Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, its historical and medieval old part, protected by the remnants of a city wall, is filled with medieval houses, alleyways and cobbled streets. The city’s old town has been astonishingly well preserved and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Especially in summer, the Old Town is packed with tourists and day trippers from Helsinki.
Today, Tallinn is a bustling and lively city that considers itself to belong to Northern Europe/Scandinavia, with very close ties to Finland (ethnic, linguistic, and cultural). Visiting Tallinn you will find a mix of at least three architectures: the recent Soviet style (concrete apartment blocks), old Europe (the city walls with rustic buildings and charming living areas with well-preserved and colourful wooden houses) and modern Europe.
The most common ferry route is from Helsinki. Prices average €16-30 one way, depending on operator, season (summer costs more), day of week (Fri and Sat cost more) and time of day (to Tallinn in the morning and back in the evening is popular and hence more expensive).
Tallinn Airport (“Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport” or “Ülemiste Airport”) is served by many companies (included low cost ones) that connect the city to mostly all European countries. Cheapest transfer is Bus #2 (15 minutes to city centre). There is also an Airport bus (#90K) that runs between the airport and various stops in city centre from 8am to 6pm every 30 minutes (Tickets can be purchased on the bus or in the terminal building and cost 2€). Taxis should cost €7-10.
Frequent buses operate between Tallinn and Riga, Latvia with continuing service to Vilnius, Lithuania and the rest of Europe. Buses also run between Tallinn and St. Petersburg, Russia (€30, 8 hours). Free wi-fi is usually available on board.
The Old City is best navigated on foot.
Tallinn has many different taxi companies and independent taxis. As long as prices are displayed on a sticker in the window and on the dashboard, they are completely legal. Locals never take illegal taxis. Do as the locals do and order a taxi by phone. Do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting at the harbour or train station.
Medieval Old Town. Excellently preserved, built in the 15-17th centuries. This compact area is best explored on foot.
Viru Gate, (Entrance to Viru Street). This section of town is known as All-Linn or “Lower Town”, as it’s where the merchants and artisans of old Tallinn lived. Today, Viru is still Tallinn’s trendiest shopping street packed with tourists.
Raekoja Plats. The square in the heart of the Old City, ringed with cafes and restaurants.
Toompea Hill. According to myth, the hill was built on top of the grave of legendary Estonian king Kalev. Toompea was the home of the Danish aristocracy that ‘kept the distance’ with lower classes by building thick walls and a gate tower guarding the entrance.
Ex-KGB Headquarters, Pikk 61. Now the Interior Ministry and not generally open to the public, this is where the KGB detained and tortured suspected dissidents. A Soviet-era joke says that this was the tallest building in Estonia: even from the basement, you could see Siberia. Interrogations were indeed conducted in the basement and you can see even today how the windows were crudely bricked up with concrete to mute the sound.
Kadriorg. A beautiful and rich seaside resort district with mostly wooden buildings from the 18th to 20th centuries, as well as 20th century Art Deco and Functionalist structures. It also includes the baroque pearl of Estonia, the Kadriorg Palace and Garden.
Tallinn Free walking tour. This walking tour, guided by local young students, is an alternative to normal sightseeing trips, and is made especially for true travellers. In addition to the legends and true stories from medieval times to nowadays, fun facts and stories you can get brief overview on what to do and where to party at night. It’s free, tips are welcome!
The Old City is packed with restaurants claiming to offer authentic Estonian food, particularly on and around Raekoja plats. Prices at restaurants near the Raekoja Plats are generally more expensive, yet offer the same quality of food, as restaurants off this main square. Try Cafe EAT is probably the most reasonably priced cafe in the Old Town. It is very popular among local students and backpackers.
When enjoying Tallinn’s nightlife bear in mind that in local places, beers cost around 3 € while in tourist traps much more…
City beaches: Pirita Marina and Beach features a large sandy beach and in the summer it’s full of locals and tourists; Stroomi Beach, (North Tallinn) with clean and warm water( it’s gay friendly); Harku Lake, (West Tallinn). small lake that draws a lot of people. Kakumäe beach (Bus 21 from Balti jam, bus 21A from Väike-Õismäe – Stop Sooranna tee). The water is one of the purest in all of Tallinn beaches.
Go to Valli baar pub and try ‘millimallikas’ (meaning ‘jellyfish’) shot…it’s recommended
For boutiques and souvenirs, your best choice is Viru street in the Old City and its side streets. There are many stalls selling traditional items like woolen pullovers, crystal and amber.
Tallinn Music Week, Tallinn. In spring
Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar, in April.
Tallinn Old Town Days, Tallinn (May/June)
Õllesummer Festival, (Tallinn), in July
Birgitta Festival, Tallinn (Music and theatre festival ) August
Simpel Session, Tallinn (Summer/Winter). International skateboarding and BMX event.
Soomaa National Park
Lahemaa National Park
Kaberneeme is a village that has 2km long beach area with pine tree forests edging right up to the shore.
Tartu – Estonia’s student town
Jägala Falls. Estonia’s largest waterfall.During cold winters, Jägala Falls freezes and is well worth seeing.
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