Our complete guide to the beautiful city of Tallinn! If you have 1 day, 2 days or 3 days, we have got you covered!

Why visit Tallinn

Tallinn has one of the most preserved medieval cities in Europe with a city wall from the 13th century!

It represents a mix of different these cultures (see why below) and has a cultural vibe that will surprise you for a city located so much to the east!

By the way, it’s Europe! And one of the cheapest destinations in the continent!

It only has 400.000 inhabitants and its still pretty much an undiscovered gem compared to the rest of the European main cities, especially if you wait till the day cruise tourists disappear!

About the city

Location, location, location

Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia. It has almost 500.000 residents and it represents the largest city in the country.
 
Its strategic position on the Baltic Coast made it desirable for many countries, making it a battleground for centuriesDenmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden, and Poland occupied the country several times. All tried to control the important geographical position of the country as a gateway between East and West.
 
And in the last century, its occupation of the Soviet and the Nazis has left its mark in the history of its people… Check out what we learned about how this history impacted in its people on our post Estonia Silence
 
Estonia only became independent in 1992, and a member of the European Union in 2004.

Today…

Today, the city has become a popular cultural hub!

 
With impressive new hipster neighborhoods that will make you love having to linger in this city for days on end.
 
It has become a popular one-day destination from Helsinki. With hordes of tourists coming in every day in the morning to visit the city and leaving in the afternoon with a happy face and full of photos of the old town.
 
I hope that with this post you will realize that this city has much more to offer than what you will see in a one-day tour!
 
We sure fell in love with the city!
 
We arranged big plans for you if you let all those day tourists go home and enjoy the true spirit of the city (almost) all to yourself!

And now for the fun part! One day in Tallinn!

The OLD TOWN

Built from the 13th to 16th centuries, this enclosed neighbourhood of colourful houses, half-hidden courtyards and grandiose churches is the city’s biggest tourist draw.
 
And the fact that it’s all packed within a mostly-intact city wall and dotted with guard towers gives it an extra dose of fairytale charm. It’s small, compact, and easily explored on foot!
 
I can not stress out more the value of FREE TOURS in several cities in Europe. You get to know the city history and walk through the main attraction of the cities at the same time. It is also cheap since you only have to pay what you think it was worth.
 
We went with Free Tallinn Old Town Tour that leaves from the tourist centre at 10 AM, 12 AM and 2 PM.
 
If you arrive earlier, stop at the tourist centre! You get a map and they are there to help you to go anywhere, plus you get free wifi.
 
The free tour passes through several spots in the old town (see the pictures below) and it ends at the town hall square.
St Nicholas Church, Tallinn

Saint Nicholas Church

Freedom Square, Tallinn

Freedom Square

Saint Michaels Church, Tallinn

Saint Michaels Church

Parliament of Estonia, Tallinn

Parliament

Alexandre Nevsky Cathedral (Orthodox Church), Tallinn

Alexandre Nevsky Cathedral

Kohtuotsa viewing platform, Tallinn

Viewing platforms of the city

After that, you should go and meet the rest of the Old City for the day. Beware that you have to pay to enter almost anywhere! Even churches charge you a 2-3 euros entry! We could give you an itinerary, but the best way to see the city is actually to get lost in it!
Some main points to see (marked as red on the map above) are:
  • The oldest pharmacy in Europe! It’s located near the Town Hall Square so it’s easy to find, and its 15th-century ceiling and little museum its worth checking out.
  • The Medieval Coffees – we particularly liked Café Dannebrog, in the city walls, where you have to climb a little medieval ladder to get there. It’s expensive, but the experience of getting there and overlooking the courtyard and the city from above its worth it!
  • Everything in the Pikk Street is worth watching! Look up! The architecture varies from medieval to renaissance to baroque style from building to building.

Old town of Tallinn

Some tips:

  • Go into every alleyway you see, especially because they usually have nice cafes or exhibition arts and crafts studios you can always enter without paying…
  • You can enter most of the churches and view them from the entrance of the ticket office without paying…
Rottermann, Tallinn

Rottermann

When you are tired of the old monuments and just want to go and check out other views, just pass through the Viru gates and head on to Rottermann on the East side of the city, at walkable distance (look at the map).

Rottermann was an industrial city that was reformed to a new neighborhood with shopping centers, nice restaurants, and bars (cheaper than the ones in the city center).

You can stroll around and have dinner there if you are not coming back by ferry to Helsinki that day…

If you have two days…

The North part of the city

Start off in the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel).
 
It’s easy to get there, follow Pikk street until you exit the city walls and cross the road. You will get to a huge limestone building. This was home to an old Power Station, but now it’s renovated as a creative centre and a place for cultural events.
 Contemporary Art Museum, Old Fishing Harbour and Kalarand beach.
Your next stop will be the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia. With free entrance and always with new exhibitions, this museum is a great beginning to the cultural view of this modern city.
 
Then follow the main street (with lots of good street art on the way) until you turn right to the Old fishing harbour.
 
Here you can buy fish to the fisherman’s and also have lunch in restaurants where you can enjoy great local food!
 
