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Tartu is Estonia's second largest city, and the oldest city in the Baltics. This historic old town is an often overlooked location, but definitely worth seeing. Located in southern Estonia, Tartu is 181km from Tallinn and easy to reach by train or bus.
The Old Town exudes an ancient charm and particularly attractive is the panoramic view from the top of Toome Hill. Here you can walk under the romantic Angel's Bridge and it's twin, Devil's Bridge, and truly take in the cultural spirit of the city. You will love exploring this magical city on foot and don't forget to make time to visit the Old Anatomical Theatre and the Old Observatory, where the world's best telescope belongs.
You can easily get to Tartu city centre from Tartu Airport via taxi. However, if you plan on travelling from Tallinn, Estonia's largest city, the easiest routes are either by bus or by train.
Trains for Tartu depart from Tallinn train station 3-4 times a day and takes 2 hours. The train station is located outside of Tallinn Old Town and is a comfortable journey.
The bus between Tallinn and Tartu leaves almost every 30 minutes, from 5.45 until 23.59 every day. Tickets cost roughly €10 and can be purchased from either the ticket office inside of the bus station, or from the driver. The bus can take between 2.5 hours to 3 hours, depending on traffic.
The first mention of Tartu dates back to the year 1030 and at that time, the city probably consisted of only a few wooden fortresses! It was not until the year 1224 that the temporal principality of the Bishopric of Dorpat was established, encompassing what is now Tartu County, Põlva County, Võru County and Jõgeva County in Estonia.
A visit to the Cathedral of Tartu, the historic university with its many outbuildings or the Arched Bridge is also definitely worthwhile. During a walk through the beautiful parks and old streets of the city you come back almost automatically to the Town Hall Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you can relax in one of the many cafes or restaurants and enjoy the sun.
Today, Tartu is a typical student city with all amenities and rich in culture. In 2004, about 18,000 students studied here at the prestigious 17th-century University of Tartu, which has clearly shaped the cityscape. Depending on your taste and preferences, there are plenty of wonderful things that you can see and do in Tartu, starting with a historic journey in the Old Town and finishing with drinks in the best bars and nightclubs.
Top attractions in Tartu include the famous Kissing Students fountain, the beautiful Botanical Garden located in Tartu University grounds and the AHHAA Science Centre - deemed the largest technology centre in the Baltic states. There are hundreds of exhibits on display, including a huge planetarium and a 4D cinema.