Are you planning a trip to Tallinn? If so, you have come to the right place! I visit Tallinn several times a year and have some suggestions on what you may find interesting to see on your visit to the facinating city.
1. Stroll the streets of Old Town
Let’s get this one out of the way! I am sure that every single tourist who visits Tallinn will do this on their first visit. After years of visiting, I don’t have to visit the Old Town every time I go to Tallinn anymore but I have to admit that it’s very charming. On warm summery nights you will love sitting on the outside terraces listening to parties going on in the apartments above you. In winter you will warm yourself up with a glass of glögg from the Christmas Market whilst browsing the local hadicrafts.
2. Climb to see Tallinn from above
Tallinn’s Old Town has some really great viewpoints. Follow all the other tourists and climb up Toompea hill to see a bird’s eye view of the city. This must be the most photographed view in Tallinn and it should not be missed.
The Oleviste Church tower is open in summer. It boasts great views and 232 steps.
The Town Hall tower is also only open in summer. Climb the 115 steps to get to the top. The tower is in Rakeoja Plats, the Old Town’s main square. Make sure you have cash when you visit these towers, as cards won’t be accepted!
3. Get acquainted with Tallinn’s Soviet past
Estonia’s Soviet past may not be pretty but you can still find reminders of it all over the country. I myself am intrigued by the former USSR as it seems unbelievable that it ever happened. If you want to know more of the history and what the Estonians went through, you could start with a visit to The Museum of Occupations.
For more history, I recommend the KGB tour at the Sokos Hotel Viru. You will have to book it in advance. More information in my post here.
If you are interested in things Soviet, then walking around Pirita is a must. There you will see the Olympic Sailing Center built for the Moscow Olympics. The buildings are huge, in true Soviet style. More photos can be seen here.
Another building built for the Olympics was the Tv Tower – Tallinn Teletorn. This is where the Soviets and the Estonians had a showdown in 1991 ending in the Soviets admitting their defeat.
You may want to have a closer look at a huge Soviet war memorial on the way to Pirita. For more information, go here.
The one building I didn’t realize I even had photos of is the former KGB headquarters. As I started hunting my archives, I was surprised to find several. You won’t get access to the building itself but you might want to just see it from the outside although it has lost it’s KGB feel with its’ renovations a few years back. These days the building houses luxury apartments. Some people think is quite macabre as people were tortured in the basement. You will find it at the corner of Pikk 59 and Pagari 1 streets.
4. Discover tunnels under Tallinn and an abandoned prison
Did you know there are tunnels under Tallinn? You can get access to the Bastion Tunnels via a tour which starts at Kiek in de Kök. You should book ahead – more information on their website.
The notorious Patarei Prison has recently been closed for visitors as it was quite dangerous (due to degeneration, not ghosts of prisoners past!) – even with a guide. The prison is still there (for now), so you might want to go and have a peek, even if it’s just from the outside. Photos of what it looked like when I visited can be seen here.
5. Visit the Kalamaja district
For a different view of Tallinn, it’s a good idea to walk a bit further along to the Kalamaja district. You will be fascinated by the wooden houses.
You can also find a great museum there called Lennusadam Sea Plane Harbour. It’s interesting especially for the kids but adults alike enjoy the hands on activities.
When in Kalamaja, you should also make a point of visiting Telliskivi Loomelinnak – the Creative City. What used to be an industrial complex is now a booming place for artsy types, so you can find studios there and unique shops.
If you get hungry – no fear. Kalamaja and Telleskivi have many great and affordable restaurants!
6. Spend some time in a park
The Kadriorg Park was built by the orders of the Russian Tzar Peter I. It’s a stunning, green oasis to stroll around, visit museums or have some coffee. You can even find a Japanese Garden there.
7. Get a dose of culture at the Kumu Art Museum
Kumu Kunstimuseeum is an art museum on the border of Kadriorg park. If you plan to visit just one museum in Tallinn, then you should make it this one. The building itself it worth seeing – designed by Finnish architect Pekka Juhani Vapaavuori. There are two permanent exhibitions and several changing exhibits. The permanent exhibitions are the classics of Estonian art and Estonian art from the Soviet era.
8. Discover the culinary wonders of Tallinn
Tallinn has an array of restaurants to choose from. For the most popular restaurants, you will need a table reservation. You can find some suggestions where to eat in my post here.
9. Have drinks at a rooftop bar
Tallinn boasts many a rooftop bars where you can sip sophisticated cocktails. My favourite being the Swissotel bar – Horisont. Other bars you can visit are the terrace at Kohvik Komeet in summer, Lounge 24 at the Radisson Blu (get one of those mojito jugs!) and the Tallinn Tv Tower’s (Teletorn) restaurant.
10. Stay in a hotel with a pool
Okay, so I’m a sucker for a pool. I guess no-one is going to come to Tallinn just for a hotel pool but having the possibility of using one is always a plus for me. I’m more into a spa kind of pool than one with waterslides. So, if you’re like me, then you will be happy to know that you have many hotels to choose from.
First, I’d recommend the new Hilton Tallinn Park. It’s a gorgeous hotel and the pool area is the best I’ve experienced so far in Tallinn.
If a Hilton is not your cup of tea, then how about the Swissotel? In addition to a gorgeous pool, the breakfast is excellent.
The Nordic Hotel Forum also has a great pool and breakfast. Plus it’s located very near the ferry terminals.
Now the apparently the Telegraaf Hotel also has a pool but I can’t say much about it as I’ve never tried it despite having stayed at the hotel. If you like historical hotels, then this is the one for you, it’s beautiful and located in the Old Town.
If you’ve visited Tallinn before, what are your favourite sights?
What is your favourite restaurant or café?
Where do you like to stay? Is there a hotel with a pool I have missed which you recommend?