Should you visit Finland or Estonia?Both Finland and Estonia are countries in northern Europe. Finland is significantly more expensive than Estonia, and it's also a much larger country. Although both countries have a lot to offer visitors, if you're short on time or money, you'll likely benefit more from a trip to Estonia.
Finland is a Scandinavian country that is relatively expensive when compared to the rest of Europe. Helsinki is the capital city, and it is a fun place to spend some time. In general, Finland is relatively flat with many beautiful lakes that provide excellent fishing and outdoor opportunities. Finland is also known for its outdoor sports year around. Skiing, snowmobiling, and ice diving are all popular activities.
Estonia is in the Baltics, which is a fascinating and affordable part of Europe to visit. Estonia's top tourist destination is Tallinn, which is a beautiful place to visit. It's a charming city with a unique history and an impressive and well-preserved old town. The area around the hill of Toompea is covered with cobblestone streets and charming medieval houses. The lower town spreads out from the foot of the hill and this area is surrounded by a city wall. There are several nice parks outside the wall. Tallinn has many churches and historical sights that you can visit, as well as budget restaurants and a relatively vibrant nightlife scene.
Saaremaa is another popular destination in Estonia. It's the largest Estonian island and it has a rural and "frozen in time" kind of feel. The capital of the island is Kuressaare and there are several charming villages spread throughout. The villages are known for their stone fences, houses with thatched roofs, and windmills.
When is the best time to visit Finland and Estonia?
Fall is a nice time to visit the country as well, although temperatures start to drop as early as the beginning of September. Lapland is a beautiful area during these months as the colors turn to gold and orange. Many attractions do reduce their hours starting in September.
Winters are actually a bit milder in Finland than in other parts of Scandinavia, but temperatures are still very cold. This is an interesting time to visit the country because there are plenty of winter sports that you can enjoy including cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice diving.
Like Finland, Estonia best visited during the warmer months from late spring through summer. This is when the weather is most pleasant and it's a nice time to be outside. The summers are short though, with temperatures starting to cool off as early as the beginning of September. Fall can be a beautiful time of year but expect colder temperatures. Snow can fall as early as mid November and as winter progresses it can become quite frigid. Many tourist facilities close in the fall months and don't reopen again until April or sometimes May.
Why is Finland more expensive than Estonia?Finland, like much of Scandinavia, is an expensive country to visit. Depending on what you want to see and do, transportation and organized activities can be quite expensive. Food, accommodation, and entertainment are all expensive throughout Finland, regardless of the season you visit.
Estonia has a much lower cost of living than Finland, and this keep costs affordable for visitors. You can expect to pay a fraction of the cost in Estonia for meals, accommodation, and transportation compared to what you might pay in Finland.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in Finland and Estonia?
Although Estonia is quite affordable throughout, Tallinn is probably the most expensive part of the country to visit. It is the most popular destination and prices generally reflect that. That being said, you might be caught off guard in some smaller towns and villages. More rural areas have a very limited number of accommodation options and the places that are available may not be budget friendly. During the low season the availability is even less, so you may find yourself paying more than you would in the larger cities. Saaremaa can also be a bit more expensive than you expect if you decide to hire a rental car.
How you can save money when visiting Finland and Estonia?Look into discount cards for specific cities to see if they'll save you any money.
Make reservations well in advance, particularly for trains. Prices tend to climb as the date approaches.
Research all of your rental car options. There are often some local places that offer more affordable rental cars.
Taxis can be very expensive, so look into public transportation whenever possible.
Plan to cook some of your own food, as eating out is also a very expensive experience.
Eat at local eateries, particularly near universities. Restaurants that cater to students are usually quite cheap and fast. They offer a local flavor for a fraction of the price you would pay in more touristy areas.
Buy locally. Whether you're renting a car or looking for accommodation, find a locally owned place. The prices are usually better and then your money stays in the local economy.