Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, totally surprised me with its mix of historical charm and modernity. Founded in the Middle Ages, the city looks back on a long history. Still it contains futuristic everyday things that are just quite crazy such as centrally controlled buses without drivers. Here are my best tips for those who only have one day for a Tallinn city trip.
UNESCO WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE – THE OLD TOWN OF TALLINn
The historic centre of Tallinn is a World Heritage Site and the absolute main attraction.
The best preserved medieval town in Northern Europe with Gothic spires, winding cobbled streets and enchanting architecture is really something special.
Every house here tells its own story.
The town hall square is the centre of the old town, which is still surrounded by old town walls.
From there you walk a few minutes up to the so-called Toompea (Upper Town) on the Cathedral Hill, where the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is enthroned.
By the way, the wall was built at the end of the 13th century. It is almost two kilometres long, has 26 towers and is one of the best preserved medieval fortifications in Europe. My children were totally thrilled.
The most famous tower is the “Fat Margarethe”, which today houses the Maritime Museum.
SHOPPING IN TALLINN
Tallinn is proud of its various markets, e.g. Balti Jaama Turg, where you can buy souvenirs such as hand-knitted wool pullovers with traditional Estonian folk motifs, funny felt hats, coloured glassware or Babushka dolls (actually they are called Matryoshka dolls).
We couldn’t help but buy some souvenirs.
My husband liked the leather bow ties. I on the other found loved the bags.
Local designers exhibit their products here, be it clothes or jewellery. I would have liked to buy the whole shop!
For me, the Rotermann quarter perfectly reflected modern Tallinn. The architects have created futuristic buildings here, almost according to the motto “turn old into new”. Even though the historical core is the flagship of the city on the Baltic Sea, the contrast to modern Tallinn with its “independent” cash register systems, for example, fascinated me as well.
For art lovers a trip to the Telliskivi Creative City (also called Hipsters Paradise) is definitely worthwhile. This industrial quarter is home to the art scene.
FOOD IN TALLINN
Estonians like to eat and prefer warm and hearty food. Many restaurants offer hearty home cooking with influences from Russia, but also from Germany (a lot with potatoes). But often the interior is more interesting than the menu. I can really recommend the Manna La Roosa between the old town and the Rotermann quarter.
A few streets further on is the Staller Weg. There you will find many restaurants and cafés in the old granary.
For a little snack in between stop in one of the cafés at the “Little House” in the old town. There are countless sweet, small cafés where you can enjoy a delicious little something (the small pastries are definitely worth a sin!).
Useful tipps for Tallinn
The Tallinn Card is certainly worthwhile for those who want to travel around the city without restrictions. You can use all public transport and also visit over 40 museums and sights!
Hop-on-hop-off busses drive to almost all sights (cost approx. 20 Euro/person). Tip: book online in advance!
On the other hand, we have done everything by foot which is no hustle in the relatively small city. As I already mentioned above, the Estonian capital is ultra modern in many things. Did you know that Skype was invented here? It’s no wonder that a lot of startup companies are settling here. The Estonians themselves have a top WiFi network, which is available to them for free. For us foreigners there is a hotspot at every corner.
CONCLUSION: MY DAY IN TALLINN
Sure, a day in Tallinn is way too short. For example, I would have liked to visit the Sea Museum or Katharinental Castle. The self-propelled buses in Tallinn, which are totally futuristic, are also legendary. Well, you can’t do everything in this time. But: it was enough to have me hooked.
On a city which, like no other, perfectly combines the past and the future.
You can discover more exciting Baltic Sea cities here.