Tartu – 3 Days in The Academic Capital of Estonia

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A small university town set in the middle of the Estonian forest; this is how best I can describe Tartu! But who says university town says student life, and student life means a very active city full of Estonians students and international exchange students energizing the city with life and party! So Tartu definitely packs a lot for such a tiny place.

A Small University Town

Tartu has been the go-to university for Estonians for centuries, and its reputations has attracted international students from all over the world. The Erasmus exchange program in Europe has influenced a lot of new arrivals, but also Asians looking for a great education for a fraction of the cost. I came in the middle of the summer so there weren’t that many students yet. Instead, I arrived with 3 festival being hosted at the same time, filling the streets with fanfare bands from around Europe, as well as the Tartu Movie Festival.

The city is very peaceful, being set on a river where most life happens between the main square and two parallel streets! Parks fill the city and the best one is definitely Toomemae Park where lies the remains of the Tartu Cathedral.

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Is a visit to Tartu worth 3 days, as I have done? Probably not, if you are looking for activities. But if you are looking for a peaceful stay and enjoy cafes and student bars filled with student life, you will like what Tartu has to offer.

Best 2 Days Itinerary in Tartu

Start the day with breakfast on a terrace at Raekoja Plats. This is the center of town and where most things happen. Walk down Ruutli street, the main pedestrian artery of Tartu and make it to the River Park. Cross Kaarsild bridge to Ulejoe Park and make the loop back to the old town crossing the other bridge on Narva Maantee Street. If you feel like shopping, now is the time with 3 big malls next to each other, Tartu Kaubamaja being the biggest. Back towards the Old town on Ulikooli, grab some lunch before spending the afternoon exploring the pleasant Toomemae Park. After strolling around, walk to the ruins of the Tartu Cathedral, and visit the Museum of University History to understand how Tartu played an important role in the academic world. Coming back after going around the park and seeing its statues and the sacrificial stone, cross the Angel Bridge on your way down. Have dinner around the old town (see my recommendations below).

On the second day, Start by visiting the Botanical Gardens of Tartu. Continue the visit to St-Johns Church where you can climb the tower for the best views of Tartu. If you are into beer, you can try Estonian’s favorite beer museum, the A Le Coq Beer Museum, or simply pay a visit to the Estonian National Museum. Another good option is the 19th Century Tartu Citizen Home Museum.

River in Tartu

Top 10 Things to do in Tartu

  • Tartu Cathedral
  • St-Johns Cathedral & Tower View
  • Botanical Garden
  • Toomemae Park
  • Kaarsild Bridge
  • Sacrificial Stone
  • Raekoja Plats
  • Ulikooli Street
  • 19th Century Tartu Citizen Home Museum
  • A Le Coq Beer Museum

Top Rated and Recommended Cafes in Tartu

  • Teaduskeskus AHHAA
  • Werner
  • Sade
  • Aparaat
  • La Dolce Vita

Top Rated and Recommended Restaurants in Tartu

  • Werner
  • Aparaat
  • La Dolce Vita
  • Umb Roht
  • Krempel
  • Kohvik-resto
  • Pahupidi
  • Myitaly toidustuudio
  • Kolm Tilli
  • Crepp

Tartu In Pictures

Early August Autumn in Tartu with leaves falling

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