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Traveling to and working in Tartu

Here we have tried to put in one place all the information which you'll need when you come to stay in Tartu for a few between a couple of days and a few months.  It's obviously still under construction....

Prepare your trip

We recommend that you install Google Translate (or a similar product) on your smartphone, to simplify shopping in the supermarket: display names of foods and lists of ingredients etc are very often not in English.
Occasionally, parts of (the english versions of) web pages are still in Estonian.  Google Chrome is convenient for those cases (right click -> Translate to English).

Traveling to Tartu


There's a little airport in Tartu (TAY) which is served from Helsinki.  There are not many connections, and you might have to spend a night or two in Helsinki (I know, boo-hoo, right?).

The next convenient airport is Tallinn (TLL), with a 150 minutes bus ride (with WiFi and personal entertainment). Downtown Tallinn is a tourist attraction, so if you have a late arrival or early departure, stay the night, and do some sight seeing.  There's a wealth of downtown hotels.  Not downtown, but close to the airport, there's the Hotell Ülemiste, a 10 min walk from the airport if you don't have luggage.

Finally, there's Riga (RIX), in Latvia.  Same as Tallinn, except that the bus ride is between ~ 4 1/2 hours.

Bus from Tallinn airport to Tartu 

A couple of bus companies operates hourly bus lines between Tallinn coach station (Tallinna Bussijaam), Tallinn airport (Tallinna Lennujaam) and Tartu bus station (Tartu Bussijaam).  The buses depart from the Tallinn between ~7 am and ~8 pm; the trip takes about 150 min.  The easiest way to see the timetable and buy tickets is (currently) the Simpel Express web site. Other web sites are SEBE and LuxExpress (confusing when used in English).
Some of the buses lines link the airport directly with Tartu, others go via other cities, with terminal Tartu.

Buy your bus ticket online at least 24 hours ahead, because the bus may be fully booked.  You can show the PDF ticket on your smartphone; or print it; or reprint the ticket at a ticket console in the airport (close to the lower-level exit).

The bus stops at the airport are on the lower level, too, to the left after you exit.  To take the Täistunniekspress, look for the bus stop which says "National Bus Lines", and look out for number 724.

On the LUX Express buses, there's on-board entertainment (bring your headphones or buy them from the conductor), and, of course, free WiFi (unfortunately, since the bus line was bought by LUX Express, the WiFi is unreliable, and some basic services, e.g., Dropbox & Spotify, don't work)
SEBE only has free WiFi.

In Tartu, the bus stops at least three times.  Tartu bus station (Bussijaam) is the last stop; the second to last is Raekoja Plats (Raekoja square).

Bus from Riga airport to Tartu

Check this web site for the bus connection: LuxExpress.  They sell tickets for their Lux-Express and also for the Simple-Express. The buses have free Wi-Fi, but the connection is not particularly good (if it stops working at all, ask the conductor to restart the modem). I think Lux-Express has personal entertainment, but I'm not sure.

Cafes (for working)

The building hosting the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science is nice enough, with kitchens and common rooms on every floor.  Here's a list of cafes, if you fancy a more boheme work environment.
The ordering in the list is roughly south-to-north.

"Dedi" in Kaubamaja mall

Location: Top floor of the Kaubamaja mall
There are two cafes in this location: One is self service restaurant (don't eat here!) with plastic chairs, the other sofas and armchairs and table service.  Coffee is acceptable in the plastic chair place, and ok in the sofa place.
The advantage: large, sunny panorama windows. Guests say the music is awful.

The bakery in Kesklinna Keskus (= downtown mall)

Self service, has a couple of sofas and arm chairs, and bar stools at the window overlooking the busy street. Coffee is ok. There are no restrooms. Warning: Estonian Schlager!

Kaprice (on Raekoja Plats)

One of the 10 or so restaurants/cafes/bars on Raekoja Plats (= town hall square), which have outside seating between May and October. Inside is ok, too. Coffee is good.

Suudlevad tudengid (= kissing students)

One of the 10 or so restaurants/cafes/bars on Raekoja Plats (= town hall square), which have outside seating between May and October. Inside has been redone, haven't been there since then.

Chocolaterie Pierre

One of the 10 or so restaurants/cafes/bars on Raekoja Plats (= town hall square), which have outside seating (one sofa) between May and October. Inside is ok, but visitors say it's a bit too romantic (read, kitsch). Coffee is good. Have a chocolate!


One of the 10 or so restaurants/cafes on Raekoja Plats (= town hall square), which have outside seating between May and October. Inside is nice, too: a couple of big sofas, convenient (for work) arm chairs. One of the tables is directly on the inside of a large window on street level, which gives a lot of light, and is very nice if it's not too sunny (and you don't mind being seen). Coffee is good, a bit on the expensive side.

More on Raekoja Plats

There are a few more restaurants/cafes on Raekoja Plats. Try something new!


Pastry shop / cafe. Very popular with students and profs. Old fashioned arm chairs. Some outside seating. Inexpensive coffee. One of my favourites.

Kohvipaus (= coffee break)

Tiny cafe/bistro with a few small tables. Ok coffee. The closest thing to starbucks there is (quite far, though).


Nice, very spacious restaurant/cafe. Good coffee. Don't eat the pizza!! (I haven't tried the pancakes.) Warning: Estonian Schlager!


Nice French-ish place, with good coffee, unobtrusive French music (escape Estonian schlager), good coffee. Usually not too crowded. The patron, Matthieu, is French. Try the Crèp Breton!

Moving to Estonia?

If you are relocating to Tartu, the following web site has a large amount of information about how things work over here (taxes, health insurance, and the lot).