Winter idyll in the summer capital
Pärnu is known among Estonians primarily as a lively and carefree summer capital. In the wintertime however, the silent and peaceful city becomes a fairy tale. As if taken straight out of an Astrid Lindgren creation, there is an ice-skating rink in the city centre, where children have fun during the day, but at night you can feel romance in the evening lights. Pavements, parks and the hiking trail of Pärnu beach are at least as idyllic.
REPLENISH YOUR BODY AND MIND
Who said that you cannot enjoy the beach in winter?
True, instead of building sandcastles, you need to build snowcastles, but the fresh air is just as rejuvenating as in the summer. Estonian winter also offers something exotic – a hike on a frozen bog in snowshoes or disc golfing in the snowy fields is an experience of its own. In the immediate vicinity of Pärnu, there is the Jõulumäe disc golf park, and also Rääma bog, which is almost the same size as the city of Pärnu. A 5–7 km long hike is a pleasurable physical activity that is accompanied with spectacular views of nature.
If it gets too cold, there is nothing more enjoyable or more natural for Estonians than the sauna. There are 8 spas in Pärnu! This is a real paradise for sauna lovers that relaxes the body and feeds the mind. There is a choice for both experienced sauna goers, and those who are just discovering the world of saunas.
Several different cafés and restaurants cater to every taste. Twice a year however, the prices are especially affordable – in October during Pärnu Café Week, and in April during Pärnu Restaurant Week. Every gastronomy enthusiast can satisfy their curiosity and discover new favourites among Pärnu's eateries and the menus they offer.
ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Pärnu is a city both for a romantic weekend getaway and fun family holidays. For families with children, a perfect place to visit is Pärnu Mini Zoo with its exotic animals. There are several dozen poisonous snakes (vipers, cobras, rattle snakes, etc.) many of which are unique even to European zoos. There are also different types of lizard in the terrarium. Braver visitors also have the opportunity to touch some of the animals.
The Creative and Cultural Centre of the Mary Magdalene Guild organises various workshops for both children and adults, providing an opportunity to rest from the demands of daily work, and allowing you to create something for yourself. The guild has a health foods café and a store where you can get acquainted with and purchase the works of renowned local artists, or see how the art is made. It is also worth keeping an eye on the diverse programme of the Endla Theatre where, for example, the children's musical play "Operation Kintsutükk" was premiered on 13th December.
For those who like more elegant entertainment, there are other options for weekend holidays. There are several concerts, including the classic "My Fair Lady" in Pärnu Concert Hall. Christmas Jazz, which takes place in December, also brings several great artists to Pärnu.
Article was published in Nordica´s in-flight magazine Time Flies (autumn-winter 2017).