Tallinn is a city with fairy-tale medieval surrounds, rich history and plenty of unique and amazing sights. Whether you want to relax in style or explore and learn, Tallinn is a perfect European city break.
This guide will show you where to catch the best views, find the top attractions and eat the tastiest food. Make the most of your time by knowing exactly what to do in Tallinn before you even arrive.
Tallinn is also a great option for a longer stay. You’ll find as you read along that there are more than enough activities to keep you occupied. The surrounding region also offers potential for exploration, including day trips to Helsinki via ferry.
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What To Do In Tallinn
Before we dive into all the best things to do in Tallinn, we recommend you get yourself a Tallinn Card. For a 48 hour card, it will cost €39 per adult. It is a sightseeing pass that will allow you:
- Access to over 40 top attractions and museums
- Unlimited travel on public transport
- Discounts to sightseeing tours, activities, shops and some restaurants
For more information and to buy your Tallinn Card, click here.
If you’re looking for some fun activities to book for your visit to Tallinn, we recommend checking out these popular options below!
Old Town Tallinn
In 1997 the old town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the best preserved medieval villages in Europe!
Tallinn’s old town is actually divided into two separate areas, the lower town and the upper town (also known as Toompea). They were once considered to be two completely different cities.
Nowadays they are both easily accessible in one day, making this town a perfect place to explore by foot. If you’re not staying inside the old town, the excellent public transport makes it easy to get there.
Sometimes getting lost is the best way to see a new place! When we first arrived in Tallinn, we did just that. Explore its many twisting cobblestone side streets and cute squares. From almost any angle you will find great views of the many church towers and beautiful facades.
Town Hall Square
The heart of the old town and a place you that will usually find bustling with tourists (unless you wake up early). It’s right here that you will find Tallinn’s 13th century town hall and its massive tower. It happens to be the oldest town hall building in the entire Scandinavian region!
Cute buildings and restaurants surround the square. It’s the perfect place to relax with a drink in the afternoon and take in the atmosphere from one of the many patios.
Talk a walk along part of the city’s well-preserved 13th century fortifications and explore the insides of its towers. You can access one part of the walls through the Kiek in de Kök museum.
Other sections of the wall are accessible from the north end of the old town, in the two locations marked below. One is near the entrance of the Patkuli viewing platform. The other is from the Hellmann Tower near the west gate.
Free Walking Tour
One of the best things to do in a new city is to take a walking tour and learn some history first hand from a local guide. The below tour is both free and very enjoyable.
It operates year round and covers most of the town’s sites. It lasts about 2 hours and is only once per day so don’t miss out! There are no tickets or bookings, so it can get very busy during peak season.
Click here to find out more information about this popular free walking tour of Tallinn.
Also known as the upper old town, Toompea sits on a hill towering over the lower old town. It features some of the most beautiful buildings in Tallinn.
You’ll find Toompea castle as well as the majestic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. There are various viewing platforms offering spectacular views over the old town.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
This stunning example of Russian Orthodox architecture dates from 1900, when Estonia was part of the Russian Empire. The huge structure with its quintessential onion domes is one of the most impressive churches we’ve ever seen!
When we first saw the cathedral mid-day, it was swarmed with tourists. We knew the only way we could properly appreciate its grandeur was to return first thing the next morning. If you want to photograph it like we did, we recommend being up before 8 am to catch this place with minimal crowds!
While everyone else was sleeping in or eating breakfast, we were able to admire it and take photos in peace.
Best Viewpoints in Tallinn
Toompea’s many viewing platforms offer a variety of breath-taking views over Tallinn’s lower old town. To capture the best views of Toompea itself, head to St. Olaf’s Church and climb the tower.
- Patkuli viewing platform – Climb up the 157 steps from the old town to arrive at this viewing platform. From the top you will see beautiful views over the red-tiled rooftops as well as Tallinn’s new city and its high rises. You’ll get good a good view of the city walls from this angle. From this point, you can also begin exploring the rest of Toompea.
- Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform – Head here after Patkuli platform as it’s also situated on Toompea Hill. This viewing platform is a large terrace where you’ll take in perfect views over the entire city, with the Gulf of Finland in the background.
- Kiek in de Kök Tower– It’s definitely worthwhile to explore this tower, which offers some great views of the city, harbour and Toompea. Learn about Tallinn’s history while browsing through the many historic weapons on display inside the tower. The ticket also allows access to several other towers.
