Tallinn: 6 places to visit

Tiempo de lectura: 5 minutos
Tallinn: 6 places to visit
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Over the centuries, everyone has wanted a piece of Tallinn. It has been occupied by many: Denmark, Sweden and, most notably, Russia. Since 1991 when Estonia finally gained independence from the Soviet Bloc, its vibrant capital, has flourished. Read on to discover 6 fantastic places to visit in this cracking capital!

1. Tallin’s old walled town - a perfectly preserved medieval wonder

Ever dreamt you were in a fairy tale? A visit to Tallinn’s old town is probably the closest you’ll ever get.

Turreted castles that could be straight out of a Brothers Grimm book. Rows of candy-striped terraces. The horizon heaving with sloping terracotta-tiled rooves. It’s no surprise, then, that this UNESCO World Heritage site is often the top of tourist lists of what to see in Tallinn, and it should be near the top of your itinerary too.

The most rewarding activity in Tallinn’s old town is getting lost in its labyrinth of winding, cobbled streets. Going underground, there exists a shadow network of spooky subterraneous passageways, built in the 1600s.

You can walk sections of Tallin’s 13th century city walls, as well as taking a tour through the atmospheric secret Bastion Passages. You’ll really get a feel for Tallinn’s early defence systems, meant to quell the constant, and very real, worry about attacks.

2. Toompea and Pikk Hermann - Tallinn’s picturesque castle complex

Another key component of Tallin’s defences, and in keeping with the fairy tale theme, is the majestic Toompea Castle. It stands proudly on top of a limestone plateau, overlooking the old town.

The building itself reflects Tallinn’s tumultuous history, having changed hands many times over the centuries. It’s an unusual edifice with two distinct sections. The stern stone castle was built in the 13th and 14th century and looks, well, as “castley” as a castle gets! Its bright bubble gum pink baroque wing, ordered by Catherine the Great in the 18th century, adds a flamboyant feel.

Today, the castle is both the seat of the Estonian parliament, and a tourist attraction in its own right. The building is open to the public, free of charge, and you can book guided tours, also a freebie. The grounds are lovely to go for a walk in and you can enjoy the spectacular views of Tallinn and its beautiful bay beyond.

Nowhere will you see more stunning views of Tallinn than from the top of the Pikk Herman tower, one of Toompea’s most important defensive towers. We hope you’re feeling energetic, as you’ll have to climb up 215 stairs to get to the viewing platform, but the vistas from the top are worth every step!

3. Maakri Quarter - rise of the new Tallinn

After all that climbing, you’re bound to have worked up an appetite. Why not grab a bite in the new town, the Maakri quarter, where you’ll find all manner of enticing eateries?

Maakri has been called the “Manhattan of Tallin” and it offers a sharp contrast to the walled section. If the old town is Tallinn’s troublesome past, Maakri is its optimistic future. A modern, vibrant tech capital, waiting to take on the world.

It’s a place to gape at polished mirrored high rises and do some shopping alongside Tallinners. Why not visit in the evening to dine out in style followed by a cocktail in one of its trendy bars?

4. Kadriorg Park and Palace – perfectly picturesque grounds and pond

Now you’ve got to know the two faces of Tallinn’s centre, how about venturing a little further afield? Head east out of the city towards the enormous Kadriorg Park, another of Russia’s legacies in Tallinn.

In this favourite green space of the locals, you’ll find Kadriorg Palace. Much like Tallinn, it’s a melting pot of cultural influences. Planned as a summer palace by the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, and designed by an Italian architect, the complex was originally a very (!) generous present for his wife Catherine I.

Spend the morning relaxing in the exquisite gardens and imagining what it must be like to have your own summer palace. You can visit the palace, which houses the Kadriorg Art Museum to admire art from the 16th to the 20th century.

Finally, you can’t help but admire the beauty of the Swan Pond, so named in the 1930s as this was the decade when these graceful, feathered creatures decided to make it their summer hangout. If it’s good enough as a summer bolthole for a Russian Tsar, it’s good enough for the swans!

5. Port Noblessner and Lennusadam Seaplane Harbour – history of the sea

Next up: from a pond to a port! Noblessner is an old shipyard that has been given a second lease of life as a cultural hotspot.

A must on your list of what to see in Tallinn is the Seaplane Harbour where you can visit an impressive maritime museum, located in some enormous seaplane hangars.

The hangars themselves are a piece of history and a sight to behold. These vast caverns were one of a kind when constructed in 1916 as the first reinforced concrete shell structures of such massive proportions.

The museum is fascinating: a highlight is boarding the perfectly preserved Suur Tõll, once one of the world’s most powerful steam-powered icebreakers.

6. Paks Margareeta – an impressive building with impressive exhibits

If your thirst for seafaring knowledge hasn’t quite been quenched, consider popping into Paks Margareeta (Fat Margaret) on your way back to the old town. This huge, barrel-like building houses a maritime museum and visitor centre.

Much like Tallinn, it manages to combine ancient and modern, with a diverse range of exhibits from a 700-year-old shipwreck, rescued from the sea and preserved, to a range of state-of-the-art interactive exhibits.

Theories abound as to the origin of Fat Margaret’s descriptive title; you can make up your own mind as to whether it was named after a large cannon, or after one of the tower’s ex-cooks.

Step into Tallinn

And that brings us to the end of this riveting round up of what to see in Tallinn. So, what are you waiting for? You’ve got the lowdown on the 6 best places in Tallin. So go on, give this incredible city a try and discover what all the fuss is about!

Frequently Asked Questions

Tallinn is the perfect European city weekend break! We recommend a minimum of 2 days to really do it justice. If you want to do day trips, you’ll need longer.

While Tallinn isn’t quite as much of a budget destination as it once was, it is still a relatively cheap option, especially in comparison with other European capitals.

The most convenient, comfortable and flexible way to get around Estonia’s delightful capital is our very own City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus. With two routes around both the old town and the suburbs, you’ll be able to hop off right next to all the main sights, and you’ll get incredible views from our top deck.

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