hidden europe 6

An Estonian oasis

by Nicky Gardner


we warmly recommend a rural spot of studied tranquillity just north of highway E20 from St Petersburg to Tallinn

There are some drives we wouldn't wish upon anyone. That from St Petersburg to Tallinn is most definitely in this category. You may suppose that the highway skirts the Baltic coast, but it doesn't. The main E20 heads southwest from the Russian city, crosses the Narva River into Estonia under the shadow of Ivangorod's great fortress, and tracks west to the Estonian capital. It is not that the landscape is awful. On the contrary, the route traverses some appealing forest country. But rather it is the road itself and its immediate environs that make this drive so despicable. Three hundred and fifty kilometres of litter and lorries. Add to that a tired road surface that should have been renewed a decade back, and you have the makings of a five hour nightmare.

But, for all its trials, the route from the city of the Czars to Tallinn does offer some intriguing diversions.