Tallinn, Estonia may very well rank as one of the most underrated cities in Eastern Europe. A quaint medieval town dotted with fortresses, churches, and palaces, it is the capital of Estonia. It sits right on the Gulf of Finland with the Baltic Sea in its periphery. It is serviced by Tallinn Airport which is about 2 miles from the city center and serves as the gateway to various European cities, including Oslo, London, Paris, and Amsterdam.
Sights you can’t miss:
- Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – this majestically decorated Russian Orthodox Cathedral sits atop Toompea Hill in the Old town section of the city. It was originally built by minions of Russian tsar Alexander III in 1994. Named after a prince, the cathedral is the grave spot of past Estonian kings and seen as a symbol of Russian dominance.
- The Old Town – the medieval themed Old Town is Tallinn’s greatest asset. Surround by a town wall with more than 25 towers, a simple stroll through the city will unveil few cars and intricate cobblestone streets along with narrow alleys giving off a fairy tale feel. There are more medieval churches and buildings here than you can count. Divided into the Toompea and the Lower Town sections, all of the government buildings rest on Toompea Hill along with the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The Lower Town is a bustling scene full of cafes, bars, and shops.
- Toompea Castle – Housing the Estonian parliament, this impressive building dates back to the 13th century.
- Oleviste Kirik – named after Norwegian king St. Olav, this was one the largest building in Europe. Experience majestic views on its viewing platform that gives a bird’s eye view of the city like Paris’ Notre Dame. What’s more – the platform extends its way around the tower towards the Baltic Sea. Admission is free, but be careful of its steep stairs.
Where to stay in Tallinn:
- Viru Hotel – Hands down the most popular hotel in Tallinn, it is a 5-star, 22 story hotel right across the street from the Old Town’s beginnings and a 5 minute walk from the Town Hall square. It has a small shopping mall underneath it with brand name shops from all over the world. For better views, ask for a room overlooking the Old Town. There is also a pub, a bar, and automatic free admission in the Viru’s own club as well. The hotel also holds sightseeing bus tours.
Suggested 3 Day Tallinn Itinerary:
- Day 1: The Old Town should be your first target. Start out from Viru Gate, the entrance to the old town, and head up to the square where you should see the Raekoda (Town Hall) Continue to explore the Lower City with its dazzling array of bars and clubs. Be sure to check out Toompea and the Estonian Parliament along with the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Toomkirik, one of Estonia’s oldest churches.
- Day 2: Beach Time! Tallinn has an impressive collection of beaches and lakes. Head on over to Stroomi Beach in Northern Tallinn or Harku lake in West Tallinn. Further south from Stroomi towards Kakumae Beach which shares a consensus as being one of the cleanest beaches in all of Estonia. One word of advice: learn your beach flag colors. If you see a green flag waving on the beach, it means it is okay to swim there. A yellow flag is precautionary and a red flag indicates polluted or dangerous waters.
- Day 3: Get on your wild and pleasant side with the Tallinn Zoo and the Tallinn Botanical Gardens for your final venture out of the hotel. The Estonian Zoo has close to 5000 animals from arctic gems like Polar bears to warm temperature type animals lounging in the waters like alligators and monkeys. The Tallinn Botanical Garden comes with more than 7000plant specifies weaves into intricate patterns inside and out. If you are in Tallinn in April, check out the Jazzkaar festival which is a celebration of jazz music from both local and international destinations throughout all of the eateries and dance halls in Tallinn.