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 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.
When I arrived in Tallinn I felt… anxious. I had heard such great things about this capital city, but would it live up to its expectations? These days it seems like every blogger only has positive things to say about destinations; but are they all always telling the truth? Would Tallinn be the true hidden gem tucked away in Eastern Europe that I had continuously heard about? Or would it be an overrated shithole that I’d want to leave?
I had finally left the UK and was ready to take on the rest of Europe. My trip further east was led by a craving of wanting more of a culture shock than the UK was able to give me. Would Tallinn deliver?
Upon arrival into Tallinn, I felt in my core that it was a special place. From the smiling employees at the airport to my very friendly cab driver, I knew I had hit gold. I immediately set out to old town to participate in the walking tour and learn more about what makes Tallinn… well, Tallinn! The tour was not only a feast for my eyes, but the history of Tallinn is truly fascinating. Currently, they have been an independent country for 23 years. That’s the longest in their country’s entire history!
Ferry – One of the most popular ways of visiting Tallinn is by taking the ferry from Helsinki. A one-way ticket will cost you approximately $30, roundtrip approximately $40, and take about two to three hours of your time.
Airport – There are many airlines that fly direct to Tallinn, and navigating the Tallinn Airport is easy considering its small size. I flew direct from Edinburgh to Tallinn on RyanAir for a mere $90.
Bus – If you’re visiting the rest of the Baltics – Latvia, Lithuania – you can easily hop on a bus into 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.
Foot! All parts of Tallinn that I would recommend seeing are all within walking distance and accessible by foot.
Start your visit to Tallinn by learning the history of the city. The free walking tour takes place every day at noon, no reservations required. You’ll end the tour in the main square. From there make your way to Telliskivi to explore Balti Jaama Turg, Tallinn’s market. You can get anything from ice cream to cakes, fruits, and vegetables, to clothes. The market has something for everyone and is more unique than any other market I’ve been to; it’s definitely worth the look around.
After spending some time in the hipster neighborhood of Telliskivi, head back to the old town for a taste of city views and Russian Revival architecture. Make sure to climb St. Olaf’s Church for sweeping views of the city (closed during the winter), and take advantage of the free entry into Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
For five days I was lucky enough to soak up everything Tallinn has to offer. It sure wasn’t the shithole that I had briefly worried it might be. It is one of a kind place and one that I am happy I had the chance to visit. From walking the streets of the old town to getting lost in Telliskivi. I got to meet the most wonderful people, both natives and visitors, and am glad that I took everyone else’s advice and experienced Tallinn for myself.
For more on things to do in Tallinn, click here.