Tallinn – Getting to know Estonia’s capital city
Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia, a lively, photogenic city with lots of interesting places to discover, from ancient churches, medieval streetscapes, brightly colored buildings, and noble merchants’ houses.
Tallinn surprises for the beautiful fairy-tale old town, vibrant modern culture, and art scene.
Top Things to Do in Tallinn, Estonia
The charming old town is part of the Unesco as one of Europe’s most complete walled cities.
The Old Town is really well kept, and it is a perfect place to wander around through the cobblestoned streets looking at the beautiful architecture.
The Viru Gates is one of the entrances to Tallinn’s old town where you can see part of the 14th-century extensive defence system.
I found this area too crowded and not well looked after since they have allowed the opening of a couple of fast-food chain restaurants what to be fair just kills the vibe of the place.
Around Viru Gate, there is also a small flower market.
The Kohtuotsa viewing platform, located on Toompea Hill, offers great views over the city.
On Toompea Hill, you can also find the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral a Russian Orthodox church with black domes, that can be seen from the Old Town.
Located next to Alexander Nevsky Church, is the Toompea Castle.
Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats)
The Town Hall Square is a busy place during summertime with lots of cafes, restaurants and stalls. I recommend arriving here as early as possible to enjoy the peace and quiet.
The surrounding architecture is stunning with merchant houses.
Kalamaja District and Telliskivi Creative City
The Kalamaja District has enjoyed rejuvenation in recent years as Tallinn’s hipster neighbourhood. So to go a bit off-the-beaten-path, Telliskivi Creative City (or Telliskivi Loomelinnak) is the place to go to explore the creative side of Tallinn.
It was for me the most exciting part of the city. Telliskivi is a complex of former warehouses turned into boutiques, restaurants, live music venues, and cafés, and all are beautifully decorated with street art.
KGB Prison Cells
For some history head over to the Patarei prison for an outstanding exhibition. To explore the place that the Soviets used as a high-security facility. Where hundreds of men were locked up and executed. A glimpse of Soviet-era prison life in all its dreariness.
Although it’s far from being a light experience, you can only imagine what horrors they suffered behind bars.
At the time of the visit, the prison was holding an exhibition called ‘Communism is Prison’. I highly recommend a visit. (Ticket 5.00€ or free with Tallinn Card)
The abandoned Olympic stadium – Linnahall
Linnahall is an abandoned Olympic stadium located not far from the Old Town, constructed for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games, hosted in the Soviet Union.
Nowadays most of the structure is blocked off by safety fences. The rooftop is the only part of the building that can be visited.
I heard that there are plans to transform the structure into a conference center, including an opera and concert hall but it still abandoned.
The Kadriorg Art Museum
Kadriorg Art Museum is a museum dedicated to foreign art, located in a former imperial summer residence. If you are lucky enough you may get to listen to a classical music performance.
The admission price is €6,50 but it is lovely just to enjoy the surroundings and that’s free.
Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM)
The Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia is the place to go to see alternative and contemporary art.
The EKKM gives an unexpected insight into Tallinn and Estonia culture. At the time of my visit, there was amazing video work but the exhibitions change regularly.
The Entrance is free, and there is a cosy area outside where you can have a cup of coffee, it’s well worth the visit.
Market Balti Jaama Turg
The Baltic Station Market (Balti Jaama Turg) is a great farmers market where people can buy and sell food, and also non-food goodies.
The market is housed in a brick building next to the train station.
There are several vegan-friendly and 100% vegan restaurants in Tallinn. Luckily veganism seems to be on the rise in Eastern Europe and it’s becoming much easier to find good places to eat.
Tallinn Botanic Garden
I just love botanic gardens, so I couldn’t skip this one. Tallinn’s Botanic Garden has over 4,500 plant species and is perfect for a relaxing stroll away from the city.
Free Walking Tour
While in Tallinn you can join a Free Walking Tour. They are a great way to learn about Tallinn and get some local insight.
Have a day over in Helsinki
Tallinn is just across the Baltic sea from the Finnish capital of Helsinki. So a great opportunity to explore another country during your time in Estonia. Find here how to get to Helsinki by boat and what to do and what to visit while there.
Have you been to Tallinn? what was your impression of the city?
I’m happy to help if you have any questions about Estonia or Tallinn.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha