Pärnu’s rich past and colorful present offer something for everyone. The city centre, the beautiful parks and the resort area with its famous sandy beach and promenade are perfect for leisurely strolls. You will catch glimpses of the Middle Ages, the elegant early years of the resort, the long Soviet era and the fast-moving modern city.
Pärnu, Estonia’s summer capital, is primarily known for its white sandy beach. The beach is just a 15-minute walk from the city centre. Its shallow waters warm up quickly, making it the perfect place for a swim. On hot summer days, the water temperature can rise to 30°C. In fact, the water temperature record at the beach was set in 2010: an amazing 33°C!
But the beautiful beach is not the only source of entertainment in Pärnu. There are three easily accessible hiking trails close to the beach which are worth exploring.
Not far from the central beach area is the 600-metre Pärnu coastal meadow hiking trail, on which visitors can traverse flood meadows, discover unique protected plants and observe the meanderings of the city cows. The gradually rising trail is pram- and wheelchair-accessible for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. There is also an observation tower overlooking the meadow and beach area, although it unfortunately is not pram- or wheelchair-accessible.
The central beach area can be accessed from the Pärnu coastal meadow hiking trail by following the Pärnu Beach Promenade. This promenade has a true holiday resort feel to it and makes the summer capital worth visiting in any weather. The 1.5-km promenade meanders along the beach and will surprise you for its functional design and use of materials. Clever lighting brings people to the beach even after sunset, when the colorful fountains are a sight to behold in the darkness. Near the beach is one of the most interesting sights in the city, Pärnu pier, and the boardwalk leading to it. Pärnu has always been an important port. In order to stop sand amassing in the mouth of Pärnu River, rock piers were built at the beach in the early 19th century at the request of merchants from the city. The 2-km piers remain in their original condition and have become a favourite place for walks among summer holiday-makers. The pier on the left bank of the river has become a symbol of the city and is accessible from the beach park via a boardwalk that is nearly 500 meters long. The boardwalk is pram- and wheelchair-accessible, but the pier itself is not. Occasionally the pier is fully submerged, but at times of low water you can even see the remains of the former wooden pier. Note: Pärnu pier has something of a romantic aura about it. Legend has it that lovers who walk to the end of the pier and share a kiss there will meet with good luck.
Photos: Markus Kiil, Priit Loog
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