About Estonia (EE)
Although many people outside of Europe would have a hard time pointing to Estonia (EE) on a map, the country is one of the understated gems of the Baltic region, with an extensive coastline and varied topography among inland areas. Bordered by Latvia to the south and Russia to the west, Estonia enjoys a strategic position on the Baltic Sea, leading to moderate winters and mild, but short summers. The historic capital city of Tallinn is one of Europe’s most well preserved medieval relics and one of Estonia’s most popular destinations for domestic and international tourism.
Estonia’s expansive network of roads is notable for its comprehensive coverage of even the most remote areas in the country. There is quite literally nowhere in Estonia that’s not accessible by car. On the other hand, trains and buses are likewise ubiquitous, but exceedingly slow. Thus, it makes very good sense for a visitor to rent a car. Fortunately, cheap car rentals are plentiful in Estonia, and petrol is reasonable — by European standards. And like many mixed-use destinations, road conditions can be variable in rural areas, but generally speaking, there’s nothing particularly challenging about driving in Estonia.
Choosing your car
Car rentals in Estonia are supplied by Sixt, Avis, National, Europcar, and Thrifty. From biggest to smallest, choose from 7-12 seater minivans, SUVs, estate wagons, fullsize 4-door sedans, economy and compact cars, and minicars.
Tips and advice
Estonians are the harshest critics of their own driving habits, which, quite frankly, aren’t that bad. But the thing to watch out for is the prevalence of older vehicles on the roads, which are generally operated by drivers who don’t have a lot to lose in any sort of potential collision. Drivers of newer vehicles are far more cautious and protective of their cars, and hence, far less likely to engage in reckless behavior.
Street parking in Estonia requires the use of chocks (blocks of wood placed under the tires — a doorstop for wheels, if you will). If your car hire doesn’t have a pair of chocks in the trunk, you can pick them up at any fuel station.
Many two-lane highways in Estonia have a hard or gravel shoulder, which you are required to use when someone wants to overtake from behind. Generally speaking, the approaching vehicle will flash their lights, indicating their desire to pass. The proper technique is to gradually reduce speed while gently veering on to the shoulder. Return to your lane once the car has passed.
Traffic cops in Estonia can — and frequently do — issue on-the-spot citations for immediate payment. Meaning, here’s the ticket: pay now, not later. It’s recommended that travelers carry some cash, just in case.
One of myriad reasons you can get pulled over in Estonia is driving with a dirty or obscured license plate.
There are a few toll roads in Tallinn, but otherwise, all roads in Estonia are free to drive.