Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, lies on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, only 70 km (43 mi) south of Helsinki. At the historical and medieval heart of the city is the hill of Toompea, covered in cobbled streets and filled with medieval houses and alleyways. The lower town spreads out from the foot of the hill, still protected by the remnants of a city wall. Around the city wall is a series of well-maintained green parks, great for strolling.
The city's old town has been astonishingly well preserved and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, it is now in better shape than ever, with the bigger roads converted into fashionable shopping streets reminiscent of Zürich or Geneva. Especially in summer, the Old Town is packed with tourists, with the traditional daytrippers from sister city Helsinki increasingly supplemented by Europeans taking advantage of cheap flights.
Alas, the new town sprawling all around is largely built in typical concrete Soviet style, now joined with glass-and-steel cubes celebrating the post-Soviet economic boom. The new centre of town is Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square) at the edge of the old town, and nearby is the giant matchbox of Hotel Viru, the former Intourist flagship and notorious den of Cold War intrigue (every room was tapped and monitored by the KGB!).
Old Europe meets New Globalisation
Three faces of Tallinn: Skyscrapers, the medieval Old Town and industries
Tallinn is a historic city dating back to the medieval times and it was first recorded on a world map in 1154, although the first fortress was built on Toompea in 1050. 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 center 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 eventually 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 Aug 20, 1991, Estonia declared independence and Tallinn became its capital once again.
Today, Tallinn is a bustling, gleaming metropolis of 400,000 people. However, among the tall glassy buildings and corporate headquarters, Tallinn retains an inner charm seldom found anywhere else. Estonia considers itself a Northern European/Scandinavian country, with very close ties to Finland (ethnic, linguistic, and cultural), and visiting Tallinn you will find a mix of at least three architectures in this very visual city -- old Europe (the city walls and rustic buildings), Soviet brutalist (crumbling apartment blocks), and modern Europe (including McDonald's next to the city walls!).
Tallinn Traveller Info, Vana-Posti 2, Tallinn Old Town, Phone: +372 5837 4800, (Email: email@example.com), . The permanent office of the alternative tourist information center that is run by local youth and provides you with best insider tips about Tallinn. They can also assist with booking bus and ferry tickets, different day trips, tours and other activities. Open every day from 10AM to 6PM.
Tallinn Traveller Info tent, on the corner of Harju and Niguliste street, Tallinn Old Town, Phone: +372 5836 9200, (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), . A summer-only stand of the alternative tourist information center that provides you with best insider tips about Tallinn. Run by local young people, it is the best place to start any stay in Tallinn, no matter the length. They know all the best restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, cool secret places and phone numbers of every hostel in Tallinn. Besides that they also organize different alternative tours. Open only in summer, June 1 to August 31 from 9AM to 9PM.
Tallinn Tourist Information Centre in Viru Keskus, Viru väljak 4, Phone: +372 610 1557, 610 1558 (Email: email@example.com), .
Bicycle tourism information at City Bike office, Uus 33, Tallinn Old Town, Phone: +372 5111 819, (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), . The all year round opened office is conveniently locating on the corner of Old Town, nearby bicycle lines. Run by bicycle enthusiasts you can get all kind of bicycle touring information about Tallinn and Estonia, over 150 bicycles for rent, Original Tallinn bicycles tours and maps. Open every day from 09AM to 5PM, May-Sept from 09AM to 7 PM.
By catamaran or ferry
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 (Fri and Sat 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. Operates only one ship, the aging 2000-passenger Nordlandia (3 hours one way). Often has the cheapest fares.
Linda Line – Small catamarans Merilin and Karolin. The fastest option (1.5h) with frequent departures, but susceptible to bad weather. April-November only (or as long as the sea is clear of ice).
Tallink Silja – Up to 6 departures daily on large Star and Superstar ferries (2h). They also operate the Baltic Princess (3.5 hours), a slick new 2800-passenger behemoth with cabins for easy overnight stays in Tallinn. Discounts are available to Eurail pass holders.
Viking Line – Large Viking XPRS ferry (2.5h), two sailings daily.
Tallink also offers a year-round daily overnight service from Stockholm taking 16 hours.
