This summer we decided to head to Tallinn for the start of our summer holiday. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when we were in Tallinn, but when we arrived I was in awe of the beauty of this city. The medieval parts of the Old city, made me feel like I was in a fairytale.
The city feels like a mix of medieval meeting with modern city life, but I loved the charm of this place!
It was magical and so many people were in costume, it almost made me feel like I was at Disney.
We did find that it was very busy when the cruise ships deposited the guests into the city, but this wasn’t every day during our trip. We saw a lot and tried to explore all areas of Tallinn while we were there for 3 nights, so here is my 8 must see places in Tallinn.
These are my favourite 8 Tallinn things to do and see!
This is the main area of the Old Town. It is the official name for the area within the medieval city walls and is so pretty.
Check out the stunning architecture and you can spend hours strolling around.
There are two good viewpoints where you can see the views across this sprawling medieval city. The most popular of these was Kohtuotsa viewing platform. This platform is on the northern side of Toompea hill and has the some of the best views towards the city. We found it was a little busy, and the picture of me taken here was hilarious. (my boyfriend is gifted at photography!)
My favourite view was at the Patkuli viewpoint where you can have a magnificent view over the old town of Tallinn, the Baltic Sea and the harbour.
The medieval city walls are the longest walls that are surviving and there is almost 1.6km left.
Some of the key points to see in Vandalinn –
- The Bastion passages – These are so cool. The passages in Tallinn’s earthwork fortifications were built along with the bastions in the 17th and 18th centuries in order to conceal the movement of soldiers, ammunition and other equipment from the enemy. They were also used to monitor the enemy’s underground mining activities. Sadly, you can only visit inside these with a tour group.
- St Olaf’s Church – The church that has been struck by lightning 10 times, which caused fires on 3 occasions. There is a vast history in this church, with different churches being built on the land since the 13th century. It also has a distinctive spire, which looks a little like patchwork in my opinion.
- St Nicholas’ church – This is another Gothic church in the centre of Tallinn.
- The many squares – There was a couple that we found and the buildings were stunning. I loved the architecture and it is beautiful to explore.
This was an area really close to where we were staying. It is nestled between the old city and the port.
It is a really cool area that has many repurposed industrial buildings and a really cool food vibe. Between it also has some really interesting new architecture, with lots of sharp edges.
We found the best coffee in the whole of Tallinn there at Rost Coffee. It was this super cute cafe, with a wooden interior, but the coffee blend was out of this world!
There is a lovely selection of buildings and it is lovely that so many food and clothing shops have popped up in this previously abandoned industrial area.
Telliskivi creative city
Another redevelopment from the Soviet era. The telliskivi creative city is a redeveloped Soviet Train station, in the borders of the Old town centred in the Kalamanja district.
There are many different offices for NGOs, a lovely walk and some cool cafes/restaurants in old train carriages. During the year there are over 600 events in this area of the city, including a weekly flea market.
Known as the hipster-ville of Tallinn. It is home to the Telliskvi, but there is also so much more to this up and coming district of Tallinn.
This area is also home to the famous seaplane harbour and maritime museum that was so recommended across social media.
There is also the sea fortress here and it is close to Stroomi beach. This was recommended to us by our host as a lovely beach to visit.
Apparently, in North Tallinn, there is a lovely promenade where you can walk or cycle along as well.
St Catherine’s passage – Katariina käik
This is a super cute area. It is another Instagrammers dream. It is the whole beautiful medieval passageway and is a must-see sight.
I didn’t actually go out looking for this passageway, but we found it when wandering around. My boyfriend tried to take pictures of me here, like everyone around us was. However, what I actually got…. is proof I should be behind the camera 95% of the time!
This is full of little shops and workshops that are mostly traditional, connecting to the knit trade of the city. You can see into the open workshops and it is really lovely to watch people working on their trades.
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
A beautiful sight to see, this is the biggest Russian Orthodox Church/cathedral in Tallinn. Traditionally shaped in ‘the onion’ architecture it is one of my personal favourite sights. It was built in 1900 when Estonia was still part of the Russian Tsarist Empire. (My Russian history module in my A levels was very useful in Estonia)
It also has some very loud bells, after some research, I found out there is actually 11 bells that make up the bells you hear every hour.
The interior is filled with mosaics and icons and is worth looking inside. When we went inside it was very busy, as there was a heavy rain shower at that point and people were sheltering from the storm.
Kalev chocolate shop
This place is in Rotermanni and Kalev chocolate is a classic part of Estonia history. First of all, I am a chocolate addict and I was so excited to hear about this place.
It is a very popular brand across Estonia and after trying this, we realised it is insanely good. I may even say, better than Galaxy in the UK!
We noticed the chocolate bars that had 100 on them, after asking our lovely Airbnb host he explained that it is to celebrate the 100 years of Estonian independence.
There is also beautifully painted marzipan which is a whole art form on its own. I loved how stunning these were and their history. They were brought over originally from Persia and are a big part of Estonia history.
If you want to know more about the marzipan, check out my friends at reflections Enroute’s post on a marzipan painting class.
Tallinn Town Hall
This is another great piece of architecture. I loved the square surrounding the town hall and the different feel you got.
It is also home to my favourite medieval restaurant experience called III Draakon or Third Dragon. I wrote a whole post on this experience which you can read here.
You can also walk up the tower. On our last afternoon in Tallinn, after walking around Kalamaja and the Tellisikivi Creative Centre we decided to climb the tower.
** Be warned, the steps are STEEP! I have short legs, but some of these steps were 75cm tall. ** I actually had to bum shuffle down some of the steps on the way back down.
It cost 3 euros each, but there was limited space at the top and it was a little scary to climb up and down. Otherwise, it is lovely to see the views from the top of the red rooftops across Tallinn. Definitely worth doing if you feel fit and want to experience the views for a low price.
Balti Jaam Market (Baltic Station Market)
It has 3 floors of mainly food stalls and trade stalls. On the lowest floor, there is a big supermarket, where we bought an ice cream for dessert and some sports clubs.
The middle floor, which is ground level is home to a big European indoor market. It has numerous meat, fish and vegetable stalls.
The other half has a lot of street food stalls and we ate lunch at one of those. After walking around all of them and deciding which one we prefered, we settled on a build a wrap place. I got chicken and mozzarella and my boyfriend decided that this would be his one chance to have an elk wrap. I was too hungry that I forgot to take a picture, I am not a great food blogger!
We walked around here for ages. The top floor is dedicated to Estonian design and had a lot of clothes, art and design. It was lovely to explore there too.
Other places I wanted to go –
- KGB Museum – As I mentioned I studied Russian history when I was 17, so I was very interested in the Soviet history of Tallinn. I sadly did not have the time to visit the KGB Museum in the Viru Hotel in Tallinn, despite walking past it every day. It looked like a very interesting place and I would definitely go back to visit it.
Kadriorg Art Museum – This is a beautiful building that is on the end of the number 1 tram line. I wanted to go, but in the afternoon we planned to head there – we were both shattered and sat in the park relaxing instead. (Sometimes you can make yourself overtired.) The gardens also look beautiful.
I hope this extensive post helped you understand more about this amazing, medieval and modern city. It is a place that is a fusion between old and new, I would recommend to everyone that they need to visit it. I would love to explore more of Estonia, especially Tartu and the countryside of Estonia.
These 8 Tallinn things to do, are my personal favourites and are must-see sights for everyone visiting the beautiful Estonian capital.
I hope you enjoyed this post.
Until next time,
The Great Ambini
x x x
If you loved this, pin it for later –