Travels with V

Estonia & Lithuania


Summer, bubbles and beach life

Estonia part three, Pärnu

From Viinistu we drive past Tallinn and further south-west until we reach the Baltic sea again in Pärnu. It’s one of Estonia’s largest cities, famous for its spas and baths. We’re in the high season and the place is a a little mad, half the country is probably here now. Especially on the long strip of sandy beach south of the city center. Beach volley tournaments are on here and bars and restaurants rub shoulders.
But it’s high spirits in the center too, the first thing we do is stumble into a champagne festival with tents offering cava, prosecco, local sparkling wine, and of course champagne. Well-dressed men and women mingle around and sip on the yellow bubbly liquid.


In Pärnu the summer epicenter is the beach. and it’s a fantastic beach, long and wide, with a shallow sea outside. People wading slowly through the small waves, and even more people strolling on the beach promenade. In the early evening groups of kids walk down there for their beach parties.

And there, at the center of the beach promenade we see the king of them all, the Rannahotell spa. When it first opened in 1937 it was one of the most luxurious stays in all Europe. The political elite and the super rich from all around were often guests here. But during and after WW2 it became first a German military holiday home and later a sanatorium. After the independence it was renovated and is now once again a posh spa hotel.


There’s an Old Town in Pärnu too, but quite small and not so special. But, as it should be in a summer holiday hotspot,  crammed with bars and restaurants, most of them with outdoor seating. We try an Israeli kitchen that is superb.
But the best place for food & drinks & relaxe is north of the centre, by the Pärnu river. Here, in an abandoned industrial area new places, small but modern have sprung up serving the city’s hipsters. One of them, a tapas bar called Baarcelona is super popular, we had to try twice before we could get a table there.

Pärnu was Swedish territory for some fifty years in the 16th century, and the swedes made  it  a star-shaped fortress, designed by the master architect of the times, Erik Dahlberg. Today only one of the star points exists, and beside it is an elegant gate called the Tallinn Gate. If you went through here you could take a ferry across the Pärnu River and continue by roads up t0 the capital.

In many ways Pärnu is a wounded city, not just because it was partly flattened by Soviet aircraft bombardment in the final year of WW2. Lots of houses are old and ill-kept wooden houses with barn-like storage in the back yard. It looks like something I remember from small Swedish towns in the 1950s. The houses look abandoned but obviously for some reason they are left sagging and rotting.

West of this part of Estonia there is a big archipelago and we’re now heading out to one of its islands . It’s very small, but the people living there have something that has earned them a glorious award by UNESCO. Find out what!

Top 5 in Pärnu:

  1. Baarcelona. A great tapas restaurant in the hip area by the river. You can’t reserve a table here so it can be difficult to get a seating on their nice veranda. 
  2. Frida in the Citi. Israeli restaurang with authentic middle east food. In the city centre, with outdoor and indoor seating. Here you can reserve a table.
  3. Pastoraat Café. Very popular for lunch or coffe and some delicious pastries. Not far from Frida in the Citi. Modern meals in a classical setting and fairly accessible, because most guest just have the coffe and pastry.
  4. Leivakas: Serve wood-oven baked pizzas definitely above average. Neighbours to Baarcelona, but with an outdoor seating facing a parking lot. 
  5. Kohvila: Also by the river, a café that has a few meals on the menu. Is highly appreciated by Tripadvisor and yes, it has got atmosphere. Live jazz when we were there. 
Resebloggar finns det gott om men vi har en lite annan tanke med våra berättelser. Vi vill främst beskriva våra upplevelser av udda platser, människorna vi möter och miljöer som är rätt annorlunda mot vad vi möter hemma.

Därför hamnar vi ibland i avlägsna indianbyar i Guatemalas berg eller bland andetroende bybor på en ö i Indonesien. Men också på mer kända platser som Machu Picchu i Peru eller sandstränderna i Goa. Allt sett genom våra ögon och kameror.

Den som vill ha restips får också sitt - varje resmål har en avdelning med sånt vi kan rekommendera. Eller undvika. Vårt fokus är framför allt att sporra er läsare att göra som vi - resa rätt ut i den vida världen.