9 reasons to visit Tallinn, Estonia – in photos
Tallinn’s reputation goes ahead of it – a medieval Old Town that looks almost unchanged for centuries, fairytale architecture that makes you simultanously sigh and reach for your camera (it did to me, at least). If you’re looking for reasons to visit Tallinn, it is as stunning as you’ve always been told.
But the city is more than a chocolate boxy picture postcard. With its quirky side, its fascinating (and often troubled) history, and plenty of attractions beyond wandering, you won’t struggle to fill a long weekend – or longer.
Not convinced? I’ve got 9 reasons to visit Tallinn – in photos.
1. The pretty city vibe
Twisting streets, pastel buildings, cobbled corners and onion domes among the spires – under the blue skies of summer or sprinkled in snow during winter, this is somewhere to simply wander and drink in your surroundings.
Somehow, even with a sense of direction like mine (not good), the streets of the old town seem to lead you back to the main square before long too.
2. The history
Where else could you walk on authentic medieval walls in the morning, wandering from stone tower to tower, then discover dark Soviet history in the afternoon, including a KGB museum in a one-time listening station on top of a hotel.
Not to mention eyeing up the House of the Blackheads (home to a historic guild, but own up, you sniggered) as well as churches, ancient gates and even medieval restaurants with dishes out of history on the menu.
3. The views (with a sense of humour)
When you’re as picturesque as Tallinn, you need plenty of view points to appreciate it – the 23rd floor of Hotel Viru was one, the television tower another, or you’ll find a couple on Toompea Hill, looking down onto the city.
One comes with a reminder that views aren’t always best appreciated through a viewfinder…
4. The beach
Set on the sea, it’s easy to hop onto a ferry to Helsinki – but also to head a little way from the city itself to chill out on the beach.
There are small stretches near the trees where you could perch on the rocks and paddle, or a sandy stretch at Pirita for sunbathing, ice-cream and watching the windsurfers.
5. The family attractions
Everything from a puppet museum to a zoo, spotting street art and seaplanes, or stepping inside medieval towers and letting your imagination soar. I found 29 things to do in Tallinn with kids…
6. The food
The medieval restaurants might get the highest profile, but whether it’s child-friendly pizza or more intricate dishes (with a welcome that’s just as family-friendly) – and a price tag that’s a lot lower than the UK – we munched our way happily around the city.
7. The quirky statues
Brooding menacing monks, stone creations which could be birds – or whales – and figures looming out of the side of buildings. Wherever you look, there’s a little detail to spot.
8. The green space
With its compact centre, Tallinn never feels quite as overwhelming as some European cities – but if you want an escape, it’s not far away.
Kadriorg Park, including the Japanese gardens, or the botanic gardens a little way out, both make a cool and shady escape in the summer… plus there’s a playground at Kadriorg.
9. The marzipan
Of course this depends if you like marzipan. I love it, and with a history of marzipan sculptures plus a marzipan museum to check out (and plenty to buy too), this definitely deserves its own category!
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