When planning on our trip to Estonia, I sort of thought that taking the car across the border would not require much other than booking you ferry tickets. Luckily my dad (or was it mom?) soon told me about the little details I should know about driving in Estonia, so that we would not end up breaking the law on our trip. When travelling in the Schengen countries, crossing borders is rather easy and it is not a big deal to take your car along. Despite that, every time you are driving in a foreign country there are some things that are different to your home country. So you need to be prepared. This time, I will tell you a bit of what sort of preparations are needed if you decide to hit the road with your own car and what it is like to drive in Estonia, whether driving with your own car or a rental car. A quick hint, the European Commission has a pretty good website from where it is easy to check the different requirements for each European country, so if you are planning a road trip, that is a rather useful site. But so, what should you remember when driving in Estonia then?
Make sure that your traffic insurance is valid and you have a green card from the insurance company with you. Before the trip, it is best to check with your own insurance company what is covered and what is not. For example, in our case, when having Pohjola as the insurance company, all damage is covered as it would be in Finland, but the deductibles are twice as big as in Finland.
According to the Estonian laws, every car should be equipped with a set of safety equipment. The set includes a warning triangle, first aid kit, two wheel stoppers, reflective safety vests and a fire extinguisher (1kg or more). Estonian police do have a rather nasty reputation with foreign cars about really making an effort on finding a reason to fine you if pulled over. So even if you were driving the right speed and had all the papers in order, they might give you a little fine for the missing equipment if you are unlucky.
Blood alcohol limit
0,2 ‰. So do not risk this by drinking one beer and hopping behind the wheel.
This one is for all of you driving from Tallinn to Pärnu. Do not trust the road signs if you are in a rush! When we started our drive to Pärnu, I looked up the route from GoogleMaps, but soon saw the first “Pärnu”-sign and turned GoogleMaps navigation off. Mistake! Following the signs, the route took us on a detour and the driving time was some 30 minutes more than what it would’ve taken, had I trusted GoogleMaps instead. So 1,5 hours turned into 2 hours. You can only guess how happy I was when I saw a “Tallinn 16”-sign after 45 minutes of driving, realizing that Google would’ve taken us there in just 15 minutes. Other than this, the signs were ok, even though some cannot be that well seen from the distance.
At least on the roads we drove on, the roads were in a really good condition. On the outskirts of Tallinn (the detour part), some potholes and other damage to the coating was seen, but other than that, even the smaller roads were in good condition, in most cases even better than in Finland.. Also, Estonia does have a nasty reputation with horrible driving culture and I was expecting to see some hazardous behavior on the road, but the traffic was actually really smooth everywhere.
Unless otherwise stated, the speed limit is 90km/h on roads, or 50km/h in urban areas. Be aware of the several speed cameras and regular speed traps on the road from Tallinn to Pärnu. I was aware that there are a lot of cameras on this road, but did not realize they were there when driving, as the cameras are totally different by looks than in Finland…Just waiting to find out if I will get some mail from Estonia 😉
In august, a liter of gas was 1,05€, whereas on the other side of the gulf, in Finland, the price was 1,65€. So yes, pretty cheap, I’d say.
If taking your own car is not an option, renting a car might be a good option too, especially when travelling to more remote locations than just Tallinn, Pärnu or Tartu. There are plenty of options. I did consider the option of renting the car from Tallinn rather than taking the car across the gulf, but as it ended up costing about the same anyways, it was easier to have the own car with us. For example, for three days the rental would’ve been around 100-150€+gas for a basic model. Taking the car across the gulf on a ferry was 50-100€ depending on the selected company. So on a day trip, rental can be cheaper, whereas for a week-long trip taking your own car will be cheaper if you have the option.