Tallinn, Estonia | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, lies on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, only 70 km (43 mi) south of Helsinki. At the historical and medieval heart of the city is the hill of Toompea, covered in cobbled streets and filled with medieval houses and alleyways. The lower town spreads out from the foot of the hill, still protected by the remnants of a city wall. Around the city wall is a series of well-maintained green parks, great for strolling.
The city's old town has been astonishingly well preserved and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, it is now in better shape than ever, with the bigger roads converted into fashionable shopping streets reminiscent of Zürich or Geneva. Especially in summer, the Old Town is packed with tourists, with the traditional daytrippers from Helsinki increasingly supplemented by Europeans taking... Read more

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, lies on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, only 70 km (43 mi) south of Helsinki. At the historical and medieval heart of the city is the hill of Toompea, covered in cobbled streets and filled with medieval houses and alleyways. The lower town spreads out from the foot of the hill, still protected by the remnants of a city wall. Around the city wall is a series of well-maintained green parks, great for strolling.
The city's old town has been astonishingly well preserved and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, it is now in better shape than ever, with the bigger roads converted into fashionable shopping streets reminiscent of Zürich or Geneva. Especially in summer, the Old Town is packed with tourists, with the traditional daytrippers from Helsinki increasingly supplemented by Europeans taking advantage of cheap flights.
Alas, the new town sprawling all around is largely built in typical concrete Soviet style, now joined with glass-and-steel cubes celebrating the post-Soviet economic boom. The new center of town is

Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square)

at the edge of the old town, and nearby is the giant matchbox of Hotel Viru, the former Intourist flagship and notorious den of Cold War intrigue (every room was tapped and monitored by the KGB!).

Tallinn is a historic city dating back to the medieval times and it was first recorded on a world map in 1154, although the first fortress was built on Toompea in 1050. In 1219, the city was conquered by Valdemar II of Denmark, but it was soon sold to the Hanseatic League in 1285. The city, known as Reval at the time, prospered as a trading town in the 14th century, and much of Tallinn's historic center was built at this time.
Tallinn then became a pawn in the geopolitical games of its big neighbours, passing into Swedish hands in 1561 and then to Russia under Peter the Great in 1710. By World War I and the ensuing brief Estonian independence (starting 1918) Tallinn's population had reached 150,000.
Estonia was eventually occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, only to be conquered by Nazi Germany (1941-44) and then retaken by the Soviets. In World War II, the city was quite extensively bombed by the Soviets, although luckily the medieval town remains. The Soviet Union undertook a program of massive Slavic migration, and just over 40% of Tallinn's current inhabitants are Slavic (compared to an average of 28% for the entire country). On Aug 20, 1991, Estonia declared independence and Tallinn became its capital once again.
Today, Tallinn is a bustling, gleaming metropolis. However, among the tall glassy buildings and corporate headquarters, Tallinn retains an inner charm seldom found anywhere else. Estonians consider themselves to be living in a Northern European/Scandinavian or an eastern European country depending on who you ask, with very close ties to Finland (ethnic, linguistic, and cultural), and visiting Tallinn you will find a mix of at least three architectures in this very visual city - old Europe (the city walls with rustic buildings and charming living areas with well-preserved and colorful wooden houses of bourgeois taste of the 1920s), Soviet brutalist (concrete apartment blocks), and modern Europe (including McDonald's next to the city walls!).
  • Visit Tallinn official city guide, Discover the best places in Tallinn with the city guide. Accurate information on Tallinn´s attractions, events, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, hotels, transportation.
  • Tallinn Tourist Information Centre, Niguliste 2 / Kullassepa 4, Phone: +372 645 7777, (Email: visit@tallinn.ee). Get your free city map, book a guide, ask advice, use our free wifi or customer computers. Open every day.
  • Tallinn Traveller Info, Vana-Posti 2, Tallinn Old Town, Phone: +372 5837 4800, (Email: tallinn@traveller.ee). The permanent office of the alternative tourist information center that is run by local youth and provides you with the best insider tips about Tallinn. They can also assist with booking bus and ferry tickets, different day trips, tours, and other activities. Open every day from 10 AM to 6 PM.
  • Bicycle tourism information at City Bike office, Vene 33, Tallinn Old Town, Phone: +372 5111 819, (Email: mail@citybike.ee). The all year round opened office is conveniently locating on the corner of Old Town, nearby bicycle lines. Run by bicycle enthusiasts you can get all kind of bicycle touring information about Tallinn and Estonia, over 150 bicycles for rent, Original Tallinn bicycles tours, and maps. Open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM, May-Sept from 10 AM to 7 PM.

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Tallinn, Estonia: Port Information

Port of Tallinn is one of the biggest cruise and passenger ports in the Baltics. Over 30 cruise lines call on the port of Tallinn during the tourist season. Cruise vessels are mainly accommodated in the Old City Harbour, which is less than a mile northeast of the Old Town. Within the port area, there are several passenger terminals; free public WiFi areas are in both A and D terminals.

