Tallinn is without a doubt one of the most underrated destinations in Europe. Not many capital cities are as picturesque and as enjoyable as this little pearl and Tallinn should therefore definitely feature on your next European adventure. Here are some suggestions on what to do in Tallinn.

History and overview:

Tallinn’s origins date back to the 11th century when the first wooden castle was build on the hill Toompea. Since then Tallinn has been part of the kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden as well as the Russian Empire before becoming the capital of the Republic of Estonia from 1918 to 1940. After that Estonia was incorporated into the Soviet Union and thereby into the communist block.

Estonia regained independence in 1991 and joined the European Union in 2004. In 2011 Estonia adopted the the Euro as its currency

All those historical periods have influenced and shaped the architecture and urban structure of the city as well as the mentality of the locals.

Winter in Tallinn’s old town

Language & Population:

Estonian is one of the oldest languages in Europe, it is close to nothing apart from Finnish and both languages are completely unintelligible. Most people have an excellent command of English though, this is usually not the case for the large Russian community in Tallinn. All in all, communication is usually not an issue neither with Estonians nor with Russians

Estonia is a technology crazy country, free wifi is extremely widespread and every Estonian will remind you of the fact that an Estonian invented Skype, congratulations ūüėČ

Estonia considers itself a Nordic country because of its close ties to Finland even tough their flat tax system and history underlines the differences between them and the other Nordic nations.

Accommodation:

The best area to stay is in and around the Old Town where most of the city’s attractions are located.

Sokos Hotel Viru: the first ‘intourist’ hotel that allowed tourists in during Soviet times. The history and atmosphere of this redeveloped Soviet institution make this an authentic place to stay with all the new era facilities. As a bonus, the KGB museum on the last floor will give you the opportunity to learn about Soviet tourism and how the rooms were bugged to find potential spies. Check it out here

Hotel St Barbara: a nice little mid range hotel that has everything you need for a very reasonable price. Check it out here

Old town hostel Alur: the budget option for solo travellers Check it out here

Cultural offer and activities :

Tallinn has numerous cultural sights a traveller should see, located mainly around the Old Town

Old Town: in itself a sight, a medieval masterpiece, one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe.

KGB Museum on the last floor of Viru Hotel: a guided tour definitely worth doing, a chance to see how the KGB worked and recorded hotel guests during soviet times

Seaplane Harbour Museum (Lennusadam): an enormous museum exhibiting ships, weapons and other military vehicles, you can simulate flying an old fighter plane, board an original Soviet submarine and much more.

Contemporary Art museum of Estonia (KUMU): near the presidential palace, well worth a visit for art lovers

Toompea Hill: the limestone hill on which St. Mary’s Cathedral is located, a favourable viewpoint for photographers and travellers equally

A street in the old town
Inside the Russian submarine in the Seaplane Harbour Museum
The Presidential Palace

Wine and dine:

Olde Hansa: (Vana Turg 1) is a great medieval style restaurant in the heart of the old town where you can try all the local dishes and a wide variety of local beers in a medieval tavern atmosphere

Going out:

Tallinn’s nightlife has flourished in recent years with drink tourism being a problem but far less than in Riga. Here are a few spots for nights owls and party animals:

Mad Murphy’s Pub:¬†(M√ľndi 2) a good place where Estonians only make up a small proportion of the customers but nice to enjoy a pint in a cosy atmosphere

Hell Hunt Bar: (Pikk 39) a nice bar to taste craft beers and meet some locals.

Most Puudel Bar: (M√ľ√ľrivahe 20)¬†FWB’s favourite bar in Tallinn, definitely worth a visit, it also features a disco in the basement which I unfortunately missed

Hollywood Club: (Vana-Posti 8) a sizeable club which attracts a young, hip crowd, definitely recommendable

Venus Club¬†(Vana-Viru 14) (not a stripclub): the locals’ favourite, a perfect club to party in style with the locals.





Useful links: 

Check out more Baltic destinations here 

Check out our winter city guide for Helsinki, Finland 

Check out 8 underrated European capitals 

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24 comments

  1. Estonia seems like my kind of place I didn’t know it was a tech savey city. I would love to go there and explore around some day. I have checked Hotel Barbara, looks good and not very pricey. I would definitely give a thought about staying there!

    1. Thanks very much! It is a technology crazy country and Hotel St Barbara has a very good price/quality relation, which is true for most of Estonia:)

  2. This is still an area n Europe that I need to explore. It looks like a very relaxed town, although it’s the country’s capital.

    1. That’s right but it is will probably never become as popular as other European capitals, simply because of its location and size.

    1. 3-4 days would be enough, there are lots of other places in Estonia to visit and there are lots of beautiful neighbourhoods outside of Tallinn

  3. Tallin looks so charming, I love old towns it’s so rustic and mysterious! Would love to visit one day. Your photos are stunning! Nice post thanks for sharing:)

  4. Tallinn is a beautiful charming city and is still on my list to visit. How many days do you think is needed to explore Tallinn? Great to hear that there’s free wifi there! Would love to visit Olde Hansa and sample the local food – my kind of place!

    1. It is a fantastic place and truly underrated, we would recommend at least 3 days to see the city properly, Estonia is the country with the highest free wifi density in the world;)

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