Last day of November has granted us with a short, but very sunny day. As I had some business in Tartu anyway, we decided to make a small detour and have a look at the newly renovated Estonian Road Museum – a place I have heard a lot about lately but never got around to visit. Luckily, its just a short ride from Tartu and therefore easily accessible by car.
Finding the museum is no big deal if you have Google maps at hand. If not, then follow the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa highway and take the left turn to Põlva and keep going until you eventually see the brown sign “Maantemuuseum”. Visiting the museum in winter has it’s advantages – there were hardly 10 people visiting, and that’s on a Saturday!
Estonian Road Museum aka Maantemuuseum
I have to admit the museum is quite good and if it wasn’t so far from Tallinn, it would definitely be more popular. The grounds are quite large, you can easily spend a few hours here if not the whole day. In summer, there is more to do with open air exposition being open. We still enjoyed the agricultural machinery and trucks, forklifts and excavators presented outside the main halls. During winter months it’s more quiet and the best experience is indoors.
The most impressive part was the machinery hall – modern area with various computer and hi-tech equipment, like car simulator, accident/ER experience with Virtual Reality glasses, crash tests and a really cool exhibit of a BMW car cut in half. Personally, I always prefer modern technology when it comes to museums as the experiences you can get from “traveling into the scene” can hardly be beaten by just simply displaying the items.
The other half of the machinery hall had an exhibition of old and vintage cars, motorcycles and even a camper. For anyone born in the Soviet Union, this is a pure nostalgia.
Kids will love the Road safety Programme, where you get to choose and compile your own road safety programme from activities, such as:
- Safety belt testing on a ramp or roll-over car
- Test with alcohol impairment goggles
- Buggy riding (ages 14 and up)
- Traffic city – introduction of traffic signs, using scooters and bikes etc
Tickets and other info
Visiting this museum is certainly not cheap, adult price is 8€, students are 5€ and family ticket is 18€. It might be worth hiring a guide for 20€ in order to get the most our of your visit, especially if you are traveling in a group. Is it worth going this far just for the museum? Well, I wouldn’t do this as a day trip, but rather as part of an extended weekend in the Southern Estonia. For example, you could hang out in Tartu, go for a hike in lake Pühajärve and stay overnight at the SPA hotel there or take a canoe boat trip on Ahja river.
Also, this area is fantastic during winter months with its hilly landscapes it’s a perfect place to go skiing and snowboarding.