- 1 Narva – Estonia's eastern-most and third largest city, on the Narva River, which is the border with Russia. Famous for the Hermann castle, right opposite of the Ivangorod's castle, and the Kreenholm factories. Even though it might seem grey and dull.
- 2 Narva-Jõesuu – The beach side town on the Narva River near Narva.
- 3 Jõhvi – The capital of the county, but rather uninteresting from a travellers point of view.
- 4 Sillamäe – A beautiful coastal town in the east and formerly closed city with the best ensemble of Stalinist architecture in the entire Baltics. Built after the war with an uranium processing plant, successfully redesigned after Estonia's independence.
- 5 Mustvee – A cozy fishing village at Lake Peipsi.
- 6 Toila – A small coastal and historic resort town.
- 7 Kohtla-Järve – A large concentration of industrial settlements with Soviet architecture, and inter-war architecture of the independent Estonia. Also, a quite unique Orthodox church of the 1930s, in the style of Cubism, and a shale mine and museum in the nearby Kukruse village.
- 8 Kuremäe – Contains the famous Pukhitsa convent/nunnery, the only Orthodox monastery in the whole of Estonia.
- 9 Püssi – A poor but now recovering town with an interesting artificial mountain made of ash from its oil shale power plant, which has been depositing ash in the location since the 1930s.
- 1 Kurtna (south-east of Jõhvi). A lake district with a pre-revolution manor in Kurtna village, and east of it a forest and lake area with well done touristy hiking trails.
East Estonia corresponds to the Ida-Viru county. This region includes the far eastern Estonia between the shores of the Baltic Sea and Lake Peipsi. Russians make up 71% of the population and Estonians 20%. There are relatively few historic sights here, but, unusual for Estonia, many Soviet architectural and industrial remains of varying degrees of abandonment.
Lake Peipsi is located between Russia and Estonia, and the fourth largest lake in Europe. It is nice for swimming at the beautiful dune beaches on its northern side. The rest of the lake is mostly a swamp. The tourism of the lake's northern side is relatively developed – free campsites, very well maintained, and overlooking the beach. On weekends in summer, many Estonians put up their campsites around the lake.
From Tallinn, the region is a little over an hour by car, and 2-3 hr by bus or train. Buses from Tallinn to Narva go on average every hour and usually make intermediate stops in Kohtla-Järve, Jõhvi, Sillamäe.
Travelling from Saint Petersburg, this will be the first region of Estonia you will arrive in.
Trains are infrequent – between Tallinn and Narva the trains run twice a day, making stops in Kiviõli, Püssi, Jõhvi and at Kohtla-Nõmme station.
Most villages, towns and cities are connected by regular bus services. Smaller places are often only served in the morning or noon, and late afternoon (17/18:00). Cities generally have buses up to 21:00. Make sure, you do not miss the last bus.
Bus and train schedules are easily available online – read more under Estonia#Get around.
- 1 Valaste Waterfall (Located along the Ontika cliff - around 10 km north from Jõhvi.). The Valaste waterfall is most impressive in early spring; then, the winter snow is melting and volume of cascading water is greatest. During winter the waterfall freezes and forms fairy-tale like ice sculptures. In 1997, a platform for tourists was built opposite the waterfall. There is a car park, some explanatory signs and a trail using a double spiral staircase to get down the cliff.
- 2 Northern coast of Lake Peipsi. Quiet and remote. Optimal in summer when the Baltic Sea is overrun by tourist.
History and museums
- 3 Shale mines and museum, Lehe 10a, Kukruse, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–F 10–18:00, Sa 10–16:00. An interesting exhibition about the origin of the oil shale, the history of its extraction and its modern use. All this fits in one large hall, many stands of which have remained since Soviet times and are cute handwritten inscriptions. The second hall is hung with paintings showing the work of miners and other workers in the oil shale industry. It might seem naive, but still nice. Do not miss to talk to the caretakers – they are happy to tell about the past and present of Kohtla-Järve. €2 (2013).
- 4 Shale mines and museum, Kohtla-Nõmme, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 11–19:00.
- 5 Ash Mountain (Tuhamägi). The highest ash mountain in the Baltic. The ash is from a oil shale power plant, which has been depositing ash here since the 1930s. Nowadays, the mountain is used for motocross.
- The grave of Kalevipoeg (In the forest 7 km south of Kuremäe. 2-3 times a day, mostly on weekends, a bus runs from Jõhvi to Agusalu. In the rest of the time, you will have to search for appropriate transport starting from Kuremäe.). The legendary hero of the Estonian epic poetry fought somewhere in these local forests. There was a rumour that in the tomb of Kalevipoeg unimaginable treasures are hidden. So, cunning seekers turn over a lot of soil in the surrounding forests and thereby damaging the Iron Age burials. So, the actual grave is probably lost forever. Hence, on one of these places and a symbolic stone was.
