Transport inside Estonia
Driving in Estonia
Driving in Estonia is generally very relaxed. Due to the low population density, you will rarely come across busy traffic outside of Tallinn. Traffic jams are virtually non-existent.
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The rules are basically the same as in any other European country, but keep the following in mind:
- You are required to have your headlights switched on at all times
- The speed limit in built-up areas is 50kph, outside of those it is 90, unless otherwise signposted
- Traffic light cycles work as follows: Green (drive), green flashing (the light will soon turn orange), orange (stop if safely possible), red (stop), red + orange (the light will soon turn green), green (drive)
- Keep an eye on the side of the roads as there might be unpredictable wildlife deciding to cross the road
- If you are approaching a vehicle which is driving slower than you and he turns on his right indicator light without slowing down, it probably means he’s letting you know there is room for you to overtake him
- If a driver flashes his warning lights one or two times, he’s thanking you for being a gentleman. You can do this yourself if another driver has been friendly to you
- Many small places in Estonia do not have real addresses, so a GPS might not always be of much use. So it’s better to plan a trip in advance using (online) maps.
Most of the roads between bigger cities (signed with a white number in a red square) have high quality pavement. Also regional roads (black number in yellow square) are generally in good condition. Other roads may be of less quality and many of the very local roads are unpaved.
Intercity travel in Estonia
When you’re in Tallinn and you want to visit other cities in Estonia, you can choose between trains and buses.
Since January 2014 all domestic trains in Estonia are operated by Elron (formerly Elektriraudtee). They service all lines with brand new trains and have improved train travel a lot, providing higher frequencies and more comfort. The price also has gone up and now matches the price of bus tickets. Travel time between Tallinn and Tartu is less than the bus. On other lines it’s similar. You can buy tickets in the train and don’t have to book ahead. You can find timetables from Elron website.
There are many more buses than trains driving between cities in Estonia. There is a centralized schedules and booking system where you can book trips with all operators, which you can find at T-pilet.ee.
Local public transport in Tallinn
Tallinn has a pretty extensive network of buses, trams and trolleybuses transporting locals around town between roughly 6AM in the morning until midnight. Public transport is generally clean and very punctual, although that punctuality is mostly due to a low average speed.
You can find all timetables and route information from Tallinn’s website . You can use the Trip Planner and select start point and destination from a map or browse through schedules by clicking on a route number. You can always click the magnifying glass to see the route on a map, with realtime information about the current location of all vehicles.
Since January 2013, public transport is free for all residents of Tallinn. Other travellers who are not living in Tallinn still have to pay for their trips. There are a couple of possibilities you have:
- Tallinn Card: With the Tallinn Card you get free access to all museums in Tallinn as well as public transport during the time the card is valid
- Single tickets from driver: These tickets cost 1,60 euros and are valid for a single trip (so not for an hour or on another bus if you need to change)
- Uhiskaart “smartcard”: This card can be gotten from R-Kiosks which you’ll find all around town. You pay a deposit of 2 euros for it, which you can get back when you return the card at the end of your stay. You can load the card with money, or with specific tickets. You can for example charge a day ticket (3 euros), 3-day ticket (5 euros) or 5-day ticket (6 euros). More information on Tallinn’s website.
Regional transport in Estonia
Regional transport timetables and ticket information is very difficult to find, because there is no central source of information. You can find buses which go to Tallinn suburbs from Tallinn’s website and some other buses from T-Pilet.ee . You can also use the nation-wide route planner from Peatus.ee, which has the most extensive information on timetables, but the price of tickets will not be known until you board the bus. It’s usually around 2 euros for trips up to 20km.
Elektriraudtee (literally “Electric Railway”) provides some sub-urban and regional train services. If you want to visit Paldiski or take a walk in the forests of Aegviidu, this is a good choice for you.
Ferry traffic to the islands
People who really want to see all Estonia has to offer definitely should visit one of Estonia’s islands. Both Saaremaa and Hiiumaa (the two largest islands) are served with modern ferry’s with enough car capacity every hour. You can find these schedules and book a place in advance from Tuule Laevad. Booking ferry’s in advance is only needed in high summer and in case of events.