Destination Guide

Most visitors will see plenty of Pärnu’s downtown area and beach, but there are also loads of interesting parks and villas around town that are worth exploring. All it takes is a
few minutes of leisurely strolling and a bit of curiosity.

Essential Pärnu
Rüütli tänav B-2. Historic downtown Pärnu is defined by its main pedestrian thoroughfare, Rüütli tänav (Knight Street).

The 400- metre stretch of the street between Ringi and Vee, and a few streets that branch off from here, are home to a hodge-podge of intriguing buildings dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

This is also where you’ll find Pärnu’s most exclusive shops.

The Beach A-4.

Often the first thing visitors do when they arrive in Pärnu is head straight for the sand, rip off all their
clothes, give a loud yell and dive into the water.

Alright, that doesn’t really happen much, but for a lot of summer tourists, Pärnu begins and ends with its
white sand beach. Aside from the bronzing bodies and volleyball games you can find on any beach, there are other sights here as well.

One is the functionalist-style Rannahoone (beach house) dating to 1939. Find this building, with its distinctive, mushroom shaped balcony, right on the beach. Nearby is the Kuursaal, an intricate, wooden beach salon dating to 1893.

Parks A large part of what makes Pärnu such a relaxing place to visit are its vast, green areas designed for strolling.
The most notable of these are Koidula park, adjacent the downtown area, with its colourful flower beds and fountain, and the recently renovated Rannapark, established back in 1882, next to the beach. Rannapark is dotted with various sculptures, flower gardens and play-areas, but the most interesting part is the section west of Mere pst., which is home to some odd works of modern outdoor art, as well as a memorial to the victims of the Estonia ferry disaster of 1994.
Architecture It seems that around just about every corner in Pärnu there’s another building that can inspire sincere ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs.’ In addition to the abovementioned Rannahoone, the Rannahotell (beach hotel) at Ranna pst. 5 stands out as another wonderful example of functionalism.

Completed in 1937, it was designed by the same architect, Olav Siinmaa, who also had a hand in creating one of the most recognised symbols of the town – the neo-classicist Pärnu Mud Bath building (pictured) which dates from 1926-27. Not far from here, at Mere pst. 7, is the early Jugendstil Ammende Villa, which was built in 1905 for a wealthy merchant. It’s now a hotel and restaurant, so you can easily sneak a peak at its fantastically restored interior or stroll around its well-tended garden.

Lydia Koidula Memorial Museum

F-3, Jannseni 37, tel. (+372) 443 33 13,,
Dedicated to the life of the matriarch of Estonian poetry, this museum is housed the 1850s-era parish school where
Koidula grew up. The displays also pay tribute to her father, H. V. Jannsen, an equally important figure in the rise of Estonian national awareness, who founded the first Estonian newspaper, Perno Postimees.

Open 10:00 – 18:00. Closed Mon, Sun. Admission 20kr.
Mini Zoo

Address : A-2, Akadeemia 1,

tel. (+372) 551 60 33,,

Though the name evokes cute, fuzzy creatures that kids would love to pet, the Mini Zoo is in reality a reptile house full of fat pythons and venomous vipers, and even has a pair of confiscated Nile crocodiles. Those fuzzy creatures will be their dinner. Now tarantulas have been added to the exhibit.

Anyone squeamish about spiders and snakes should definitely stay away.
Open 10:00 – 19:00. Admission 50kr.

Pärnu Museum

C-2, Aia 4, tel. (+372) 443 32 31,,

The Pärnu Museum proudly presents 11,000 years of Pärnu City and County history from the mid-Stone Age through the present. There’s even a recreated Soviet-furnished room to remind us of the more recent past. When you arrive, be sure to ask for the information sheet, in English, that gives explanations of the various displays.

Open 10:00 – 18:00. Closed Mon, Sun.
Admission 40kr.
Historic sights

Red Tower (Punane Torn)

Hommiku 11.

The oldest building in Pärnu, this squat, round bastion (dating to the 15th century) once stood guard on the edge of town. It is now smack in the centre and, as you can see, white. Stone Jetties Located where the beach meets the river.
In 1764, merchants persuaded Catherine II of the necessity to build a stone jetty and to deepen the estuary. Not all rocks are stable, but the summer sun and glistening water make a walk down to the tip of the jetty nearly irresistible.

The second jetty is less accessible.

Tallinn Gate

Kuninga 1.

