Estonia – A romantic weekend in the south

What could be more enjoyable than discovering a new place with friends or your partner? Spend a long weekend or an entire week uncovering the hidden gems and natural wonders of South Estonia.

Tallinn may be considered one of Europe’s most charming cities, but South Estonia is the top destination for authentic romance and inspiring landscapes. Take the train to Tartu and relax as you watch the forests and fields roll by the window. In two hours, you’ll be in Estonia’s famous second city and the best starting point to explore South Estonia. 

Once you arrive in Tartu, drop your bags at one of the city’s top hotels. You may want to try Hotel Lydia, located right behind Tartu’s Town Hall. This central location makes it easy to get around town, but once you see their cozy underground spa and try their MICHELIN-listed restaurant, Hõlm, you may not want to leave! Luckily, one of Tartu’s most iconic — and romantic — winter sites is the famous Kissing Students statue in front of Town Hall. During the winter, a temporary ice rink surrounds the statue, so strap on your skates and take your partner for a whirl.

You can find Tartu’s largest park, Toome Hill, a short walk away. Once the center of medieval Tartu, this area has long been one of the city’s most important green spaces. The area near the cathedral is known as Kissing Hill — the perfect spot to stop and take in the view of the city.

Outdoor adventures and lovely landscapes

Rediscover your adventurous side with your partner during a trek into the snowy South Estonian nature. From Tartu’s train station, you can take a bus to Taevaskoja. From there, you can reach the striking Taevaskoda stone outcrop known as Heaven’s Halls, one of Estonia’s many mystical sites, said to be home to creatures like mermaids. Take a guided kick sledge trip along the Ahja River valley to hear about this enchanting place.

Do you and your partner love animals? Why not go for a hike with huskies? A dog sledge hike through the Emajõe-Suursoo bog, just east of Tartu, is one way to get up close and personal with these frisky pups.  A campfire and hot sauna will warm your spirit after the brisk trip.

It’s a fine time for a hike with a loved one. The days are getting longer, and you may be treated to a beautiful pink sky before a late afternoon sunset. The peace of the forest will help you feel closer to the natural world — and each other. Plus, the forest is the place to be if you’re looking for some alone time. With so many hiking trails to choose from, you probably won’t cross paths with many other hikers. If you choose the trails on this list, you’ll be able to warm up after your hike by the flickering light of a campfire. Bring a warm drink or something to roast over the fire, and enjoy a private winter picnic. 

If you’d rather stay close to nature than in town, try sustainable accommodations in South Estonia. Perhaps the most romantic option is a night of glamping in a unique bubble tent on the Ahja River. When the river isn’t frozen, these floating platforms can be towed into the middle of the river for the night. A cozy Igluhut on the grounds of a sustainable cidery is another option. Spend a day exploring the Onion Road (don’t forget a romantic tea for two at the Samovar House!) and the frozen contours of Lake Peipsi by day, and then warm up by a wood-burning stove inside a cozy tent. 

A table for two in Tartu

As a busy university town, there is always something going on in Tartu. It’s the month for Tasty Tartu, one of the city’s top food events. Restaurants offer a special three-course prix fixe menu throughout the month. You have the whole month to try new restaurants and find your new favorites. The head chefs do their best to surprise visitors and locals with interesting dishes, using as many local ingredients as possible.

Winter is also the perfect season to immerse yourself in Tartu’s cafe culture. The most romantic atmosphere and mouthwatering sweets can be found at Pierre Café & Chocolaterie or Café Krempel, while dining at Restaurant Fii and Joyce can make for an impressive gourmet experience. 

Unwind in a secluded spa

After a day full of new things, take some time to unwind in the company of your special someone at a luxurious spa hotel. V Spa in Tartu is inspired by ‘vitality,’ and its 11 different pools and hot tubs are sure to revitalize you. Pühajärve Spa and Holiday Resort near Otepää is tucked into a forest surrounded by lakes, the perfect setting for relaxation and romance. Try a health session with reiki or acupuncture, administered by skilled professionals, to melt away chronic stress and tension. You and your partner might never want to leave this holiday haven.

Near the border with Latvia, you can find Tõrva Veemõnula water and sauna centre, one of the newest water and sauna centres in South Estonia. Enjoy the view of snow-covered pine trees while relaxing in the jacuzzi or a drink on the terrace while you cool down after a sauna session. Nearby, you’ll find Wagenküll Hotel housed in an art nouveau castle. Reconnect with your partner over a calming sauna session and a glass of wine in the à la carte restaurant, an experience for true romantics.