Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, lies on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, only 70 km (43 mi) south of Helsinki. A city of over 400,000 inhabitants, it is home to a third of the country's population, and besides serving as the national capital, it is also the capital of Harju County in Northern Estonia.
Tallinn has been and continues to be an important port of the Baltic Sea, with the busy passenger section of the port reaching the foothill of the picturesque medieval Old City, which has been astonishingly well preserved and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. In a striking contrast, the immediate outskirts thereof are filled with a cluster of modern office towers, with intermittent architectural monuments to the Soviet era. Further out, you will find a bewildering variety of historic and modern neighbourhoods, religious, civic, industrial and maritime heritage. This all provides for the city seeing very sizeable tourist traffic given its size, which in turn means the infrastructure is robust and extensive.
Tallinn is a historic city dating back to medieval times. The first fortress on Toompea was built in 1050 and Tallinn was first recorded on a world map in 1154. In 1219, the city was conquered by Valdemar II of Denmark, but it was soon sold to the Hanseatic League in 1285. The city, known as Reval at the time, prospered as a trading town in the 14th century, and much of Tallinn's historic centre was built at this time.
Tallinn then became a pawn in the geopolitical games of its big neighbours, passing into Swedish hands in 1561 and then to Russia under Peter the Great in 1710. By World War I and the ensuing brief Estonian independence (starting 1918) Tallinn's population had reached 150,000.
Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, only to be conquered by Nazi Germany (1941–44) and then retaken by the Soviets. In World War II, the city was quite extensively bombed by the Soviets, although luckily the medieval town remains. The Soviet Union undertook a program of massive Slavic migration, and just over 40% of Tallinn's current inhabitants are Slavic (compared to an average of 28% for the entire country). On 20 August 1991, Estonia declared independence and Tallinn became its capital once again.
Today Tallinn is a bustling, gleaming city of more than 400,000 inhabitants. However, among the tall glassy buildings and corporate headquarters, Tallinn retains an inner charm seldom found elsewhere. Estonia considers itself a Northern European/Scandinavian country, with very close ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties to Finland, and visiting Tallinn you will find a mix of at least three architectures in this very visual city—old Europe (the city walls with rustic buildings and charming living areas with well-preserved and colourful wooden houses of bourgeois taste of 1920s), Soviet brutalist (concrete apartment blocks), and modern Europe (including McDonald's next to the city walls!).
Tourism is important for Tallinn and this is especially visible in the old town where almost every door leads into a souvenir shop, restaurant or bar. Unsurprisingly the majority of visitors are day trippers from Finland. The neighbours from across the bay usually know their way around without a map and have already seen the sights of Tallinn a couple of times. They come to enjoy low prices on practically all goods and services from restaurant meals to fuel and even plastic surgeries, not to forget as much alcohol as the customs regulations allow you to bring into Finland!
Tallinn is made up of 8 administrative districts (linnaosa), which are further divided into numerous quarters (asum). Most of the points of interest to tourists are located in the seaside districts. The districts of Tallinn are:
- Kesklinn - literally meaning "city centre" and being just what the label says, this district includes the main part of the Port of Tallinn, the Old City (Vanalinn), Tallinn's central business district with its skyscrapers and many other tourist attractions in the quarters surrounding them, including the Kadriorg park and palace and most of the coastline of Lake Ülemiste except for the part immediately adjacent to the airport
- Haabersti - the westernmost district with the extensive coastline holds the Estonian Open Air Museum, the Tallinn Zoo and the Saku Suurhall Arena, as well as the city's largest shopping centre
- Põhja-Tallinn - literally meaning "north Tallinn", extends north of the railway line and includes the industrial part of the Port of Tallinn, as well as many monuments to its military heritage, the Maritime Academy and the quarter of Kalamaja known for its wooden houses
- Pirita - the least populous district of Tallinn stretches along the eastern part of its coast and includes both a popular beach and a forest. This is a desirable place to live, in single-family houses, for the affluent, and home to some tourist attractions as well, including Tallinn's TV Tower or the Botanic Gardens
- Lasnamäe - the most populous district of Tallinn holds over a quarter of its inhabitants in the large Communist-era blocks of flats, but apart from the airport it has little of interest to the tourists
- Nõmme - formerly an independent town founded as a leisure/summer residence, Nõmme remains green and sparsely inhabited, with rich architectural heritage and many private villas
- Kristiine and Mustamäe are residential districts southwest of the centre.
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At these latitudes winters are dark and cold and temperatures under -20°C are not unheard of from December to February. Thankfully, the sea moderates the winter temperatures a bit compared to continental cities with similar temperatures like Moscow. Spring is the driest season and while there are often sub-zero temperatures at night until well into May, the snow usually disappears towards the end of March and the days are getting gradually warmer. Summer months are pleasant with day temperatures between +20°C and +30°C in July and August, however if it's raining, temperatures are lower. The summer is the best time of the year to visit Tallinn. Although Tallinn doesn't technically experience the Midnight Sun, in the middle of the summer it doesn't get really dark at night. Usually you will need your jacket again towards the latter half of September. The autumn is the "rain season" and with both temperatures and the leaves falling, Tallinn doesn't look very attractive this time of the year. However the greyness is covered up by the snow that usually arrives in early December. Visiting Tallinn in December when the Old town is beautifully covered in snow and Christmas decorations is not a bad idea.
- Tourist Information Centre in Old Town, Niguliste 2 / Kullassepa 4., ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
By ferry from Helsinki
The most common ferry route is from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn Port, which has upwards of 20 departures daily. Depending on the ferry, journey time is anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 hours. Prices average €16-30 one way, depending on operator, season (summer costs more), day of week (Fridays and Saturdays cost more) and time of day (to Tallinn in the morning and back in the evening is popular and hence more expensive). Particularly popular are day cruises, which can go for as little as €19 return. All ferries except Linda Line's catamarans can also carry cars, from €25 one way.
The following companies operate ferries between Tallinn and Helsinki:
- Eckerö Line, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates only one ship, the 2000-passenger Finlandia (twice a day, travel time 2.5h). Often has the cheapest fares. If you take the morning sailing to Tallinn and the evening sailing back you will have about eight hours in Tallinn.
- Linda Line, Ädala 4A, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 08:00-16:00. Small catamarans Merilin and Karolin. The fastest option (1.5h) with frequent departures, but susceptible to bad weather. More expensive than the other ships. Apr-Nov only (or as long as the sea is clear of ice)
- Tallink Silja, +372 640 9808, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Up to 6 departures daily on large Shuttles Star and Superstar (2h). They also operate the MS Baltic Queen (3.5h), a 2 800 passenger cruise ship for easy overnight stays in Tallinn. Discounts are available to Eurail pass holders. As this company has more departures you will have more flexibility planning your day trip.
- Viking Line. Large Viking XPRS ferry (2.5h). Departs Helsinki midday and late in the evening. Unfortunately the day departure from Helsinki is very late (11:30) and you will have less than four hours to spend in Tallinn (you need to be back on board half an hour before departure) before the ship sails back. On Sundays the ship leaves even earlier. If taking this boat you would better stay overnight in Tallinn if you want to do any serious sightseeing.
Eckerö and Viking usually have the cheaper fares, as they are more geared towards day-trippers and the party crowd who come to have a great time on board and tend to spend more in the bars, restaurants and shops on board. On the other hand Tallink and especially Linda Line are more geared towards frequent travellers such as Estonians working in Finland.
Other regular ferry routes
- Tallink also offers a year-round daily overnight service from Stockholm taking 16h.
- St. Peter Line provides infrequent overnight services to Saint Petersburg.
Passenger ferry terminals in Tallinn Port
All ferries except Linda Line dock at Reisisadam port, to the north of the center. Tallink uses Terminal D at the south-eastern side of the bay and Eckerö and Viking the Terminal A/B at the northwestern side. At Terminal A/B you can grab a useful free city map just before exiting the terminal. From there, city bus #2 and commercial bus #90K operate to both the city centre (A. Laikmaa stop), inter-city bus station (Autobussijaam stop) and the airport (Lennujaam stop). Alternatively, you can take a leisurely 15 min walk toward the Old Town that is easily visible from the terminals. View a map of route 2.
Linda Line uses the Linnahall terminal, a short distance to the west from Reisisadam, and is also within walking distance, with a stop for bus #2. The journey from the port to the city centre is not all that impressive but don't be shocked - this isn't the real Tallinn!
