City guide: Tallinn, Estonia | Private jet charter
The capital of Estonia, Tallinn, lies on the Baltic Sea and is Estonia’s main cultural and financial centre. At the city’s heart is a fascinating Gothic-Medieval Old Town that now enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status, with its cobbled streets contained within ancient city walls. Explore Tallinn’s 13th-century buildings epitomised by the Town Hall and St Nicholas Church, alongside decidedly modern architecture. Occupied by the Russians and Germans, Tallinn has a unique historical heritage that complements its contemporary art and cultural scene. Gastronomes will love Tallinn’s traditional cafes and restaurants, and the nightlife is legendary, making Tallinn an ideal weekend city break destination. Here are 5 top Tallinn attractions to visit during your stay in the Estonian capital.
Tallinn Old Town
Tallinn’s Old Town boasts some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval fortifications with a 1.9km-long town wall that boasts 20 intriguing towers. The 13th-century merchants’ houses, churches, cobbled streets and cafes are enchanting to explore and exude a mystical ambiance. You can visit the oldest working pharmacy in Europe here: Located in Town Hall Square the shop first opened in 1422 and is still very popular. As well as selling modern pharmaceuticals the shop has a fascinating pharmacy museum with tools and instruments from medieval times. We also recommend exploring the once-secret passages around the Old Town medieval fortifications. They were used to move soldiers and ammunition secretly to avoid detection from invading forces.
Proto Invention Factory
Tallinn’s newest interactive museum is the wonderful Proto Invention Factory near the Seaplane Harbour. Located in a former submarine factory – known as the Noblessner – 12 subs were made here during 1913 and 1917. Fast forward to 2001 and this quayside area was developed into a community with bars, restaurants and shops. The Proto Invention Factory is unique in that it gives visitors the chance to sit inside prototypes of world-first inventions: the first car, first hot air balloon, the first locomotive all come to life thanks to cutting-edge technology. There are 10 time and space adventures to enjoy here and you can refuel with snacks and coffee at the Proto café.
Best markets in Tallinn
Tallinn’s Christmas market is a must over the holidays, but when the festive season draws to a close, these 5 popular Tallinn markets are well worth a visit. Balti Jaam Market is a smorgasbord of goods from Soviet toys, to fruit to clothing and antiques. The Town Hall Square Market is the site of the annual Christmas market which is transformed into a winter wonderland. Try the mulled wine glögg concoction made from warming brandy and spices and peruse the craft and food stalls, before exploring the surrounding antique shops. Just outside Tallinn you’ll find Nomme Market with its mainly organic produce. Based on the site since 1908 farmers from across the region travel in to sell their jam, honey, fresh herbs, veggies and fruits. Port Market is located on Tallinn’s seafront and has a superb collection of organic and free-range Estonian food, including local crafts, meats and honey, sauerkraut and black bread. Lovers of all things knitwear will be in heaven at Tallinn’s Knit Market located in front of the city wall.
Kadriorg Park and Kadriorg Palace
Kadriorg Park was constructed by Tsar Peter I and is a beautiful mix of 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century plantings and landscape design that surround the stunning Kadriorg Palace. Providing welcome respite from the busy capital, there are numerous walking trails among the forest and meadows, as well as formal gardens and flowerbeds to enjoy, including a stunning Japanese Garden. The Swan Pond is a popular meeting point as it’s close to the cafes and the Park’s museums, such as the KUMU (Estonian Art Museum), the Mikkeli Museum and the Kadriorg Art Museum. Kadriorg Palace was designed by Niccolo Michetti and commissioned by Peter the Great in honour of his wife Catherine I. A beautiful homage to love, this Baroque masterpiece is now home to the Kadriorg Art Museum which displays work by Russian and Western artists.
Estonian History Museum
Discover the history of this remarkable country at the Estonian History Museum. Located in the Guild Hall, the museum showcases life in Tallinn and Estonia since prehistoric times. Tallinn has been ruled by the Danish, German, Swedish and Russians giving the city an extraordinary cultural and historical legacy. Through the videos and artefacts (English translation for all items) there is a wine cellar and an armoury with weapons and arms collections. The permanent exhibition: Spirit of Survival: 11000 years of Estonian History is particularly impressive.
Getting Around Tallinn
Tallinn airport is located just 3 miles from the capital, which can be reached in around 20 minutes in good traffic. Uber operates here as well as regular taxis, which can be found in the official taxi rank located at the terminal. Check your hotel’s exact location and agree on a price with the driver before you leave the airport. Alternatively, take a tram into the city centre. Once in the city, the bright red hop-on, hop-off tourist buses are a great way to see all of Tallinn – not just the Old Town. And Tallinn is easy to explore on foot. Taxis can be hailed at designated stops or booked at your hotel. Buy the Tallinn Card online for discounts on sightseeing tours, activities and restaurants; as well as free entry to over 40 top Tallinn attractions and museums. Choose from 24-, 48- or 72-hour duration. You will also get free transport on Tallinn’s buses, trams and trolleys.
Best time to visit Tallinn
Summer in Tallinn – especially July – is the best time to enjoy the great weather and the city’s festivals and cultural events, such as the Tallinn Maritime Days with its collection of vintage ships. Indeed May to August is probably the best sight-seeing time, especially if you want to combine your visit to Tallinn with other Estonia attractions such as its Baltic beaches and islands. Autumnal colours always attract visitors and although winters in Estonia can be brutal, there is always a body-warming sauna to enjoy, as well as the very powerful local vodka.
Why Visit Tallinn
Tallinn’s intriguing past – it has been occupied and influenced by the Russians and Germans and finally gained independence in 1991 gives the city a unique cultural and historical legacy. Tallinn’s Old Town is the main draw for tourists as its Gothic architecture and cobbled streets are largely untouched. Climb up St Olaf’s Tower for views across the rooftops of this remarkably preserved medieval city. As well as a vibrant restaurant and bar scene, Tallinn offers visitors world-class museums, alongside look-at-me Tsarist architecture such as the exquisite Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Blessed with beautiful parks and gardens, Tallinn is an ideal city break and the perfect introduction to the rest of Estonia.
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