Castles and manors
- 6 Purtse Castle (Purtse vasalinnus) (It is difficult to get here by bus, but you can take an intercity bus stopping at the Purtse stop, the turn off the road #1 to the left onto Route 119, passing several kilometres. But it is easier to go there by your own car.). Summer: M–Th 11–20:00, F–Sa 11–21:00, Su 11–18:00; Winter: only on weekends. Unlike all other neighbourhoods, this castle really deserves your visit. Built in 1421, the manor was turned into a real castle in 1533. It belonged, besides others, to Henrik Fleming, Jacob von Thauve – who the castle, Berend von Tobe, and Jacob de la Gardi. The castle was burned and consequently rebuilt several times. During the Northern War, some of its towers were destroyed. Afterwards, it became property of the von Stackelbergs, who combined it with the Püssi manor. After Estonia's independence, the castle became public property, but was destroyed by the 1950s. Between 1987-1990, under the guidance of Madi Nappa, the architect of Inna Comoni and doctor of the University of Turku Willem Raam, the ancient building was fully restored. And in 1991, it was recognized as the best Estonian building.
For visiting there are two floors available with stone stairs and rather unremarkable interior. The atmospheric restaurant on the ground floor serves original dishes in a medieval style. Quite unexpectedly exquisite for such a remote location, and thus not inexpensive (€5-6 per soup, ~€15 for hot dishes). FB. €1.
- 7 Maidla Manor (Maidla mõis), Mõisa 1, Maidla (Located in the village of the same name, south of Kiviõli. Reached by bus, car, or even on foot from Kiviõli if you long to go by Maidla road.). The village itself is also very old, first mentioned in 1241. However, the only evidence of it is the manor. Although, the first mentioning of the manor dates back to 1465, the present Baroque building was erected between 1764-1767 by the architect Djurshmidta (Durschmidt). Since 1925, it has been operated as a school. So, it is not worth to get inside. But take pictures from the outside unlimitedly – the building is very beautiful.
- 8 Erra Manor (Erra mõis), Puiestee 13, Erra (Located in the village of Erra just north of Kiviõli, by foot or by car.). This manor was built in 1547 and belonged first to the von Essen, and afterwards to the von Courcelles. In the 1980s/1990s, the building was completely destroyed and looted. Now, only dull ruins remains.
- 9 Püssi Manor (Püssi mõis), Kiviõli tee 23, Lüganuse. The majestic manor is now also owned by the Luganuse School. It consists of two houses formerly for farm labourers, a court house, a barn and a distillery. In addition, there is a small museum in the manor, dedicated to the history of its educational background, which began in the 1920s.
- Iluka Manor (Iluka mõis), Illuka (on the road from Jõhvi, 5 km before Kuremäe), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A large and beautiful manor house of the late 19th century with neo-Gothic elements.
- 10 Pagari Manor (Pagari mõis), Pagari (12 km south of Jõhvi, on the way to Tartu). A pretty and preserved manor house mainly of wood; a barn, a cellar, the remains of a windmill, and a picturesque landscape park.
- 11 Mäetaguse Manor (Mäetaguse mõis), Pargi 2, Mäetaguse, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A classic manor house of the late 18th century turned into a country spa hotel.
- 12 Kukruse Manor (Kukruse mõis), Kukruse küla 20, Kukruse, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 13 Järve Castle (Järve kindluselamu).
- Beaches and resort towns of the northern coast of Lake Peipus and at the Baltic Sea
- 1 Aidu Water Sports Centre (Aidu veespordikeskus) (South of Kiviõli. Only really reachable by car. The nearest village is the unremarkable Aidu-Liiva.). The former shale quarry has been transformed into an active recreation centre on the water, which includes a rowing channel for paid canoeing, the only such site in Estonian, independent rowing and diving. Everything must be ordered in advance. Sometimes, there are rowing competitions here.
In the following a list of various accommodation options in the region worth mentioning and outside of the above covered cities, towns, and parks:
- 1 Avinurme Hostel (Teenus OÜ), Võidu 8, Avinurme, ☏ . Remote but lovely. Single from €17.
- 2 Remniku Holiday Centre (Lake Peipus central north coast), ☏ . Great location at Lake Peipus. Dorm from €12.
- Niinsaare Recreation Center (Niinsaare puhkekeskus), Konsu küla, Illuka Vald, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Highly rated sport complex accommodation with sauna and other convenient amenities. Single from €20, tent place from €5.
- 3 Raja Country House (5 km north of Iisaku), ☏ . If you prefer a stop on the way between Tartu and Narva, or if Mustvee is full. Holiday home for 1 person from €15.
- 4 Tuhamäe Hostel, Mäepealse tee 2, Kiviõli (on the very outskirts of Kiviõli, 50 m from the slopes of the Kiviõli Adventure Tourism Centre), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The furniture in the rooms is quite decent. There are showers, windows and balconies, from which you can see the Cossack mountains. Single from €32.
The region is known for industrialisation, but also poverty, unemployment and abandoned properties, and a larger Russian population. Hence, keep track of your property, do not walk alone at night, and do not behave in any provocative way. Crime has increased slightly in the past.
- North Estonia – Famous for the financial centre of the country, Tallinn, and the Lahemaa National Park.
- South Estonia – Famous for the intellectual hub, ancient city and university town Tartu, and many picturesque town like Viljandi.