TOP 20 attractions
in the City of Pärnu
In 2018, Lonely Planet selected Pärnu as one of the Top 10 lesser-known beach cities worth visiting in the world. Pärnu Beach is the reason that the city is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each summer. It is the biggest and most beautiful beach in Estonia. Everyone has a good time here. The warm and shallow water makes the beach particularly well-suited for families with children. Deeper water is reached after a long walk, where one can swim and the water is cooler. These conditions are also good for people who are just learning to surf. This is why Pärnu Beach is considered one of the best places in Scandinavia when it comes to learning to surf. The beach has a beautiful promenade, which can be visited regardless of the season.
Pärnu was selected as the best wellness and health tourism destination as part of the European Commission’s competition ‘Destination of Excellence 2019. Health and Wellness Tourism’. One of the most important arguments in favour was, without a doubt, the available selection of spas in Pärnu, with there being nine to choose from. The selection includes wellness spas as well as medical spas. In addition, Pärnu is home to the largest waterpark in Estonia.
Read more about Pärnu’s spas HERE.
Rüütli Street is the heart of Pärnu’s Old Town. The street is not very long, requiring only about five minutes to traverse. However, it may take you much longer, as there are many small shops and cafés operating within close proximity to the street. The recently renovated Independence Square is located at the end of the street, near the bus station.
The city’s biggest events and festivals take place at the Pärnu Moat (Vallikäär). For example, in 2011, the superstar recording artist Seal performed on the meadow by the Moat. Estonia’s largest food festival Grillfest and the Hanseatic Days are traditionally held each summer at the Moat. These festivals bring tens of thousands of visitors to the Moat. When no events are taking place, the Moat is an excellent place to enjoy a stroll all year round. When coming from the heart of the city, you will definitely see the Tallinn Gate. Tallinn Gate is the only remaining seventeenth-century gate with an embankment in the Baltics.
Upon its opening in 1937, the Rannahotell was one of the grandest hotels in Scandinavia. The Rannahotell has lost none of its charm, and remains one of the symbols of Pärnu as a resort. Operating within the building are a high-class hotel and one of the best restaurants in Pärnu. Located next to the hotel is the architecturally similar Pärnu Beach House, which was completed a year later, on the hundredth anniversary of the Pärnu resort. The Beach Building is known for its mushroom-shaped balcony. It is now home to a night club.
Villa Ammende is one of the most unique hotels in Pärnu. The hotel was built in 1905 and is presently one of the best renovated Art Nouveau hotels in Europe. The hotel is furnished with stylish and period-appropriate furniture. In addition to accommodation, the building is also home to a high-quality restaurant.
Built in 1838, the building of the Mud Baths gave impetus to the birth of health resorts in Pärnu. After having stood empty for years, the building was completely renovated in 2014, when a new spa and hotel were opened there. In addition to the renovated section of the building an entirely new and modern extension was built, which was connected to the renovated mud baths. In addition to the spa and hotel, two restaurants also operate in the building.
There are three churches worth visiting in the City of Pärnu, even though entry is not always possible. Open most often is the St. Elizabeth Church, where various concerts and the Pärnu International Organ Festival take place. It is a Lutheran church. The Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr and the Pärnu Transformation of Our Lord Apostolic Orthodox Church are both Orthodox churches. All of the churches are located in the heart of the city.
Raimond Valgre is one of the most famous Estonian composers and musicians in history. A memorial has been erected in his honour, from which his music can always be heard playing. The memorial is located near Pärnu Resort Hall, which is also Estonia’s largest tavern. At more than 100 years old, the building has seen its share of good and bad times. A tavern is once again operating inside, which offers food and diverse entertainment on the weekends.
The Pärnu Mole, which was built at the time to enliven trade, is one of the city’s most popular attractions. The mole is approximately 1.5 kilometres long. There is also a legend accompanying the mole – according to the ancient story, young lovers must walk to the end of the mole and seal their love with a kiss there. Doing so would bring the lovers eternal love.
Read more about the Pärnu Mole HERE.
The Mary Magdalene Guild brings together the best handicraft masters in Pärnu. The Guild got its name based on the example of the oldest known artisans’ guild from the middle ages in Pärnu. You can purchase items and participate in various workshops. City-wide guild days are also held during the summer.
Closed in 2007, the Pärnu Prison is now home to the largest escape room complex in Scandinavia and the Baltics. There are many legends and tales associated with the complex, which you will definitely hear when there.
The Rannaniidu nature and study trail is located on the left end of the beach. It is a short 600-metre hiking nature and study trail, built on a marshy coastal meadow. In the middle of the trail is a viewing platform, which provides a good view of Pärnu’s coastal meadow. Also visible from the platform are Pärnu’s city cows, which have become one of the city’s must unique attractions. Namely, each spring, cows are brought to the coastal meadow in Pärnu to help maintain the landscape.
Pärnu has an excellent selection of cafés and restaurants, which offer visitors many different tastes to choose from. Theme weeks are held twice each year, introducing our food culture – Pärnu restaurant week in spring and Pärnu café week in autumn.
Read more about our catering establishments HERE.
There are always interesting exhibitions to be found at Pärnu’s Museum of New Art. The museum’s collection includes more than 400 works of visual art. In addition, each year, the museum organises the Pärnu Film Festival, with a winner selected from among the documentaries screened.
Pärnu is home to a unique zoo where you can see different animals that live in terrariums. There are more than 20 different species to see, some of which are only rarely seen in European zoos. Braver souls can even hold and pet the animals.
Jaanson’s cycle and pedestrian track is built along both sides of the Pärnu River, from the City Centre Bridge to the Papiniidu Bridge. The track is named after rower Jüri Jaanson, a native of Pärnu, who has won medals at several major competitions (including two Olympic silver medals). The Jüri Jaanson Two Bridges Race is held each year, with thousands of people completing the entire race course. On a daily basis, the track is popular among pedestrians, runners, and cyclists.
At the Pärnu Museum, you can explore the exciting permanent exhibit ‘11,000 years of history – Experiences from Times Long Ago’. The exhibit will take you on a journey through early historic Pärnu, as well as the medieval fortress and commercial city and its development into a resort town. Temporary exhibits, with their broad range of topics, recount local history, interesting people, fashion, art and much more.
There are four larger shopping centres in Pärnu, which offer a wide selection, ranging from clothing brands all the way to a cinema and children’s playrooms. Three of the shopping centres (Port Artur 1 & 2 and the Pärnu Centre) are located in the city centre, and Pärnu’s largest shopping centre, Kaubamajakas, is located approximately 5 kilometres from the heart of the city. During the summer, free buses will transport you there from the city centre.
Renovated in 2016, the Beach Stadium was immediately presented with the Annual Award from the Estonian Association of Architects, and was selected as Pärnu’s ‘Deed of the Year’. The stadium is the biggest in Pärnu, and various sports competitions are held there. The Estonian National Football Team has also played at the stadium.