26 Nov The TOP 10 Things to do in Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia, located at the crossroads of Northern, Western and Eastern Europe. You can travel there at any time of the year as you will find many things to do regardless of the season! I have made the list of the TOP 10 Things to do in Tallinn for you to have an amazing getaway!
Beforehand those facts about Tallinn will probably surprise you!
- First of all the Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with first traces of human settlement dating back 5000 years.
- Surprisingly Tallinn is a beach town: in the Pirita district, just outside the city center, a 2km sand strip borders Tallinn Bay.
- Also this city is a popular cruise ship destination, with more than 300 ships docking here each year.
- Another point is that Tallinn is listed among the top 10 digital cities of the world.
- Last but not least you will find a labyrinth of 17th century tunnels under the Old Town! During WWII these were used as bomb shelters, but they were not widely known about to visitors until 2010 when 380 of the passageways were opened to the public!
The Old Town of Tallinn is one of Europe’s best preserved historical city centers! Indeed it has a charming medieval architecture and ambiance. Therefore the first of the TOP 10 things to do in Tallinn is to get lost in the streets of this Old Town. You will find many beautiful buildings to capture!
Viru Gate is the best way to start your journey in the Old Town. This pair of towers is dating from the 14th century. Then, once you are inside the Old Town, you will see houses full of colors and picturesque spots everywhere!
Location: Viru tänav, 10140 Tallinn
Travel and photo tip: If you want to shoot at Viru Gate without too many people, be aware that this is one of the busiest area of the city! Because the street leading to Viru Gate is full of touristy cafes, restaurants, souvenirs and flower shops, you will have to be there early in the morning!
2. Enjoy the vibrant Town Hall Square
Since the last 8 centuries, Raekoja Plats is the main square and the hub of the Old Town of Tallinn. You cannot miss there the amazing Town Hall with its tower! But the colorful pretty merchants houses and cafes surrounding it are also adding to its charm!
In summer the main square is taken over by café tables and some medieval festival, and in winter by the Christmas market! As I told you: there is always something to do in Tallinn whatever the season!
Travel and photo tip: get there early morning if you want to take photos without the crowd!
3. Get the best views of the city
There are a few viewpoints to admire the city from above in Tallinn. Here are my 2 favorites: Patkuli viewing platform and Kohtuotsa viewing platform. Both are located on Toompea hill.
- On the on hand is Patkuli viewing platform: from here you get a fantastic view of the Town Wall and towers, St. Olav’s Church and the harbour area. A staircase, built in 1903, leads down the cliff face to Nunne street and Shnelli Park below.
- On the other hand is Kohtuotsa viewing platform: this one offers a great vantage point of the Old Town’s rooftops and towers and some parts of the modern city (like the TV Tower). The quote on the wall “The times we had” made this viewpoint quite famous. And up there you might encounter some birds like seagulls and pigeons. Far from being shy, they like to pose for photos! For example there is even a seagull that have been nicknamed Steven the Seagull with an Instagram account: Instagram Steven the Seagull !
- Patkuli viewing platform: Rahukohtu, 10130 Tallinn,
- Kohtuotsa viewing platform: Kohtu 12, 10130 Tallinn
Travel and photo tip: sunrise and sunset are the best moments to take photos here.
4. Admire the amazing architecture of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Tallinn’s largest and grandest orthodox cupola cathedral. It was built on 1900. I always had a thing for Orthodox Churches, provably because they are so different from the ones I have in France! Therefore I was amazed by those onion-shaped domes! Visiting this cathedral, or at least looking at it from the outside, is for sure one of the TOP 10 Things to do in Tallinn!
Location: Lossi plats 10, 10130 Tallinn
Travel and Photo tip: the cathedral looks magical at sunset, when I took those photos. And bonus point: it was not busy as you can see!!
5. Chase for doors
Did you know that Tallinn was full of picturesque doors? With many different colors and shapes, the beautiful doors of Tallinn deserved to be captured!! If you are a door lover like me, hunting for doors should be in your TOP 10 Things to do in Tallinn!
For example here is my favorite (first photo with me on the picture): the door of the House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads. Address: Pikk 26, 10133 Tallinn.
6.Visit the fancy Kadriorg Palace
Kadriorg Palace is a baroque palace currently housing the Kadriorg Art Museum. Peter the Great of Russia gifted it to the empress Catherine in the 18th century. What a nice way to declare your love right?! The palace is as amazing inside than outside and has a superb collection of paintings by Western and Russian artists (and some other pieces of art like sculptures).
Travel and photo tip: Kadriorg Palace is surrounded by a beautiful park, perfect for a stroll and for pictures!
More info: https://kadriorumuuseum.ekm.ee/en/
7. Eat in a typical medieval Estonian Place
If you visit Tallinn you cannot miss Olde Hansa! This restaurant will provide you with an authentic medieval experience. The decor looks like a 15th-century tavern and is only lit with candle light in the evening. The menu is composed of dishes cooked according to 700-year-old recipes. On top of that, the staff is dressed up in a medieval way!
All of this might seems like a cliché but the experience was quite nice and the food was good!
Aside of the restaurant, a shop sells souvenirs, snacks and schnapps. I recommend you try the delicious local almonds: they have different recipes like cinnamon roasted almonds or chilli and garlic spiced almonds. I brought a lot at home!
Location: Vana turg 1, Tallinn
Restaurant info: https://www.oldehansa.ee/
Shop info: https://www.shoppe.ee/
8. Visit Telliskivi the creative city
Telliskivi Creative City is the hipster area of Tallinn. It is located in the Kalamaja district, one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Tallinn. You can easily walk there from the Old Town. Once you are in Telliskivi you will find some designer shops, restaurants, bars, flea markets, or photo galleries. It used to be a railway factory when built in 1869. But since 2009 the neighbourhood has functioned as the largest hub for creative economy in Estonia!
You can easily spend half a day here between shopping, looking for some street art or taking some time for a drink or a meal.
Location: Telliskivi tn 60a, Tallinn
More info: http://telliskivi.eu/en/
9. Explore Balti Jaama Turg: a vibrant market complex
Balti Jaama Turg (which means Baltic Station Market) is a modern market complex where people can buy and sell food, manufactured goods, antiques and much more. Almost 300 different merchants and shops are located in the market: a large fish and meat hall, a diverse street food area with almost 20 different eateries, a supermarket and Estonian design and handicrafts, clothes, household goods and antiques shops. On top of that you can go to the gym on the underground floor of the market!
This place is very lively and the great ambiance is bringing many locals in this area. Therefore it’s a good reason for us tourists to visit it! That’s why I placed it in the Top 10 things to do in Tallinn!
10. Take a tour in the outskirts of the city in Nõmme
You can discover many gems around Tallinn! For example, I found two of those in the hillside of Nõmme, a part of Tallinn at around 20 min by car from the city center.
The first one is Glehn’s Castle, a medieval-style castle located inside a forested park. And the second one is a lovely Orthodox Church named Church of John the Baptist.
But you might find more by yourself!
To sum up, you can do so many things in Tallinn that you can’t get bored if you go there for a weekend!
Nevertheless, if you are visiting for a few days here are some facts that will make you wanna explore the country!
- First thing to know: Estonia has over 1,500 islands.
- And almost 50% of Estonian territory is covered by forest.
- During Estonia’s White Nights in late June the sky stays bright from 4am until 11pm (I saw that!!).
- Besides Estonia has over 2,000 km of hiking trails.
- Furthermore according to WHO, Estonia holds 4th place in urban air quality in the world.
- And one last thing to know: distances are short. There is no need to choose between a city break or a nature getaway: you can easily have both!