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. From there, bus #2 operates to both the city center (A. Laikmaa stop), inter-city bus station (Autobussijaam stop) and the airport (Lennujaam stop). Alternatively, you can take a leisurely 15 minute walk, first east to Mere pst and then down to Viru Square. 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 center is not all that impressive but don't be shocked - this isn't the real Tallinn!
Tallinn Airport (AKA "Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport" or "Ülemiste Airport") (IATA: TLL) (ICAO: EETN) is located 5 km from the city center on the eastern shore of Lake Ülemiste. A timetable of flights is available online .
The following airlines operate service to/from Tallinn Airport:
Airport bus (#90K) runs between the airport and various stops in city centre from 8AM to 6PM every 30 minutes. Tickets can be purchased on the bus and cost 2€ per person. View route map .
Bus #2 stops right in front of the airport. The journey to the entrance to old town (A.Laikmaa stop) takes approximately 15 minutes. Be careful because both inbound and outbound line #2 buses use the same bus stop at the airport. To get to the city center, catch the bus traveling 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 center (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 tickets at the R-Kiosks all around the city, in the bus terminal or in the bus itself from the driver. View a map of route 2 .
Copterline runs a helicopter service from Helsinki. 8 flights (mon-fri) both directions, prices starting from 129 €.
Edelaraudtee and Elektriraudtee operate a limited train service within Estonia, Go Rail a service to Moscow, Russia. Train use is not very common in Estonia, and taking the bus, plane, or ferry is almost always a better option.
Frequent buses operate between Tallinn and other cities in Estonia. Domestic bus schedules and prices can be found at Bussireisid.ee  and Peatus.ee .
Frequent buses also operate between Tallinn and Riga, Latvia with continuing service to Vilnius, Lithuania and the rest of Europe. Buses also run between Tallinn and St. Petersburg, Russia (€30, 8 hours). 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
TAK operates frequent buses, trolleys, and trams between 6AM and 12AM.
Timetables in English can be found here:  and maps can be found here:
Map:  (pick Ühistransport). Baby prams can be carried in most of the buses, trolleys and trams except for a few which have steps.
All modes of public transport operate with the same tickets. Single tickets can be bought from R-Kiosks or by mobile phones for €1, or from the drivers for €1.60. In addition the following ticket options are available: 10-ticket book (€8), 24-hour ticket (€4.50), 72-hour ticket (€7.50), 10-day ticket (€11), 30-day ticket (€25), 90-day ticket (€50). Discounts are given to students and Tallinn residents. The Tallinn Card  includes unlimited use of public transportation.
The bus network covers the whole city.
Tourist bus tours (look for the red-colored buses) are also available at designated stops in the Old Town.
The tram network covers the city centre. There are 4 routes and they all meet at Viru Center, at stop Hobujaama. About 15 carriages have a lowered middle-section, which makes trams wheelchair-accessible. Departure times of those carriages are marked with a yellow background in the schedules. Usually these vehicles serve routes 1 and 4.
All trolley lines have a direction to south or west. They operate on electric lines. There are eight lines, 1-7 and 9. Trolley no. 8 was closed in 2000 and replaced with bus no. 22. The fleet is relatively new, though there are some old Škoda-s.
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. Taxis hanging out in front of nightclubs often have the highest prices.
Krooni according to Estonian taxi rating website Taksod.net  the highest rated taxi company (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  .
Like other large cities, Tallinn has its fair share of traffic jams and therefore is not for the faint-hearted. The road rules and driving style can be confusing to tourists. The one and two way roads change frequently and some signposts are not descriptive. That being said, traffic jams in Tallinn clear very quickly and if you are from a large city, they will seem like speed-humps rather than traffic jams.
The speed limit in Tallinn is 50 km/h, except some major streets such as Laagna tee, Pärnu mnt., Paldiski mnt., Peterburi tee etc., which have a speed limit of 70 km/h.
There is an abundance of parking, but you have to pay for it. The locations of ticket machines, and other methods for paying for parking, aren't always obvious. The ticket machines are not posted clearly. Here are a few helpful tips to avoid being fined:
Each rental car should come with a clock mock up 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. The clock mock up is used to indicate the beginning of of the parking. For example if you park at 5:30, your plastic clock mock up should show 5:30. You can park for free until 5:45.
