Tartu rates highly in the quirky stakes. Wandering around the Old Town you can find Oscar Wilde chatting with an Estonian writer, students kissing in front of the Town Hall and a naked father and his adult sized infant son. Granted, the Father and Son statue is more creepy than quirky.
Also on the curious side is Soup Town. Not far from the city centre, Soup Town (Supilinn) is where many of the streets are named after fruits and vegetables. Make your way along Potato, Pea and Melon streets to get a look at the pre-war wooden architecture. Visit before gentrification takes hold.
Tartu is quiet in the summer months when most of the student population is holidaying in Parnu and other parts of the country. It’s missing that youthful feel the students bring and I was happy to only be visiting for the day.
Driving along the plains back up north we pass pine and birch forests then take a winding road through the wheat fields. We stop and ask a young cyclist for directions. She looks confused when I ask for Kau Manor. I thought my pronunciation was probably off, as it normally is, but as she pointed behind me I realised we had stopped directly in front of the manor house.
Within minutes of checking in I find myself swinging in a hammock strung between two of the leafy trees which had blocked my view of the manor. Discovering the wifi signal reached my newly claimed bed, I didn’t have much reason to leave until dinner.
Not long ago there were more than 1000 manor houses in Estonia. That number has dropped to around 400 and sadly only around 100 are in use. Still, that’s an impressive number of manor houses, more than you’ll find in most European countries.
Many of these stately homes have been converted into luxury accommodation and restaurants. Some are open to the public or can be visited on tours. They all have a fascinating history. Kau Manor was once the home of a Baltic German explorer and navigator who travelled the world discovering new lands.
While it would be nice to laze around the manor all weekend, you could also head to Tallinn for the afternoon. There are so many great things to do in Tallinn it would be hard for me to resist stopping by.
If you prefer to spend your time in nature, the Jagala Waterfall is idyllic and less than an hour away.
Stay at Kau Manor
I received a complimentary weekend stay at Kau Manor but if you would like to book you can get more information here. I suggest booking one of the rooms in the manor itself which are larger and with more character than the coach house rooms.
You can dine in the manor’s restaurant where they specialise in using local Estonian produce prepared in a modern way. The food was delicious! Also don’t miss the cooked to order breakfast. It’s all about the food as always.
Kau Manor is one of the best manor houses near Tallinn but if you’re looking for one elsewhere in the country see this full list of manor houses in Estonia.