FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Estonia

Estonia travel guide

About Estonia

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.

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.

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.

Information on COVID-19 for Estonia is available on the Estonian Crisis portal.

If vaccinated in Estonia, you should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities, obtaining test certificates and obtaining proof of your vaccination status.

Entry and borders

All travellers arriving in Estonia can enter the country without COVID-19 related restrictions.

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Estonia.

Returning to the UK

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

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 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 the Estonian Health Board website for up to date information in English about coronavirus in Estonia.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, the 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. 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.

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Estonia, you can get an EU Digital COVID-19 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.

Local travel

Travel from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus

If you have arrived in Estonia from Ukraine, Russia or Belarus and are in need of assistance, you should call + 00372 6674700 and select the option for “consular services for British nationals.” You can also send an enquiry via the web contact form.

You should read the Estonian government crisis website for information on the security situation in Europe and arrivals to Estonia from Ukraine.

Information on border crossing points into Estonia, including current waiting times for arrivals, can be found on the Estonian border crossing website.

Scheduled bus services operate across the Estonia/Russia border. Check the Tallinn coach station website for more information on schedules.

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.

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 state portal or from the Estonian Transport 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 UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September 2021 UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.

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 has information on travelling to Estonia. Check what you must do to return to the UK.

This page 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.

All travellers

All travellers arriving in Estonia can enter the country without COVID-19 related restrictions.

If you’re fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Estonia are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Proof of vaccination status

You don’t need to provide proof of your vaccination status for entry to Estonia.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Estonia are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year

Entry requirements for Estonia are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.

Children and young people

There are no specific requirements for children and young people.

If you’re transiting through Estonia

Transit through Estonia is permitted for all travellers.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

You should check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

If you are planning to travel to an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

Your passport must be:

  • Issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)

You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

Visas

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 are travelling to Estonia for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.

If you stay in Estonia with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Passport stamping

Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Estonia as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.

You may also need to:

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

If you are resident in Estonia, read our Living in Estonia guide for passport stamping information.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

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

Returning to the UK

Check what you must do to return to the UK.

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.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

Book a Hotel