- St. Olaf’s Church Tower – For €3 climb the steep and narrow winding staircase to the top of St Olaf’s Church tower. From here you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Tallinn’s old town and Toompea Hill. This was my favourite view as you can really take in the entire essence of this special place.
Where To Eat in Tallinn
For all the foodies out there, you are in luck! Tallinn’s restaurant scene has plenty of amazing dining choices. You’ll find everything from traditional medieval pubs to fine dining and modern European cuisine.
There’s also a decent selection of places offering delicious vegetarian and plant-based options! You’ll have more choices than you know what to do with when it comes to finding a place to eat.
You can’t visit Tallinn and not try one of its many traditional, medieval taverns. They should be high on your list when it comes to picking out a place to eat!
- Vegan Restoran V – Coming in at #3 on TripAdvisor, this gem offers many vegan and vegetarian options. Make sure to book it ahead of time as it’s very popular and not very big).
- Rataskaevu 16 – We got in too late to eat here as it had already booked out for the evening. According to TripAdvisor, this is Tallinn’s #1 restaurant and is a short walk from the Town Hall Square. Rataskaevu 16 serves Scandinavian, International, and Eastern European cuisine. It’s also vegetarian and vegan friendly and offers gluten-free options.
- III Draakon – This place is a must! The food here wasn’t incredible but it’s totally worth it just for the atmosphere and medieval vibes. Located under the actual Town Hall building itself, this is a small medieval-themed tavern. Everything about this place is true to the times, from the menu to the quirky bar-maids.
- Olde Hansa – Another traditional restaurant full of character and charm. It’s a little pricier, but you’re paying for more than just a meal. The venue is candle lit and has medieval music playing in the background. The waiters are all dressed the part as they serve traditional Hanseatic dishes. It’s a little touristy, but a fun time and worth it for one meal.
- Kompressor – We stopped in here for a quick lunch to break up our sightseeing day. For €5 you can choose one of their many delicious and super filling pancakes to fuel the rest of your day’s explorations. I had the tomato, feta and pesto pancake and it was one of the best meals I had on our trip!
Getting To Tallinn
Tallinn is easily accessible from most parts of Europe and you should be able to find cheap flights if you do a quick search on Skyscanner. From London to Tallinn flights can be as low as £36 with Wiz Air (depending on what time of year you book, of course). You can’t go wrong with prices like that!
Bus from Airport to Tallinn Old Town: Tallinn’s international airport is located a convenient 15 minutes drive from the Old Town. City buses depart every 30 minutes from the airport into the Old Town. Look for the bus numbers: 214, 229, 244.
Tallinn Airport Transfer: For convenience and peace of mind, you can book an airport transfer that will be waiting for your arrival at the airport and take you straight to your hotel. Click here for more info and to book your airport transfer.
Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn
If you’re travelling from Helsinki to Tallinn, it’s only a quick 2 hour ferry ride away. Click here to book your ferry tickets.
Bear in mind that these ferries tend to book out during peak times as it is a very popular route. Try to book as far ahead as possible.If you’re only looking to do a day trip to Tallinn from Helsinki, click the link below.
Where To Stay In Tallinn
Despite the extra cost, we think staying in the town centre is well worth it. Being able to wake up and easily explore the old town with all the best attractions at your door step is definitely the best option.
We really enjoyed our stay at the Delta Apartments. Situated in the heart of Tallinn’s old town, the location of these apartments could not have been any better!
Beautifully decorated, fully equipped and surrounded by pubs, shops and all the best restaurants, we can highly recommend this accommodation for your stay in Tallinn. Not to mention the price was totally reasonable for its location! Click here to book your stay at the Delta Apartments or find more options below.
Best Time Of Year To Visit
While we generally love off-season travel, we actually visited Tallinn in July and it couldn’t have been better. When the rest of Europe is over-run by crowds, Tallinn is still one of the lesser known destinations (compared to places like Rome, Paris, London etc).
Surprisingly, when I tell people how awesome Tallinn is, I almost always get blank stares. You will still see a lot of tourists there in the summer but it’s by no means overwhelming. You’ll also be glad to know you won’t have to stand in crazy long queues like you’d see in the more popular destinations.
While summer is great, we’ve heard the winter months (especially around Christmas) can be magical. Picture a cute medieval town covered in a blanket of snow. The town glistens with Christmas lights and market stalls fill the square around a big tree.
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