So, you’ve closed your eyes, twirled your hand in the air and smacked your index finger on the map. Opening your eyes, you see that your next big city adventure will take place in Tallinn, Estonia.
What can I say to that? Well – welcome! Let me show you around. You’ll love it here!
First Impressions of Tallinn
The first thing you’ll see when you land in Tallinn is that our airport is one of the cosiest if not ‘the’ cosiest in the world. You will find a library, a wine bar, lots of awesome looking gates and my favorite Café Kohver from there. Tallinn Airport is one of those where you should arrive early. Not because of the queues but you’ll genuinely enjoy spending time here.
After a taxi ride to the city center, you’ll find yourself in the heart of a medieval fairy tale. And since in this story you have only three days to spend exploring, shopping, eating and drinking, it’s time to get going!
Places to sleep
First, you’ll need a place to rest your weary head. The city center is full of hotels, some good, some bad, some really bad (and that isn’t good). My suggestion is that when you’re there for only a couple of nights, then you should stay somewhere in the Old Town.
A good hotel with an excellent restaurant is located just off the main street and is called CRU Hotel. The restaurant on the ground floor will first seduce you with its atmosphere and then with the food.
You’ll truly feel like you’ve just stepped back in time or into a medieval movie set. The fifteenth-century building has a soul that will lull you to sleep at night and make you dream of sunshine and rainbows.
Or if you’re more of an Airbnb kind of traveler then there are many options right off the main street. I have a feeling you’ll never want to leave that place.
As you’re probably staying in the Old Town, then you’ve already seen it. And by ‘it’ I mean one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. I’ll be honest and say that I just run through it mostly, but I am planning on taking a day just to wander around and act like a tourist.
If you’re lucky to visit our little country during summer, then a visit to the Estonian Open Air Museum is a must! Staying in the old town, you’re walking in the footsteps of merchants and aristocrats. At the Open Air Museum, however, you’ll get a glimpse of how the simple people used to live. It’s really fascinating and will keep you entertained for hours!
On the other side of town, you’ll stumble across the CN Tower of Estonia also known as Tallinna Teletorn. The highest building in Estonia played an important role in the restoration of our independence, and the newly renovated museum will give you a good overview of what went down. Besides enjoying some of the best views, you can also take the bull by its horns and try a cool attraction – the Edgewalk.
Now that you’ve seen our beautiful land from high up and explored the simple dwellings of ancient Estonians, it’s time to dive deeper. The Estonian Maritime Museum is one of a kind for sure. Walking into a huge hall, I’m sure that the first thing you’ll see is the massive floating submarine. Yes, there’s a life-size 1930’s submarine named Lembit dangling from the ceiling. You just have to see it to believe it.
Eat. Drink. And Repeat
If there’s another thing besides Wi-Fi that we have plenty of, it’s restaurants. Tallinn’s restaurant scene has gone on steroids in the last few years. There are new cafés, restaurants, and fast food joints popping up like mushrooms after some rain.
If you’re like me and don’t function without coffee, then head over to Reval Café. It’s a café chain that has little coffee shops all over town. My favorite is the one on Müürivahe Street. Maybe it’s because I used to frequent it a lot when I worked just across the street from them or maybe it’s the interior. They have a wide selection of sweets to go with that good ol’ cup of joe too!
For lunch, I’d suggest heading to Hell – literally. Across the street from the St. Nicholas’ Church, is a bar called Põrgu (Hell in Estonian). It’s located in a basement, and you have to do a fair bit of balancing to get down the old steps, but I assure you it’s worth it. Põrgu’s borscht soup will make you shimmy in your chair because it’s just that good! And if you’re into beer then their selection will make you get out of that chair and twirl from happiness.
When night falls, and your stomach starts rumbling again – that’s when it gets tough. There are so many great places in Tallinn that it’s going to be hard to pick.
My absolute favorite restaurant in Tallinn is Leib Resto ja Aed. It’s located on the outskirts of Old Town and is so simple that it’s brilliant. I have never been disappointed in their food, service or anything else for that matter. I feel like hugging them every time it’s time to leave because it feels like a dinner party at a friend’s place.
These are only a few locations in this beautiful capital of ours. There is so much more to do in the city and out of it. But as you have only three days then I guess you have to come back. Then I’ll take you to my favorite places all over Estonia.
Until then – toodles!