If you are travelling with your car on the ferry, be aware that the traffic in the harbour can be a bit chaotic as everyone tries to get out from the area as quickly as possible and lanes are not clearly marked, especially around Terminal D.
By your own boat
You can sail with a yacht to Old City Marina, the special harbour for recreational vessels.
Tallinn Airport ( IATA: TLL), also known as Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport or Ülemiste Airport, is 2km south-east of the city centre on the eastern shore of Lake Ülemiste. A pleasantly quiet airport, it has a good choice of cafes and free Wi-Fi throughout the terminal building. Car rental desks are located on the bottom floor next to the terminal entrance. Lennart Meri sees a quite limited number of connections for an airport serving a national capital in Europe, so planning your travel to Tallinn may be tricky depending on your origin or next destination. On balance, the possible need to change at an intermediate airport may lead to a more interesting itinerary.
Airlines and destinations
Tallinn is the hub for Estonian Air, which is a joint-venture between the Estonian state and the SAS Group of airlines of Scandinavia. Therefore, while not a member of any airline alliance, Estonian Air offers connections to SAS Group hubs in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo, from where you can take advantage of the intercontinental and Europewide route networks of SAS. Estonian Air also shared the EuroBonus frequent flyer programme with SAS.
On top if that, Estonian Air has a number of agreements with other flag carriers (including Aeroflot, Air France and KLM) for flights to their hubs, being major intercontinental airports, so that you can get to Tallinn on a variety of Star Alliance, SkyTeam or oneworld-branded flights with a short European hop on Estonian as the final leg.
Competing Baltic region carriers, such as Finnair, Air Baltic or LOT Polish Airlines, also serve Tallinn from their hubs, as do European heavyweights without direct codeshares with Estonian Air, such as Lufthansa, TAP Portugal or Turkish Airlines. This provides for even more opportunities to connect to an intercontinental flight at their respective hubs (Lufthansa has one of the widest networks in the world, including their Star Alliance partners and codeshares, LOT Polish Airlines flies to the East Coast of North America, Finnair and Turkish Airlines have particularly well-developed network in Asia, while TAP Portugal specializes in serving South America via Lisbon).
Of the low-fare carriers, Ryanair is by far the most active with a wide selection of connections between Tallinn and secondary airports such as Bergamo or London-Stansted. The competing EasyJet only offers one connection to London-Gatwick. Norwegian has a singular connection to their hub in Oslo, where you can change to one of their other low-fare European connections or their famously low-fare intercontinental flights (Norwegian offers guaranteed connecting flights on one ticket, unlike many other low-fare carriers). The only other low-fare carrier is Vueling of Spain, with a seasonal connection to Barcelona.
Travel between the airport and the city
Thinking of taking the tram to or from the airport?
Tram lines 2 and 4 have their eastern terminus at the Ülemiste tram stop, located in the Ülemiste district, where the airport is too. Does this mean that the tram will drop you off at the terminal? Nope, the tram is not going anywhere near the airport. Ülemiste tram stop is about a kilometer from the airport terminal as the crow flies, but in practice you would need to walk almost three km, as you would need to cross the railway.
- Taxis should cost €7–10.
- Bus #2 is the only city bus serving the airport. The journey to the Old Town (A. Laikmaa stop near Hotel Viru) takes approximately 15 minutes. Be careful because both inbound and outbound line #2 buses stop at the airport. To get to the city centre, use the bus stop next to the terminal entrance and catch the bus travelling towards "Reisisadam" (the passenger port), and not towards "Mõigu", which is a residential area on the outskirts of the city. The bus stop in the city centre (A. Laikmaa) is located between Hotel Tallink and the Viru Center shopping mall/intra-city bus terminal. The bus does not stop in the intra-city bus terminal itself. You can buy a ticket from the driver (€1.60, no change given) or purchase a rechargeable "green card" from the R-Kiosk located in the terminal building (see Transport). View a map of route 2.
You can also hop on one of the hourly Sebe buses to Tartu. They stop in front of the terminal. Tickets can be bought from the driver or from the ticket machine installed on the ground floor of the terminal building. Buses to other Estonian destinations depart from the city bus station (see below) and do not stop at the airport.
Tallinn train station (Balti jaam) is immediately west of the Old Town. It is the hub of local Estonian trains operated by Elron in the directions of Tartu, Pärnu, Viljandi, Paldiski, and a few other Estonian cities. Go Rail provides daily international services to Saint Petersburg (7h) in Russia.
There currently is daily service from Moscow to Tallinn (via St. Petersburg), but the service has been suspended and reinstated quite frequently in recent times. The current service has only been started on July 10, 2015 and it is anybody's guess whether it will be able to stick around this time.
The intercity bus station (Bussijaam) is on Tartu mnt. halfway between the city center and the airport. You can easily walk here from the Old Town in 15-20 min, or use public transport (buses #2, 17, 23; trams #2, 4).
International buses run frequently between Tallinn and Riga, Latvia (4.5 hr) with continuing service to Vilnius, Lithuania and the rest of Europe. Another popular route is between Tallinn and St. Petersburg, Russia (€25-30, 8 hr). Free Wi-Fi is usually available on board.
The following bus companies operate international bus service to/from Tallinn:
The Old City is best navigated on foot, not that you have much choice. A network of buses, trams and trolleybuses covers the rest of the city. There is an abundance of relatively cheap taxis. Before you jump in a random taxi car make sure you check the price on the window of the car. In Tallinn there are more than 20 different taxi companies and some can be a rip-off.
By public transport
Public transport is free for residents of Tallinn. Unless you are registered as a resident, remember to buy your ticket from the driver (€1.60, no change given; the ticket is valid for exactly one trip, no transfer) or get the rechargeable "green card" (Ühiskaart), which is a brand new, cash-free, and smart way of payment. Use your card to touch a bright orange box every time you enter the bus: a single 1-hour ticket (€1.10, transfer allowed) will be charged automatically and on each day individual tickets will total until the price of the day ticket (€3) is reached. Alternatively, the card can be charged for unlimited travel for 3 days, 5 days, or one month. Get this card from one of the abundant R-kiosks for €2, a refundable deposit which, in practice, is very difficult to get refunded. You can charge the card immediately or do it later on-line (major credit cards accepted).
The Tallinn Card includes unlimited use of public transport.
Bus, trams, and trolleybuses form an extensive network with the major bus hub at Viru Hotel (underground bus station). Some trolleybuses terminate at the nearby stop Kaubamaja, which is adjacent to the main department store (Kaubamaja). Vehicles may have different colours depending on their age and model: some old trolleybuses from the time of the USSR can be still seen in the streets of Tallinn. The level of comfort varies greatly. If you want to avoid steps, look out for special yellow markings in timetables: these denote newer vehicles that are friendly to baby prams and people with reduced mobility.
Tallinn has many different taxi companies and independent taxis. There is no standardised base price or price per km. Some tourist scam taxis have absurdly high prices, and as long as those prices are displayed on the sticker in the window and on the dashboard, they are completely legal. Needless to say the locals never take those taxis, their sole modus operandi is to prey on ignorant tourists. Do as the locals do and order a taxi by phone.
Do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting at the harbour or train station. Same goes for any taxi that looks shabby or does not carry the logo of one of the reputable companies. Also be wary of taxis that look overly luxurious: large Mercedes, TV-screens inside, usually only a very small and vague logo on the door. If you're obviously drunk and are taking one of those questionable taxis from the harbour, you might be driven to some bar/strip club the taxi driver is collaborating with. Usually you will proceed to have a few drinks there without asking for the price and will then be presented with a huge bill. Taxis hanging out in front of nightclubs often have the highest prices.
Reputable taxi companies are:
- Tallink, yellow Mercedes B-class, Audi A6, Skoda Superb or Hyundai I30 Wagon (not to confuse with Tallinn Taxi, who also have their cars painted yellow)
- Tulika, usually white Toyota Avensis
- Tallinna Takso, Tulika Takso's premium line.
- Sõbra, "economy" taxis with a mixed car fleet, somewhat cheaper than the competition. Unlike many other economy taxis, the cars are clean and the drivers competent.
- Marabu, mid-price company
- Krooni which was the highest-rated taxi company according to Estonian taxi rating website Taksod.net in Oct 2009.
- 1taxo Company that brings under one roof independent and licensed taxi drivers and gives the opportunity to order the closest available taxi near you. They also have a handy mobile version of the site.
