Though we will never tire of perennial favorites such as Italy, it gives us special joy to bring lesser-known wonders to the attention of our members. We know of few people who put Estonia near the top of their “must-see” list, but we frankly can’t wait to return to this unspoiled Baltic beauty. On Baltic cruises, Estonia’s evocative capital, Tallinn (pictured above in the reflection of a window), tends to receive a brief stop, giving passengers a taste of its intact fortifications, well-preserved medieval core, unique handicraft shops and chic fashion boutiques. Those fortunate enough to be staying overnight have more time to experience Tallinn’s fascinating small museums, growing contemporary gallery scene and lively nightlife. Nor is Tallinn a compromise for gourmands. Its vibrant café culture rivals that of any comparably sized city in the world, and traditional restaurants serve local treats such as elk tournedos and juniper cheese. The French/Estonian restaurant of the sophisticated
Three Sisters Hotel features a 3,000 bottle wine cellar. Watch for packages on our e-auctions web page, where a stay in the striking accommodations of the Three Sisters can be purchased for a significant savings. A four-night stay in Tallinn would be ideal, allowing time to explore the city center as well as make day trips to dramatic Lahemaa National Park and graceful Kadriorg Palace, a baroque jewel set within formal gardens and idyllic forest. Delve deeper and spend some time at the exquisite Padaste Manor, a pleasant two-hour drive and one-hour ferry ride from Tallinn. Tucked away on unspoiled Muhu Island, this lovingly restored 18th-Century estate would make a perfect ending to a Baltic itinerary. After a morning of easy biking around the traditional villages dotting the island, guests can indulge in the wonderfully unique spa, which features traditional treatments such as mud wraps and “baths” in newly mown hay. One ideal itinerary would combine St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Muhu Island, but there are numerous delightful ways to easily work Estonia into a vacation. However you get there, the time to go is now. Like Prague, Dubrovnik and Krakow, Tallinn won’t stay a secret forever.