Tartu (population 97,000), Estonia’s second largest city, is the nation’s main center of knowledge and study, hosting the country’s top university as well as numerous other institutes, research centers, biotechnology industries, and software companies. Located 185 kilometers south of Tallinn (the capital city of Estonia), it is also the hub of southern Estonia. Steeped in nearly 1,000 years of history, Tartu is the oldest city in the Baltics and brims with timeless charm. In 2024, Tartu proudly holds the title of European Capital of Culture, with the theme “Arts of Survival” emphasising the power of the arts in shaping Europe’s future through environmentally friendly culture, strong communities, and essential life skills.

Tartu boasts a rich academic environment with institutions like the prestigious University of Tartu, , the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the Estonian Military Academy, the Estonian Aviation Academy, and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. This blend of globally-connected institutions makes Tartu, known as the ‘City of Good Thoughts,’ a premier destination for international conferences, particularly in the scientific and medical fields.

Founded in 1632, the UNIVERSITY OF TARTU (UT) is the oldest and largest higher education institution in Estonia and has been the centre of Estonian academic life for almost four centuries. UT is ranked in the top 1.2% of the world’s universities making it one of the leading universities in Northern Europe. UT is an international research university, where a diverse linguistic and cultural space is valued. Here, 13 000 students and 3000 staff members study and work in a diverse range of fields connected by the power of curiosity. In this flagship of Estonian science, research is carried out in four broad areas: natural and exact sciences (realia et naturalia), medical sciences (medicina), social sciences (socialia) and humanities (humaniora). The strategic partners of UT are the networks of recognised research universities, and the cooperation is based on top-level competence and mutual research contacts.

Amazing Old Town and historical sights

In Tartu, guests will experience a blend of cultural heritage, local architecture, colorful street art, and abundant nature in the heart of the city. Nestled between leafy Toome Hill and the Emajõgi River lies the city’s Old Town, an area of cobblestone streets, neoclassical houses and grand university buildings, all towered over by the magnificent, 14th-century St. John’s Church. At the heart of Old Town is Town Hall Square, home to the majestic, 18th-century Town Hall and the unique Kissing Students fountain that has come to symbolise the city.

Just beyond Old Town’s borders, visitors will find the quaint and colourful wooden house neighbourhoods of Karlova and Supilinn, near time capsules of early-20th-century living.

The bohemian wooden districts of Karlova and Supilinn (Soup Town) are especially interesting, with their fascinating history, eye-catching architecture, and vibrant street art.  The industrial interiors and hipster vibes of Aparaaditehas Creative City (The Widget Factory) bring together design and art shops, a unique and cozy bookshop, cool restaurants, galleries, and several event venues. It is an excellent place to experience the artistic side of Tartu.

Perfect size 

If you’re looking for just the right blend of big-city sophistication and small-town cosiness, Tartu is the ideal choice. It’s large enough to host a respectable range of theatres, museums and restaurants, while its centre isn’t much bigger than a typical university campus, in other words, small enough to get around on foot. That means there’s no need to use public transport – you can usually just stroll to your conference venue, hotel or wherever it is you want to go. Tartu’s relatively tranquil atmosphere also makes it a great alternative for those who want to avoid the bustle of a capital city. For those who love cycling or want to explore the City a bit differently, there is opportunity to use Tartu Smart Bike Share.

Awarded Green Destination 

A clean environment and maintaining green city living have been Tartu’s focus for decades. Tartu has consistently made environmentally conscious decisions regarding its environment, industry, infrastructure, and the health of its citizens. While many cities compete in the realm of technology to become “smart,” Tartu has always prioritised its people. Since 2020, Tartu has been part of the Green Destinations program. The international assessment in 2023 awarded Tartu the Green Destinations Platinum Award. Additionally, Tartu has been selected among the TOP 100 Sustainable Destinations.

Great Choice of Hotels 

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Tartu has around 1,300 hotel rooms in total, representing a good mix of 3 to 5-star options. The V Spa and Conference Hotel, a member of the Estonian Convention Bureau, is a four-star hotel located in the heart of Tartu’s business district. The hotel features the V Conference Center on its second floor, offering five modern conference and training rooms with advanced technology. These rooms can be combined for various events such as conferences, trade shows, receptions, and concerts, accommodating up to 600 people. For formal events with round table seating, the capacity is 250 guests. The hotel also houses the restaurant JOYCE, which provides diverse culinary experiences and seats up to 120 people, ideal for smaller private events.