The road rules and driving style in Tallinn can be confusing to tourists. The one and two way roads change frequently and some signposts are not descriptive. Another peculiarity to be found are roads with three lanes where you need to be a local to know if the lane in the middle is meant for traffic going in your direction or in the opposite direction. That being said, traffic jams in Tallinn clear very quickly. The speed limit in Tallinn is 50km/h, except some major streets such as Laagna tee, Pärnu mnt., Paldiski mnt., Peterburi tee etc., which have a speed limit of 70km/h.
There is an abundance of parking, but you have to pay for it. In some cases you can park free of charge for 15 minutes, but if going for sightseeing or for some major shopping that's of course not enough. The locations of ticket machines, and other methods for paying for parking, aren't always obvious. The ticket machines are not posted clearly, however they are the easiest way of paying for your parking if you have exact change; just pay the price for the time you wish to park, push the green button, take the ticket and put it inside the windscreen where the parking attendant can see it.
Here are a few helpful tips to avoid being fined:
- Each rental car should come with a plastic mock clock on the dashboard that should be clearly visible from the outside of the car. Every car in Tallinn gets 15 minutes free parking in paid parking areas. This clock is used to indicate when you first park at a location. For example if you park at 05:30, your plastic clock should be set to show 05:30. You can then park for free until 05:45.
- Find a bright-orange vested parking inspector in order to determine what type of parking ticket you need.. To ask for a parking ticket, say "Palun, üks parkimispilet" in Estonian. It will help to use a combination of sign language and a phrasebook if your Estonian is limited or non-existent. You may want to simply buy the €1.50 parking ticket to be safe.
- Scratch the correct date and length of time you'll be parking. In kiosks and some grocery stores you can buy parking tickets that look like lottery tickets. The ticket is split into sections and they are written in both Estonian and English. Scratch off the date of usage. Then scratch off the time you wish the ticket to start. Make sure it is clearly visible next to the clock on the dashboard.
- Mobile phone payment is very popular, but you will need a local mobile contract to use it.
- Prices and additional information regarding parking in Tallinn are available on-line.
Signs prohibiting parking are not always well visible, one example is the area between the Terminal D in the port and the Norde Centrum shopping centre. One thing to look out for is signs in a form or another with the word Eramaa - this is Estonian for "private" and means that parking is either prohibited or available against a fee.
There are more than 180 km of bicycle roads in Tallinn. The Eurovelo international route goes from West to East, giving you a good chance to ride comfortably through the city. Many bicycle roads are located in green parts of the city and are meant more for recreation, although suitable for commuting. If you do decide to use a bike to get around, you can ride on every road. Usage of the side-walk for biking is also allowed, though naturally you need to heed the pedestrians.
- City Bike, Uus 33 (500 m from Viru Street, McDonald's corner), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Over 140 bicycles and lot of extra gear. Real cyclist centre with experienced staff, opened in 2003. Tours, good recommendations for day-routes in Tallinn and self-guided tours in all over Estonia. €10-13 for 24 hours.
The Old Town of Tallinn is very comfortably covered on foot.
Audio guides in several languages are available for small charge at the tourist centres.
Kesklinn (city centre)
According to myth, the hill was built on top of the grave of legendary Estonian king Kalev, but more historically, it's solid limestone and the site of the Danish castle that founded the city in 1219. Toompea was the home of the Danish aristocracy and relations between the toffs and the plebs were often inflamed, which is why it's surrounded by thick walls and there's a gate tower (1380) guarding the entrance. Check out the viewpoints, some of which give great views over the city. There's also a cluster of amber (merevaik) shops around here (no Estonian origin but popular among cruise tourists).
- Toompea Castle (Parliament of Estonia), Lossi plats 1A, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:00–16:00. It's the seat of Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu). The castle complex consists of several parts: the western wall and the towers of Tall Hermann, Pilsticker and Landskrone built by the Danes between 13th and 15th centuries; the classic style building of the government of Estonian Governorate built 1767–1773 by the Russians, and the building of the Riigikogu from the 1920s. It's believed that already in the 9th century there was an ancient Estonian wooden fortress on the location.
- Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Lossi plats 10, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A classic onion-domed Russian Orthodox church, built 1894–1900, during the Russification period when Estonia was part of the Russian Empire. In 1928, when Estonia was independent, it was argued that the church is a symbol of oppression and architecturally non-suitable, therefore should be demolished. But it survived also the Soviet times, and now is used by the Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate.
- St. Mary's Cathedral (Tallinna toomkirik), Toom-Kooli 6, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The oldest church in Tallinn, originally built as a Catholic church in 1229 but renovated and expanded many times since then, becoming a Lutheran church in 1561.
- Stenbock House (Stenbocki Maja), Rahukohtu 3. Today, the Stenbock House is the seat of Estonia's government, but it was originally built as a courthouse in late 18th century, at the behest of the erstwhile Russian authorities. The Russian treasury eventually found itself unable to pay for the building, so the Count Stenbock, who erected the edifice, was left with it as his personal residence. The treasury was only able to buy it more than a century later, when it finally became the courthouse it was intended to be.
- Estonian Knighthood House (Eestimaa rüütelkonna hoone), Kiriku plats 1. The green Renaissance revival building was erected in mid-19th century as the fourth consecutive home of the Estonian Kinghthood, a congregation of essentially German nobles who pratically controlled Estonia up to its independence in 1920s. Since 1920s, it played host to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Nattional Library, and the art collections currently on display at Kumu. As of 2014, it is home of the Estonian Academy of Arts. The building is not open to the public as it is used for instruction and faculty work.
Vanalinn (old city)
The Medieval Old City (vana linn) of Tallinn was built in the 15-17th centuries.and is excellently preserved. It contains a large part of Tallinn's sights and is the only UNESCO world heritage site located entirely in Estonia. As clichéd it may sound — you can't say you've been to Tallinn if you haven't visited the old town. This compact area is best explored on foot.
- Viru Gate (Entrance to the Old Town via Viru Street). This section of town is known as All-Linn or "Lower Town", as it's where the merchants and artisans of old Tallinn lived. Today, Viru is still Tallinn's trendiest shopping street and the entire All-Linn is the busiest (and most touristy) bit of Tallinn.
- Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats). The square in the heart of the Old Town, just next to medieval Town Hall (Raekoda), ringed with cafes and restaurants. The square was formerly used as a marketplace.
- Town Hall (Raekoda), Raekoja plats 1, ☎ . Tallinn Town Hall, built at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, is the oldest town hall in Scandinavia and Baltic states. Its heavy stone structure dominates the square. Nowadays it's used as a museum where smaller concerts are held.
- St. Olaf's church (Oleviste kirik), Lai 51. Originally built in the 12th century - today it is a Baptist church and probably the most visible landmark on the northern end of the Old Town. When Estonia was part of the Soviet Union the tower was used as a radio tower and a surveillance point. free.
- St. Nicholas church (Niguliste kirik), Niguliste 3. W-S 10-17. St.Olaf's lookalike is located at the other end of the Old Town. Heavily damaged in WW2 and a fire in the 1980's, it is nowadays not used as a church but as an art museum. adults €3.50, concessions €2.
- Museum of Occupations (Okupatsioonide muuseum), Toompea. 8, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tue–Sun 11:00–18:00. Describes the life conditions under Soviet and Nazi regimes.
- City Wall. A section of the City Wall can be climbed from the corner of Suur-Kloostri and Väike-Kloostri, with entry into three towers possible. Quite frankly, the views from up on Toompea are better, and the spiral staircases are steep and somewhat claustrophobic. Admission: €1.25.
- Estonian History Museum (Great Guild), Pikk 17, ☎ (+372) 6968 690. Daily 10-18 (1 May - 30 Sep); Thu-Tue 10-18 (1 Oct - 30 Apr). The History Museum's main location is the medieval Great Guild Hall. Here, the permanent exhibition takes you through 11,000 years of Estonian history by means ranging from striking exhibits of artifacts to interactive "time capsules". Topics covered include a surprisingly wide range, from coinage and wine to the history of the Great Guild building itself. On top of that, there are always some temporary exhibitions which usually serve as a link with present-day Estonia and Tallinn. 4 €; Free entry on the last Thursday of every month and on the International Museum Day, 18 May.