Buses, trolleys, and trams operate regularly from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Bus, trolley and tram tickets can be purchased at newsstands in the terminal. Bus no. 2 runs between the harbor (bus stops at A and D terminals) and airport via the city center. You can also hop on a red hop-on/hop-off bus stopping in the harbor, only the price is a lot higher. There is also a tram (tram lines 1 and 2) stop in the proximity of the harbor area.

If you take a taxi, take a close look at the yellow price list, which is posted on the right side rear door. Make sure the taxi driver holds an operator’s card – a white plastic card with the driver’s photo and name, attached to the middle of the dashboard. When starting out make sure the taximeter is turned on. The driver is not allowed to charge more than indicated on the meter. The driver must be paid in Euros. Ask the taxi driver for a receipt from the meter’s printer. If the meter or printer is out of order, the driver should not be in service, and you have the right to refuse from paying the fare.
Perhaps the easiest way to get to Old Town is by walking, less than a mile to the southwest. Find the blue line painted on the pavement, and follow it to the Port Gate. After exiting the port gate, proceed across the street, then turn left with the crosswalks. At the next big cross street, Sadama, turn right (west). Walk a couple of long blocks west on Sadama, then you will come to a confusing intersection with many lanes of traffic. Make your way carefully across the lanes of traffic and head towards the tall church spire (St. Olav's). A round stout stone tower (Fat Margaret Tower) should come into view; the north gate is to the right of it.

Get around Tallinn, Estonia

The Old City is best navigated on foot, not that you have many choices. A network of buses, trams, and trolleybuses covers the rest of the city. There is an abundance of relatively cheap taxis. Before you jump in a random taxi car make sure you check the price on the window of the car. In Tallinn there are more than 20 different taxi companies and some can be a rip-off.

By public transport
lt operates frequent buses, trolleys, and trams between 6 AM and 12 AM. Baby prams can be carried in most of the buses, trolleys, and trams except for a few which have steps. For getting out of Tallinn, Peatus is the public transport route planner for all of Estonia, searchable by points on the map or names of places.
All modes of public transport operate with the same tickets. Single tickets can be bought from R-Kiosks or by mobile phone, or from the drivers. Discounts are given to students and Tallinn residents. The Tallinn Card includes unlimited use of public transportation.

By bus
The bus network covers the whole city.
Tourist bus tours (look for the red-colored buses) are also available at designated stops in the Old Town.

By tram
The tram network covers the city center. There are 4 routes and they all meet at Viru Center, at stop Hobujaama. About 15 carriages have a lowered middle-section, which makes trams wheelchair-accessible. Departure times of those carriages are marked with a yellow background in the schedules. Usually, these vehicles serve routes 1 and 4.

By trolleybus
All trolley lines have a direction to south or west. They operate on electric lines. There are seven lines, 1 and 3-7 and 9. The fleet is relatively new, though there are some old Škoda-s.

By Hop-Off-On Sight Seeing Bus
For first time visitors or day visitor, another option is to take the Sight Seeing Buses. It provides good commentary on the history of the city and its various attractions. The tickets are available inside the terminal just near the exit gate or at the bus stop itself. Please note there are around 2-3 operators - City Tour, City SightSeeing Tour and they have similar buses and prices but the tickets are not interchangeable. Buying for ALL lines is preferable as RED line route is very small and can be covered by walking by young people. Also, check the timings of these buses at various stops. These buses operate mostly from 10 am to 4-4:30 pm, so plan your stops accordingly.

