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A cobblestone path and old wooden houses in Viljandi

Viljandi is an ancient hilly city in the South of Estonia. Evidence of civilization around Viljandi dates back to 500 B.C.. The first written record of a "Viljandi stronghold" was in 1154 in the commentaries to al-Idrisi's world atlas "Geography." Hanseatic merchants settled in Viljandi in the 14th century.

For many people Viljandi conjures up images of the Viljandi Folk Music Festival and Viljandi Culture Academy. This small city is the "capital of folk music" for most Estonians and also appeals to people who enjoy parks. The city also has its own lake.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Viljandi has a regular bus connection to Tallinn, Tartu, Valga and Pärnu among others. Bus schedules can be found at Tpilet.

By train[edit]

Elron connects Viljandi to Tallinn - the trains run at least four times per day.

Get around[edit]


  • Ruins of the Viljandi Order CastleTasuja puiestee. The fortress got its final shape and size in the beginning of the 16th century and was one of the most distinguished fortresses in Estonia and Latvia. Due to various wars, all that are left from the entire order castle today are just a few stone walls, however they still give an impression of its former grandeur. From the ruins you have the most beautiful view over the lake of Viljandi.
  • Trepimägi (Stairs hill)Linnu tn 2. The stairs of the Trepimägi in Viljandi were constructed around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in order to improve the road connecting the town and the lake. Next to the Trepimägi lie the beautiful homes of the town’s merchants and rich residents from the old days.
  • Väikemõisa manorVäikemõisa bussipeatus, Peetrimõisa küla, Saarepeedi vald. The Väikemõisa manor was build in the beginning of the last century and is a good example of the Swiss chalet style influenced by the art nouveau movement. Today the manor house accommodates the Väikemõisa young children's orphanage and the house can be marvelled at from the outside only.
  • St. Paul’s church in ViljandiKiriku tn 3. Since 1866 a G. Knauf organ fills the church with music, the biggest still functional organ of its kind in Estonia.
  • Heimtali Museum of Domestic LifeHeimtali küla, Pärsti vald. Museum situates in an old village school building of Heimtali that is a beautiful rubble stone building from year 1864. Visitors can familiarize themselves with perfect collection of the examples of national handicraft like old household goods and the furnishings of a hundred year old schoolroom. There's also a children's playroom.
  • Viljandi Rope Bridge. The rope bridge has become a favourite for both residents of and visitors to Viljandi and one of the town’s most important symbols. It was reconstructed in 1995 (originally built in 1879).
  • The Museum of ViljandiJohan Laidoneri plats 10. The building of the Museum of Viljandi is one of the oldest stone buildings in town. Until 1940 the house accommodated a pharmacy, the museum moved into this building in 1942. The permanent exhibitions of the museum provide an introduction into the local history from ancient times until today.
  • Town hall of ViljandiLinnu tn 2. The town hall building is one of the four oldest preserved stone buildings in town. The city government of Viljandi resides here.


Tennis courts, cafes, playgrounds, a diving tower, boat rental and catamaran trips are available at the lake.


Viljandi hosts many events and several international festivals throughout the year. The Early Music Festival, Hanseatic Days, Young Dance Festival, Mulgi Rally, Winter Folk Dance Festival, the "Theatre in Suitcase" puppet theatre festival etc.

Hanseatic merchants' spirit can still be felt in Viljandi every June. People trade at a fair, dress the way people did in that era, organise exhibitions and party.

Since 1928, a run around Lake Viljandi has taken place on the first day of May every year.

  • The Viljandi Folk festival. The festival runs for 4 days on the last weekend in July. More than 100 concerts take place in Viljandi castle's ruins, churches, and other venues throughout Viljandi County. It is the largest annual music festival in Estonia.



  • Roheline Maja Pood ja KohvikKoidu 2 (intersection of Tartu and Koidu, in Viljandi's old quarter),  +372 56 637 407. It is a lovely cafe and grocery focusing on natural/organic foods. Owned by an Estonian-American and his Estonian wife, and located in a converted house of traditional Estonian architecture, it is warm and homey, brightly painted with many polished wood accents. The dining area was expanded in Spring 2012. Daily features include hearty soups and freshly baked breads, rolls and pastries. A small but thoughtful selection of 'green' groceries and personal care products is available (Estonians generally use the word 'ecological' to express this distinction). This cafe is a very popular lunch stop for Viljandi's arts community. The daily menu is posted to Facebook.





Go next[edit]

  • Soomaa National Park, second largest national park in Estonia, famous for its "fifth season"
  • Valga, border-town in South-Estonia
  • Pärnu, historical resort seaside city with a small harbour, Estonia's summer capital
  • Tartu, museum-rich and hanseatic city of Tartu on the banks of the Emajõgi River, famous for its university

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