- Estonian Maritime Museum (Fat Margaret), Pikk 70 (Trams 1/2 and bus 3 to Linnhall), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. May–Sept: Mon–Sun 9.00 – 18.00; Oct–Apr: Tue–Sun 10.00 – 18.00. The Maritime Museum dates back to 1935 and is housed inside the largest of the Tallinn city wall towers, aptly named "Fat Margaret" (Paks Margareta). Visiting the museum allows one not only to see the potpourri of maritime-themed artifacts, but also the 16th-century cannon tower and experience the view from the cafe on its roof. While the museum is the original location of the Meermuseum, you absolutely cannot miss their second location in the Seaplane Harbour, where the ships and airplanes are stored (see below) €5, combined ticket with Seaplane Harbour - €14.
- Ex-KGB Headquarters, Pikk 61. Now the Interior Ministry and not generally open to the public, this is where the KGB detained and tortured suspected dissidents. A Soviet-era joke says that this was the tallest building in Estonia: even from the basement, you could see Siberia. Interrogations were indeed conducted in the basement and you can see even today how the windows were crudely bricked up with concrete to mute the sound.
Outside the Old City
- Freedom Square, Vabaduse väljak. The Freedom Square is one of the main squares in Tallinn, featuring the simple and elegant St. John's Church from the 1860s and the contemporary Victory Column, erected in 2009 to commemorate the Estonian War of Independence of 1918-1920. The square looks especially spectacular at nighttime, when the column is lit up.
- Rottermann Quarter. An industrial district between the City and the Tallinn Port. The buildings are from the 19th and 20th century, with motifs of Art Nouveau and Historicism. New and stylish apartment buildings with shopping centre have now been built there widely regarded as architectural masterpiece in Tallinn.
- Tallinn Linnahall, Mere pst. 20 (stop: Linnahall Bus 3 or #90K (Airport bus) to stop 7 and then a 5 min walk to the Linda line terminal past the Domina Inn Ilmarine hotel). A fine example of Soviet Brutalist architecture designed by Raine Karp and Riina Altmäe and built for the 22nd Moscow Summer Olympic Games in 1980 for sailing events held in Tallinn. Scale the exterior of this crumbling monumental eulogy to mass culture and marvel at the fact that beneath its crumbling exterior lies a 5,000 seat amphitheatre (that held a concert as recently as 2008) and a 3,000-seat ice rink. Currently closed to the public as negotiations regarding its redevelopment continue - maybe a last chance to see part of Tallinn's overlooked architectural heritage in its current form. Linda line run their catamaran service to Helsinki from offices adjacent to/underneath the helipad.
- Estonian Firefighting Museum, Raua 2, ☎ (+372) 53 028 404, e-mail: email@example.com. Mon – Thu 9:00 – 17:00, Fri 9:00 – 15:30.
A beautiful and rich seaside resort district with mostly wooden buildings from the 18th to 20th centuries, as well as 20th century Art Deco and Functionalist structures. It also includes the baroque pearl of Estonia, the Kadriorg Palace and Garden.
- Kadriorg Palace, Weizenbergi 37. An imperial Russian summer residence built by Italian architect Niccolo Michetti for Tsar Peter the Great in 1718. It is situated in a 90ha (222 acre) park in the eastern part of the city. The Tsar himself, a classic and mysterious Russian soul, preferred to stay in a modest house nearby. This event signified the beginning of Tallinn's fame as a summer resort for noble and rich Russians for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. Currently, the palace is housing some paint collections and other art. A portion of the complex is now occupied by the Office of the President and not available to the public.
- National Art Museum KUMU, Weizenbergi 37/Valge 1 (stop: Kumu). Opened in February 2006, this is the largest government built building since the liberation and it is an almost 50,000m² (538,196 ft²). The museum, whose architecture is by itself enough to justify the visit, houses a cyclopic house, partly cut out of limestone rock. Permanent exhibition is obviously focused on Estonian art in a wide interval of time. Quality of many pieces is very good and well worth a visit. Also very interesting is the (not too spontaneous) turn of interests of artists toward socialist themes during the USSR period. Exhibitions of modern art, mixed with net/social applications, are often surprising and amusing. Not to be missed or overlooked.
- Song Festival Grounds (stops: Oru, Lasnamägi, or Lauluväljak). A huge Modernist structure where the All Estonian Song Festival, which is held every five years, features 34,000 singers and dancers in addition to a massive audience.
Includes forest parks, Botanic Gardens and Metsakalmistu (the last resting place of well-known Estonians). A few km east of the city centre along the seaside road.
- Tallinn TV Tower, Kloostrimetsa 58a (stop: Motoklubi). A 314 m high, free-standing structure with an observation deck on the 21st floor which, with its 170 metres, is the highest in Northern Europe. It offers spectacular views across Tallinn and, on a clear day, you can see Finland.
- Tallinn Botanical Gardens (Bus no: 34A or 38 stop: Kloostrimetsa). The Tallinn Botanic Garden is in the eastern outskirts of Tallinn, 10 km from the city centre and 3 km from the Pirita Sailing and Recreation Centre.It is a must see destination for nature and plant lovers. The "greenhouse" located near the ticket office houses variety of plants, flowers, trees, cactus family and lot more. Spring temperature is maintained always inside the greenhouse, even during winter season. The outdoor garden is vast and has varied flower collections.
- Metsakalmistu Cemetery, Pirita (stop: Metsakalmistu, Bus no 34A or 38). Tallinn's most famous cemetery, housing Estonia’s presidents Konstantin Päts and Lennart Meri, as well chess player Paul Keres. If you're not there to see the graves of Estonian celebrities, it's a peaceful experience to just stroll among the trees.
- Holy Birgitta Monastery (Pirita beach area, 5km from the city centre). A monastery of Scandinavian female saints, as well as a landmark of 16th century catacombs and ruins. It includes a guest house operated by the nuns.
- Kalamaja Quarter (north west from Old City). The oldest suburb of Tallinn, dating back to the 14th century. It was probably inhabited by fishermen (Kalamaja means "Fish house") and mostly houses workers. The current wooden buildings are from the 19th century.
- Patarei (Battery) Prison, Kalaranna 2, ☎ . W-Su 12:00-18:00, Jun-Sep only. This is the most recent and least-developed historical attraction in Tallinn. Originally decreed by tsar Nicholas I in 1820 as a fortress to protect the city from the sea-born attacks, it was turned into a notorious KGB prison in 1920. The prison ceased operations only in 2004. Entry €2, guided tours from €6, or pay €40 for a three-hour "new prisoner experience" culminating in a last meal with a glass of schnapps (but no execution).
- Seaplane Harbour (Lennusadam), 6 Vesilennuki (No immediately adjacent public transportation stop - you need to walk at least 1 km from either the Linnahall (bus 3, tram 1/2) or Kalamaja (bus 3) stops.), ☎ (+372) 6 200 550, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon-Sun 10.00 to 19.00; Oct – April: Tue – Sun 10.00 to 19.00. Lennusadam, literally "air port", was constructed in 1916 for the purpose of serving the seaplane fleet with a spectacular, three-domed concrete hangar. Today, it serves as an outpost of the Maritime museum, serving its large collection of complete ships, airplanes and maritime and military equipment too large to fit the Fat Margaret. Inside the hangar, the highlight is the complete submarine Lembit, whose interior can be visited as well, a shipwreck from the 16th century and a collection of smaller boats and seaplanes. The crown of the colleciton moored outside in the harbour is the steam-powered icebreaker Suur Tõll. Throughout the museum, a number of state-of-the-art technologies and solutions are employed for a more engaging and enjoyable visit, and the museum has a wide range of activities and tours on offer. As the Seaplane Harbour is a bit out of the way, those getting peckish can enjoy a meal at the museum's restaurant Maru inside the hangars. 10 € (combined ticket with Fat Margaret - 14 €).
- Estonian Open Air Museum, Vabaõhumuuseumi tee 12 (stop: Rocca al Mare or trolleybus 6 or 7 to stop: Zoo and then a 15 min walk. Start walking with a map on hand for directions; otherwise, you might find it difficult.). This museum includes 72 buildings of Estonian vernacular architecture and village milieu of the Tsarist time of rule in a dark, dense forest. This museum provides a picture of the life and its hardship in the old times. The Folklore Society Leigarid gives free dancing performances here at 11AM each Saturday and Sunday. The museum organizes special events during Easter, which provide more insight on Estonian traditions and culture.
- Tallinn Zoo, Paldiski mnt. 145 (Bus stop: Zoo, trolleybus 6 or 7). This is an enormous area. Among its live exhibits, you'll find the world's best collections of mountain goats and sheep, which means there are a lot of them! Tallinn Zoo defies the realities of a relatively modest town -- it features all the elephants and crocodiles a visitor would expect to see in a larger zoo, as well as a breathtaking maze of lake-size ponds that host birds in summertime.