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. When you get your parking ticket, it will look more like a lottery ticket. 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 is available online
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 center. 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 good change to ride comfortable 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 cand drive on every road, even the side-walk driving is allowed, pay attention to pedestrians.
City Bike, ☎ +372 5111 819 (email@example.com), . Over 150 bicycles and lot of extra gear, €10-€13 for 24 hours. Real cyclist centre with experienced staff, opened from 2003.The Original Welcome to Tallinn bike tour, daily 11 AM (€16), Soviet bike tour in Tallinn (€13), summer 5 PM, Lahemaa National Park bicycle and nature tours for the whole day (€49), good recommendations for day-routes in Tallinn and self-guided tours in all over Estonia. Tours start from our Old Town office, Uus 33 (500 meters from Viru Street, McDonalds corner).
Tallinn Traveller Tours, ☎ +372 5837 4800 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 3. Alternative bike tours run by local youth. Tours start from the Tallinn Traveller Info tent (corner of Harju and Niguliste Street) or from the Tallinn Traveller Info office at Vana-Posti 2 (off-season).Funky Bike Tour to Kopli and Kalamaja (€13), Beautiful Bike Tour to Kadriorg (€13), Green Bike Tour to the Open Air Museum (€20), Island Bike Tour to Aegna Island (€35).
The Old Town of Tallinn is very comfortably covered on foot.
Tallinn Free Tour, ☎ +372 5837 4800 (email@example.com), . This walking tour, guided by local young students, is an alternative to normal sightseeing trips, and is made specially for true travelers. In addition to the legends and true stories from medieval times to nowadays, fun facts and stories you can get brief overview on what to do and where to party at night. Tour lasts 2 hours and starts every day at 12PM from Tallinn Traveller Info tent (from June to August) or the official Tourist Info (from September to May).Tallinn Free Tour: Free, tips only.
Old Town Walking Tour, ☎ +372 5837 4800 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . This tour is like a private walk around Tallinn with a local friend. In addition to legends and true stories from medieval times to nowadays, you have a chance to have private conversations with a young local to find out how people in Estonia really live. Tours lasts 2 hours and starts from Tallinn Traveller Info tent (from June to August) or Tallinn Traveller Info office at Vana-Posti 2 (September to May). Booking required.Old Town Walking Tour: €10 per person.
Old Town Walking & Secret Tunnels Tour, ☎ +372 5111 819 (email@example.com), . This tour consists of two parts: off-the beaten track places in Old town with good stories and secret tunnels visit. It is classical tour with different touch, local stories and real information about life in Tallinn. Ask questions to find out how people in Estonia really live. Tours lasts 2-2.5 hours and starts from City Bike office (Uus Street 33) at 2 PM. Booking required, possibility to have also walking tour without tunnels.Old Town Walking Tour & tunnels: €16 per person.
Tallinn Pubcrawl, ☎ +372 5837 4800 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . What could be better than a local party maniac dragging you around the best joints in Tallinn, introducing the most distinctive bars, pubs and cultural differences. Includes at least 5 shots in local bars and a beer or a cider. Tour lasts 3+ hours and start from Tallinn Traveller Info tent (in Tallinn Old Town).Tallinn Pubcrawl: €16 per person (includes 6 drinks).
If you have a mobile phone, mobile tours in English have recently become available .
Audio guides in several languages are available for small charge at the tourist centres.
The Old City
View from Toompea over the Old City and surrounding parks
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Medieval Old Town. Excellently preserved, built in the 15-17th centuries. This compact area is best explored on foot.
Viru Gate, (Entrance to 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.
Raekoja Plats. The square in the heart of the Old City, ringed with cafes and restaurants.
Raekoda (Town Hall), . Built in 1371, this heavy stone structure dominates the square. It now houses the Tallinn City Museum.
Toompea Hill. 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).
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. a classic onion-domed 19th-century Russian Orthodox church that has become a touristy symbol of the city, much to the annoyance of nationalist types who regard it as a symbol of oppression. It was almost demolished in 1924 during Estonia's first brief spell of independence, but the Soviets left it to moulder and it has been restored to its former glory.
Riigikogu, . Estonia's Parliament, pretty in pink.
St Mary's Cathedral - Toomkirik. 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.
Museum of Occupations, Toompea str. 8, corner of Toompea St. and Kaarli Blvd, . 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.
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
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.
Open Air Museum, Vabaõhumuuseumi str. 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. 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 Linnahall, Mere pst. 20 (stop: Linnahall Bus 3 or #90K (Airport bus) to stop 7 and then a 5-minute 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.
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 50,000 m² (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.
Holy Birgitta Monastery, (Pirita beach area, 5km from the city center), . 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.
Patarei (Battery) Prison, Kalaranna 2, ☎ +372 5046536, . W-Su noon-6PM, 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 30 kr, guided tours from 70 kr, or pay 500 kr for a three-hour "new prisoner experience" culminating in a last meal with a glass of schnapps (but no execution).
Tallinn TV Tower, Kloostrimetsa 58a (stop: Motoklubi), . A 314-metre 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. * Metsakalmistu Cemetary, Pirita (stop: Metsakalmistu, Bus no 34A or 38). Tallinn's most famous cemetary, 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.
Kalamaja District, (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.
Rottermann District. 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.
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.
Pirita District. Includes forest parks, Botanic Gardens and Metsakalmistu (the last resting place of well-known Estonians). A few kilometers east of the city center along the seaside road.
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.
Kadriorg. 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 90 ha (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.
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.
A beach on the Baltic Sea shore.
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 Marina and Beach, (Look for the massive Soviet architecture located 5km from the centre. Walk or take the bus 1A, 8, 34A or 38). the yachting venue for Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. It features a large sandy beach and in the summer it's full of locals and tourists.
Stroomi Beach, (North Tallinn). The water is clean and warm, and it is the gay friendliest beach of Tallinn.
Harku Lake, (West Tallinn). 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 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), . November/December. The festival combines a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films and children/youth films.
Estonian Song and Dance Celebration in 2009 Photo: Egon Tintse
Tallinn Music Week, Tallinn, . 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.
The Estonian Song Celebration (In Estonian: Laulupidu), . 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.
Õllesummer Festival, (Tallinn), . July. Approx 70,000 people attend the festival each year over the course of 4 days.
Birgitta Festival, Tallinn, . August. Music and theatre festival, held at the ruins of the historical Pirita (St. Bridget's) convent.
Simpel Session, Tallinn, . Summer/Winter. International skateboarding and BMX event.
Tallinn International Horseshow, Tallinn, . Spring/Autumn. Biggest international horseriding competition in Baltic states, includes showjumping and dressage. Takes place in Saku Suurhall
Rocca al Mare kaubanduskeskus, (Take trolley 6 or 7, bus 21 or 22 or the free bus from Passenger Port), . A few kilometers 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), .
Boutiques and Souvenirs
For boutiques and souvenirs, your best choice is Viru street in the Old City and its side streets. There are many stalls selling traditional items like woolen pullovers, crystal and amber. Prepare to haggle.
The Rotermann 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.
Restaurants and cafes on Raekoja plats
Vanaema Juures, a typical Old City cellar restaurant
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.
Cafe EAT, Sauna 2, . Dumplings with different fillings and really delicious doughnuts. This is probably the most reasonably priced cafe in the Old Town. It is very popular among local students and backpackers. You can also play foosball (€1.50 for 30 minutes), exchange books or play one from many board games at this cafe.100g of dumplings: €1.50; 0.5L beer: €2.
Karja Kelder, 1 Väike-Karja., ☎ 644 1008, . 11-midnight or later. Pleasant and affordable tourist trap in basement. Located in the middle of Old Town.Main courses €4.50-8.00.
Mauruse Pubi (Estonia pst 8), (Near the city library.), . A great local pub, featuring cheap food with hearty portions.
Aed (Embassy of Pure Food), 8 Rataskaevu., ☎ +372 6 269088. Noon-10PM. Excellent organic/biodynamic/Demeter food. Beautiful interior, very charming and romantic, wonderful service.Lower-than-tourist prices..
