10 Best Group Activities and Adventures in Tartu & Around

For a truly memorable event you need inspiring activities that take you outside the average four walls of a conference hall. Tartu offers some unique opportunities and fun activities that will help take your conference or event to the next level.

1. Visit The Estonian National Museum ERM

Museums are long past being dry and boring places with just facts on the walls. The Estonian National Museum ERM is a great example of this. Considered by locals the best museum in Estonia, it is always worth a visit when one is in Tartu. Interactive and fast-paced, there is not a moment in ERM that gets boring. Side benefit? You will learn so much about the country you are in and the people who surround you – Estonians.

2. Discover The Emajõgi River

The Emajõgi, by world standards, is not the biggest river but it is a very prominent one in Estonia, and it runs through Tartu. A lot of interesting things happen by the river but some of the coolest happen on the river in Tartu. Take a trip on the river with historic and unique barges from Lodjakoda. For something more active, go with SUP boards or canoes. It is truly special to paddle up the river in evening time in a canoe with just torches lighting the way. The Emajõgi is a safe and peaceful river, surrounded by greenery, and if you are lucky you will also spot the wild beavers living right in the heart of Tartu, not bothered by people at all.

3. Make it by Hand

After a long day of thinking it can be very satisfying to make something by hand. Tartu is full of talented people and places that offer opportunities for crafting and making. TYPA is a printing and paper art centre where you can make your own paper or learn different printing techniques. At the Barge Complex you can try your hand at wood crafting by making tiny barges. The Widget Factory offers many art related workshops in an old factory that has become a cultural centre for many in Tartu.

4. Do you Know your Beer?

Sometimes, instead of running around or doing something, we all just want to sit down and have a drink. The A. Le Coq Beer Museum is the place to go in Tartu. You can always say the visit is a learning experience because they will take you through the history of beer from Ancient Egypt to modern Estonia. But we all know what we are here for really, right? We want to sample some of the finest beer in Estonia. Not all of it needs to be alcoholic either, A. Le Coq makes plenty of soft drinks and non-alcoholic beers that also deserve a round of tasting and testing.

 A le Coq Beer Museum will re-open after the renovation in spring 2022

5. Alternative Tartu –  Street Art Tours

Tartu stands out more and more for its flourishing street art scene and highly promising alternative culture. Likely to hide a surprise behind each corner, Tartu offers a lot more during an evening stroll than an average urban landscape does.Wandering through the cozy-looking wooded neighborhoods, one may encounter more than classical urban art usually offers. A remarkable environment is created by mixture of graffiti, narrative stencil art and decorations fabricated by the locals. Tartu Street Art Tours takes people through the streets of Tartu and shows them who the artists of the street works are, what technical aspects are involved in spray painting, stencil art, and paste-ups. Your guide will share stories of how the paintings appeared, who are the artists who painted them and what stories are hidden behind the artworks

6. Morning Run

If you want to kickstart your conference day with a healthy dose of fresh air and exercise, Tartu is your city. Beyond its few main thoroughfares, the ‘City of Good Thoughts’ is relatively calm, and offers some great running routes through scenic areas.

The leafy banks of the Emajõgi River are a destination of choice for local runners, with paths following both sides of the waterway where it courses through the city centre. The bridges that span the river at convenient points make it fairly easy to plan out a loop for your run.

An option that’s every bit as scenic and even more historic is Toomemägi, the hill that rises from western edge of Old Town. There will be a steep incline if you approach from the Old Town side, but once you’re up top, you’ll be able to hoof your way through the fantastic sights of Toomemäe Park: the ruins of the Tartu Cathedral, the Old Observatory, the Angel’s Bridge and various curious monuments to the city’s luminaries. At certain points you’ll be treated to Instagrammable views of Old Town, so keep the mobile charged!

Around Tartu

7. Hike Through a Bog

Estonia is known for beautiful nature and more forest than most European countries can boast. Discover the quiet beauty of our countryside for yourself by going on a hike. There are numerous marked trails all over the country, loved by locals and visitors alike. Some of the most unique landscapes you can find in Estonia are bogs. Bogs are ancient swamps, some of which might be as old as the receding of the last ice age in Europe. Raised wood walkways take you through bogs like the Valgesoo nature study trail, the Meenikunno bog, and Männikjärve bog.

8. Karting Experience at Lange Motocentre

To really get the blood pumping then visit the Lange Motocentre. The 1015 meter long and 9 meter wide track offers an excellent adrenaline rush. Every session can be a race – the track is equipped with a state-of-the-art timing system, should you want to make a competition of it. Lange offers karting outdoors and indoors, so you can visit any time of the year.

9. Smoke Sauna in Setomaa

Estonia might be small but it holds a surprising amount of diversity. Deep in South of Estonia you can find Seto – people with a distinct culture and their own language. You can make a day of learning about the customs of this region, it is sure to be memorable, but you better finish up in a sauna for a truly authentic experience. Smoke saunas are some of the oldest types of saunas in the world and nothing you have experienced elsewhere. It takes a whole day to heat a smoke sauna and when you go in, it will be blisteringly hot. An experienced sauna master will guide you through it and your group will gain a new appreciation for ancient technology and customs.

10. Visit Onion Route and Old Believers’ Villages

Aristocratic mansions and colourful cottages mark the area known as the Onion Route, a 30-kilometre-or-so stretch of road spanning the southern coast of Lake Peipsi. The route takes its name from this region’s unique inhabitants – Russian Old Believers, a traditional, religious minority famed for growing beautiful golden onions, as well as for being hard-working fishermen and skilled builders. A guided bus tour introduces visitors to the Old Believers’ way of life. Participants will enjoy hearty, home-cooked cuisine and a taste of local peasant culture.

Dana Noormets

Tartu Convention Bureau Business Tourism Coordinator