A flag system that regulates swimming. A green flag means it is safe swim, a yellow flag means you can swim, but it isn't recommended and a red flag means swimming is not advised, go in at your own risk.
- Pirita Beach (Pirita rand) (Take bus 1A, 8, 34A or 38. to stop "Pirita", or walk by the sea 5km northeast of centre.). A large sandy beach which in summer is full of locals and tourists.
- Stroomi Beach (Stroomi rand, Pelgurand) (Take bus 40 to stop "Supelranna".). The water is clean and warm, and it is the gay friendliest beach of Tallinn.
- Lake Harku (Harku järv) (Take trolley 6, 7 or bus 16, 36 to stop "Väike-Õismäe".). Small lake that draws a lot of people. The lake gets dirtier by the year and swimming is not always recommended. Watch out for the vipers on the shore!
- Kakumäe beach (Bus 21 from Balti jaam (where the trains arrive), bus 21A from Väike-Õismäe. Stop Landi (21) or Sooranna tee (21A & 21B). From Landi stop keep walking (1km) until Sooranna tee stop, there you'll find helpful signs.). The water is one of the purest in all of Tallinn beaches.
- Pikakari Beach. The water quality is fairly good and it gets deep quite soon when you go in. The huge waves coming from the ships break on shore for the joy of all swimmers. The historical Katariina Pier is nice to walk on.
Sporting & Relaxation
Tallinn offers a lot of sporting opportunities - from ATV rentals to ice skating .
Tourists from European countries often opt for spa holidays in the city.
- Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF). The festival combines a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films and children/youth films.
- The Estonian Song Celebration (Laulupidu). next event: July 4–6, 2014. First held in 1869, takes place every five years. In 2009, 35,000 choral singers gathered to perform for an audience of 90,000 people. It is recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
- Tallinn Music Week. Spring. Showcase festival, aiming to stage the best and most outstanding Estonian talent on two nights in Tallinn's most vibrant live venues, as well as a networking event for the music industry professionals.
- Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar. April. In addition to Tallinn jazz concerts also take place in Tartu and Pärnu.
- Tallinn Old Town Days. May/June.
- Õllesummer Festival. July. Approx 70,000 people attend the festival each year over the course of 4 days.
- Birgitta Festival. August. Music and theatre festival, held at the ruins of the historical Pirita (St. Bridget's) convent.
- Saku Suurhall. Rocca al Mare. Estonia's largest concert and exhibition space, the venue for the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest. The hall and its facilities include an excellent shopping centre that can easily be reached by trolleybus 6.
- Simpel Session. Summer/Winter. International skateboarding and BMX event.
- Tallinn International Horseshow. Spring/Autumn. Biggest international horseriding competition in Baltic states, includes showjumping and dressage. Takes place in Saku Suurhall.
- Tallinn University of Technology Summer School, Ehitajate tee 5, ☎ , e-mail: Siyi.email@example.com. TUT offers every summer courses in English (TOEFL) and Nordic Culture
- Tallinn University Summer School, Narva mnt 25, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tallinn University offers a Summer School to learn Eesti
- Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonia pst 7, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 17:00-20:40. Open Academy for everybody interested in arts. Wide range of courses and interactive creativity from 75€.
- Baltic Film and Media School, Narva mnt 25, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Runs a training program and several other activities in the film & media sphere and has a cooperation with Apple
English language teachers with TEFL certificates or equivalent are in demand. Especially during periods of Summer School and/or TOEFL test times, teachers have good opportunities.
Jobs for non-Estonian speakers are less common in other fields, although several IT companies (e.g. Skype) have English based job openings. Compared to Finland or other Scandic countries salaries are lower, so it could make sense to utilize job opportunities in nearby areas. Estonia is part of the EU and Eurozone, so work permits are easy for EU member states and associated countries. All other will need to apply for work permits.
Department Stores & Shopping Malls
- Viru Keskus, Viru väljak 6. 09:00-21:00. In and around the landmark Viru hotel, it is very busy as the bus terminal is below this mall. It is still in walking distance from the port but serves tourists and locals as well.
- Foorum Keskus, Narva maantee 5.
- Kaubamaja, Gonsiori 2. Opened in 1960, this is the grand old department store of Tallinn, unsurprisingly a lot has changed since the Soviet times.
- Melon Kaubanduskeskus, Estonia puiestee 1/3, ☎ .
- Stockmann, Liivalaia 53, ☎ . Part of the Finnish department store chain, here since 1996. Close to the port and popular with Finnish tourists.
- Rocca al Mare kaubanduskeskus (Take trolley 6 or 7, bus 21 or 22 or the free bus from Passenger Port). A few kilometres west of the old town along Paldiski maantee. Consists of a Prisma hypermarket and tens of smaller, mostly fashion boutiques.
- Ülemiste Keskus (Near the airport; take bus 2 or 15).
- Rotermanni Kvartal. Rotermann's Quarter is a downtown shopping area with clothing and department stores and restaurants. It's situated between Viru Keskus, Tallinn port and the Old Town. If you are walking from the harbor towards Viru Väljak the quarter is on your left hand side. One place to find bargain clothes is the Rotermann Kaubamaja situated right at Mere Puiestee. The Kaubamaja also has a combined cafe and restaurant on the third floor which seems to be surprisingly empty even as they have reasonable prices.
Boutiques and Souvenirs
For boutiques and souvenirs, your best choice is Viru street in the Old Town and its side streets. There are many stalls selling traditional items like woolen pullovers, crystal and amber. Be prepared to bargain in order to get a reasonable price.
- Ivo Nikkolo, Suur-Karja 14. Fashion-interested people can visit the main store of Estonia's first Post-Soviet designer brand Ivo Nikkolo.
- Jaama Turg, Kopli 1. A market place next to the train station.
- Keskturg, Keldrimäe 9. Market place situated 500 m from the bus station. They sell food and clothes.
- Jõuluturg, Raekoja Plats. The Christmas Market on the Town Hall square is open from late November to early January. They sell knitwear, various wooden objects for use and decoration, Christmas tree decorations, gingerbread and such. It's not all about shopping, the Christmas tree in the middle is worth taking a photo of and there's a stage when they sing carols. Of course you can occasionally run into Santa at the market! Don't forget to try a mug of hot glögg, sold at many stalls.
- Vana Turg, Mere Pst.. The name translates to "old market" and is located on a small square just outside the old town. Vana Turg is a place to buy clothes and decoration items often Estonian-made and sometimes sold by the makers themselves — knitted pullovers and caps, gloves, belts and slippers are examples of what you can find here.
- Biit Record, Pikk 9. Indie/electronics. Small but there is a cute bulldog. €reasonable.
- Rockroad Record, Endla 38. Mainly metal and rock/pop/blues also. Owner knows about Estonian and Russian rock music also. Carries many Melodia label records. €reasonable.
- Raamatukoi Grammofon Records, Voorimehe 9. Good selections. Classic / jazz / Estonian / pop-rock and so on. €little bit high.
- Lasering Records, Viru väljak 4,. Mostly new items and some kinds of UK/US indie records & CD. €reasonable.
The Old City is packed with restaurants claiming to offer authentic Estonian food, particularly on and around Raekoja plats. Prices at restaurants near the Raekoja Plats are generally more expensive, yet offer the same quality of food, as restaurants off this main square. Prices are steep by Estonian standards, but still much cheaper than neighbouring Helsinki, which explains why on weekends they're always packed with day tripping Finns.
- Karja Kelder, Väike-Karja 1, ☎ . 11-midnight or later. Pleasant and affordable tourist trap in basement. Located in the middle of Old Town. Main courses €4.50-8.00.
- Kohvik Narva, Narva mnt 10. M-Sa 10:00-20:00, Su 10:00-18:00. Cafe Narva boasts its old-style interior preserved from USSR times. Ladies at the counter are also somewhat brusque and mostly Russian-speaking, although this should not prevent you from enjoying traditional food of Soviet workers as well as delicious pastries baked on the premises.
- Kompressor, Rataskaevu 3 (Just few minutes walk from Raekoja plats.). This place offers an assortment of huge and delicious pancakes at great prices. Don't give in to the temptation to order two portions, one pancake is usually enough. Pancakes: from €3.
- Mauruse Pubi (Estonia pst 8) (Near the city library.). A great local pub, featuring cheap food with hearty portions.
