Exploring Tartu, Estonia

Tartu, a University town and Estonia’s second largest city, is best known for its college town vibe and museums. The pretty square in front of the town hall and the adjacent side streets offer an atmospheric place to stroll, have dinner or grab a beer or coffee. Most of the buildings have been renovated and are painted in pastel colors that look great in the soft northern light. On the edges of old town, however, stand forgotten structures waiting to be redone.

While Tartu has a number of treed parks similar to what we’ve found in other Baltic cities, somehow here they aren’t as picturesque. Maybe it’s the lack of water features. Even the river is rather drab. On the plus side the parks and town boast numerous engaging bronze statues, often of a humorous nature or at least worth a second look.

University of Tartu Museum

Lonely Planet lists the University of Tartu Museum as the city’s top museum. (Note that this was before the new Estonian National Museum opened) Since the University Museum was just around the corner from our hotel we decided to take a spin through, even though I’m not much of a fan of small regional museums.

Aside from the 16th century cathedral ruins that butt up next to the museum I should have stayed home. The museum focuses on science and the lengthy history of the University. While some of the exhibits will be of interest for those who share those passions, other exhibits are only in Estonian and are difficult to follow without being able to read the text. This is a good museum to have a guide for if you are interested in the subject matter.

The cathedral ruin is a scramble up a tower (included in the museum ticket) with beautiful views overlooking the city at this time of year with the trees starting to change.

September 26, 2019

For links to all the posts in this series see the Baltics Road Trip page.