Tallinn is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in all of Europe. But there’s more to this capital city than what meets the eye. Besides the cobblestone streets, spired churches, and orange rooftops that Tallinn is best recognized for, there is a medieval city full of a whole lot of charm. I was lucky enough to spend five nights, solo, in Tallinn and although you don’t need that many to explore this town, it is worth the stop even if you only have one day to give. Here is the ultimate solo guide to exploring Tallinn.
The Ultimate Guide to Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia, which is one of the “Baltic States”. The Baltic States are made up of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and named after WWI when the states by the Baltic Sea gained their independence from the Russian Empire. Estonia is the smallest Baltic State in terms of population and is the furthest north towards Finland. The country experiences all four seasons with summers being warm, and winters being cold enough to snow.
Being a small city, Tallinn is incredibly walkable and very solo traveler-friendly. My experience was that locals were eager to welcome me into their restaurants and stop on the streets with me if I needed directions. Aside from that, I also found that hotel stays were cheap and affordable for one person. Estonia utilizes the Euro so if you’re traveling through other countries with the same currency, save your coins! There were a few activities in Tallinn that required cash only.
Arriving in Tallinn
Arrive by ferry – One of the most popular ways of visiting Tallinn is by taking the ferry from Helsinki, Finland. In total the ride across the Gulf of Finland takes 2-3 hours and will cost approximately $30 for a one-way ticket, $40 roundtrip.
Arrive by plane – There are many airlines that fly direct to Tallinn, and navigating the Tallinn Airport is easy considering its small size. If you’re coming from America, in order to get to Tallinn cheaply, I recommend flying into a bigger city first and taking a budget airline from there. I flew direct from Edinburgh to Tallinn on RyanAir for a mere $90.
Arrive by bus – If you’re visiting the rest of the Baltics – Latvia, Lithuania – you can easily hop on a bus into Tallinn. Or skip the bus altogether! Instead, rent a car and drive. While you don’t need a car in Tallinn, you may want a car to explore the surrounding areas!
Transportation in Tallinn
Uber is widely used in Tallinn. My Uber from the airport to my apartment near the old town was only €4. As for taxis, they are common too, but a bit more expensive. The same ride from the airport to the old town will run you about €10.
Once you arrive at your final destination in Tallinn, it’s a very walkable city. You can access almost anything and everything on foot.
Things to Do in Tallinn
Learn the History of Tallinn
The free walking tour in Tallinn takes place every day at noon, with no reservations required. The tour will last for about three hours and you’ll get to see some of the most famous sites of Tallinn as well as learn the history. What better way to get to know a place than from a local themselves?
Go Outside of the Old Town to Telliskivi
Another unique thing to do in Tallinn is to visit Telliskivi, the “hipster” part of the city. Here you’ll find Balti Jaama Turg, an expansive food, and clothing market. There’s also a street of food trucks, DEPOO Food Street, and if you’re looking for a sit-down meal, don’t miss F Hoone.
Visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Perhaps the most recognized building in all of Estonia, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built from 1894-1900 in Russian Revival architecture. Entrance to the cathedral is free, so make sure to take advantage!
Want more ideas and information on things to do in Tallinn? Read The Best 10 Things to Do in Tallinn, Estonia
Around Tallinn: Exploring the Baltics & Finland
Tallinn is quite small so you don’t need to spend a lot of time there. If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, perhaps take advantage of it by exploring other areas around Estonia. Some of my favorite trips were traveling from Tallinn to Finland and exploring the neighboring Baltic States.
As stated earlier, Finland is north of Estonia across the Gulf of Finland. While you can fly from Tallinn to Helsinki, you can also easily take the ferry from city to city.
If you end up going north to Finland, stay a while! Finland is such a unique country being in the arctic circle. As you move further north you have more chance to catch the Northern Lights or the midnight sun. Here you’ll see wild reindeers, perhaps meet Santa Claus at his village, and even have the opportunity to stay in a glass hotel/igloo!
For more information on Finland, check out these posts:
Latvia + Lithuania
For another adventure, road trip through the Baltic States, checking out Latvia and Lithuania. All three countries are similar, yet wildly different; and all deserve to be explored. Start in Tallinn, hit Riga, Latvia on your way down to Vilnius, Lithuania (or vice versa!). Sometimes the most unexpected countries end up being the greatest and I’d have to say that the Baltics are categorized as some of my favorite countries in the world.
For more information on Latvia & Lithuania, check out these posts:
For five days I was able to slowly discover Tallinn and soak up everything it has to offer. Visiting Tallinn was such a welcome surprise. From walking the streets of Old Town to getting lost in Telliskivi. I met the most wonderful people and am glad that I went off the beaten path to experience Tallinn for myself.