Other popular choices for conference accommodation in Tartu include: Hotel Lydia, Dorpat HotelBarclay Hotel, Hotell Soho, Hotel Tartu, Hotel SophiaArt Hotel Pallas. More information on other Tartu hotels can be found on Visit Tartu web site.

Impressive Meeting and Event Venues in Tartu

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Tartu offers a full range of one-of-a-kind gathering spots for those who truly want to give their guests a night to remember. The grand hall of The Assembly Hall of the University of Tartu, for example, will lend a touch of neoclassical elegance to any gala or reception while the 300-year-old Gunpowder Cellar roars with a beer-hall feel. The White Hall of the Museum of the University of Tartu, is one of the most prestigious venues of Tartu and a popular place to hold conference receptions.  More modern edge can be found in the gigantic building of the Estonian National Museum. Those looking for science- or history-related backdrop can consider hosting an event in the University of Tartu Old Observatory, or in the AHHAA Science Centre, the Tartu Environmental Education Centre or The Comb Factory. Lodjakoda boatbuilding workshop complex is the newest location for out-of-the box events in Tartu. The biggest venues in Tartu are  University of Tartu Academic Sports Club Conference Centre, where you can organise conferences up to 2000 people and Vanemuise Concert Hall – which can provide seating up for 1,000 guests. For smaller meetings, consider TYPA – fabulous printing museum in a former boot factory.

Exciting conference tours and social activities in Tartu

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You can easily boost the value of your conference programme by introducing your guests to this fascinating city and its surroundings. Start with a guided walking tour of Tartu  or explore the city with Tartu Street Art Tour,  then continue by visiting some of the city’s dozens of museums, checking out the latest exhibition at the Tartu Art House, taking a quick barge cruise along the Emajõgi River or sipping suds at the A. Le Coq brewery’s Beer Museum.

Out-of-town options include trips down the so-called Onion Route along the shores of Lake Peipsi, home to a unique community of Russian Old Believers, and visits to the Mooste Manor to experience Estonia’s nature and traditional way of life.

In Estonia, nature areas are never far away and the most magical of these are the ancient peat bogs that dot the land. These one-of-a-kind ecosystems are best visited on bog-walking tours, which don’t require any special physical training or equipment. The most popular bog walking tours for Tartu conference-goers are the Valgesoo nature study trail,  the Meenikunno bog, Männikjärve bog.

Dining for every taste

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Being a cultural hub as well as home to 20,000 students has given Tartu an incredibly rich and varied dining scene. Classical gourmet, modern, ethnic, street food – you’ll find it all here! The city also boasts a surprisingly active café culture so there’s never a shortage of interesting places for a one-on-one discussion, a relaxing break or an evening of unwinding. For recommendations, please see Visit Tartu’s Eat and Drink Section.

Financial Support

Tartu Conference Funding Scheme has been initiated by the City of Tartu in order to raise awareness of Tartu as a world-class conference destination, and to help increase the number of conference participants’ overnight stays in the accommodation establishments in Tartu. The requirements of applying for funding are that the conference is held in Tartu, the total number of overnight stays in the city must amount to a minimum of 100, and the duration of the conference program is at least two consecutive days.

Travel to Tartu

  • By Air: Direct flights with Finnair to Tartu (Ülenurme) Airport from Helsinki (Vantaa) Airport; connect via taxi or bus to Tartu city centre (10 min);
  • By Air: Direct flights to Tallinn Airport from various cities; connect via direct train or bus to Tartu; Most bus lines pick up passengers at the Tallinn Airport en route to Tartu. See www.tpilet.ee for schedules and online ticket purchase.
  • By Bus: Direct coach from Tallinn Airport to Tartu Coach Station, approximately 2:15 hours. (tickets: https://www.tpilet.ee/en/); Buses arrive at the central Tartu Bus Station, which is within walking distance of most major conference centres and hotels.
  • By Train: From Ülemiste station in Tallinn to Tartu, around 2 hours. (tickets: https://elron.ee/en ) (1.3 km from airport)

Transportation within Tartu

  • The city is easily navigable on foot, by public transport, or by city bike (https://ratas.tartu.ee/).
  • Download the Bolt app for the local ride-hailing and e-scooter services.

Tartu Convention Bureau 

Holding events in Tartu comes with the added benefit of organisational support from Tartu Convention Bureau. Tartu Convention Bureau can assist you with everything from proposals and site inspection trips to advice on venues and activities.



“My Digital Planner” feature allows users to choose specific venues, hotels, activities and suppliers for their events, save their results as ‘favourites’, convert them PDF files and send the information by email.
Merje Laimets

Business and MICE Manager

+372 5564 9706


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