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Daytrip from Tallinn to Narva

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By Noora Karppi  •  02.07.2018

Narva is the third largest city in Estonia, after Tallinn and Tartu. The city changed drastically during the Second World War. Today it is shaking of its controversial past and transforming into a city with unique culture, resources and possibilities. Narva is definitely an interesting city to visit.

Narva is located on the border of Estonia and Russia, 212 kilometres from Tallinn. It belongs to the county of Ida-Virumaa. Narva is the eastern extreme point of Estonia.

It is a city full of contrasts, from nature to architecture, people and culture. It offers excitement and lessons on history.

The history of Narva is long and interesting. Narva got city rights in 1345, after which the Danes, Germans, Russians, Swedes and Estonians have taken turns in ruling the city. It has been a melting pot for different cultures, a spot where east meets west.

Today, the population of Narva is 58 610 people. The largest ethnic group is Russians, followed by Estonians and Ukrainians, but most of the population has Estonian citizenship.

Lately, Estonia has invested largely to the development of Narva. In 2018, the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid will move her office from Kadriorg (Tallinn) to Narva for one month. The Narva College of the University of Tartu got a new modern college building next to Narva Town Hall in 2012. New “Vaba Lava” theatre building will be opened in 2018. Narva is also a potential candidate to become the European Capital of Culture 2024.

There’s a positive buzz around Narva and many things are happening at the city right now. It’s the perfect time to explore Narva, the city of good energy.

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Getting to Narva

Narva is easy to reach from Tallinn by bus or by train. Several bus companies depart from Tallinn to Narva every day of the week from the early hours until late at night. If you would prefer to take the train, there are four departures every day from Tallinn to Narva.

By bus
There are several companies and routes to choose from. The trip takes from 3 to 4 hours, depending on the route. Buses leave from Tallinn to Narva once or twice an hour. Most of the buses have A/C, free WiFi and toilets, some even built in entertainment units.

All the buses depart from Tallinn Central Bus Station (Tallinna Bussijaam, Lastekodu 46) and arrive to Narva Bus Station (Narva Bussijaam) one kilometre from the city centre. Walking from the bus station to the centre of Narva takes approximately 14 minutes. Some routes have an extra stop (Peetri plats, Peter’s Square), before the final stop, closer to the centre. To exit or board the bus at Peter’s Square, please check before hand, if the option is available.

Tickets are available online, from the bus station or from the driver. On weekends several busses are usually full as many students travel between the cities. So if you wish to take the bus on a popular time, please buy your ticket in advance.

Domestic bus lines, fares and timetables can be found here.

By train
Estonia has lately invested to create a modern railway network. The comfortable ride, with free WiFi, from Tallinn to Narva takes two and a half hours with a train. The trains leave from Tallinn Railway Station (Balti Jaam, Toompuiestee 37) and stop at the Narva Railway Station (Narva raudteejaam, Vaksali 22).

The railway station in Narva is located close to the bus station, one kilometre outside the city centre, on the south side of the city. On foot it takes approximately 16 minutes to walk from the railway station to the centre.
Train tickets can be bought online, from the railway stations or from the conductor.

Domestic train routes, fares and timetables can be found here.

Must see sights in Narva

Narva Castle and Bastions
Narva Castle has been standing tall by the Narva River since the 13th century. The castle’s Tall Hermann Tower offers great views to Narva and the Russian Ivangorod Fortress on the other side of the river.

The castle was built by Danes and later bought by the Germans. Today it is the home of Narva Museum, presenting visitors the history of Narva and the castle.

During the summertime, don’t miss the Northern Yard, where you can make yourself a unique souvenir in a workshop. You’ll meet blacksmiths, lace masters and other artisans creating masterpieces in authentic 17th century style.

(по-русски 👇) Estonian women showing some folk crafts inside the Hermann castle in Narva. Worth to see! You'll be given a kind of coin with your ticket, which you can change to a little cute souvenir here. _______________________________ Эстонские рукодельницы в Нарвском замке. Внутри замка очень интересный музей, рекомендую к посещению. Рыцари, романтика и все такое :) Будет очень полезен школьникам, т.к. лучший способ что-то запомнить - увидеть это самому. По субботам есть русскоязычная экскурсия (входит в стоимость билета). Плюс дают монетку, которую в ремесленном дворе можно обменять на небольшой сувенир :) #zhilinaphotography #z_photo_narva #estonia #loveestonia #eesti #narva #narvalinnus #hermann #fortification #castle #fortress #medieval #oldcastle #oldcity #vanalinn #knights #middleages #13thcentury #europe #stateborder #sony #sonyphoto #sonyalpharussia #sonyphotorussia #tamronrussia #tamron_russia #tamron #tamronlens #clubsony #sonyphotography

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Narva Bastions date back to the 17th century, when Narva belonged to Sweden. The bastions are part of the historical Narva fortification together with Narva Castle and Ivangorod Fortress.

Swedish engineer Erik Dahlberg designed seven bastions to strengthen the defence of Narva. Almost all of the bastions still exist and one of them has been restored. You can visit the casemates of the Victoria Bastion and take part of a guided tour or a special programme (please book in advance). You can also walk along the bastions, exploring all of them will take approximately two hours.

Estonia-Russia border
In Narva, Estonia and Russia are separated by the Narva River that runs from Lake Peipus to the Gulf of Finland. So you can actually stand in Estonia and see Russia on the other side of the majestic river.

Take a walk along the river and enjoy the scenic views from the 1 kilometre long promenade.

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Start your tour from the south, by the Swedish Lion. The Swedish Lion is a monument, a gift to Narva from the Swedish people and dedicated to Swedish king Karl XII and his victory in 1700 near Narva. It is an exact copy of the lion monuments guarding the Royal Palace of Sweden.

