What you need to know to get around Estonia safely

Harsh winters, crazy driving, pickpockets and out of control stag parties.

If you decide to brave Estonia's harsh winters and take a drive around the country, be aware of strict rules regarding your paperwork. Some travellers have gotten needlessly fined for simple confusion over driving laws in the country.

Papers, Please

You need not one, but two licenses to drive here: the license from your own country and an International Driving Permit (IDP). Note the "permit" part of the last item, if you're not authorised to drive a certain class of vehicle at home the permit does not magically give you the right to do it elsewhere.

Once you've been given the all-clear to steer your way around this Baltic State, watch out for aggressive driving and speeding.

Watch Out!

Estonian drivers like to overtake slower cars and will even treat city streets like the autobahn. Unfortunately, even though the Estonian government has virtually no tolerance for drunk driving, accidents involving intoxicated drivers occur often. It is no surprise, then, that police regularly run checkpoints and highways.

Drunks walk by foot when not driving, and they can stroll (stumble) on unlit roads or try to run across highways.

Weather conditions and potholes can also cause problems on roadways both rural and urban. Always have your headlights on.

If you want to get around Estonia another way, avoid hailing taxis directly from the street. These drivers often jack up the fare. You are better off arranging a ride with a taxi company such as Tulika Takso.

Theft, Drunks & Organised Crime

You should be pretty safe as you travel around Estonia, but the capital city of Tallinn can get rowdy like any major city. It is a big spot for stag or bachelor parties, and the roving bands of drunk men can sometimes be at the heart of disorderly conduct and physical and verbal assaults.

(I'm not saying this man is drunk - not yet anyway)

These men and other visitors also run the risk of getting ripped off in the strip clubs along Viru Street and surrounds where organised crime gangs linked to Latvia rule the roost.

Foreigners may be subject to astronomical entry fees or bar tabs in addition to credit card skimming.

Viru Street is also a prime spot for pickpocketing.

Foreigners have been mugged or attacked by drunkards near bars and clubs. The worst places at night are the neighborhoods Kopli and Lasnamäe, but reports indicate that the crime here is still far less frequent than in cities in other countries like America.

Bandits will often operate in groups in areas like Tallinn's Old Town, especially the Town Hall Square, called Raekoja Plats and the Central Market.

Like in other cities, the airport and bus and train stations in addition to the ferry ports also present risk for theft.

Racially-motivated crimes against minorities also occur in Estonia, though it is difficult to get a handle on the rate of frequency. In a recent occurrence, an African Ph.D. student was harassed in Tartu to the point where he decided to abandon his studies in the country.

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  • Liam said

    Thank you! interesting and informative)
    Tallinn is perfect destination to travel to)

  • Esjay said

    Thank you. Very informative. Have decided to drop Estonia from my must visit list.

  • Narges said

    America is not a country.

  • ,, said

    "Thank you. Very informative. Have decided to drop Estonia from my must visit list."

    look at this fool

  • Jeff Green said

    I do not think this opinion of Estonia is a true reflection of the country. I have visited Tallin Narva and Johvi and j find all these places very safe,it is much safer for a ladies to walk around during the evening in Estonia than in most towns in the UK. Most people are very polite and younger people seem to to be far more conciderate to older people than in the uk. There are certain parts of any city that may cause a problem but do not let that put you off a holiday in this beautiful peacefull and unspoilt small country. I have spent many months in Estonia and have now decided to live here with my Russian wife . In conclusion; visit and enjoy

    Without prejudice.

  • Allyson said

    Hi everyone,

    We are well aware this article is very out of date. Keep posting your experiences and updated information in the comments section, we're in the process of updating these articles and appreciate your input.


    [email protected]

  • EL AMIN said

    Traveo to Estonia was a really bad experience for me; too racism and people does not respect other races. They are not friendly and bad watches when meeting, no hospitality and I received messages like.. "you are not welcome", "why you came here".. "we like to meet only european or caucasian"...
    I do not recommend to come there

  • Arthur said

    As a person, who lives in the capital and is Estonian,
    I will say that It is very safe, to the point that first graders can go to home by themselves from school safely.
    Chances of getting beaten up or mugged, etc near the tourist places are very rare, pickpocketed maybe but that happens
    alot more in other places like Prague, going to the areas like Kopli and city district Lasnamäe at night time
    has chances of getting mugged or beaten up or even stabbed by Russians are sadly existant, but those places arent a real sight to see so I wouldnt even know why tourists would go to those places. To reply to the last person, yes we do have racism, as white race is a minority in the world population and Estonian people being so small in numbers, we are very collective and used to see people who look like us and not fond of the migrant crisis and Europe sending other kinds of people here with destructive ideologies. In short, this hostility has been built up because of the recent events of politics and being not fond of being replaced has made this happen.
    But it is still a very safe place to visit. I'd recommend it full-heartedly. This article seems to have a bias against Estonia.

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