When the Gatehouse was built in the 17th century, it really was the passage to Tallinn, leading south and west across the moat. A true highway connection between Tallinn and Pärnu was not ensured until 1938, when the bridge you see today was built across Pärnu River.

Located along the old moat. The remains of the rampart which once surrounded the town around Lõuna Street.

Walking along the rampart wall toward the river, you’ll find a disused lighthouse and a cannon which was once one
of two guarding the approach to the city. Concerts are often held in the amphitheatre.
Currently undergoing a facelift that should last until the beginning of 2011.
Ekateriina Church

B-2, Vee 16.

This brightly-painted Russian Orthodox church, built by Catherine II, 1764 – 1768, is even more impressive from the inside. The curious are welcome to wander in and gaze at the ornate icons.

Services in Russian Sat 08:30, 18:00, Sun 09:00.

Open 11:00 – 18:00, Sat, Sun 09:00 – 18:00.
Eliisabeti Church

B-3, Nikolai 22, tel. (+372) 443 13 81,,

After its predecessor, St John’s Church (1609), was taken by a Russian garrison in 1714, Empress Elizabeth ordered this
new church constructed with roubles from her state treasury.

The church, 1744 – 1747, took the Empress’s name. The copper rooster has been roosting atop the steeple since

Open 12:00 – 18:00, Sun 10:00 – 13:00.

Services run Sun at 10:00 and 18:00. On Tues and Thurs at 18:00 and Fri at 09:00.

The Lord’s Transfiguration Orthodox Church

C-2, Aia 5, tel. (+372) 444 35 32.

Look for the distinctive and somewhat stark-looking brick church with numerous small spires. The church was built in 1904 in the classic Russian style, with a cross-shaped layout.

Open 17:00 – 19:00, Sun 09:00 – 13:00. Closed Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri.

1949 Deportations .

Watch for a large stone on the left side of the road on the way to the train station, on Riia mnt.
This monument, located so near to the sad point of departure for so many, is a reminder of the Estonians packed on trains and deported to Siberia in 1949.
Endla Theatre

C-2, Keskväljak 1, tel. (+372) 442 06 66,,

A bronze replica on the corner of Aia and Rüütli depicts what was the Endla Theatre, a grand old Jugend style structure that stood on this spot until it was destroyed in WWII. It was here that Estonia first declared independence in February, 1918, 12 hours earlier than in Tallinn, and not surprisingly, the edifice left off the list of those rebuilt by the Soviets after the war.
Fallen Heroes 1941 – 1943

The massive monument at the gate to the cemetery on Riia mnt., just out of town, commemorates the ‘heroes who fell in defence of Pärnu from the Fascists, 1941-43’. In reality, during those years Estonia was stuck in a great tug-o-war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Local urban legend has it that the 200 or so.
Soviet soldiers who died ‘forcing out the Fascists’ actually died after eagerly drinking something left behind in a tank by the retreating Germans that smelled like alcohol, but wasn’t.
Independence monument

C-2, Keskväljak 1.

It was on this spot in the former Endla Theatre that Estonia first declared independence in February, 1918, 12 hours earlier than in Tallinn. Here you can find a modern stone and glass rendition of the balcony where the declaration was signed, as well as a giant replica of the declaration itself.
Johann Voldemar Jannsen

B-2, Rüütli tänav.

To mark the 150-year anniversary of continuous Estonian journalism, the city erected a likeness of the journalist and founding father of the Perno Postimees, the first periodical Estonian language newspaper. Jannsen (1819 – 1890), the father of Lydia Koidula was more than just a journalist, as it turns out he was also responsible for organising the first song festival, for penning the words to the national anthem and he was an integral part of the Estonian National awakening.

Lydia Koidula

The pensive woman in the park off Pühavaimu is Lydia Koidula, the poet perhaps dearest to Estonian hearts.
For more, see the Lydia Koidula Museum.

Raimond Valgre

A-4, Mere pst. 22.

The beloved musician and composer of the famous Saaremaa Valss, Raimond Valgre (1913 – 1949), holds a special place in the hearts of Estonians. The statue of the man and his accordion next to the Pärnu Kuursaal was was created by sculptor Rait Pärg and installed in 2003.
St. Nicholas Church

All that’s left of what was once the tallest tower in Pärnu is a plaque located at the corner of Malmö and Nikolai Streets. Built in the 14th century, the church was destroyed in 1944. The plaque was placed in 1989 by Pärnu’s German community.