Tartu (formerly Dorpat and Yuryev) is the second largest city in Estonia. It is called a museum, Hanseatic and the oldest city of the Baltic countries (the first mention dates back to 1030). Tartu is considered the intellectual capital of Estonia, and with good reason. In 1632, the University of Tartu was founded here – one of the oldest in Northern Europe.
According to simplyyellowpages, Tartu Tourist Information is located at Raekoja plats, tel. +372 744 21 11, fax +372 744 21 11.
There are rumors that there is a “Tartu ghost” in the city. His favorite place of deployment is the Supilinn (“Soup City”) district, on Toome Hill.
How to get there
Daily bus trips connect Tartu and Tallinn (6-12 EUR, 2.5-3.5 hours on the way). Departure every 15-30 minutes from 6 am to midnight.
Also every day there are buses to Haapsalu (from 5 EUR, 4.5 hours), Narva (7-9 EUR, 3-3.5 hours), Pärnu (5-9 EUR, 2-3 hours), Riga (on the way 4 hours, from 12 EUR), St. Petersburg (about 20 EUR, 8 hours). International flights are operated by Eurolines. Tickets can be bought at the office at the bus station (address: Soola tanav 2).
Tartu railway station is located 750 m west of Toomemagi (address: Vaksali tanav 6), tickets are sold on the trains. Every day 4 trains depart to Tallinn (10-12 EUR, 2.5 hours), one to Elva (1-2 EUR, 50 minutes), which then follows to Valga (about 5 EUR, 1 hour).
It is comfortable to move around the city on foot, in addition, buses run, you can rent a bicycle. The central city bus stop is opposite the Kaubamaja store, on Riia maantee.
Bicycles can be rented from the Jalgratas office (Laulupeo 19, from 14 EUR per day), which is located in the Tähtvere Hostel. You can rent a car to take the Tartu information office, you can look at City Car (Jõe 9a) and Sixt (Ulikooli 8) on your own, which are within walking distance of Barclay, although they are not considered the most budget rental offices in the city.
Entertainment and attractions in Tartu
The Old Town of Tartu is full of cozy cafes, authentic shops and all sorts of attractions. The central place among the latter is played by the town hall square in the style of early classicism and the Town Hall located on it (1767). For centuries, this place was the center of the city, the main trading square, connecting the ancient settlement on the Toome hill and the river port. In the Middle Ages, the Town Hall building appeared here, which has not survived to this day. The modern City Hall is already the third on this site. In addition to the architectural ensemble, the square attracts attention with an abundance of entertainment: it is here that festive events are held, tourists relax, and locals arrange dates.
The second most popular place in the city is Toomemägi Hill (in Toome Park) and the ruins of the Peter and Paul Dome Cathedral (13-15 centuries). The majestic Gothic cathedral crowns the ancient settlement – the place where Tartu was founded. It is believed that this temple was the largest in the entire Baltic, but during the Reformation and the Livonian War of the 16th century, it suffered a sad fate – it was badly damaged. The altar part was later rebuilt as a university library, and later the Museum of History was opened. Directly in the park today they like to have picnics, walk with children and just enjoy the fine days.
The towers of the Dome Cathedral (Lossi tn 25, Tartu, Tartu maakond 51003, tel.: +3727375674, opening hours Wed-Sun from 11:00 to 17:00, admission 3-4 EUR) are open to visitors from May 1 to September 30. From the two observation decks of the towers, a beautiful view of Tartu and the surrounding area opens up.
The 14th century St. John (Jaan) Church is another medieval monument of Tartu architecture, which is considered the most valuable among the rich heritage of Estonia. Not least due to the amazing elegant design of the temple: outside and inside the church is decorated with numerous decorative details made of terracotta – baked clay. Initially, there were more than a thousand such elements, much less survived to ours.
The building of the University of Tartu is an important architectural dominant around which the city was built. It dates back to 1630, when the first gymnasium was opened in Tartu (then Dorpat), which was soon transformed into a university. Finally, the various educational museums of the city, the building of the Old Anatomycum (1803-1805) and the observatory attract attention.
Not far from Tartu are: the churches of the Old Believers on the shores of Lake Peipus, the Alatskivi castle, the observatory on the Tiravere hill, the Estonian Aviation Museum and the Estonian Museum of Agriculture.
- What to see in Tartu in half a day
Aquapark Aura Keskus
It would be a crime to visit Tartu with children and not visit the fun water park Aura Keskus. After all, in addition to a huge 50-meter pool, there is a “splash pool” for kids, two curved slides, water curtains, caves with a jacuzzi, a waterfall, pearl baths, Turkish, aromatic and steam baths. And in the water park cafe you can have a bite to eat as hot dishes and your favorite ice cream.
Museums in Tartu
There are as many as 20 museums in Tartu. The most notable among them are the following:
- Tartu Citizens’ Museum of the 19th century (Jaani tn 16, Tartu, Tartu maakond 51007, tel. +3 727 361-545) is located in a wooden residential building built in 1740. Here you can get acquainted with the furnishings of a burgher’s house from the 1830s. Opening hours: Wed-Sat 11:00-17:00, entrance – 4 EUR.
- The Art Museum of the University of Tartu (Ülikooli tn 18, Tartu, Tartu maakond 50090, tel. +3 727 375-384) is the oldest museum in Estonia, founded in 1803. The collection includes: interior of the 19th century, antique ceramics and plaster casts. And in the workshops of the museum, you can paint vases or make plaster sculptures. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10:00-18:00, entry 3-4 EUR.
- The KGB Chambers Museum (Riia tn 15B, Tartu, Tartu maakond 51010, tel. +372 476 19-14) is located on the Rijamägi mountain in the “grey house”, where the NKVD/KGB center met in the 1940s and 50s. Cameras of those arrested, photographs and objects brought from exile in Siberia, as well as materials on the “forest brothers” and the history of resistance organizations. Opening hours: Tue-Sat 11:00-16:00, entry 4 EUR.
- The house-museum of Oskar Luts (Riia tn 38, Tartu, Tartu maakond 50405, tel. +372 746 10-30), the author of the favorite works of many generations of readers, was built in the style of functionalism. The ascetic office of the writer and the room for receiving guests have been preserved here. Opening hours: Wed-Sat 11:00-17:00, entry 2 EUR.
- The Tartu Toy Museum (Lutsu tn 8, Tartu, Tartu maakond 51006, tel.: +372 746 1777) is located in the historical part of the city. The exhibition presents traditional toys, souvenir dolls of the peoples of the world and toys of the Finno-Ugric peoples. A playroom and a workshop are open, where various activities for children are organized. Opening hours: Wed-Sun 11:00-18:00, entry 5 EUR.