Intro to Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and the only remaining walled in city in the Nordic world. The city was once a member of the power Hanseatic League and sits just across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki. Estonia shares its western border with Russia and was quickly taken by Soviet forces in the end of World War II, just after suffering from a similarly brutal Nazi occupation. The country languished under the Soviet empire until the fall of communism. Since then it has become a highly developed nation with an advanced and high income economy. The country is notoriously well connected to the internet, so much so you’ll hear the nickname “E-Stonia”. If the old soviet block is the Brooklyn of Europe than Tallinn could be its Williamsburg.
There are no direct flights to tiny Tallinn. Most likely you’ll connect through Helsinki, figure 12 hours total from the east coast. We did Tallinn as a weekend before take a boat over to Helsinki and on to Russia. Helsinki, which has direct flights, could be added with Tallinn for a 4 day long weekend. Fly into Tallinn, out of Helsinki, and spend three nights between the two. Or do like we did and fly into Tallinn and out of Moscow after ferry hoping the Baltic Sea.
If you’re arriving at Tallinn’s little airport a cheap taxi will zip you into the old town, where mostly everything is accessible by foot.
When we went
May 2014. This was part of a longer Baltic Sea Itinerary; flew into Tallinn (via Helsinki) and slept in the old town for 2 nights, took a fast morning ferry to Helsinki (1 night), took a late departure overnight boat to St. Petersburg Russia (3 nights), took a high speed train to Moscow, flew home via a short stop in Helsinki.
What we did
You don’t need more than a couple nights in Tallinn.
There is a must see Occupation Museum (common in this area of the world) and a mini Russian palace, but the highlight is medieval city itself.
Tallinn is easy on any budget, don’t be afraid to splurge. Our best meal was at Neh, a farm to table restaurant that gets most of their ingredients from an island that they own and operate and a hotel on somewhere in the Gulf of Finland.
Kumu Art Museum. Contemporary Estonian art in a modern building outside of the old city walls.
Kadriorg Park. Home to Kumu Art Museum and a mini summer palace built by Peter the Great.
The Occupation Museum. Like so many other countries in this part of the world, Estonia spent a large part of the last 50 years under the control of either the Nazis or Soviets.
There are many great apartments through AirBnb located right in the middle of the old city. Our apartment was built into the old city wall!
Hell Hunt pub; located inside the old city walls. This was the first western style to open after the fall of communism. It’s a great place to buy a beer within the city walls.
Olde Hansa; a ye olde restaurant near the town square. Can be expensive but waiters are dressed in costume and the ambiance resembles that of a medieval pub.
Neh; located outside of the city walls. It’s an easy walk or quick taxi ride there. See description above. The food was spectacular.
Leib Resto (“Bread Restaurant”); located inside the city walls. Modern classy, nuveau Estonian cuisine.