By taxi
Tallinn has many different taxi companies and independent taxis. There is no standardized base price or price per km. Some tourist scam taxis have absurdly high prices, and as long as those prices are displayed on the sticker in the window and on the dashboard, they are completely legal. Needless to say, the locals never take those taxis, their sole modus operandi is to prey on ignorant tourists. Do as the locals do and order a taxi by phone.
Do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting at the harbor or train station. Same goes for any taxi that looks shabby or does not carry the logo of one of the reputable companies. Also, be wary of taxis that look overly luxurious: large Mercedes, TV-screens inside, usually only a very small and vague logo on the door. Taxis hanging out in front of nightclubs often have the highest prices.
Reputable taxi companies are:
  • Tallink, yellow Mercedes B-class, Audi A6, Skoda Superb or Hyundai I30 Wagon (not to confuse with Tallinn Taxi, who also have their cars painted yellow). Tallink is also one of the more expensive taxi companies.
  • Sõbra, "economy" taxis with a mixed car fleet, somewhat cheaper than the competition. Unlike many other economy taxis, the cars are clean and the drivers competent.
  • Marabu, mid-price company
  • Krooni
  • Luxlimu, Sclass Mercedes and Stretch Limousine Transfers
  • Taxify. Leading taxi ordering application with 50,000 users and growing rapidly. Covers 800+ taxis in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu and Haapsalu. Works on Android and iOS devices. Choose your taxi by location/distance, price list, car model, card payment and user reviews. If you have problems after the ride, report Taxify and they will deal with the driver.
By car
Like other large cities, Tallinn has its fair share of traffic jams and therefore is not for the faint-hearted. The road rules and driving style can be confusing to tourists. The one and two-way roads change frequently and some signposts are not descriptive. That being said, traffic jams in Tallinn clear very quickly and if you are from a large city, they will seem like speed-humps rather than traffic jams.
The speed limit in Tallinn is 50 km/h, except some major streets such as Laagna tee, Pärnu mnt., Paldiski mnt., Peterburi tee, etc., which have a speed limit of 70 km/h.
There is an abundance of parking, but you have to pay for it. The locations of ticket machines, and other methods for paying for parking, aren't always obvious. The ticket machines are not posted clearly.
Car rental agencies
  • http://www.easycarrent.ee
  • http://www.amesticautorent.ee/
  • http://www.rentacar.ee/en/home.html
  • http://www.abcrent.eu
  • http://www.bestrent.ee
  • http://www.fastrent.eu
By bike
There is more than 180 km of bicycle roads in Tallinn. The Eurovelo international route goes from West to East, giving you good change to ride comfortably through the city. Many bicycle roads are located in green parts of the city and are meant more for recreation, although suitable for commuting. If you do decide to use a bike to get around, you can drive on every road, even the side-walk driving is allowed, pay attention to pedestrians.
  • City Bike, +372 5111 819 (mail@citybike.ee). Over 150 bicycles and a lot of extra gear. Real cyclist center with experienced staff, opened from 2003. The Original Welcome to Tallinn bike tour, daily 11 AM, Soviet bike tour in Tallinn, summer 5 PM, Lahemaa National Park bicycle and nature tours for the whole day, good recommendations for day-routes in Tallinn and self-guided tours in all over Estonia. Tours start from our Old Town office, Uus 33 (500 meters from Viru Street, McDonald's corner).  
  • Tallinn Traveller Tours, +372 5837 4800 (tallinn@traveller.ee). 3. Alternative bike tours run by local youth. Tours start from the Tallinn Traveller Info tent (corner of Harju and Niguliste Street) or from the Tallinn Traveller Info office at Vana-Posti 2 (off-season). Funky Bike Tour to Kopli and Kalamaja, Beautiful Bike Tour to Kadriorg, Green Bike Tour to the Open Air Museum, Island Bike Tour to Aegna Island.
On foot
The Old Town of Tallinn is very comfortably covered on foot.
If you have a mobile phone, mobile tours in English are available for download on the internet.
Audio guides in several languages are available for a small charge at the tourist centers.

Tips for First Time Visitors
If you are on a day trip to Tallinn for few hours only, then you can walk down to Viru street (10-15 min walk from Ferry Terminal) or take a taxi to get there and then roam the old city on foot. There are some great "lookout" points, where you can take in spectacular views of the rest of Old Town.

What to see in Tallinn, Estonia

The Old City
  • Medieval Old Town. Excellently preserved, built in the 15-17th centuries. This compact area is best explored on foot. Call a tour guide. It will give you a lot of stories that you won't have been aware of. It's worth the money.  
  • Viru Gate, (Entrance to Viru Street). This section of town is known as All-Linn or "Lower Town", as it's where the merchants and artisans of old Tallinn lived. Today, Viru is still Tallinn's trendiest shopping street and the entire All-Linn is the busiest (and most touristy) bit of Tallinn. 
  • Raekoja Plats. The square in the heart of the Old City, ringed with cafes and restaurants.  
  • Raekoda

    (Town Hall). Built in 1371, this heavy stone structure dominates the square. It now houses the Tallinn City Museum. 
  • Toompea Hill. According to myth, the hill was built on top of the grave of legendary Estonian king Kalev, but more historically, it's solid limestone and the site of the Danish castle that founded the city in 1219. Toompea was the home of the Danish aristocracy and relations between the toffs and the plebs were often inflamed, which is why it's surrounded by thick walls and there's a gate tower (1380) guarding the entrance. Check out the viewpoints, some of which give great views over the city. There's also a cluster of amber (merevaik) shops around here (no Estonian origin but popular among cruise tourists).  
  • Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. A classic onion-domed 19th-century Russian Orthodox church that has become a tourist symbol of the city, much to the annoyance of nationalist types who regard it as a symbol of oppression. It was almost demolished in 1924 during Estonia's first brief spell of independence, but the Soviets left it to molder and it has been restored to its former glory.  
  • Riigikogu. Estonia's Parliament, pretty in pink.  
  • St Mary's Cathedral - Toomkirik. The oldest church in Tallinn, originally built as a Catholic church in 1229 but renovated and expanded many times since then, becoming a Lutheran church in 1561. 
  • Museum of Occupations

