in Estonia with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check:
the latest information on health risks and what vaccinations you need on TravelHealthPro’s Estonia guide
where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Estonia. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
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. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
Restrictions on Russian vehicles
There are restrictions on vehicles with Russian licence plates in Estonia. See the Estonia Ministry of the Interior for more information.
Travel from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus
If you are arriving in Estonia from Ukraine, Russia or Belarus, you can check Estonian government information on the security situation.
You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
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 how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Estonia
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Estonia, attacks cannot be ruled out.
Pickpockets can be a problem in bars and nightclubs in Tallinn’s Old Town.
Laws and cultural differences
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
Do not use, buy or carry drugs: possessing even the smallest quantities can lead to up to 10 years imprisonment.
Same-sex relationships are legal in Estonia, and same-sex marriages will be recognised from 1 January 2024.
Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
You can drive in Estonia with a UK driving licence. You must have the original V5C vehicle registration document with you. Check for more details on the Estonian state portal. If you are planning to drive in Estonia, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC guide for Estonia.
Do not drink and drive. If you are tested and found to have more than a quarter of England’s legal limit of alcohol in your body, you may get a fine and possible imprisonment.
Do not hail unmarked taxis - they’re illegal.
Make sure the taxi has:
- a price list on the back window
- the driver’s licence in a visible place
- a working meter
You can also use apps like Bolt, Taxigo and Uber.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Estonia guide
where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Estonia
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Estonia.
There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Estonia.
Health insurance cards
Apply for 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 necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Estonia nationals. If you do not have your card with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.
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. A GHIC or EHIC 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.
GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any private treatment.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Estonia
Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Estonia
- dealing with a death in Estonia
- being arrested in Estonia
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis such as a terrorist attack
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
You can also contact FCDO online.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.