Viljandi is an idyllic small town on a beautiful lakeside known for its long history and vibrant cultural scene. It is an easy going place with soothing surroundings, exciting events, great sport facilities, cozy cafés and restaurants within walking distance from each other. It has everything required for comfortable existence, but at the same time gives you space and pace for doing your own thing. It is easy from here to explore other places as this lovely and green town is well connected to other Estonian cities.
The heart of Viljandi beats in a slightly mysterious ancient rhythm and carries you away with itself. Many generations spanning several centuries have lived in this place, strong cultural history and old traditions represent the past, the present and the future, creation and preservation.
Viljandi was granted town charter in 1283, but first records of civilization date back to the 5th millennium B.C. Hanseatic merchants settled here as early as the 14th century, and in celebration of this golden era joyful Hanseatic Days are taking place here every year.
Viljandi is famous for its folk music festival that brings friends of folk music to town from all over the world and wraps the town in festive mode for four long summer days. It is also home to an Estonian Traditional Music Center, one of Estonia's oldest professional drama theatre Ugala, Viljandi Puppet Theatre, Kondas Centre of arts, Craft Camp, Creative Industries Center of Viljandi County, several galleries and craft shops, and last but not least – UT Viljandi Culture Academy. Viljandi belongs to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) since 2019 as a City of Crafts and Folk Art.
Popular recreational areas are the song festival ground, the ruins of Viljandi order castle, the suspension bridge and the park around it. The most breathtaking view over the lake opens up from the ruins, and from the observation platform on the opposite shore you can admire the charming silhouette of Viljandi town. A variety of nature and picturesque sights can be also enjoyed all year around on the 12 km long trail around Lake Viljandi on foot, bicycle, or skis depending on the mood and season. A cross country running competition, the Grand Race around Lake Viljandi, takes place on the same route on the first day of May annually.
In the summer you can swim, take a trip with a rowingboat or with a catamaran on the lake. During the winter the lake freezes and becomes an excellent skating rink, additionally snow-tubing and snow-boarding can be enjoyed on the hills around Viljandi lake. Old Water Tower and strawberries are among town’s important symbols. Big red concrete strawberries can be found all around the city centre, sweet, isn’ it? They were inspired by the naïve artist Paul Kondas’ painting “Strawberry Eaters”, which has been selected as one of the 100 greatest paintings in the world.
Viljandi is like a well kept secret, come and see for yourself!