Tallinn is a place that is very close to my heart. My dad moved to Estonia when I was 5 for work and since then I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the city quite a few times. I last visited in December last year, so it now feels like the perfect time to share my Tallinn city guide – what I recommend doing, seeing and eating!
I visited at the start of December this time, when Tallinn was in full-on festive mode. I have to say, that Christmas really is a lovely time to visit as the city is covered in lights and there is also a beautiful market in the Old Town square. The winter months are lovely as well – it’s really cold, but it’s so pretty especially when it snows!
What to see
One of the main tourist-y things to do in Tallinn is to take a walk up to Toompea – it’s a hill in the middle of town that holds a lot of the historic buildings in the city. There is the beautiful Russian Church (pictured above), which actually gleams when the sun hits it the right way. The houses of parliament are also located there – they are bright pink and look straight out of a Wes Anderson film!
One of the best parts of making the climb up to Toopea is the views. There are 2 main viewpoints where you can look over the red roofs of the Old Town – perfect for getting the best Instagram of the skyline! The little streets leading up the hill and the surrounding area are just lovely as well – lots of pastel coloured buildings and cobbled streets.
The Old Town
Another main touristy highlight of Tallinn is the Old Town – one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and also a UNESCO recognised site. Honestly, it’s the nicest medieval town I’ve ever visited. It’s quite a large area and there are so many gorgeous little streets to explore.
In terms of things to do, the obvious place to visit is the main square. This is where the Christmas market is located and also a lot of little restaurants, cafes and bars. However, it’s also a good place to start if you want to explore the Old Town. There are lots of streets leading off of it, with plenty of cute little places to discover. That’s what I love about Tallinn – there’s always more places to find in all the narrow backstreets.
Another thing that is really worth visiting is the wool market on Müürivahe Street. It’s a row of little stalls, all normally run by local women, selling various woollen goods such as fairisle jumpers and gloves. The stalls are all built into the old medieval walls, so it’s lovely to look at even if you aren’t buying. But I think the prices are actually really good, considering the quality of the products.
Where to eat
Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of good photos of the food that I ate whilst I was in Tallinn, but trust me when I say there are so many good places to eat! I’ve listed some of my favourites below, which I would highly recommend checking out if you ever visit.
This cafe is located on the square in the Old Town and it is the cosiest little coffee shop ever! It’s built sort of underground – so it’s quite dark, but that just adds to the cosy atmosphere. The coffee is really good and the cakes are pretty delicious as well.
Another favourite in the Old Town, this is a long-standing Italian restaurant that serves the most delicious food. The location is perfect – set in a medieval building on a little side street that is covered in fairy lights during the winter.
I can’t visit Tallinn without eating at Troika – a traditional Russian restaurant located right in the square in the Old Town. The staff all wear traditional Russian dress, the vodka is poured from up high into large shot glasses and there is normally wailing folk music in the background. But the food is really good – my recommendation is the Yasnaya Polyana.
Christmas in Tallinn
While Tallinn is beautiful all year round, it is absolutely magical at Christmas. The whole city is covered in decorations, the market is so festive and the shops are full of the most perfect (but unique!) Christmas gifts. Unfortunately when I last visited there wasn’t any snow, but normally there is a good dusting of the white stuff during the winter.
I’d recommend trying Glogg (the Estonian version of mulled wine), wandering around the Christmas market and taking in the atmosphere. There is also an outdoor ice-rink (where you can rent real figure skates – a real plus if you’re an ex-figure skater like me!).
So that is my little Tallinn city guide! If you’re planning a trip and have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to email me or contact me on Twitter and I can see if I can help.
Posting all of these photos has made me really miss Tallinn already, so I think I’ll have to plan a summer trip at some point. It gets quite warm during the summer months and I’m craving sitting out on a terrace in the Old Town square!