    , Toompea str. 8, corner of Toompea St. and Kaarli Blvd. Describes the life conditions under Soviet and Nazi regimes. 
  • City Wall. A section of the City Wall can be climbed from the corner of Suur-Kloostri and Väike-Kloostri, with entry into three towers possible. Quite frankly, the views from up on Toompea are better, and the spiral staircases are steep and somewhat claustrophobic. 
  • Ex-KGB Headquarters, Pikk 61. Now the Interior Ministry and not generally open to the public, this is where the KGB detained and tortured suspected dissidents. A Soviet-era joke says that this was the tallest building in Estonia: even from the basement, you could see Siberia. Interrogations were indeed conducted in the basement and you can see even today how the windows were crudely bricked up with concrete to mute the sound. 
Outside the Old City
  • Tallinn Zoo, Paldiski mnt. 145 (Bus stop: Zoo, trolleybus 6 or 7). This is an enormous area. Among its live exhibits, you'll find the world's best collections of mountain goats and sheep, which means there are a lot of them! Tallinn Zoo defies the realities of a relatively modest town -- it features all the elephants and crocodiles a visitor would expect to see in a larger zoo, as well as a breathtaking maze of lake-size ponds that host birds in the summertime.  
  • Open Air Museum, Vabaõhumuuseumi str. 12 (stop: Rocca al Mare or trolleybus 6 or 7 to stop: Zoo and then a 15 min walk. Start walking with a map on hand for directions; otherwise, you might find it difficult.). This museum includes 72 buildings of Estonian vernacular architecture and village milieu of the Tsarist time of rule in a dark, dense forest. This museum provides a picture of life and its hardship in the old times. Folklore Society Leigarid gives free dancing performances here at 11 AM each Saturday and Sunday. The museum organizes special events during Easter, which provide more insight on Estonian traditions and culture. 
  • Tallinn Linnahall, Mere pst. 20 (stop: Linnahall Bus 3 or #90K (Airport bus) to stop 7 and then a 5-minute walk to the Linda line terminal past the Domina Inn Ilmarine hotel). A fine example of Soviet Brutalist architecture designed by Raine Karp and Riina Altmäe and built for the 22nd Moscow Summer Olympic Games in 1980 for sailing events held in Tallinn. Scale the exterior of this crumbling monumental eulogy to mass culture and marvel at the fact that beneath its crumbling exterior lies a 5,000 seat amphitheater (that held a concert as recently as 2008) and a 3,000-seat ice rink. Currently closed to the public as negotiations regarding its redevelopment continue - maybe the last chance to see part of Tallinn's overlooked architectural heritage in its current form. Linda line runs their catamaran service to Helsinki from offices adjacent to/underneath the helipad.  
  • National Art Museum KUMU, Weizenbergi 37/Valge 1 (stop: Kumu). Opened in February 2006, this is the largest government built building since the liberation and it is an almost 50,000 m² (538,196 ft²). The museum, whose architecture is by itself enough to justify the visit, houses a cyclopic house, partly cut out of limestone rock. Permanent exhibition is obviously focused on Estonian art in a wide interval of time. Quality of many pieces is very good and well worth a visit. Also very interesting is the (not too spontaneous) turn of interests of artists toward socialist themes during the USSR period. Exhibitions of modern art, mixed with net/social applications, are often surprising and amusing. Not to be missed or overlooked.  
  • National Library of Estonia (Eesti Rahvusraamatukogu), Tõnismägi 2, +372 630 7611. Completed in the early 90s, the exterior of this building looks like a Freemasons building and the interior is like a neo-futuristic dungeon. Free.  
  • Holy Birgitta Monastery, (Pirita beach area, 5km from the city center). A monastery of Scandinavian female saints, as well as a landmark of 16th-century catacombs and ruins. It includes a guest house operated by the nuns.  
  • Patarei (Battery) Prison, Kalaranna 2, +372 5046536. W-Su noon-6PM, Jun-Sep only. This is the most recent and least-developed historical attraction in Tallinn. Originally decreed by Tsar Nicholas I in 1820 as a fortress to protect the city from the sea-born attacks, it was turned into a notorious KGB prison in 1920. The prison ceased operations only in 2004. 
  • Tallinn TV Tower, Kloostrimetsa 58a (stop: Motoklubi). A 314-meter high, free-standing structure with an observation deck on the 21st floor, which with its 170 meters, is the highest in Northern Europe. It offers spectacular views across Tallinn and, on a clear day, you can see Finland.  
  • Metsakalmistu Cemetery, Pirita (stop: Metsakalmistu, Bus no 34A or 38). Tallinn's most famous cemetery, housing Estonia’s presidents Konstantin Päts and Lennart Meri, as well chess player Paul Keres. If you're not there to see the graves of Estonian celebrities, it's a peaceful experience to just stroll among the trees.  
  • Kalamaja District, (north west from Old City). The oldest suburb of Tallinn, dating back to the 14th century. It was probably inhabited by fishermen (Kalamaja means "Fish house") and mostly houses workers. The current wooden buildings are from the 19th century.  
  • Rottermann District. An industrial district between the City and the Tallinn Port. The buildings are from the 19th and 20th century, with motifs of Art Nouveau and Historicism. New and stylish apartment buildings with shopping center have now been built there widely regarded as an architectural masterpiece in Tallinn.  
  • Song Festival Grounds, (stops: Oru, Lasnamägi, or Lauluväljak). A huge Modernist structure where the All Estonian Song Festival, which is held every five years, features 34,000 singers and dancers in addition to a massive audience.  
  • Pirita District. Includes forest parks, Botanic Gardens and Metsakalmistu (the last resting place of well-known Estonians). A few kilometers east of the city center along the seaside road.  
  • Kadriorg. A beautiful and rich seaside resort district with mostly wooden buildings from the 18th to 20th centuries, as well as 20th century Art Deco and Functionalist structures. It also includes the baroque pearl of Estonia, the Kadriorg Palace and Garden.  
  • Kadriorg Palace, Weizenbergi 37. An imperial Russian summer residence built by Italian architect Niccolo Michetti for Tsar Peter the Great in 1718. It is situated in a 90 ha (222 acres) park in the eastern part of the city. The Tsar himself, a classic and mysterious Russian soul, preferred to stay in a modest house nearby. This event signified the beginning of Tallinn's fame as a summer resort for noble and rich Russians for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. Currently, the palace is housing some paint collections and other art. A portion of the complex is now occupied by the Office of the President and not available to the public.  
  • Seaplane Harbour (Lennusadam), 6 Vesilennuki Street. New maritime museum where you can visit the submarine Lembit which was the oldest submarine afloat in the World when it was hauled out in 2011. The hangars exhibition has different kind of vessels, old (air defense) cannons, sea mines, etc. and has a lot of multimedia information screens, and also some activities for children. It also has the remains of the oldest wreck found from Estonian waters (the ship was built about 1550). The museum ships are at the harbor and include steamship Suur Töll which is the biggest icebreaker in the world preserved through two world wars, and border control boats. In front of the hangars is an exhibition of different kinds of army vehicles of different ages. Hangars and museum ships: adults 10e, children 5e. Hangars only: adults 8e, children 4e.  
  • Culture Kilometre, (Starts next to Tallinn harbor behind the Statoil gas station). A 2.2 km route built on an old railroad. The walkway passes by some interesting destinations including Katel (Tallinn Cultural Hub), Fish market (Kalaturg), the historic Patarei Prison, the Seaplane Harbour (Lennusadam) and ends at the end of Kalamaja park on Tööstuse street. Free.  
  • Pae Park, (Take the no. 68 bus towards Priisle, get off at the KUMU bus stop, then walk 300m). An old quarry in Tallinn's biggest sleeping district which has been turned into a lovely park. You can also see a lighthouse in the middle of the city. 

