The Republic of Estonia boasts of a rich history. It is located in Europe’s Baltic region, and has been inhabited since ancient times — since around 6500 BC, to be exact. Its capital, Tallinn, has likewise had a long history. First recorded in 1219, Tallinn now stands as the country’s largest city and houses around a third of its population. It has also been the cradle of various industries, most notably those relating to information technology. Skype, for example, was born in Tallinn!
As in all the countries in this region of Europe, there are lots of things one can do at the capital. Here we have rounded up the best of the best Tallinn has to offer, in one handy checklist/guide!
Also called the Estonian Maritime Museum, this historical hangar has a century-old submarine, pieces from the oldest ship ever found in the country, and hundreds of curious maritime objects. There is also an aquarium, and stuff for children, so you can bring your families!
Kiek in de Kök.
This is an artillery tower hailing from the late 1400s. The 38-meter tall tower got its name from the ability of troops garrisoned inside to see the kitchens of nearby houses! It’s a curious structure, too — you would find cannonballs embedded in its exterior, some of them dating back to the late 1500s!
Just like the rest of the Baltic states, Vilnius and Riga, Estonia has a vibrant Old Town that bears traces of Estonia’s medieval history. From cobblestoned streets to ancient walls, you can find a lot of historical buildings here. The place is much like a movie set, too! Some well-preserved statues will greet you, including the statue of a faceless monk that looks like one of those Death Eaters from Harry Potter!
Like its neighbors, Tallinn has a KGB Museum dealing with the same themes. You have to book the tour ahead, however. I learned this the hard way as the English tours were fully-booked all three days I was there. The only other alternative was a Finnish tour, which I couldn’t understand anyway. We were told the tour was really good, so too bad we couldn’t go!
St. Olaf’s Church and Tower.
This was an old center of the community, back when it was originally built in the 12th century. It was dedicated to King Olaf II of Norway, who later became a Saint. Currently, it is home to a 123 meter tall tower which was supposedly one of the tallest man-made structures in the medieval times!
Aside from St. Olaf’s there are also several other churches and cathedrals in Tallinn. Many of these have towers, too. The architecture is worthy of note, ranging from the extremely simple structure of the Saha Chapel to the grand domes of the Lutheran Church on Toompea Hill.
Speaking of towers, there is another set of towers around the medieval walls of the old town. The Virgin’s Tower is one of them, offering a great view of its surroundings.
This is located in an old industrial complex, and is now a home for the arts. Design is a big thing here, and there are also lots of cafés and restaurants. There’s a flea market every Saturday, too!
This is the old pharmacy at the center of Tallinn. It is one of the oldest such establishments in Europe, operating continuously since it first opened in the 15th century! Aside from the pharmacy, there is also a small museum showing old medical and chemical instruments.
This is the oldest cafe in Tallinn, open since 1864. The interior has not been changed for almost a hundred years! Make sure you have some chocolate cake or pastries, while sipping their fine coffee.
Short Leg and Long Leg.
Locally known as Lühike Jalg and Pikk Jalg. Both are streets — the former is one of the best shopping areas in the Old Town, while the latter is historical for being the oldest street in Tallinn!
- Walking Tour. If you don’t want to be holding a map all day, you can get a dose of the best places in the city by joining the free walking tour! Get more information and trivia, too.
- Indulge your tastes! There are lots of things to try out in Tallinn. There is the Food Sightseeing tour, which allows you to get a better history of the city and also covers places not covered by the walking tour. Have drinks inside the medieval walls, and have a taste of history! Also try the cuisines served in the Old Town atmosphere.
Make sure to try the nuts and almonds sold here, too! It’s good, and I particularly loved the cinnamon and orange ones. There are a lot more flavors available. If you like fudge, there’s also a free tasting here. And if you want something strong, try Vana Tallinn! This is a rum-based liqueur flavored with spices.
And after a long day, you can make your way to the Tallinn coastline and watch the awesome sunset. Then, head back to some of the finest hotels in the center of town! I recommend either St. Petersbourg or Schlosse Hotel. There’s this Estonian tradition where they give you a sauna bath for free — the perfect relaxing end to a day of activities in the capital.