- Duration: 7,5 hours tour
- Activity level: moderate (bus and walking)
- Total walking distance: 1,5 km with many stops
Pärnu, the best known Estonian resort, is more than just a summer city. It is also a place for conferences, theatre performances and concerts. Besides being a resort, Pärnu is also a Hanseatic city, a harbour city and a university city.
However, the sleepy rhythm of Pärnu changes completely when the flag of the Estonian summer capital starts flying high on the summer equinox – life on the beach, dozens of festivals, night clubs and the big party crowd that have moved here. People say that if you haven’t seen your friends for some time, you will see them all in summer in Pärnu.
The city regains its sleepy atmosphere in autumn. Many people prefer this quiet Pärnu and spent an autumn
weekend relaxing in a spa with a conference or a trip to a cosy villa offering some peace and quiet.
When there is snow and ice, the yachts on the bay are replaced by ice-yachts and some skaters.
This tour takes you to the most important and interesting sights of Pärnu and gives a good overview of the town’s past and present.
You will see a white sandy beach, green parks, beautiful houses, the Pärnu river and Sauga river, the port and the oldest part of Pärnu, which was first mentioned in 1251.
Bus tour will be followed by a nice walk in Old Town.
We carry on through Rüütli shopping street. The Red Tower is a former prison tower built in the 15th century on the southeast corner of the city wall. The Mary-Magdalena Guild is filled with different craft and art shops. There you can buy local handmade souvenirs and see how they are made.
The Town Hall is located in a house built in 1797 by the merchant P.R. Harder. Nowadays, it is a Tourism Information Centre and an art gallery. St. Catherine’s Russian Orthodox Church is one of
the most stylish and richest baroque style churches in Estonia.
After sightseeing in Pärnu, we head to neighbouring Viljandi County. This county has played a leading role in Estonian history. The development of Viljandi County has been influenced by its beautiful and undulating terrain – the Sakala uplands.
The small town of Viljandi is one of the oldest in Estonia, having been founded in 1283. It was a Hanseatic town, and also boasted one of the key strongholds in Livonia. Situated on the shores of a beautiful lake, the town stands out for its diverse nature.
The stone castle that took the place of the former Estonian stronghold was built in 1224. Construction of the castle lasted until the early 16th century. Due to numerous wars, only a few stone walls remain of the former Order castle.
In order to access the castle hills from town a suspension bridge was built from Kaeuvumägi Hill over a 13-metre moat in 1931. The ruins of the fortress and the park around it have become a popular recreational area. We will take a short walk in the castle hills.
Viljandi is best known as a town of culture. It is home to the Folk Music Centre, the University of Tartu’s Viljandi Culture Academy, the Ugala Theatre, the Viljandi Puppet Theatre, museums and art galleries, international festivals, the annual Viljandi Folk Music Festival and more…
On our way back we’ll stop at Olustvere Manor, which is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved manors in Estonia. You can easily spot the manor – with its massive field stone outbuildings and long alleys lined with regal old trees – from afar. The mansion is the most authentic example of the English romantic style, drawing on the manor houses of the Middle Ages. The most imposing room in the building is the spacious two-storey vestibule, which boasts a valuable wooden balcony and staircase. The main founders of the manor complex were members of the famous noble family the Fernsens.
Today the manor house serves as the Olustvere School of Service and Rural Economics. The former outbuildings house several handicraft workshops: a smithy, a glassworks and bread and patchwork workshops.
The main building is surrounded by a stately English-style park with trees that are more than 200 years old. There are five spring-powered ponds in the park. But the true pearls are the small features of the park: an old well; pond bridges with iron chains; a picturesque distillery; and a stable for fattening bulls. All roads that head to Olustvere are lined with lime, oak and maple trees. There are around 8 km of alleys in total.
After lunch in the manor house we’ll take a walk in the park and explore the manor complex. You can buy beautiful handicraft items made in Viljandi County.
On our return trip to Pärnu we’ll drive though bog, forest, field 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.
The cost includes:
- A/C coach rent
- Guide services
- Entrance fee to Olustvere Manor
- 3–course lunch
- 00:00 Departure from Port of Pärnu. Pärnu sightseeing– walking in Old town and driving through beach district, some residential districts
- 01:30 Drive to Viljandi via Pärnu County (100 km)
- 02:45 A walk in the castle hills*, ca 0,5 km (uneven ground, suspension bridge)
- 03:30 Tour of Viljandi
- 04:15 Lunch at Olustvere Manor** (WC available). Exploring the manor, purchasing handicrafts and souvenirs
- 05:45 We start our return journey through natural landscapes – Soomaa National Park, small towns and villages (Suure-Jaani, Vändra, Tori and Sindi)
- 07:30 Return to Port of Pärnu
Length of journey: ca 220 km
*ca 30-minute walk in Viljandi castle hills depends on the weather and can be replaced with a coffee break. The park has uneven ground, a suspension bridge.
**ca 0,5-hour walk in Olustvere Manor and park
Olustvere Manor may be partially closed due to events.
Maximum group size: 40 people/per bus
Maximum number of groups: 2 buses
Minimum group size: 20 people