What to do in Tallinn, Estonia

  • Saku Suurhall, Rocca al Mare. Estonia's largest concert and exhibition space, the venue for the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest. The hall and its facilities include an excellent shopping center that can easily be reached by trolleybus 6.
  • Schooner Kajsamoor, Lennusadam. Daily, Sailing Sightseeing tours on the Bay of Tallinn with guided tour and lunch. Visitors can contemplate the amazing view of Tallinn’s Bay and enjoy listening to the Old Port Life’s stories. Tours run from May thru mid-September. Private tours and events can also be organized. The schooner is located at the Seaplane Harbour.
A flag system that regulates swimming. A green flag means it is a safe swim, a yellow flag means you can swim, but it isn't recommended and a red flag means swimming is not advised, go in at your own risk.
  • Pirita Marina and Beach, (Look for the massive Soviet architecture located 5km from the center. Walk or take the bus 1A, 8, 34A or 38). the yachting venue for Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. It features a large sandy beach and in the summer it's full of locals and tourists.  
  • Stroomi Beach, (North Tallinn). The water is clean and warm, and it is the gay-friendliest beach of Tallinn.  
  • Harku Lake, (West Tallinn). The small lake that draws a lot of people. The lake gets dirtier by the year and swimming is not always recommended. Watch out for the vipers on the shore!  
  • Kakumäe beach, (Bus 21 from Balti jaam (where the trains arrive), bus 21A from Väike-Õismäe. Stop Landi (21) or Sooranna tee (21A & 21B). From Landi stop keep walking (1km) until Sooranna tee stop, there you'll find helpful signs.). The water is one of the purest in all of Tallinn beaches. 
  • Pikakari Beach. The water quality is fairly good and it gets deep quite soon when you go in. The huge waves coming from the ships break on shore for the joy of all swimmers. The historical Katariina Pier is nice to walk on.  
Sporting & Relaxation
Tallinn offers a lot of sporting opportunities - from ATV rentals to ice skating.
Tourists from European countries often opt for spa holidays in the city.

