While Tallinn’s old town provides an enchanting time-warp, if you’re visiting Estonia and want to get out of the city to see an alternative side of the area then here are a few lesser-known options. As each place is quite far from the next, you will either need to hire a car for the day or join an organised day tour. I decided to do a day trip with Traveller Tours and had a wonderful experience.
1. Keila-Joa Manor House and Waterfall
Built by a German aristocratic family on banks of the Keila river in 1833, the neo-gothic manor house and surrounding walking paths provide a beautiful place to relax on a sunny day.
Just up stream you’ll find a wide waterfall- touted as Estonia’s most romantic. In winter the waterfall often freezes over, creating a beautiful icy curtain.
2. Padise Abbey and Manor house
In the 14th century, monks who had been dispossessed from their Latvian Dünamünde Abbey founded this Cistercian Monastery. Over the years it became a fortress and then a country house in the 18th century. Now, abandoned ruins are all that remain.
Like most places in Estonia, you have free reign to explore the site, including the musty dirt-floor cellars and high tower, reached by old wooden and stone steps.
3. Rummu Sunken Prison
Rummu quarry was formed in the late 1930s, with prisoners from nearby prisons used in the excavation of limestone until the 1990s. To stop flooding, groundwater was pumped out during the quarry’s operation. However, after it’s closure the water built up to form a lake, submerging part of the utility buildings and machinery.
The quarry is not accessible to the public as it is now private property. However, tour companies do offer diving and kayaking in the lake during summer, and day tour options in colder months. By far my favourite alternative site!