- Loca, Tatari 1, Tallinn (Located near Vabaduse väljak, right next to Söögiplats), ☎ . 11AM-7AM. Popular pizzeria and fast food joint with wild staff and increasing customer service. Open till 7AM. €3-€8.
- Aed (Embassy of Pure Food), Rataskaevu 8., ☎ . 12:00-00:00, Sun: 12:00-18:00. Excellent organic/biodynamic/Demeter food, also full vegan options. Beautiful interior, very charming and romantic, wonderful service. Lower-than-tourist prices..
- Aserbaijan Restaurant Shesh-Besh, Gonsiori 9, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. This dim and blandly decorated Azerbaijan Bar-restaurant "Shesh Besh" offers genuine Azerbaijan cuisine. Although a namesake, it has nothing to do with a branch of Azerbaijan restaurants in Russia. Mains: €6-8.
- Controvento, Vene 12/Katriina Käik. A very nice little Italian restaurant stashed away in a small side passage in the Old Town. Offering genuinely excellent food at reasonable prices with good service. Its only 'flaw' is that it's hard to get into and is most often completely full, even on off-season week nights. You may want to call ahead and make a reservation. Pizzas and pasta dishes are around €10.
- Kohvik Moon, Võrgu 3, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:00 - 23:00 mostly. A rather small restaurant with a nice, minimalistic decor. Serves traditional Estonian food with a Russian influence. Voted best restaurant in Tallinn in 2010. Very popular among tourists, and as such it is usually quite full. Prior reservations are recommended but not mandatory. Main courses 10 € - 20 €.
- Madissoni Grill & Baar, Rävala Puiestee 3 (next to the Radisson Blu Hotel). This open kitchen type restaurant serves good flame-grilled food at decent prices, especially popular for its daily lunch specials, King Club Sandwich and Burgers.
- Pirosmani, Üliõpilaste tee 1, ☎ . 10:00-24:00. Georgian food as it is done in Georgia. It's well out of the way, but that's a good thing. Almost everyone at this restaurant is local (although the menu has English), and tourists are not in sight, so the food here is good and great value. Try the Khinkali or the Harcho.
- Sfäär, Mere puiestee 6E, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 10:00 - 22:00 mostly. Located near the city centre. A rather small restaurant with a simple, yet stylish interior, a bit resembling an old Soviet-era cafeteria. Serves Nordic cuisine and new Estonian cuisine with an Italian influence. The menu is rather short, including only five main courses, four pastas and some starters and desserts. The dishes themselves are attractively presented and tasty. Sfäär also has a clothes shop adjacent to the restaurant. Main courses 15 € - 20 €.
- Troika, Raekoja plats 15. Offers generous portions of Russian food. In the warm summer months, people dine on the terrace. In winter, they head down to the warm cellar. To fill up, get a small zakuski (which is anything but small) appetizer plate. It's big enough for three and costs €9, then dip your pelmeni dumplings (costing €6) in smetana or the other sauces provided and wash it down with a shot of vodka (€5).
- Vanaema Juures, Rataskaevu 10/12, ☎ . Translates as "Grandma's Place", which gives you an idea of the warm welcome you can expect here. Friendly and attentive staff are happy to explain the traditional dishes. Excellent value for money. It's a tiny place, so reservations are essential in the high season. Try the meatballs or the pork with sauerkraut and don't miss the kama porridge for dessert.
- Restoran Peppersack. A middle ages-themed restaurant one block away from the city hall square - even the names of the dishes are medieval themed. Outdoor seating available in the summer, when they also played medieval (what else?) music on a small outdoor stage, and they seem also to have sword fight and oriental dance performances. Probably the main competitor of Olde Hansa and a bit touristy indeed but fun.
- Bar Fish and Wine, Harju 1, ☎ . Mon-Thu 11:30-23:00, Fri-Sat 11:30-24:00. The name pretty much says it. This is a modern cocktail bar and restaurant serving vodka and caviar, fish dishes and a wide range of wines.
- Bocca, Olevimägi 9, ☎ . Mon-Thu 11:30-23:00, Fri-Sat 11.30-24:00, Sun 13:00-22:00. One of the trendiest restaurants in Tallinn. Features Italian cuisine by Nicola Tanda. It also has a nice bar to enjoy cocktails and snacks. This is one of the busiest restaurants in Tallinn. Reservations are highly recommended. €30.
- Chedi (chedi), Olevimägi 11 (next to restaurant Bocca, in old town), ☎ . Mon-Thu 11:30-23:00, Fri-Sat 11.30-24:00, Sun 13:00-22:00. Modern Asian kitchen supervised by Alan Yau from Hakasan, London. Modern and warm interior to give a retro asian impression. Reservations recommended for the weekend and during summer holidays. €20.
- Kuldse Notsu Kõrts, Dunkri 8, ☎ . M-Su 12:00-23:00. Good traditional Estonian restaurant close to the main square. Try the house beer or vodka and fresh buckthorn and honey apertif with your blood sausage or the famous pork knuckle with extra spicy mustard. The traditional desserts are also worth a try. Live traditional music Sep-May F Sa nights. €20-30 including drinks and desert.
- Musi, Niguliste 6, ☎ . 17:00-24:00. This is primarily a wine bar, but it has light meals as well. From the outside it looks like a cosy oasis, and you might think the place is one little rustic room on display but there is more tables behind the wine bar. Welcoming staff and a good selection of wine by the glass. A good place for a relaxed meal, or with your friends before or after dinner. Glass of wine: €4; Small dishes: from €5.
- Olde Hansa, Vana turg 1. The ruling king among Tallinn's purely touristy restaurants with some of them trying to copy its style. The place is simply medieval, not just in terms of food but also in the sense of performance - no electricity, no music except live and authentic, no modern inventions. The house special is bear meat "marinated in rare spices and cooked over a fire in honour of Waldemar II, the brave King of Denmark" costing €40+. Try one of the extraordinary beers, such as the honey beer. It is not likely that you will meet any locals here.
- Restaurant Ö, Mere pst. 6E (close to old town, near harbour), ☎ . Mon-Thu 12:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-24:00, Sun 13:00-22:00. Reopened and two new chefs Martin Meikas and Ranno Paukson with focus on Modern Estonian kitchen. Good view of old town. €20.
- Tchaikovsky, Vene 9, ☎ . Mon-Fri 12:00-15:00, 18:00-23:00; Sat-Sun 13.00-23.00. As the name suggests, it is a Russian restaurant, but don't expect wooden benches, traditional food, and folk music. On the contrary, you will find a selection of Russian delicacies ranging from pancakes with caviar to pelmeni with pork and wild mushrooms, along with fusion-style cuisine (rabbit with Jerusalem artichoke being a good example). Expect delicious food and very high prices, but if you are looking for typical Russian fare, try to find another place for dinner. Mains start from €20.
Tallinn's crazy nightlife is out of proportion to the city's small size. The days of armed mafiosos are over and these days any drunken fights tend to involve stag parties. Exercise some caution in choosing your venue, as some strip clubs and regular clubs make their money by fleecing tourists who come in for a drink. In local places, beers cost €2.5-4.0.
Bars and pubs
- Beer House, Dunkri 5. Plenty of beer types to choose from in this large authentically styled and decorated Bavarian Beer hall, including 5 of their own beers made on site. Try the Medovar Honey beer.
- The Dubliner, Suur Karja 18, e-mail: or firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-midnight (03:00 at the weekend). Popular Irish pub on one of the nightlife axis's. Attracts younger people and is relative new, so no pub crawlers puke in front of the door.
- Drink Baar, Väike Karja 8, ☎ . Su-Th 12:00-23:00, F Sa 12:00-03:00. Fairly new bar, with the widest selection of beers of any pub in town including many quality imports from Brewdog and Mikkeller. Good English-style pub-grub, featuring award winning fish and chips. Monthly comedy nights from the "Comedy Estonia" and quiz nights.
- Hell Hunt, Pikk 39. The name means 'the gentle wolf' in Estonian. A comfortable and homey pub in the Old Town and offers a wide selection of beers (including two of their own brews) and some pretty decent food. Don't miss the spare ribs.
- Kuku klubi, Vabaduse väljak 8. Founded 1935 by local art community and claiming to have had the best accessible cuisine in whole former USSR since 1958 during the Russian occupation.
- Lab Bar, Suur-Karja 10. Laboratory themed bar known for its shots in testtubes. You should definitely try The "Brain Scan".
- Levist Väljas, Olevimägi 12. A cozy alternative bar in Old Town with a small dance floor.
