The welcoming Estonian town of Narva

I have a bit of a love affair with Estonia, I have to admit, since my first visit (of two) in 2003. And while all the better known spots like Tallinn, Tartu and Saaremaa are great, I have a particular soft spot for Narva, a town on the north-eastern border with Russia.

Narva was my first stop outside Russia after spending three weeks travelling on the Trans-Siberian, and after the relative gruffness of the Russians I found the people in Narva were so incredibly friendly I could hardly believe it. The tourist office that I wandered into looking for an accommodation tip was amazing – both the staff stood up and shook my hand and welcomed me to Narva. (Possibly they didn’t have too many Australians passing through in those days, but I’m sure they’re just as friendly to everyone).

But the town itself is also fascinating because of the Russian influence (much of the population are still Russian speakers) and because you can literally see the Russian sister-town directly across the river – which is bordered by castles; you can also visit the Narva Fortress. If you are thinking of heading on into Russia then it’s a relatively short bus ride from Narva to St Petersburg, or you can just make a day trip to Narva from Tallinn. But it’s worth visiting to get a different perspective on Estonia.