Why Tourists Should Visit Tartu: European Capital of Culture in 2024

  • 2023-06-27

Tartu sits between Lake Võrtsjärv and Lake Peipus, and is the second-biggest city in Estonia. Expect to see a lot more about this place in the next couple of years, in the build-up to its period as a European Capital of Culture, but what does it have that could persuade visitors to come here as an alternative to the capital in Tallinn?

The Rise of Technology

Traditionally a center of heavy industries and food production, this century has seen Tartu become increasingly attractive for technology companies. The likes of Nortal, Skype, and ZeroTurnaround all have bases in this city, while the AHHAA science centre in the city is just over a decade old.

This is also the home of Playtech, one of the biggest providers in the online casino industry. A look at the current online slots for real money reveals a diverse and growing sector where a large number of software providers release themed slots regularly. Titles such as Buffalo Blitz and the Age of the Gods series have come from Playtech, which has now expanded from its origins in Estonia to become a multinational business.

The Estonian National Museum  

Since moving to a new building in Tartu in 2016, this museum is one of the top sports in the city to discover Estonian folk music and art. Its many exhibits explore the culture of the people who have lived in this region through the centuries, with antique clothing, crafts, and tools among the top sights.

This new building also has a cinema and conference space. 2024 should see a range of cultural events and exhibitions taking place here, to celebrate the city’s year-long stay as one of the European Capitals of Culture. The other cities to get this award at Bodø in Norway and Bad Ischl in Austria.

Other Sights and Events Worth Seeing

St John’s church is one of the main tourist attractions in Tartu, with parts of this building dating back to the 14th century. One of the most curious aspects of this church is the fact that hundreds of terracotta figures are dotted around outside it, which are the remains of what was once a vast collection of more than a thousand sculptures.

The ruined castle on the hillside provides excellent views, while it now has an attractive park around it. Statues of some of the city’s most notable scientific figures are placed here and there’s also a small museum. In the rest of the city, we can see the fascinating contrast between modern developments and the richly-atmospheric Soup Town district.

Among the events to be held in Taru in 2024 is a mass kissing event in the town square, apparently inspired by the fountain of people kissing that’s located in the square. A Pagan Folklore Night will also be held here, in the Kubija Song Festival Grounds, with ancient music and beliefs coming to the fore for a single night.

The role of Tartu as a city of cultural importance is set to grow in the next couple of years, with a large number of tourists expected to make their way here and discover its most interesting sights.