From here you’ll get a magnificent view to Narva River, Narva Castle and Ivangorod Fortress – it is the same view that was printed on the Estonian 5-kroon banknote.

Continue your way towards the Narva Castle and the Friendship Bridge. The bridge is a border checkpoint. It is also the spot where Russian version of Scandinavian hit series The Bridge (Bron/Broen) takes place.

After the bridge, ahead of you is the Square of the sun, where you’ll find fountain and refreshments during the summer months. You can walk all the way to the harbour, passing by the Dahlberg Stage and Swedish Terrace, or turn back and head up by the Narva Castle.

Narva Old Town
Narva used to have a beautiful Baroque old town, built by the Swedes in the 17th century. By that time, the Swedish kingdom had grown quite large and the Swedes wanted to transform Narva into a second capital of their kingdom, closer to the new territories. 

Narva Old Town was greatly damaged in a Red Air Force raid in March 1944. Only few buildings of the Baroque Narva Old Town survived.

One of them was the Baron von Velio’s house (Kraavi 2), where Tsar Nicholas stayed in 1845. Tough, because of renovation works done in the early 20th century, the building has lost its original Baroque appearance.

Another building that miraculously survived was the Narva Town Hall, orange-pink-sand coloured Baroque style building in the heart of Narva Old Town. It formed the centre of Narva Old Town with the town pharmacy and stock exchange, both buildings were levelled in the war. The Town Hall is currently closed for renovations.

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In 2012, the Town Hall got a new neighbour - the modern main building of Narva College of the University of Tartu. The building is a homage to the Old Narva. The façade of the college resembles the old stock exchange building and the remains of the stock exchange are exhibited inside. You can also find colours and patterns here, that were used in the old Baroque style Narva. The Narva College is open for visitors, so step in and take a look.

Pimeaed Garden
On top of the Victoria Bastion, between the Town Hall and Narva River, lies the Pimeaed Garden. It is the oldest park in Narva and dates back to the 19th century.

The name comes from a gate located next to the park, removed at the end of the 19th century.

In the park you’ll find centuries old trees and memorials. It also offers magnificent surroundings for strolls and views over Narva River.

Monument to Paul Keres
Paul Keres was one of the best chess players in the world. He was born in Narva in 1916 and the monument was made in 2016. You can take a seat opposite to Keres and invite him to a game of chess. The monument is close to Peter’s Square, by the Puškin Street.

Kreenholm area 
Kreenholm is an island in Narva River, on the south end of the city, by the Narva Falls. It was also the home of Krenholm Manufacturing Company for almost two centuries.

For decades, the Krenholm Manufacturing Company was the biggest textile factory in the world. In 1900, Krenholm won the Grand Prix at the Paris World Exhibition with its production.

The founder, Ludwig Knoop, managed to create a successful business in just a short amount of time and was even being compared to famous American businessman Rockefeller.

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Krenholm used to be the largest factory in the Russian Empire. Besides the manufacturing premises, there were barracks for workers, day-care, school, sauna, shops, bakery, police department, post office, mill, cemetery, churches, cathedral and hospital built for the workers.

The company employed thousands of people and has left a mark in the industrial history of Estonia and Narva.
The factory was closed in 2010 and most of the former English style brick buildings are left empty. There have been plans to renovate the buildings for office spaces and attractions.

Narva Museum organises regular tours to Kreenholm area. For more information contact Narva Museum.

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Eat and drink

In Narva you can easily find affordable and easy-going restaurants.

If you are looking for restaurant, recommended by White Guide Nordic, head to Rondeel. Rondeel offers fish and meat dishes made with fresh ingredients. The food is delicious and setting exciting – the restaurant is located on the territory of Narva Castle.

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For a tasty lunch or sweet dessert, step in to Kohvik Muna on the first floor of Narva College. There’s also a wide selection of salads, wraps and sandwiches.

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Old Trafford, at Peter’s Square close to Narva Visitor Centre, offers everything from quick snacks to light lunch. Traditional pork, beef, chicken and fish dishes are also on the menu.

For a different kind of experience, head to pub-club OK MODERN or Art Club Ro-Ro.

See Visit Narva's website for more information about the restaurants and pubs in Narva.

Events not to be missed

There’s plenty of cultural events taking place in Narva. Many events are organised by Narva Museum or the City of Narva. The popular music and history festivals along with local community fairs are definitely worth experiencing.

January – The International Chopin Competition
February – Narva Ski Marathon
April – International Mravinsi Festival
May – Narva Spring Fair, The tastes of Narva, Narva promenade Summer season’s opening
June –  Days of Narva, Narva Energy Run
July – Narva Medieval Festival, Baltic Sun Music Festival
August – Soapbox Derby, Narva Battle History Festival, Narva Summer Fair
September – Narva Opera Days
October – Golden Gates
November – IdeeJazz Festival @Narva
December – Winter Fair

Relax before heading back to Tallinn

Many visitors are usually not aware of the fact that Ida-Virumaa is an exceptionally beautiful county. Some of the places you can visit by using public transport, but the easiest way to catch more remote places is with a rental car.

Just 15 kilometres north of Narva you’ll find the beautiful resort village and the long beach of Narva-Jõesuu. Bus 31 takes you from Narva centre to Narva-Jõesuu in 30 minutes.

On the southern end of Narva-Jõesuu beach (which is 7,5 kilometres long), there’s a famous pine tree that inspired Russian painter Ivan Shishkin. Shishkin used to spend vacations in Narva-Jõesuu, sit under the pine tree and paint. He has also painted the Meriküla pine tree many times.

Ida-Virumaa has several waterfalls, beaches, parks, manors and spas offering peace and quiet for those who know where to look. For more information check Ida-Viru's website.