Home to the prestigious, 17th-century University of Tartu, the eastern Estonian city of Tartu is famous for being a lively university city with much to see and do. Dating back to the 11th century, Tartu is the oldest city in Estonia and features a charming Old Town and the pretty Town Hall Square lined with beautiful neo-classical buildings. Attractions in the town include the Kissing Students fountain, the ruins of the Tartu Cathedral, and the modern AHHAA Science Centre with its state-of-the-art 4D cinema. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Tartu, Estonia. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.AHHAA Science Centre
© AHHAA Science Centre
The AHHAA Science Centre is a science-based center and the biggest technology institution in Estonia. Established to promote science and technology, the center features over 170 hands-on, exhilarating, and sometimes unusual exhibits interactive and hands-on exhibits, including a vast planetarium and a state-of-the-art 4D Adventure Cinema. Signature exhibits include a mirror maze, the Hall of Nature, a Science Theater, and the Hall of Technology. The center also offers a variety of educational programs, workshops, and events throughout the year.
Sadama 1, 51004 Tartu, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-45-67-89
2.The Old Town
© David Johnston/stock.adobe.com
Tartu’s Old Town is the heart and soul of the town with a rich and long-standing history and is home to a wealth of old buildings, quaint cafés, and traditional restaurants. One of the most beautiful buildings in the area is the Town Hall, a distinctive neoclassical gem in a palette of pink and red built in 1789 that is currently the local seat of government. The building is also home to the local prison, which boasts a carillon that still chimes several times a day and keeps the locals perfectly on time. The Old Town is crisscrossed with narrow, pedestrian streets lined with striking medieval buildings that house cafés, restaurants, and bars, creating a bustling, lively vibe.
3.Tartu University Botanical Garden
Tartu University Botanical Garden is an arboretum that is home to more than 10,000 species and varieties of plants, including rare protected plants, decorative plants, desert plants, and rainforest flora. Established in 1803, the garden was designed by professional gardeners and biologists and is the oldest botanical garden in the Baltic States, and often hailed as one of the most beautiful gardens in the area. The outside part of the garden is free to the public, and the ticketed greenhouses boast a diverse variety of unusual and rare species.
Lai 38, 51005 Tartu, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-37-61-80
4.The Kissing Students Fountain
The Kissing Students fountain is one of the city’s most recognized symbols and a must for romantics visiting the city. Situated in the middle of the fountain on Raekoja Square, the statue was inspired by the artist, Mati Karmin’s nephew who kissed a girl in the rain and characterizes the romance and spontaneity of student life. A fountain has stood in the same place as the statue since 1948 and has long been a place that newlyweds and their guests have visited for luck, and the surrounding Raekoja Square regularly hosts festivals, markets, and events throughout the year.
Raekoja plats 1a, Tartu, Estonia
5.Tartu Toy Museum
© Tartu Toy Museum
Situated in the Old Town of Tartu, the Tartu Toy Museum is a nostalgic institution that takes visitors back to their childhood days and children into the world of one-of-a-kind handmade toys. The museum features an array of exhibits of traditional Estonian toys from different eras, including souvenir dolls of different nations, artist-made dolls, puppets from Estonian puppet films, and Finno-Ugric traditional toys. The museum also has several playrooms for children and a theater known as ’Teatri kodu’ with a performance hall, a museum of puppets, and a children’s studio. It also hosts a variety of educational programs and workshops throughout the year.
8 Lutsu, Tartu, Tartu maakond, 51006, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-46-17-77
6.Luke Manor and Manor Park
© Luke Manor and Manor Park
Luke Manor and Manor Park is a beautiful park outside of Tartu that features a beautiful Neo-Baroque and Heimat manor house dating back to 1557 and exquisitely manicured gardens. Located in Luke village, Nõo Parish, the picturesque Neo-Baroque park boasts stepped terraces on different levels with a diverse variety of plants, shrubs, and trees. The original manor house was destroyed during the Second World War in 1941, but the park is well worth a visit to see the beautifully restored stylish historicist gardener's house, spectacular gardens, and the magnificent concrete lion statues that line the staircases between the terraces.
Luke, 61614 Tartu County, Estonia, Phone: +372-55-68-90-96
7.Estonian National Museum
© Estonian National Museum
The Estonian National Museum is devoted to the history of Estonia, Estonian ethnography and folk art. and features an array of fascinating exhibits displaying items from folk culture and ancient weaponry. Founded in 1909, the museum is dedicated to folklorist Jakob Hurt, who was the most influential Estonian collector of his time and features fascinating collections of items gathered by Hurt in the latter part of the 19th century. The museum boasts a user-centered approach, engaging the audience with immersive exhibits and displays that share the life experiences of people through two permanent exhibition areas with exhibitions presented fully in Estonian, English, and Russian. The building in which the museum is located is viewed as a piece of conceptual art with a roof lifting towards 'infinite space' as a continuation of the surrounding airfield.
