Estonia is in Eastern European time zone, two hours ahead of GMT.
The majority of shops, banks and government offices are closed on public holidays. The most important public holidays are:
1 January, New Year`s Day
24 February, Independence Day, anniversary of the Republic of Estonia
March/April, Good Friday
1 May, Spring Day
23 June, Victory Day
24 June, St. John´s Day, Midsummer
20 August, Re-Independence Day
24 December, Christmas Eve
25 December, Christmas Day
26 December, Boxing Day
Estonia´s currency is Euro. Foreign currency is easily exchanged in banks and currency exchanges, as well as in larger hotels and when entering the country at the airport, at ports or at border crossing.
Credit cards and Traveller`s Cheques
Visa and Mastercard/Eurocard are accepted in the majority of larger accomodation, catering and shopping establishments. When paying by card you are required to provide proof of identify. The most widely accepted traveller`s cheques are Amex, Thomas Cook and Eurocheque.
Estonia´s biggest banks are Swedbank and SEB, although various other banks also have branches and subsidiaries here. Banks are open, as a rule from Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Many banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. ATMs can be used round the clock and will take all recognized bankcards.
Post offices are open during normal working hours from Monday to Friday and on Saturdays. Prices for sending letters and postcards vary according to destination, but these can be checked in any post office. Mail sent to somewhere inside Estonia will generally be delivered within a day, while to the other Baltic States and Scandinavia it can take from 1-3 days. It rarely takes more than a week for mail to reach countries further away.
When calling Estonia you must first dial country code, 372 and then the telephone number. To phone out from Estonia, dial 00 + country code + area code + telephone number. You only need to dial the phone number when making local calls.
Payphone cards can be bought from the majority of kiosks, shops, hotels and post offices. Mobile phones and talk time should be purchased from reliable local operators such as Telia, Tele2 and Elisa. You can use your own mobile in Estonia too, as the country´s leading operators have roaming agreements with most of the important foreign service providers.
Ekspress Hotline is an English speaking information service serving the whole country. The number is 1182 and its homepage is www.1182.ee. 1185 Info is another information line available throughout Estonia. These hotlines can provide you with the phone numbers and addresses of companies and individuals. Dialing these short numbers is only possible within Estonia.
Estonia is generally a very safe destination for visitors. Still, it pays to be vigilant if you´re walking the streets alone at night, and you should keep an eye (or preferably a hand) on your purse or wallet and personal items when you´re in crowded areas.
Emergency numbers in Estonia are free of charge regardless of the phone you´re calling from. The number for ambulance and fire is 112. Call for police assistance using the short number 110.
Before coming to Estonia it is recommended that you take out travel and health insurance covering potential medical costs, theft and other such problems. Entering the country at border crossings, you may be required to show that you have such insurance.
No vaccinations or medical certificates are required to enter Estonia. Over-the-counter medicines are available from all chemists, but it is a good idea in any case to bring your own personal supplies with you for your time in Estonia.
The electricity supply in Estonia is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. European-style 2-pin plugs are in use.
You should always take marked taxis and ask the driver for an approximate price before beginning you journey. The per-kilometre price in the majority of taxi companies is 0,40 euros, added to the initial flag fall of 2-3 euros. It is a good idea to order a taxi, because the flag falls for taxis waiting on the street (particularly at night) can be as much as 10 euros.
Value for money
Prices in Estonia in comparison with Scandinavia and Central Europe are relatively low. Your average lunch in a pub will set you back about 10 euros, while in a restourant you´ll likely pay upwards of 20 euros. Fast food prices are in the 3-4 euros bracket. Beer (0,5 litres) generally costs around 3-5 euros in Tallinn, with prices elsewhere in Estonia between 2-3 euros. Accomodation in budget hotels will run to between 20-60 euros, with prices up to 300 euros in higher-class establishments. Public transport ticket costs remain below the European average.
A 10% tip is the norm in Estonian cafés and restaurants.
Text by Marko Kaldur, www.GoEstonia.ee