Film Festivals
  • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF). November/December. The festival combines a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films, and children/youth films.  
Music Festivals
  • Tallinn Winter Festival, Tallinn. Winter. Winter Classical Music festival, with performances by Estonian top soloists and talented young artists from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. Takes place in historic landmark buildings of Tallinn.  
  • Tallinn Music Week, Tallinn. Spring. Showcase festival, aiming to stage the best and most outstanding Estonian talent on two nights in Tallinn's most vibrant live venues, as well as a networking event for the music industry professionals.  
  • Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar. April. In addition to Tallinn jazz concerts also take place in Tartu and Pärnu. 
  • Tallinn Old Town Days, Tallinn. May/June.
  • The Estonian Song Celebration (In Estonian: Laulupidu). First held in 1869, takes place every five years. In 2009, 35,000 choral singers gathered to perform for an audience of 90,000 people. It is recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.  
  • Õllesummer Festival, (Tallinn). July. Approx 70,000 people attend the festival each year over the course of 4 days.  
  • Birgitta Festival, Tallinn, August. Music and theater festival, held at the ruins of the historical Pirita (St. Bridget's) convent.  
  • Tallinn Chamber Music Festival, Tallinn. 21-31 August 2013. Music festival, held at the historic buildings of the Town Hall, Hopner House, St John’s and St Michael's Swedish Church. Usually some free concerts.
Sport Events
  • Simpel Session, Tallinn. Summer/Winter. International skateboarding and BMX event.  
  • Tallinn International Horseshow, Tallinn. Spring/Autumn. Biggest international horseriding competition in Baltic states includes showjumping and dressage. Takes place in Saku Suurhall.
  • Tallinn Free Tour, +372 5837 4800 (tallinn@traveller.ee). This walking tour, guided by local young students, is an alternative to normal sightseeing trips and is made especially for true travelers. In addition to the legends and true stories from medieval times to nowadays, fun facts and stories you can get a brief overview on what to do and where to party at night. Tour lasts 2 hours and starts every day at 12 PM from Tallinn Traveller Info tent (from June to August) or the official Tourist Info (from September to May). Tallinn Free Tour: Free, tips only.  
  • Old Town Walking Tour, +372 5837 4800 (tallinn@traveller.ee). This tour is like a private walk around Tallinn with a local friend. In addition to legends and true stories from medieval times to nowadays, you have a chance to have private conversations with a young local to find out how people in Estonia really live. Tours last 2 hours and start from Tallinn Traveller Info tent (from June to August) or Tallinn City Tourist information point on the corner of Niguliste and Kullasepa street (September to May).
  • Old Town Walking & Secret Tunnels Tour, +372 5111 819 (mail@citybike.ee). This tour consists of two parts: off-the-beaten-track places in Old town with good stories and secret tunnels visit. It is a classical tour with a different touch, local stories and real information about life in Tallinn. Ask questions to find out how people in Estonia really live. Tours last 2-2.5 hours and start from City Bike office (Uus Street 33) at 2 PM. Booking required, the possibility to have also walking tour without tunnels.

What to eat and drink in Tallinn, Estonia


The Old City is packed with restaurants claiming to offer authentic Estonian food, particularly on and around Raekoja plats. Prices at restaurants near the Raekoja Plats are generally more expensive, yet offer the same quality of food, as restaurants off this main square. Prices are steep by Estonian standards, but still much cheaper than neighboring Helsinki, which explains why on weekends they're always packed with day-tripping Finns.
The new neighborhoods on the rise are Kalamaja and Kopli. Here you can find quite a lot of trendy restaurants opened up in old factories and such. There are no touristy restaurants or party pubs but nice, affordable restaurants popular among local people. It may not be too easy to find restaurants by just wandering around so it's recommended to check the addresses beforehand.