- Lounge 24, Rävala Puiestee 3. Located on the top floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel, it offers spectacular views of Old Town and the Baltic sea from a trendy indoor setting and a breathtaking outdoor terrace. Lounge 24 serves a variety of light fares to full dinner menu, and a wide selection of beverages. Open to the general public.
- Nimeta Baar (The Bar With No Name), Suur-Karja 4. Really fun place, popular with tourists.
- NYC Piano Bar, Vana-Posti 8, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Su-Th 12:00-23:00, Fr-Sat 12:00-03:00. Entrance is on the side (Müürivahe street) not Club Hollywood on the front. Nice Bar with live music (usually starts at 21:30) and small food menu. Popular with middle aged couples and friends of Jazz. Musicians change regularly but in general good level and cocktails are reasonably priced from € 5.
- Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina, Pikk 43, ☎ . 12:00-23:59. Texas-style cantina is a casual place to knock back a Corona or a Bud, or even to try out the frozen margaritas churning in the electric mixer behind the bar. More serious drinkers can try the ‘tequila flights’ - 3 or 5 shots of different tequilas to give you a sampling, not that you’re likely to remember which was which next time around.
- Von Krahli, Rataskaevu 10. An avant-garde theatre/bar.
Double vision in Tallinn
- Arena3, Tartu mnt. 17 (In the Kompassi district). Plays middle of the road pop and disco. Popular with the young crowd. Reasonably priced.
- Bonbon, Mere Pst 6e. Open to all who can get past the strict "face control". Over-the-top décor (chandeliers, leather seats) and prices to match.
- Hollywood, Vana-Posti 8. Wed-Sat 23:00-?. Big club, popular with young Estonians during the week (Ladies Night on Wednesday) and general party crowd at the weekend. Standard is euro trash and top40 songs. Gets started at 23:00 but before 01:00 the party doesn't rock.
- Parlament, Ahtri 10. Bubblegum pop and live events.
- Prive, Harju 6. Tallinn's flashiest nightspot, run by legendary warehouse party organizers Vibe, often has foreign DJs playing. Expensive and has strict face control, so dress up.
- Riff, Viru väljak 4/6 (backside of Viru keskus shopping center), ☎ +3725084602 / +3725038720. Fr-Sat 23:00-05:00. If Russian club music, vodka shots and a vibrant crowd is your desire, this is the base. Pretty empty until 01:00 after then it fills up. They have a nice terrace during summer which is a popular meeting point as the main bus terminal is just 100m away and many stop their for the wait on the first bus in the morning. The club does have many bouncers but as long as you don't carry weapons or start a fight, they are rather passive. entry € 6.
- Teater, Vabaduse square 5 (across the street from Vabaduse square), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fr-Sat 23:00-05:00. Basement club on Vabaduse square. Popular with late twens and smaller groups. Music focus is on 90s and 00s. Door policy is relaxed but most people are dressed up. Usually starts going at midnight. € 8 entrance (€15 for VIP) drinks from €4.
- Virgins, Tartu mnt. 29, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 22:00 - 06:00. Gentlemen's club with erotic shows and luxurious drinks. Popular with business travellers and male tourists. 10 EUR for the entrance.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||up to €50 a night|
|Splurge||over €100 a night|
- Alur Hostel, Lai 20 (Old Town), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Friendly staff, small kitchen and large common room. Wi-Fi available in all of the rooms. Dorm bed: from €9.
- Dancing Eesti, Väike-Karja 1 (Old Town), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 14:00. The staff here can find you anything that you need in Tallinn from legends of the city to secrets of the underground tunnels. A must for people who want to chill or party. Free computer use and Wi-Fi. Dorm bed: from €9.
- Euphoria, Roosikrantsi 4 (Old Town), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The place with a character. Painted walls, daily events, workshops and unplugged concerts make this place different from other hostels. A must stay for artistic spirits. Friendly staff and Free Wi-Fi. Dorm bed: from €9.
- Fat Margeret's, Põhja puiestee 27 (north-east border of Old Town), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Hostel with a big living room, kitchen and a lot of clean toilets and showers. Free Wi-Fi. Bed from €10.
- GIDIC Backpackers, 31 Tartu Mnt (Just outside Old Town), ☎ . Australian-owned.
- Johanna Hostel, Väike-Karja 1 (Old Town), ☎ . Changed owner a couple of times and also the name but still on the same place.
- Knight House, Rüütli 18 (Old Town), ☎ , e-mail: Ilya@knight-house.eu. Hotel quality accommodation at hostel prices. Hostel occupies a house that is over 600 years old, with the centre of the Old Town just out the door. Fully equipped kitchen, common area, free Wi-Fi, free tea and coffee. Dorm bed: from €7; Single: €16-25.
- Old House Hostel, Uus 26, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A very nice, friendly and stylishly decorated hostel in the northern part of the Old Town, very near to the centre of Tallinn. The staff speak excellent English. The rooms are good enough to pass for hotel rooms, but have no private bathrooms. No restaurant, and no breakfast provided - you cook your own food or dine elsewhere in Tallinn. Free Internet connection available for hostel guests. Double rooms from 30 €.
- Tallinn Backpackers, Olevimägi 11 (Old Town), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Includes a sauna. Dorm bed: from €9.
- X Hostel, Vaimu 1 (Old Town), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bunstel & X Hostel have joint forces and therefore the place is under renovation. No date given for reopening
- Hotel Dzingel, Männiku tee 89, Nõmme (5 km from Old Town and easy to reach by bus No 5), ☎ , e-mail: , email@example.com. Double: €45.
- Park Inn by Radisson Central Tallinn, Narva mnt 7C, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is not the best Park Inn in the world, but with some luck you can get a super low room rate compared to its sister hotels under the main Radisson brand. €48.
- GoHotel Shnelli, Toompuiestee 37 (near the medieval Old Town, close to Snelli Park and the Baltic Railway Station.), ☎ . Double: €38. There are discounted rates for guests arriving after midnight - €32.
- Barons Boutique Hotel, Suur-Karja 7, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The hotel is in an old bank building and features and overdose of pretentiousness for what are essentially quite simple rooms. €94.
- Hotel Euroopa (formerly Clarion), Paadi 5, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Euroopa has a first-rate location overlooking the marina basin of the Old City Port of Tallinn, and is generally a very modern hotel. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and perhaps the only downside to it all are wildly clashing textures and patterns throughout the hotel. €95.
- My City Hotel, Vana Posti 11/13, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The hotel in the conspicious white early 20th century building may look like many others in Tallinn with the slightly outdated and pretentious decor, but behind this veneer lies a true dedication to detail, extending as far as featuring a bathtub duck in the courtesy toiletries set. €80.
- Hotel Palace, Vabaduse Väljak 3, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Operated by the local company Tallinn Hotels, the Hotel Palace is stuated in a 1937 buildinging with a stark gray period facade, somewhat contrasting with its name. The interiors have been refurbished in mid-2014 and now feature furniture and fixtures reminiscent of the interwar period. The art-deco theme is continued in the use of motifs from paintings of Konrad Mägi, a famous Estonian painter whose lifetime covered the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. €92.
- Radisson Blu Hotel Olümpia (formerly Reval Hotel Olümpia), Liivalaia 33, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 390 air-conditioned rooms and bars and restaurants. It also has a conference centre, health club with swimming pool and saunas. Free WiFi throughout the hotel. €76.
- Tallink City Hotel, A. Laikmaa 5, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tallink's City Hotel has a very central location, right opposite the Viru shopping centre, but unfortunately it is let down by poor service standards dictated by the group business that is the hotel's mainstay. €92.
- Tallink Express Hotel, Sadama 9, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The Tallink Express is the cheapest of the hotels provided by the ferry operator Tallink, sandwiched between their spectacular headquarters and the Tallink Spa & Conference Center. The rooms, furniture and fixtures are rather basic, and the location a tad remote and not in a pleasant or picturesque part of Tallinn. €68.
- Tallink Spa & Conference Center, Sadama 11a, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tallink's most upscale property is just what the label says, with a pool spa with a number of water-based amenities and a conference centre. The rooms are modern and decorated with sometimes bewilderingly clashing patterns, and some overlook the main pool atrium rather than the outside. There is a considerable distance from the hotel to everything else but the ferry terminal. €92.
- Hotel Ülemiste, Lennujaama tee 2, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. With a location close to the shore of Lake Ulemiste within walking distance to the airport, this hotel counts as Tallinn's airport hotel. Do note however that, apart from the airport and the Ulemiste shopping centre, it is not quite close to anything. Everything about the hotel is reasonably modern, though let down by small niggles. €80.