Controvento, 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 weeknights. You may want to call ahead and make a reservation. Pizzas and pasta dishes are around €6-7.
Kompressor, Rataskaevu 3 (Just few minutes walk from Raekoja plats.). This place offers an assortment of huge and delicious pancakes at great prices.Pancakes: from €3.
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, 1 Üliõpilaste tee, ☎ +372 6 393246. 10AM-midnight. 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.
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, ☎ +372 6 269080. 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.
Viikingite küla (Viking village), Saula küla, Harjumaa, . The "Vikings' Village" is just a few kilometers 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 let it cooked. Foods are traditional Estonian.Prices are very reasonable. (59.221022 N,25.034065 E)
Must Lammas, Sauna 2, ☎ +372 6 442031, . Decent Caucasian restaurant. Prices could be a bit lower, but the food is really good. Around €17 for the main course. In the evening, prior reservation is recommended.
Svejki Juures, Uus 25 (eastern edge of the Old town not far from the Viru Hotel), . M-Th 11-01, F-Sa 11-02, Su 11-23. Cosy Czech-style pub and restaurant on the base floor of an old building the eastern corner of the Old Town. Czech food and beers. Not that many items on the menu, but the food is good, service fast and the prices are reasonable.main dishes generally 7-11 €.
Bar Fish and Wine, Harju 1, ☎ +372 6 623013, . M-F 8AM-11PM, Sa 11AM-11PM.. 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, ☎ +372 6 117290, . Noon-Midnight. 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.€20.
Chedi (chedi), Olevimägi 11 (next to restaurant Bocca, in old town), ☎ +372 6 461676, . Noon-Midnight. Modern Asian kitchen supervised by Alan Yau from Hakasan, London. The modern and warm interior make you feel like you're in Singapore. Reservations recommended.€20.
Kuldse Notsu Kõrts, Dunkri 8, ☎ +372 6 286567, . M-Su noon-midnight. 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. From Sept to May on Fri and Sat nights live traditional music.€20-30 including drinks and desert.
Musi, Niguliste 6, ☎ +372 6 443100, . 17-24. 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, . The ruling king among Tallinn's 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.
Restaurant Ö, mere pst. 6E (close to old town, near harbour), ☎ +372 6 616150, . Noon-midnight. Award winning Chef Roman Zastserinski has made a seasonal menu using only Estonian ingrdients. Good view of old town.€20.
Tallinn's crazy nightlife is out of proportion to the city's small size. The days of armed mafiosos are (mostly) over and these days any drunken fights tend to involve British 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 €2-3.
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.
Drink Baar, Väike Karja 8, ☎ +372 6449433, . 12-23, -03 Fri, Sat. Fairly new bar, with the widest selection of beers of any pub in town including many quality imports. Good English-style pub-grub. Occasional comedy nights 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, Väike-Karja 1, . 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), . Really fun place, popular with tourists.
Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina, Pikk 43, ☎ +3726311755, . 12-24. 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.
The Lost Continent, Vana-Narva mnt, . Australian bar.
Alur Hostel, Lai 20 (Old Town), ☎ +372 6466210 (email@example.com), . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Friendly staff, small kitchen and large common room. WiFi available in all of the rooms.Dorm bed: from €10.
BUNSTEL, Vaimu 1 (Old Town), ☎ +372 53677003 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Top-rated, small hostel located in the center of Old-Town overseen by their bunny, Mr. Nomsalot (the Nomapotamus of all Nomapotamuses). Fully equipped kitchen, and common room. Great staff (American). Free high-speed WiFi, computer use, coffee, tea, drinking water, bed linens. Dorm bed: from €10.
Dancing Eesti, Vaike-Karja 1 (Old Town), ☎ +372 53900951 (email@example.com), . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 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 WiFi.Dorm bed: from €9.
Euphoria, Roosikrantsi 4 (Old Town), ☎ +372 58 373 602 (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 WiFi.Dorm bed: from €10.