  • Cafe EAT, Sauna 2. Dumplings with different fillings and really delicious doughnuts. This is probably the most reasonably priced cafe in the Old Town. It is very popular among local students and backpackers. You can also play foosball, exchange books or play one from many board games at this cafe.
  • Karja Kelder, 1 Väike-Karja, 644 1008. 11-midnight or later. Pleasant and affordable tourist trap in the basement. Located in the middle of Old Town.
  • Porgu, Ruutuli 4 (Old Town). Beer selection is amazing. 80 different beers from countries: EST, FIN, GER, CZE, BEL, FRA, SCT, ENG, LVA, DEN, NLD. The beer prices are cheap. Gourmet food for relatively cheap. Note that dishes take quite some time to make (think 45-60 minutes) so you may want to have a beer or two after you place your order and when the food actually arrives.  
  • Kohvik Narva, Narva mnt 10. M–Sa 10–19, Su 10–18. Cafe Narva boasts its old-style interior preserved from USSR times. Ladies at the counter are also somewhat brusque and mostly Russian-speaking, although this should not prevent you from enjoying traditional food of Soviet workers as well as delicious pastries baked on the premises.  
  • Kompressor, Rataskaevu 3 (Just a few minutes walk from Raekoja plats.). This place offers an assortment of huge and delicious pancakes at great prices. Don't give in to the temptation to order two portions, one pancake is usually enough. 
  • Mauruse Pubi (Estonia pst 8), (Near the city library.). A great local pub, featuring cheap food with hearty portions.  
  • F-hoone, Telliskivi 60a (Take tram line 1 or 2 from the center to Telliskivi stop and walk a couple of hundred meters. Located in the inner yard of an old factory complex). Popular restaurant in an old factory building serving international cuisine. The restaurant hall is nicely decorated and divided into different areas.
  • Kohvik Sesoon, Niine 11 (Take tram line 1 or 2 from the center to Põhja puiestee stop.). Sesoon was opened in March 2013 and it has also gained such popularity that you may need a reservation (not usually though). Located on an inner yard of a building by the quiet Niine street and serving international cuisine. Apparently some of the chefs are the same who made F-hoone popular.
  • Aed (Embassy of Pure Food), 8 Rataskaevu., +372 6 269088. Noon-10 PM. Excellent organic/biodynamic/Demeter food. Beautiful interior, very charming and romantic, wonderful service. Lower-than-tourist prices..  
  • Azerbaijan Restaurant Shesh-Besh, Gonsori 9, +372 6 611422 (info@aserikook.ee). This dim and blandly decorated Azerbaijan Bar-restaurant "Shesh Besh" offers genuine Azerbaijan cuisines. Although a namesake, it has nothing to do with a branch of Azerbaijan restaurants in Russia.  
  • Controvento, Katriina Käik. A very nice little Italian restaurant stashed away in a small side passage in the Old Town. Offering genuinely excellent food at reasonable prices with good service. Its only 'flaw' is that it's hard to get into and is most often completely full, even on off-season weeknights. You may want to call ahead and make a reservation.
  • Madissoni Grill & Baar, Rävala Puiestee 3 (next to the Radisson Blu Hotel). This open kitchen type restaurant serves good flame-grilled food at decent prices, especially popular for its daily lunch specials, King Club Sandwich and Burgers. 
  • Pirosmani, Üliõpilaste tee 1, +372 6 393246. 10 AM-midnight. Georgian food as it is done in Georgia. It's well out of the way, but that's a good thing. Almost everyone at this restaurant is local (although the menu has English), and tourists are not in sight, so the food here is good and great value. Try the Khinkali or the Harcho.
  • Troika, Raekoja plats 15. Offers generous portions of Russian food. In the warm summer months, people dine on the terrace. In winter, they head down to the warm cellar. To fill up, get a small zakuski (which is anything but small) appetizer plate. It's big enough for three, then dip your pelmeni dumplings in smetana or the other sauces provided and wash it down with a shot of vodka. 
  • Vanaema Juures, Rataskaevu 10/12, +372 6 269080. Translates as "Grandma's Place", which gives you an idea of the warm welcome you can expect here. Friendly and attentive staff are happy to explain the traditional dishes. Excellent value for money. It's a tiny place, so reservations are essential in the high season. Try the meatballs or the pork with sauerkraut and don't miss the kama porridge for dessert.
  • Viikingite küla (Viking village), Saula küla, Harjumaa. The "Vikings' Village" is 29 kilometers from the city, next to Pirita river and Tallinn-Tartu highway, but in a deep forest is a scenic place with a tavern, accommodation and its own small lake, from where everyone can catch their own fish and let it cooked. It is suitable for a day out with kids but too tacky for adults. Prices are very reasonable.
  • Must Lammas, Sauna 2, +372 6 442031. Decent Caucasian restaurant. Prices could be a bit lower, but the food is really good. In the evening, prior reservation is recommended.
  • Bar Fish and Wine, Harju 1, +372 6 623013. M-F 8 AM-11 PM, Sa 11 AM-11 PM. The name pretty much says it. This is a modern cocktail bar and restaurant serving vodka and caviar, fish dishes and a wide range of wines.
  • Bocca, Olevimägi 9, +372 6 117290. Noon-Midnight. One of the trendiest restaurants in Tallinn. Features Italian cuisine by Nicola Tanda. It also has a nice bar to enjoy cocktails and snacks. This is one of the busiest restaurants in Tallinn. Reservations are highly recommended.
  • Chedi (chedi), Olevimägi 11 (next to restaurant Bocca, in old town), +372 6 461676. Noon-Midnight. Modern Asian kitchen supervised by Alan Yau from Hakasan, London. The modern and warm interior make you feel like you're in Singapore. Reservations recommended. 
  • Kuldse Notsu Kõrts, Dunkri 8, +372 6 286567. M-Su noon-midnight. Good traditional Estonian restaurant close to the main square. Try the house beer or vodka and fresh buckthorn and honey aperitif with your blood sausage or the famous pork knuckle with extra spicy mustard. The traditional desserts are also worth a try. From Sept to May on Fri and Sat nights live traditional music.
  • Musi, Niguliste 6, +372 6 443100. 17-24. This is primarily a wine bar, but it has light meals as well. From the outside, it looks like a cozy oasis, and you might think the place is one little rustic room on display but there are more tables behind the wine bar. Welcoming staff and a good selection of wine by the glass. A good place for a relaxed meal, or with your friends before or after dinner.
  • Olde Hansa. The ruling king among Tallinn's purely touristy restaurants with some of them trying to copy its style. The place is simply medieval, not just in terms of food but also in the sense of performance - no electricity, no music except live and authentic, no modern inventions. The house special is bear meat "marinated in rare spices and cooked over a fire in honor of Waldemar II, the brave King of Denmark". Try one of the extraordinary beers, such as the honey beer. It is not likely that you will meet any locals here. Worth going here just to see the toilets.  
  • Peppersack, Viru 2 / Vana turg 6, Tallinn, +372 6 466 800. Tasty medieval fare, great wine & cheese. Book at their website. 
  • Restaurant Ö, mere pst. 6E (close to the old town, near harbor), +372 6 616150. Noon-midnight. Award-winning Chef Roman Zastserinski has made a seasonal menu using only Estonian ingredients. Good view of the old town. 