Muuseumi tee 2, 60532 Tartu, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-36-30-51
8.Vilde Ja Vine
© Vilde Ja Vine
Vilde Ja Vine is famous for its huge wine cellar and extensive selection of fine wines from around the world. Named after Estonian novelist Eduard Vilde, who can be seen chatting to Oscar Wilde in statute form just outside the restaurant, Vilde Ja Vine serves a blend of traditional and international cuisine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The restaurant features a spacious and comfortably furnished dining room on the first floor with beautiful views of the green slopes of Toomemägi and a large outdoor terrace for alfresco dining in the summer months.
Vallikraavi 4, 51003 Tartu, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-34-34-00
© Cafe Shakespeare
Cafe Shakespeare is a casual coffee shop and little eatery near the Vainemuine theater that offers an ideal spot for a pre-show dinner or post-show coffee and dessert. The restaurant serves an array of fresh seafood selections, sizzling steaks and chops, fresh salads and organic vegetables, and decadent desserts. A popular spot for lunch or post-theater dinner, Cafe Shakespeare is also an ideal place to go for a quiet, romantic dinner with a loved one. Cafe Shakespeare is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
6 Vanemuise, Tartu, Tartu maakond, 51003, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-44-01-40
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© Café Spargel
Tucked away on the first floor of Tartu Center for Creative Industries in the heart of bohemian Karlova, Café Spargel is a cozy and inviting gathering place for the local community to enjoy great food, wine, and conversation. The café reflects the surrounding melting pot of cultures and serves a range of traditional and international cuisine, along with casual wines, craft beers, local spirits, and classic cocktails. Café Spargel’s legendary lunch draws crowds, some of whom come from the other side of Emajõgi to tuck into the delicious cuisine.
13 Kalevi, Tartu, Tartu maakond, 51010, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-35-39-11
11.Tokyo Sushi Bar
© Tokyo Sushi Bar
Tokyo Sushi Bar is a contemporary Japanese restaurant that serves fresh handmade sushi, sashimi, and teppanyaki in a sleek, modern space. The restaurant is decorated in stylish décor and serves a menu of handmade sushi, seasonal tempura and California rolls, and an array of hibachi, sushi, sashimi, rolls, tempura, teppanyaki, and other fresh seafood dishes. Diners can watch the expert sushi chefs preparing specialty rolls at the open sushi bar, and a range of Japanese beverages such as sakes, Kirin beer, and plum wine.
5 Ülikooli, Tartu, Tartu maakond, 51003, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-40-12-18
12.La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita is a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant that serves traditional Italian fare and homemade gelato. The popular restaurant serves a creative menu of the freshest house-made pasta, the richest red sauces, hearty meat, and chicken dishes and decadent desserts, along with an inventive cocktail list. Sweet selections to end the meal include tiramisu, pannacotta, and homemade Italian gelato, and a carefully curated wine list is served with the cuisine. Décor is comfortable and cozy and the service is friendly and warm, and it is a great place for both lunch with friends and a romantic dinner.
10 Kompanii, Tartu, Tartu maakond, 51005, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-40-75-45
© Cafe Truffe
Cafe Truffe is an award-winning restaurant with contemporary dining spaces decorated in chic décor, a sublime menu of European-influenced cuisine and a world-class wine list. The elegant restaurant boasts an intimate and charming atmosphere and serves a menu of exceptional cuisine including fresh, locally caught seafood, prime meats and chicken, organic salads and vegetables, and handmade desserts prepared from scratch. An extensive wine list accompanies the cuisine, as well as classic cocktails made with imported spirits, and craft beers, and a summer terrace is perfect for alfresco dining in the warmer months.
16 Raekoja plats, Tartu, Tartu maakond, 51004, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-42-88-40
© Restaurant Antonius
Based on the first floor of the historic Antonius Hotel, Restaurant Antonius is elegant and luxurious and promises an exceptional fine-dining experience. Boasting a sophisticated dining space with painted ceiling, designer décor, and glass dome through which the sky can be seen, the restaurant exudes the ambiance of a five-star luxury ocean liner. One of the top restaurants in Estonia, Antonius offers a variety of world-class dishes prepared using locally sourced ingredients including fresh, locally caught seafood, prime meats and chicken, organic salads and vegetables, and handmade desserts prepared from scratch. An extensive wine list accompanies the cuisine, as well as classic cocktails made with imported spirits, and craft beers, and it is the perfect place for a romantic celebration.