After lunch, follow the coastline and relax by the beach in Kalarand! This beautiful stretch of beach follows a promenade called Beeta promenade. It’s a great place to enjoy the views of the Baltic Sea and see the ferry’s coming and going.
 
Then follow the patch to get to Patarei Sea Fortress. This fortress, built in 1828, served first as an artillery battery and after as a prison. Unfortunately, you can only see the exterior now, since its closed for visiting, but the exterior is still impressive.
 
After the fortress, you will get to a harbour. It has military boats you can visit and the Seaplane Harbour Museum.
 
This museum displays a submarine, an icebreaker, a seaplane and the remains of the oldest ship found in Estonia. It also features several creative activities for adults and children. An entry ticket will set you back 14 euros per adult though…
 
After enjoying the ocean life, let’s get into a more cultural mood!

Kalamaja neighbourhood

Kalamaja in Estonian translates to the fish house!
 
And its well named:  starting from the 14th century the area was the home of fishermen.
 
Its wooden houses are now what gives the neighborhood its unforgettable charm.
 
The most unique of these are the ‘Tallinn Houses’. Built in the 1920s and 30s, they have two symmetrical wooden wings separated by a stone central staircase. There are about 500 of these in the city today.
 
It’s a must-see destination for anyone interested in architectural history.
 
Go straight through the gardens in front of the Seaplane Museum and get lost in the streets of Kalamaja… Enjoy this beautiful, quiet neighborhood.
Kalamaja old house

Kalamaja old house

Telliskivi Creative City

Telliskivi Creative City in Tallinn

Telliskivi Creative City in Tallinn

The hipster new neighbourhood in Tallinn!
 
Located in a reclaimed factory area, it is Estonia’s biggest creative economic enterprise centre. There are restaurants, shops, startup hubs, street art, art galleries, a theatre and an antique bookstore… There are events like a flea market on Saturday, street artists, teenagers skating, dance evenings, you name it!
 
It’s THE neighbourhood to be in Tallinn!
 
And a perfect way to end your second day walks drinking a beer in an old train carriage in DEPOO… Also, search for old Soviet souvenirs on the 2nd floor of the new nearby shopping centre (Balti Jaama Turg)!
 
And finally enjoy the bustling new food culture scene of the city with restaurants like F-Hoone, Lendav Taldrik or Trühvel.

And if you can stretch it for 3 days…

The east side of the city

To get to this side of the city, it’s best if you catch a bus. Bus number 221 leaves from the Baltic Jaam area and drops you off near the entrance of Kadriorg Park.
 
This is the most outstanding palatial and urban park in Estonia, covering around 70 hectares.
 
Its construction began in 1718 on the orders of Russian Tsar Peter I. 
 
Follow near the road to one of the most iconic new view of Tallinn – Kumu Art Museum. This is one of the largest art museums in Northern Europe and its beautiful external structure its worth the detour.
 
Keep going down and you will find Peter the Great House Museum. Peter itself and its wife Catherine stayed here on their visits to Tallinn!
 
Continue and you will go through the garden until the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia.
 
Here you will pass through the beautiful fountains that embellish the Upper Gardens entrance to the Kadriorg Palace.

Kadriorg Palace

The jewel in Kadriorg’s crown, however, is the Kadriorg Palace, a magnificent, baroque structure surrounded by manicured gardens and fountains.
This was the center of an estate that Russian tsar Peter the Great established as a family retreat in the early 18th century. It’s now a home to a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia.
Its red and yellow façade with its green roof and its beautiful surrounding gardens make it a must-see spot in Tallinn.
Next, walk your way through the Japanese Gardens and then hop to the beach!
Kadriorg Palace Tallinn

Kadriorg Palace

Pirita Beach Tallinn

Pirita Beach Tallinn

Pirita beach

Pirita beach is by far the largest and most popular in Tallinn – during summer it can attract up to 30,000 visitors a day.
It has a magnificent view of Old Town and the busy sea traffic on the Gulf of Finland. You’ll find ball courts, playgrounds for children, lockers, chaise lounges and water sports equipment rental.
You can enjoy the views and put your feet in the sand, but sorry to tell you… the water is kind of cold!!

From here you can rent a bike or catch a bus to cross the 2km-long beach. After this, you will find the Pirita Convent Ruins and you can follow to visit Metsakalmistu (the Forest Cemetery) and the Botanical Gardens.

Tallinn TV Tower

The Tallinn Television Tower in Pirita is the tallest building in Tallinn and Estonia with 314 meters.

From there you can have a panoramic view of the city and Pirita bay.

You also have a restaurant on the 22nd floor, attractions for children and, for the daredevils, you can have a walk on the edge experience!

To get back to the city, just catch bus number 34.

 

Hope we have covered some nice itineraries for you to enjoy your days in the beautiful city of Tallinn!

We promise you won’t regret your visit!

Check our Tallinn video

See also our Helsinki guide and the other Baltic capital unmissable cities: Riga and Vilnius (coming soon)!

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