- Duration: 7,5 hours tour
- Activity level: moderate (bus and walking)
- Total walking distance: 2 km with many stops
Pärnu, the best known Estonian seaside resort, is much more than just a place for summer holidays. Pärnu is also a Hanseatic and university city with a busy year-round schedule of conferences, performances and concerts.
During the summer months, when the flag of the Estonian summer capital flies high over the beach, visitors experience bustling life on the beach, dozens of festivals and events, and music to cater for all tastes. Estonians say that if you haven’t seen your friends for a while, you will almost certainly meet them in Pärnu in summer.
In autumn and winter, many people appreciate the quieter face of Pärnu and spend a weekend relaxing in one of the many spas combining it with a conference, or find a cosy villa offering a bit of peace and tranquillity.
When there is snow and ice, yachts and surfers on the bay are replaced by iceboats, skaters and fishermen.
This tour takes in the most important and interesting sights of Pärnu, giving a good overview of the town’s past and present including the sandy beach, green parks, beautiful houses, both the Pärnu and Sauga rivers, the port and the oldest part of Pärnu, which was first mentioned in 1251.
The bus tour will be followed by a walk in the Old Town, taking in Rüütli shopping street, the Red Tower, the town’s only surviving medieval tower (on the southeast corner of the city wall) and the Maarja-Magdaleena Guild. The Guild building is filled with art and craft workshops where you can buy local handmade souvenirs and witness their making process.
Passing the Town Hall, built in 1797 by merchant P. R. Harder and accommodating the Tourism Information Centre and an art gallery today, the tour arrives at St. Catherine’s Orthodox Church, one of the most stylish and ornate Baroque style churches in Estonia.
After a sightseeing tour in Pärnu, we head to the countryside and visit Kurgja Farm Museum first.
„Seldom have I seen a place as picturesque as Kurgja. It is in the midst of woods, on both banks of the Pärnu River…” C. R. Jakobson wrote to his future wife in 1874.
Jakobson wished his Kurgja farm to become an example for other farmers. Farm buildings were constructed on the basis of his designs, and in 1875–1880 a sauna, beehive house, watermill and cattle shed were built. The residential building with an interesting design was completed only after Jakobson’s death.
The museum is special due to having an operating farm with animal husbandry and land cultivation. Local Estonian breeds of cows and horses, white headed sheep, rabbits, roosters, hens and turkeys are a true feast for the eye.
In Kurgja you can see a cross-section of Estonian history – farming of the 19th century, taste local foods, most of which are cooked from the farm’s own produce and bread, baked in an old mill stove.
After Kurgja we head to neighbouring Viljandi County, which has played a leading role in Estonia’s history. The small town of Viljandi is one of the oldest in the country, founded in 1283. It was a Hanseatic town, and also boasted one of the key defensive castles in Livonia. Situated on the shores of a beautiful lake, the town also stands out for its diverse scenery. Viljandi is well famed for its cultural activities and is home to the Estonian Folk Music Centre, the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy, Ugala Theatre, museums and art galleries, the annual Viljandi Folk Music Festival and more…
We will take a short walk in the castle hills to see the ruins of the medieval castle and enjoy the view of the lake below.
On our return trip to Pärnu we will drive through bog, forest and river landscapes that are characteristic of the Pärnu Lowlands. We will also pass by a number of small towns and villages: Suure-Jaani, Vändra, Tori and Sindi.
NOTE: Order of sights visited may vary and the itinerary may be reversed.
- A/C coach rent
- guide services
- refreshments in bus
- entrance fee to Kurgja Farm Museum
- 2-course lunch
- 00:00 Departure from the port of Pärnu. Pärnu sightseeing: a walk in the Old Town and a bus tour
- 01:30 Drive to Kurgja Farm Museum
- 02:30 Exploring the farm* (ca 600m, some stairs, uneven ground)
- 03:30 Lunch at Kurgja (WC available)
- 04:30 Departure to Viljandi
- 05:30 Tour of Viljandi, a walk in the castle hills**, ca 0.5 km (uneven ground, suspension bridge
- 06:30 Return journey through natural landscapes – Soomaa National Park, small towns and villages
- 07:30 Return to the port
Length of journey: ca 220 km
*ca 50-minute walk in Kurgja..
**ca 30-minute walk in Viljandi castle hills depends on the weather and can be replaced by a coffee break. The park has uneven ground, a suspension bridge.
Maximum group size: 40 people/per bus
Maximum number of groups: 2 buses
Minimum group size: 20 people