Tallinn, a medieval Old Town surrounded by 13-century walls and oozing charm at every turn.
Luckily enough, checking off my remaining Scandi countries (Finland, The Faroe Islands) is relatively high priority for me, so looking at a long weekend in Helsinki and realising I could ferry over to Tallinn for a day seemed too good to be true.
In early September, I flew into Helsinki on a Saturday morning and booked a ferry to Tallinn for that evening. Looking back, I would have stayed in Helsinki all three nights, and instead done the first ferry out/last ferry back on Sunday- would have made luggage storage and a few logistics easier. I was worried about not having enough time in Tallinn, and wanted to start Sunday explorations as early as I could, but as it turned out- I was so exhausted from the day prior, I slept in. And, I needn’t have worried, Tallinn’s Old Town is compact and walkable- easy to see in one day.
Albeit I wasn’t there long, Tallinn didn’t need more than a day to capture my heart. A charming Old Town, beautiful red roofs, picture-perfect cobbled streets- it’s like stepping back in time to the medieval age.
Old Town is so well-preserved, it’s been granted UNESCO World Heritage Status.
If you’re short on time like I was, I’d recommend starting in upper town, and seeing the city from a few lookouts.
Don’t miss: the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (so stunning, I’m now inspired to plan a visit to Russia), and three viewing platforms: Toompea Hill (there’s a cute cafe here to have morning coffee from); Patkuli Vaateplatvorm; Kohtuotsa.
I spent a little over an hour in upper town before wandering down to the town below.
Stop in town square and St. Catherine’s Passage (a lane of local stores and restaurants). I didn’t have much of a to-do list per se, instead, I planned on wandering at leisure and turning down streets when I felt like it. Turned out to be a great plan. I saw just about all of Old Town, and discovered a few gems to have coffee and eat along the way.
- Must Puudel: Incredible vegetarian food – we had the tomato hummus, local cheese board and vegetarian ramen. Everything was great, and we appreciated the menu’s focus on healthy eats
- Von Krahli Aed: Very good Eastern European, focus on ingredients and sustainability. We tried a few of the small plates, along with a few Estonian drinks- a pear cider and apple lemonade with rhubarb
- Vegan Restoran V: Known for their excellent vegan dishes- we didn’t eat here, but did stop to look at the menu
- Pierre Chocolaterie: Stop in if you fancy a sweet treat
- The Living Room Cafe: Beautiful coffee shop, perfect place to start a morning in Tallinn
- Epic Coffee: Down an adorable lane, I was intrigued to stop here to try a Pumpkin latte- autumn in a cup 🙂
- Maiasmokk: Tallinn’s oldest cafe, not much has changed decor wise here in centuries
- Parrot Minibar: Great cocktails and a fun food concept- everything is meant to be eaten in 1-2 bites, so plates are small and flavours are intense (in a really good way)
- Sigmund Freud Bar: Another good cocktail spot in Tallinn, more of a speakeasy feel
- Sazerac Bar: Come here, order a sazerac, relax after a long day of exploring the city
I was surprised by how much I loved Tallinn. It’s becoming a very popular destination, but it didn’t feel crowded- and I was there on a Sunday where there was a city marathon.
Most people say you need 2-3 days in Tallinn. If I had an extra day or two, I would have gotten out of the city, exploring the Estonian countryside or perhaps one of the idyllic islands.
Have you ever been to the Baltic countries? Which one is your favourite?