Imagine if you will a small part of the French Riviera moved some 1,500 kilometers (1,000 miles) north to the shores of the Baltic Sea. Add to that fine sandy beaches, Pärnu Mud Baths, never-ending days and bright nights of North Europe and you've got Pärnu, the definitive spa town in Estonia.
During the long winter months Pärnu is a sleepy town of some 45,000 inhabitants where nothing much happens but in the summer months of June to August it springs to life as holiday makers from neighboring countries as well as Estonia itself arrive.
However, Pärnu doesn't get cramped with tourists even in peak season as there are only a few big hotels and most of the town consists of one or two storey buildings, many of which offer bread and breakfast style family accommodation.
Estonia was annexed after the Second World War by Soviet Union (and only regained its independence in 1991), which meant many hardships to its population. On the other hand, it also meant Pärnu escaped over-development and has retained an old-world charm, complete with quaint wooden architecture and spacious, leafy parks and streets.
Lovely Pärnu Beach.
Rannahotell, a fine example of functionalist hotel architecture dates from 1937. Sadly the original interior has been spoiled with run-of-the-mill chain hotel furniture when Rannahotell was renovated in the nineties.
In our opinion the biggest hotel in Pärnu, the Tervise Paradiis Hotel looks kinda out of place.
This decorated wooden house is a typical example of old Pärnu architecture and also serves as a bread & breakfast place. Family accommodation offers the best value for money in much of Estonia or indeed any of the Baltic States, especially outside the biggest cities.
Inner court of our accommodation.
Pärnu Orthodox Church.
Tasteful interior design.
Estonians have a special passion for casinos. Every town seems to have one or more of them.
Locally produced handicraft.
Typical wooden house in Pärnu.
You can still spot cars manufactured in the Soviet Union. This is a Volga, the "Mercedes-Benz" of the workers' state.
Boats in Pärnu Guest Harbour.
You might also want to read our article on a nearby island that's well suited if you want make a day trip from Pärnu: Kihnu, the island time forgot.
Estonia also has an excellent bus system and it only takes two hours to reach the capital city Tallinn with its charming Old Town.
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