Travelling Abroad from Tartu. Where to & How to – Emma (Netherlands)
After at least a month of studying, most international students in Tartu have managed to settle down. In spite of how awesome and exciting Tartu’s student life can be, you may find yourself feeling the need to escape for a bit. Yes, Estonia has a lot to offer, but why not take advantage of Tartu’s very convenient geographical location? Travelling abroad can be very easy and cheap, so let’s cut to the chase!
There are several options to travel abroad from Tartu. Let’s start with the cheapest and most environmental-friendly option:
Travelling Abroad by Bus
If you live in Tartu, it is quite likely that you have seen these black and red buses driving around town. Perhaps you have already realised that in Estonia, Lux Express is your best friend! From Tartu’s bus station, you can take the bus directly to places such as Riga (Latvia) or St. Petersburg (Russia) starting from 13 euros. If you have time and you do not mind to transfer in Riga or Tallinn, you’d be able to go to Moscow (Russia), Vilnius (Lithuania), Warsaw (Poland) and Minsk (Belarus).
The earlier you buy your Lux Express tickets, the cheaper they are.
Youth up to 26 gets a 10% discount, and if you happen to have the LHV bank card, you even get a 30% discount.
Of course there are other bus companies besides Lux Express. Ecolines also has many buses going abroad, which are a bit less ‘luxurious’ in my experience, but they have some good offers especially for those with an ISIC card. If you want to compare the prices and destinations of different buses, check out Tpilet!
Travel Abroad by Boat
Indeed, Tartu doesn’t have a harbour, but the capital does! From Tallinn’s port you can take the ferry or boat to multiple cities.
Getting to Tallinn will take you about 2,5 hours. You can get discounts on train tickets with your ISIC card and if you book early, you can get bus tickets for as less as 3 euros.
Tallinn’s port is similar to an airport – there are different terminals and multiple ferry operators like Tallink and Viking Line. The boats can take you to destinations such as Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden) and St. Petersburg (Russia)!
The Direct Ferries website, which is great to compare ferry operators, is where you can and should buy your tickets in advance. Tickets for boats that are slower or take longer routes often go for lower prices.
Travel Abroad by Plane
As you may have noticed, Tartu’s airport is not the most accessible one. The only direct international flights are going to Finland and most transfer flights will cost you at least €200. Luckily, Tartu isn’t too far from the airports of Tallinn (2 hours) or Riga (4 hours). You are able to take the bus directly to both airports, from which there are many outgoing flights for very good prices.
The cheapest destination from both airports is Germany, you can fly to many cities such as Berlin starting from 20 euros one way. And have you visited the Scandinavian countries yet? Norway and Sweden are some of the cheaper destinations to go to – at least in terms of flights 😉. If you are more into Eastern Europe, you can visit Georgia, Ukraine and Hungary directly from Tallinn. Would you like an escape from Estonia’s weather? Fly to Milan in Italy!
Are there no flights going from Tallinn to your preferred destination? Make sure to check out flights from Riga’s airport, which has a large offer of flights to more destinations. For 40 euros you can fly to London (UK), Brussels (Belgium) and Vienna (Austria). If you want to visit our eastern neighbour, you can even fly straight to Moscow (Russia).
How do you find the cheapest flights? Go to Skyscanner, select the airport you’d like to depart from, then type “Everywhere” for destination, and click on “Cheapest month” or “Whole month” when selecting the dates. And do you have an ESNcard? When booking with Ryanair, you’ll get 15% discount and free luggage on your flights!
Travelling Abroad by Car
We can’t forget that some destinations can be easily reached by car, and what’s better than a road trip with friends? There are multiple websites in Estonia which allow you to rent a car, such as Autolevi and Europcar. Some websites allow you to rent someone’s car for a day, some are official rental companies. However, bear in mind that you are not always allowed to take rental cars across the border!
Practical note: how easy it is for you to travel abroad from Estonia depends on your nationality. This differs not only based on your destination or your residence permit, but also on how you enter the country (e.g., going to St. Petersburg by boat doesn’t require a visa, whereas by land or plane it does). Do you already have your Estonian ID-card? Bring it with you! It often comes in handy when leaving and entering the country, or even when requesting a visa.
Are you not into organising trips yourself? The Erasmus Student Network organises multiple trips with other international students going to places as Stockholm, Lapland and St. Petersburg.
One of the privileges you enjoy when you live in Europe, especially in Tartu, is how easy it is to travel around and visit other countries. So, whether you’re staying here short- or long-term-, make sure to visit some of these awesome destinations! Though it may not seem like, do not forget that there is actually more to a life of a student than studying 😉