10 Best Things to do in Tallinn

Hidden away in the far top corner of Europe, Tallin is one of the least well-known cities of Europe, making it a joy to discover! With a fascinating history and a myriad of cultural influences, Tallin certainly has something for everyone.

1.     Walk Tallinn’s old town

UNESCO World Heritage listed Tallinn old town is packed with sights and activities but compact, so easily explored on foot. The Viru gate and city walls encircle cobbled streets lively squares, Kiek in de Kok medieval Fortifications, and churches such as St Olav’s Church. It’s easy to enjoy an afternoon strolling, taking in the sights, pausing in the cafes for refreshment and browsing souvenirs in the shops.


2.     Town Hall Square

Within the old town but worthy of its own mention is Town Hall Square. Home to Tallin’s town hall, built in 1404, and one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe, Raekoja Plats is a large square that hosts a market, bars and restaurants, concerts, Old Town Days summer festival and, from mid-November a magnificent Christmas tree.

Town Hall Square, Tallinn, Estonia

3.     Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

If you only visit one of Tallinn’s churches, make it the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Standing proud and high on Toompea Hill, next door to the Estonian Parliament, the orthodox cathedral was built between 1894 and 1900 while Estonia was under Russian rule. The building strikes a formidable impression on the Tallinn skyline but the inside is a palace of incredible delicate woodwork and ornate Russian icons.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn, Estonia

4.     Visit one of Tallinn’s museums

To dig deeper into Tallinn’s many stories, it is worth exploring some of the city’s museums. From the KGB Museum confronting life in Tallinn under soviet rule, and Patarei Prison, a memorial to repressed Estonians, and the Estonian History Museum, or Tallinn City Life Museum, to the quirkier Old Smithy (metalsmith workshop), Museum of Puppetry Arts or, for the medically curious, the Estonian Health Museum, Tallinn boasts a surprising variety of mueums.

5.     Kadriorg Palace and Park

Kadriorg is a neighbourhood slightly outside the centre of Tallinn, but worth visiting. Russian Tsar Peter the Great commissioned the construction of Kadriorg Palace, as his 18th century summer palace, and it remains the only Baroque palace in Estonia. The magnificent building today houses part of the Estonian Art Museum’s collection, but there is just as much to see outside in the gardens that feature rose gardens, ponds and a Japanese Garden.

6.     Art in Motion

While not reflective of the local art scene, per se, the Monet2Klimt Art in Motion multimedia exhibit brings some of Monet’s, Van Gogh’s and Klimt’s work to life in an immersive digital display, and can be experienced and enjoyed at your own pace. It’s a restful way to break up the sightseeing!

7.     Panoramic city view of Tallinn

I love a good panoramic view across a city, and Tallinn offers several options. Patkuli and Kohtuotsa viewing platforms offer wide open views across the city. It is also possible to climb St Olav’s tower and, in summer, the Town Hall tower, to take in the old town from above. A nice alternative is the rooftop bar of the Radisson Blu Sky Hotel, if you prefer to enjoy the view with a cocktail in hand.

Panoramic view of Tallinn, Estonia

8.     Eat Estonian Food

How do you truly experience a place? Eat like a local! Estonian cooking is characterised by eating seasonally and enjoying local produce. Staples include beer, vodka, rye bread and pork, but the cuisine today is infused with Scandinavian, Russian and European influences. Starters are often cold dishes such as salads and smoked fish dishes. Mains focusing on meat or fish in the coastal areas are usually accompanied by black rye bread.

Cherry dumplings for breakfast in Tallinn, Estonia – yes please!

9.     Kalev chocolate

Satisfy your sweet tooth, or stock up on gifts to take home, at Estonia’s local chocolate shop, Kalev that specialises in handmade chocolates and marzipan figurines. They also stock chocolate bars in a myriad of flavours ranging from banana, toffee, cherry and almond to pretzel, and even ‘zombie’.  The Kalev shop in the Rotermann quarter also runs a confectionary workshop.

10.  Daytrip to Helsinki

If you’re tempted by a trip to Helsinki it is worth knowing that it’s just a 2hr ferry ride from Tallinn and makes an easy daytrip (saving you the cost of a hotel – Finnish prices can be brutal!) Tallinn’s ferry terminal is a 15min walk from the old town, easy!

Have you visited Tallinn? Have I missed something you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments.

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