Ilze Salnāja-Värv is the first SmartEnCity tour guide in Tartu

New attraction in Tartu: A local guide is now offering a SmartEnCity Tour

19 Nov 2019

Ilze Salnaja-Värv is the first tour guide to receive an official certification and approval to start offering a SmartEnCity themed tour to visitors of Tartu.

According to Ilze, the idea to add a SmartEnCity tour to her guided tour selection came very naturally. “I first heard about the project when it started, about two years ago,” she says. “Over the years, media coverage has increased and when I saw the houses being painted, I liked it very much.” She started reading up on the project and discovered that the Tartu smart city project is much more than just fixing up houses – the combination of art, mobility actions and renovations seemed very impressive to her.

A native Latvian, she has been living in Tartu with her Estonian husband for several years now. She studied history in Kurzeme, Latvia but found living in large cities like Riga too exhausting, so when her husband finally managed to convince her, the couple moved to Tartu. She says that for Latvians, Tartu is a special place of historical importance, “Since the 19th century, Tartu has been a very important educational and national awakening center not only for Estonians but also for Latvians.” She adds that the feel and innovativeness of Tartu is another important factor for her. She considers Tartu as a leading example in Estonia, adding that she believes in what Tartu is doing in the field of energy efficiency and addressing environmental issues.

As such, in the afternoon of 25th October, Ilze gave the first demo tour on SmartEnCity to an expert jury and passed with flying colors. “I was very surprised when I was invited to join the jury for this new SmartEnCity tour,” said Andra Somelar, the art coordinator of the SmartEnCity project in Tartu. “Our entire project team is very happy and honored that Ilze decided to focus on us and she has done a wonderful job in learning all the details of the project.”

According to Ilze, she has already recognized interest in the new tour – Latvian tourism agencies have been asking about a tour on the project artworks and it is likely she will give her first official SmartEnCity tour in December. When the weather is suitable, she also plans to combine her future tours with the new bike share system of Tartu by renting electric bicycles for getting around.

“It’s easy for me to talk about Tartu as my home,” Ilze smiles. “I feel like a part of Tartu.”

To book Ilze for a tour, contact her at or by phone at +371 25915699 (LT) or +372 56467573 (EE).