- Baltic Hotel Vana Wiru, Viru 11, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The hotel has outdated rooms, some of which do not have much in terms of a view, while others feature sloping roofs, and it is bested by other hotels in many other respects. But this is all made up by its brilliant location on the Viru Street in the heart of the Old City. €95.
- The von Stackelberg Hotel Tallinn, Toompuiestee 23, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The hotel is based in a historic building once belonging to the von Stackelberg family, sitting just outside of the Old City of Tallinn. The rooms are quite spacious for a historic property though, and there is an on-site spa providing wellness treatments. €79.
- Merchants House Hotel, Dunkri 4/6 (Town Hall Square), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 31 rooms and six suites. The hotel is a small complex of 14th and 16th century buildings with rooms all looking in on the central courtyard. The historic buildings contrasts nicely with the luxurious designer interiors of the rooms. €115.
- Nordic Hotel Forum, Viru Väljak 3, ☎ , fax: +372 622 2901, e-mail: email@example.com. A new and modern hotel at Viru Väljak square in the city center. Good and generous breakfast buffet. double room 105 €.
- Olevi Residents, Olevimägi 4 (Old Town), ☎ . Really nice and comfortable hotel in the middle of the Old Town. Free internet access. It has a very good hotel restaurant. The building is from the 14th century and has lots of character. Double: €103, breakfast included.
- Radisson Blu Sky Hotel, Rävala pst. 3, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 280 rooms, all equipped with television, telephone, minibar, air conditioning, trouser press, minisafe, refrigerator, internet connection, bathrobes (in superior rooms and suites), hair dryer and coffee and tea making facilities. The rooms are decorated in Scandinavian, Italian, Maritime and Oriental styles. Free broadband. €111.
- Savoy Boutique Hotel, Suur-Karja 17/19, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The Savoy is the most upmarket property among those operated by the local company Tallinn Hotels. The large building stands out among its Old City surroundings, while the interior is appointed in a simple and conservative style. Due to the limitations of the historic buildings, some rooms, especially singles, are rather smallish. €133.
- Schlössle Hotel, Pühavaimu 13/15 (Old Town), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Old storehouse that is converted in a barock-gothic boutique hotel. By some measures the oldest hotel (first erected in 14th century) and renovated in detail to fullfil today's requirements of a 5* hotel. Only 23 rooms, spa and part of Leading Hotels of the world. from € 122.
- Sokos Hotel Viru, Viru väljak 4, ☎ . This is a large matchbox of a building and, for a long time, it was the tallest modern building in Tallinn. It's very centrally located at the edge of the Old Town. In the Soviet days, when Tallinn was a hotbed of espionage, Viru was the city's premier hotel and every single room was famously bugged by the KGB. Today it's just a very good Finnish-run business hotel, and even the gray facade has been whitewashed. €128.
- Solo Sokos Hotel Estoria, Viru valjak 4, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The Estoria is a part of the same building complex as the Viru hotel, but it follows the upmarket "Solo" concept and features colourful and unique design elements throughout its interior. The level of comfort and facilities is higher than at the Viru, but the 93 rooms are placed in a smaller building with less spectacular vistas. €158.
- St. Petersburg Hotel, Rataskaevu 7, ☎ . The St. Petersburg is a sister hotel of the Schloessle, operated by M.C Hotels, and as such a member of Summit Hotels and the Preferred Hotels Group. The boutique property is housed in a historic building at a corner of pedestrianized streets in the Old City. The interior is filled with exquisite appointments and designer or vintage furniture and fixtures. Service and price levels match this standard. €140.
- Swissôtel Tallinn, Tornimäe 3, ☎ . Tallest building within the banking district. 238 stylish guest rooms with either city or harbour view. The hotel houses two restaurants and a deli for guests on the run; Püroval SPA & Wellness delivers private fitness and relaxation facilities, including an indoor pool, a gym, a sauna and a steam room. Views over Tallinn and Old Town are spectacular from 30th floor Horisont Bar. €113.
- Hotel Telegraaf, Vene 9 (Old Town), ☎ , fax: +372 6000 601, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in Tallinn's Old Town, the hotel building was constructed as an exchange station for the Estonian Telegraph company in 1878, and with the historical façade left standing completely renovated to be reopened as a five star hotel in 2007, featuring 86 elegant rooms and suites, a small (Elemis!) Spa area with an indoor swimming pool, two booths for facials and massages, a Symphony Lounge (function room, private events) as well as the renowned Restaurant Tchaikovsky and during the summer months a charming summer terrace. €160.
- The Three Sisters Boutique Hotel, Pikk 71, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A member of Relais & Chateaux, the Three Sisters in the name refer to the three medieval buildings that make up the hotel. As the buildings date back to the 14th century, each of the hotel's 23 rooms is unique in shape and size, as well as appointments - some stay true to the medieval character of the rest of the hotel, while others are surprisingly modern. The steep staircases, sloping roofs and small windows are also part of the package. €139.
While Tallinn is generally safe, various governments warn against the dangers of being pickpocketed or mugged, particularly in the Old Town. Watch your valuables closely, especially on public transport and at Viru Street. The stigmatized outskirts of Kopli and Lasnamäe are probably best to be avoided after dark, although both are a lot safer than the "bad neighbourhoods" in Western-European or North-American cities.
The biggest trap to tourists in Tallinn is getting ripped off by taxi drivers or in "gentlemen's clubs". Many of the latter are known for their exorbitant prices and hidden "fees". Credit card skimming and other similar scams are common practice in those establishments. Stay away, unless you particularly enjoy losing your month's pay in a few hours.
People who arrive to Tallinn by camper van or just by car should be careful and not leave valuables in their vehicles. Unfortunately it's not rare that cars with foreign plates are looted. Those crimes are committed mainly in the area of Tallinn's passenger port and nearby streets where many camper vans stop. There are safer official parking lots, but they are often harder to find, their location might not be very good, and you have to pay quite a lot of money to park in there.
Wi-Fi are available in many public areas as well as restaurants, hotels and bars, many of them can be used free of charge. The site wifi.ee maintains a list of wireless networks.
If you want to send a post card, almost every place selling something also has post cards. However they seldom have stamps. Check the web page of the Estonian Post for post office locations, this is where you can purchase stamps.
- East-Tallinn Central Hospital, Ravi 18, ☎ , toll-free: 1900. Full fledged clinic with all areas covered (ICU, midwife, surgery etc.) and recommended by most embassies.
- Greece, Pärnu Mnt 12, 1st Floor 101 48 Tallinn, ☎ , , (emergencies)fax: +372 640 3561, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- F.Y.R.O.Macedonia, Suurtüki 4A-12, 10133 Tallinn, ☎ .
- Viikingite küla (Viking village), Saula küla, Harjumaa. The "Vikings' Village" is a theme park 29 km from the city, next to Pirita river and Tallinn-Tartu highway but in a deep forest is a scenic place with a tavern, accommodation and its own small lake, from where everyone can catch their own fish and get it cooked. It is suitable for a day out with kids but too tacky for adults. Prices are very reasonable.
- Soomaa National Park is about 60 km (100 mi) south of Tallinn and is known for its swamps and bogs (Soomaa means "land of bogs" in Estonian). Surprisingly, swimming is popular and is said to rejuvenate the skin.
- Lahemaa National Park is about 50 km east of Tallinn and is a place to find some nice forests, seaside and swamps and bogs. One of the most suggested place to go there is Viru raba (Viru bog), that has 5 km foot track and watching tower. You can also start and finish in same location if you go to the tower and back or take a round trip back to start around the bog. There are good maps and information tables at the track. Popular tours to National Park are organized by City Bike, daily.
- Kaberneeme village is about 40 km east of Tallinn on the coast. The village has a 2 km long beach area with pine tree forests edging right up to the shore.
- Tartu - Estonia's student town, 2-3 hr by car or bus to the south-east.
- Jägala Falls. The Jägala Falls (Jägala juga) is Estonia's largest waterfall. It is better to go early in the morning to catch the soft dawn light or in the evening when the sun shines on the falls. During cold winters, Jägala Falls freezes in a spectacular fashion and is well worth seeing. It is located near Tallinn, 15-30 min car drive.
- Hop on the ferry and you are in Helsinki in 2 hours. Remember to bring your passport (for citizens of the European Union an ID-card suffices).