15 Ülikooli, Tartu, Tartu maakond, 51003, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-37-03-77
15.Meat Market Steak & Cocktail
© Meat Market Steak & Cocktail
Meat Market Steak & Cocktail is a casual family-friendly restaurant that serves the finest cuts of aged steak, prime rib, and beef and handcrafted cocktails. Boasting comfortable décor with elegantly dressed tables and warm and welcoming atmosphere, the steakhouse serves a menu of thick house-butchered cuts of prime steaks, free-range chicken and pork, fresh seafood, and a range of vegetarian options. The full-service bar has an extensive menu of fine wines from around the world, which can be enjoyed by the glass or bottle, craft beers on tap or by the bottle, and handcrafted cocktails.
3 Küütri, Tartu, Tartu maakond, 51007, Estonia, Phone: +37-26-53-34-55
© Werner Café
Established over 120 years ago, Werner Café is a long-standing community gathering spot and a meeting point for spiritual people to enjoy fantastic coffee and homemade cakes. The cozy café serves a standard selection of espresso, and specialty coffee drinks, and tea, and a simple menu of hearty, homemade fare. The oasis of coffee offers a variety of standard drinks like americano, cappuccino, macchiato, and espresso, as well as various teas, and other hot and cold beverages, along with made-from-scratch food like toasted sandwiches, fresh salads, bakery-fresh bread, and sweet treats like homemade cakes.
Ülikooli 11, 51003 Tartu, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-42-63-77
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17.Cafe Anna Edasi
© Café Anna Edasi
Anna Edasi is a family-run café in the Karlova district of Tartu that serves simple food made from locally sourced Estonian raw ingredients. Established in 2010, the café is named after the great-grandmother of the owner, and is a family-friendly place where visitors can tuck into plates of homemade pancakes, fluffy omelets, fresh salads and soups, and a wide range of bakery and confectionery items. The coffee menu boasts a variety of standard drinks like americano, cappuccino, macchiato, and espresso, as well as various teas, and other hot and cold beverages, all of which are made using Fair-Trade coffee.
Tähe 20, 50103 Tartu, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-30-45-32
© Vladislav Nosik/stock.adobe.com
Kohvipaus Café is a casual neighborhood coffee shop that serves conscientiously sourced coffee beans from farmer-owned plantations around the world. The menu features a variety of caffeine-infused drink selections like americano, espresso, latte, cappuccino, pour-over, and a mouthwatering breakfast menu with freshly baked pastries, muffins, Belgian waffles, and sweet treats. The café offers complimentary wireless Internet and is an excellent place to catch up on some work or surf the net.
Estonia, Rüütli 8, 51005 Tartu, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-33-00-21
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Café Crepp is a French-inspired café that serves delightful French pastries made with all-natural ingredients and French fare made with locally sourced ingredients. The classic, old-fashioned Parisian-style café specializes in sweet and savory crêpes along with locally roasted and freshly brewed coffee and other hot drinks. It is an excellent spot for breakfast or lunch with a variety of delicious dishes made from scratch using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The café also serves a selection of coffee drinks from americano, latte, macchiato, and espresso to a range of teas, fresh juices, and the café is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
Rüütli 16, 51007 Tartu, Estonia, Phone: +37-27-42-21-33
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19 Best Things to Do in Tartu, Estonia
- AHHAA Science Centre, Photo: AHHAA Science Centre
- The Old Town, Photo: David Johnston/stock.adobe.com
- Tartu University Botanical Garden, Photo: Relay24/stock.adobe.com
- The Kissing Students Fountain, Photo: photofranz56/stock.adobe.com
- Tartu Toy Museum, Photo: Tartu Toy Museum
- Luke Manor and Manor Park, Photo: Luke Manor and Manor Park
- Estonian National Museum, Photo: Estonian National Museum
- Vilde Ja Vine, Photo: Vilde Ja Vine
- Cafe Shakespeare, Photo: Cafe Shakespeare
- Cafe Spargel, Photo: Café Spargel
- Tokyo Sushi Bar, Photo: Tokyo Sushi Bar
- La Dolce Vita, Photo: beats_/stock.adobe.com
- Cafe Truffe, Photo: Cafe Truffe
- Restaurant Antonius, Photo: Restaurant Antonius
- Meat Market Steak & Cocktail, Photo: Meat Market Steak & Cocktail
- Werner Cafe, Photo: Werner Café
- Cafe Anna Edasi, Photo: Café Anna Edasi
- Kohvipaus Cafe, Photo: Vladislav Nosik/stock.adobe.com
- Cafe Crepp, Photo: neillangan/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: borisb17/stock.adobe.com