Finland and Estonia are very close to each other, well geographically anyway! Finland is a thoroughly modern country with a strong social security system and is often featured high on the lists of desirable countries to live. Estonia was part of the former USSR block but is now a very much developed nation within the European Union.
With their close proximity and contrasts, Finland and Estonia make great solo travel break, which is why we have put them together in this short guide.
One thing that you will notice is how much cheaper Estonia is than Finland. For this reason we suggest going to Finland first and then hopping on a fast ferry to Tallin.
Finland Budget Travel Guide
Reindeer, saunas, endless nature, Lapland, the Arctic Circle, long summer days, quiet but welcoming locals and Helsinki’s top nightlife all await you here.
Budget Accommodation in Finland
Backpacker hostels are widespread and many of them are HI affiliated but camping offers the cheapest option. Most campsites are open from June to August but wild camping is also fine as long as you’re not in a privately owned area. If you’re hiking in the northern trails you can stay for free in the wilderness huts but be prepared to share.
— Lonely Planet (@lonelyplanet) August 1, 2016
A Traveller’s Budget for Finland
Trains are the fastest and most economical way to travel around the country other than self propulsion by bike or otherwise, take advantage of the Finnrail passes which give you unlimited travel for a set period of time if you plan on a few journeys. Buses run over most of the country but are a bit pricier than the trains. If you do want to travel under your own steam, there are miles upon miles of bike trails so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Most towns have covered market places for cheap snacks and supermarkets are always a good option for those on a budget, as are the all you can eat buffets which are extremely popular. These seem to be mainly concentrated around lunchtime so fill up early.
Activties on a budget in Finland
-Cycling. Take advantage of the numerous bike trails
-Have a lakeside sauna with the locals
-Visit Santa in Lapland
-Watch the Aurora Borealis in the north of Finland during the winter months
-Visit the Aland Islands and go trekking and camping – there are bridges between most of the islands and the ferries are free
-Get a Helsinki card in the capital, it gives free entry into many attractions and free use of urban public transport
Estonia Budget Travel Guide
This little gem of a country has had a turbulent history, changing hands numerous times over the years but in 1991 it finally declared it’s independence and has since emerged as one of the coolest spots in Europe.
Cheap Accommodation in Estonia
There are a few good hostels in Estonia, but a lot of budget accommodation is in the form of cheap guesthouses, student dorms and hotels. Campsites are available during the summer months and most of these have cabins for rent if you don’t want the extra hassle of pitching your tent. Homestays / farmstays are also a popular option and the tourist board will be able to sort you out with these.
A Traveller’s Budget for Estonia
If you want to get around cheaply, go by bike. Estonia is predominantly flat and is ideal for cycle touring, and the towns are fairly close together but watch out for the cars as they may not be used to bikes, they’re not prevalent in the cities. Otherwise there’s a fairly comprehensive bus network which can get you to most parts of the country.
Cafe culture is huge in Estonia and you should be able to get some cheap food in one. Some homestays and many farmstays include some meals, particularly breakfast, otherwise take advantage of the uni eateries in Tartu or pick up some pizza.
– Lahemaa National Park, accessible by bus from Tallinn, has a multitude of cycling and hiking trails plus some nice little coastal towns for a seaside chillout.
-Tartu is the country’s university city with an energy to match, plus there are some excellent museums and galleries.
– Tallinn has one of Europe’s best preserved old towns but this city isn’t stuck in the past, it’s also got some of the best nightlife.
-Cross country skiing is popular in Estonia, the main base is in Otepää in the southeast of the country.
-Midsummer’s night on 23rd of June is a pagan celebration of Midsummer, check out a beach party.
-Beer Summer takes place at the beginning of July, at the Song Festival Grounds, Tallinn.
A note about insurance and EHIC cards for Finland and Estonia
Just because Finland and Estonia are in the EU doesn’t mean you should just rely on a European Health Insurance Card. Even if you are European you will still need travel insurance, particularly so as healthcare costs in both countries is very expensive. You will need cover whether you are an 18 year old gap student or older travellers. Always ensure you declare any pre-existing conditions too so not to invalidate your travel insurance cover.