Tallinn's crazy nightlife is out of proportion to the city's small size. The days of armed mafiosos are over and these days any drunken fights tend to involve British or German stag parties. Exercise some caution in choosing your venue, as some strip clubs and regular clubs make their money by fleecing tourists who come in for a drink.
Bars and pubs
  • Beer House, Dunkri 5. Plenty of beer types to choose from in this large authentically styled and decorated Bavarian Beer hall, including 5 of their own beers made on site. Try the Medovar Honey beer.  
  • Drink Baar, Väike Karja 8, +372 6449433. 12-23, -03 Fri, Sat. British-style pub, with one of the widest selections of beers in the Old Town. Good English-style pub-grub, featuring award-winning fish and chips. Not the cheapest place in town, but it's usually worth stopping off for a pint. Can get quite busy over weekends, but stag parties usually don't find it.  
  • Hell Hunt, Pikk 39. The name means 'the gentle wolf' in Estonian. A comfortable and homey pub in the Old Town and offers a wide selection of beers (including two of their own brews) and some pretty decent food. Don't miss the spare ribs.  
  • Kuku klubi, Vabaduse väljak 8. Founded 1935 by the local art community and claiming to have had the best accessible cuisine in whole former USSR since 1958 during the Russian occupation.
  • Lab Bar, Väike-Karja 1. Laboratory themed bar known for its shots in testtubes. You should definitely try The "Brain Scan". 
  • Levist Väljas, Olevimägi 12. A cozy alternative bar in Old Town with a small dance floor.  
  • Lounge 24, Rävala Puiestee 3. Located on the top floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel, it offers spectacular views of Old Town and the Baltic Sea from a trendy indoor setting and a breathtaking outdoor terrace. Lounge 24 serves a variety of light fares to a full dinner menu and a wide selection of beverages. Open to the general public. 
  • Nimeta Baar (The Bar With No Name). Legendary place with perhaps the worst service in town, popular with tourists. Good sports bar, but usually overrun with drunken tourists from all around. If that's your kind of thing, go for it.  
  • Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina, Pikk 43, +3726311755. 12-24. Texas-style cantina is a casual place to knock back a Corona or a Bud, or even to try out the frozen margaritas churning in the electric mixer behind the bar. More serious drinkers can try the ‘tequila flights’ - 3 or 5 shots of different tequilas to give you a sampling, not that you’re likely to remember which was which next time around.  
  • Pudel, Telliskivi 60A. Estonia's first gourmet beer bar. Serves some excellent imports from some of the best brewers around the world. Probably the most expensive pub-cum-bar in the city, and nothing bigger than snacks served in the way of food, but the beer is truly excellent.  
  • The Lost Continent, Narva mnt. 19. Australian bar. 
  • Von Krahli. An avant-garde theatre/bar.  

Shopping in Tallinn, Estonia

Department Stores & Shopping Malls
  • Viru Keskus, Viru väljak 6.
  • Foorum Keskus, Narva maantee 5.
  • Kaubamaja, Viru väljak.
  • Kristiine, Endla 45.
  • Stockmann, Liivalaia 53, +372 633 9539.
  • Solaris, Estonia pst. 9.
  • Norde Centrum, Lootsi 7.
  • WW Passaaž, Aia 3/Vana-Viru 10.
  • Sikupilli, Tartu mnt 87.
  • Rocca al Mare kaubanduskeskus, (Take trolley 6 or 7, bus 21 or 22 or the free bus from Passenger Port). A few kilometers west of the old town along Paldiski maantee. Consists of a Prisma hypermarket and tens of smaller, mostly fashion boutiques.  
  • Ülemiste Keskus, (Near the airport; take bus 2 or 15).
  • Rotermann, Rotermanni 5/Roseni 10.
Boutiques and Souvenirs
For boutiques and souvenirs, your best choice is Viru street in the Old City and its side streets. There are many stalls selling traditional items like woolen pullovers, crystal, and amber. Prepare to haggle.
Fashion-interested people could visit Estonia's first Post-Sovietic designer brand Ivo Nikkolo. Main store is located in Old Town, Suur-Karja street 14.
Rotermann Quarter
The Rotermann Quarter is a downtown shopping area with clothing and department stores and restaurants. It's situated between Viru Keskus, Tallinn port, and the Old Town.

Safety in Tallinn, Estonia

While Tallinn is generally safe, various governments warn against the dangers of being pickpocketed or mugged, particularly in the Old Town. Watch your valuables closely, especially on public transport and around Viru Street.

The biggest trap to tourists in Tallinn is getting ripped off by taxi drivers or in "gentlemen clubs". Many of the latter are known for their exorbitant prices and hidden "fees". Credit card skimming and other similar scams are common practice in those establishments. Stay away, unless you particularly enjoy losing your month's pay in just a few hours.

The stigmatized outskirts of Kopli and Lasnamäe are probably best to be avoided after dark, although both are a lot safer than the "bad neighborhoods" in Western-European or North-American cities.

Watch out for "bike taxis" or cycle rickshaws on the streets surrounding Old Town and the port area (they are banned from entry to most of Old Town)! You might get run over by one as the drivers are rather reckless and often ride on sidewalks.

Language spoken in Tallinn, Estonia

The official language of Tallinn is Estonian. In 2011, 206,490 (50.1%) spoke Estonian as their native language and 192,199 (46.7%) spoke Russian as their native language. Other spoken languages include Ukrainian, Belarusian and Finnish.
English is understood in tourist places.


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January 18, 2022


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