About Tartu and how to get there

About Tartu

Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia and located in the south of the country at the Emajõgi ("Mother river").

While Tallinn is the political capital of Estonia, Tartu is often considered the academic and intellectual center of the country. The University of Tartu is not only the oldest and most renowned university in Estonia, but also the highest ranked university in the Baltics and among the 2% best universities worldwide. 

In addition to the university, Tartu has been an important city throughout the history of Estonia. It was the birthplace of the Estonian Song Festivals as well as of the Estonian national flag, the blue-black-white tricolour. Tartu was the place where in 1920, the peace treaty between Estonia and Soviet Russia was signed, which ended the Estonian War of Indepedence. 

Nowadays also the Surpreme Court of Estonia is located in Tartu, as well as the Estonian National Museum and the main building of the Estonian National Archives. 

Tartu is called the "city of good thoughts" and the life and mindset of the people living there is described by the metapher Tartu vaim ("the Spirit of Tartu"). There is, however, also another spirit living alongside the Spirit of Tartu: the spirit of Finnougric peoples. Apart from Estonians, there are many Finno-Ugric minorities living in the city who regularly organize events. But there's also a big interest in Finno-Ugric languages and peoples among Estonians themselves, for example the Finno-Ugric youth activists (Fenno-Ugria Noored) are based in Tartu.

In the University of Tartu, various Finno-Ugric (and Uralic) languages are taught - from the very biggest (Hungarian) to the very smallest (Livonian), and Finno-Ugric peoples and their cultures are also very present in other fields such as folkloristics and ethnology. It is therefore not a surprise that the new building of the Estonian National Museum, which was opened in Tartu in 2017, now also hosts the biggest exhibition on Uralic peoples worldwide. 

How to get to Tartu

Tartu has its own airport that can be reached by plane from Helsinki.

The nearest bigger international airports are in Tallinn and Riga. There are direct buses to Tartu from both airports. The bus from Tallinn to Tartu takes 2,5 hours and the bus from Riga to Tartu 4,5 hours. 

All bus timetables (Tallinn-Tartu, Riga-Tartu, St. Petersburg-Tartu and Pskov-Tartu) can be found on tpilet.ee. For international buses, we also recommend the bus companies LuxExpress and Ecolines

There are also trains from Tallinn to Tartu which take 2-3 hours. The train station in Tallinn is far away from the airport, but close to the Old Town and the sea port. Train timetables from Tallinn to Tartu can be found on elron.ee