Fat Margeret's, Pohja puiestee 27, Tallinn, Estonia (Old Town). Really nice hostel with a big living room, kitchen and a lot of clean toilets and showers. Very cheap, bed from 10€. Free WiFi. Very friendly staff and good location (northeast border of oldtown)
GIDIC Backpackers, 31 Tartu Mnt (Just outside Old Town), ☎ +372 6466016,, . Australian-owned.
Hostel Vana Tom, Väike-Karja 1 (Old Town), ☎ +372 6313 252 (email@example.com), . The staff is friendly, there is kitchen and a common room. Wi-fi available in all rooms.
Knight House, Ruutli 18 (Old Town), ☎ +37255501001 (Ilya@knight-house.eu), . Hotel quality accommodation at hostel prices. Hostel occupies a house that is over 600 years old, with the center of the Old Town just out the door. Fully equipped kitchen, common area, free WiFi, free tea and coffee.Dorm bed: from €7; Single: €16-25.
Hotel Dzingel, Männiku tee 89, Nõmme (5 km from Old Town and easy to reach by bus No 5), ☎ +372 610 5201, +372 610 5300 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Double: €38.
Hotel Shnelli, Toompuiestee 37 (near the medieval Old Town, close to Snelli Park and the Baltic Railway Statio), ☎ +372 631 0100, . Double: €38. There are discounted rates for guests arriving after midnight - €32.
OldHouse, Uus 22 (Old Town), ☎ +372 6411464, . Dorm and hotel rooms are tiny but the furnished apartments are nice, with kitchens and bubble baths. Free wi-fi.Single: €31; Twin: €44; 2-person apartment: €71; 4-person apartment: €115; 6-person luxury apartment: €230. Discounts for longer stays..
Olevi Residents, Olevimagi 4 (Old Town), ☎ +372 6 277 650, . 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: €72, breakfast included.
Nordic Hotel Forum, Viru Väljak 3, ☎ +372 622 2900 (email@example.com, fax: +372 622 2901), . A new and modern hotel at Viru Väljak square in the city center. Good and generous breakfast buffet.double room 80 €.
Apartment rental is also a viable mid-range option.
Apartment.ee, Aasa 2, ☎ +372 5045444, . Apartment broker with great selection and prices.From €29.
White House, Pikk 57, Nõmme (Old Town), ☎ +372 582 63035 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . The medieval house was originally built in 1543; comes equipped with a sauna, jacuzzi and BBQ grill area. Private entrance, 60m garden/patio, sleeps 8 in this private 3 floor house.€80/night weekdays.
TallinnApartment.info, Pae 57, Lasnamäe (Old Town), ☎ +372 5518 700, . Modernized apartment to stay: double bedroom, kitchen, wifi, 10 min away from the Old Town (5 bus stops).€35.
Merchants House Hotel, Dunkri 4/6 (Town Hall Square), ☎ +372 6977 500, . 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.
Radisson Blu Hotel Olümpia (formerly Reval Hotel Olümpia), Liivalaia 33, ☎ +372 6315333 (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.
Radisson Blu Tallinn, Rävala pst. 3, ☎ +372 6823000 (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.
Sokos Hotel Viru, Viru väljak 4, ☎ +372-6809300, . 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.
Swissôtel Tallinn, Tornimäe 3, ☎ +372 624 0000, . Tallest building within the banking district. 238 elegantly appointed guest rooms. The hotel houses two restaurants and a deli for guests on the run; Amrita 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.
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.
Aside from street crime, the biggest risk to tourists in Tallinn is getting ripped off in "gentlemen clubs", many of which 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.
The neighbourhoods of Kopli and Lasnamäe are probably best avoided after dark, although both are a lot safer than the "bad neighborhoods" in Western-European or North-American cities.
People who arrive to Tallinn by camper van or just by car should be careful and not leave their valuables in their vehicle. Unfortunately it is not a rare thing that foreign plated cars get looted. Those crimes are committed mainly in the area of Tallinn's passenger port and nearby streets where most of 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.
Soomaa National Park is about 100 miles 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 50km 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 5km foottrack and watching tower. You can also start and finish in same location if You go to 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 40km east of Tallinn on the coast. The village has 2km long beach area with pine tree forests edging right up to the shore.
Tartu - Estonia's student town, 2-3 hours by car or bus to the southeast.
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.
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