Tallinn Things to Do Tips by jumpingnorman
Tallinn Things to Do: 711 reviews and 1,596 photos
statue along Tallinn Bay, Estonia
If only I brought my running shoes --- the coast (Tallinn Bay) looked so inviting to run alongside with as I saw some joggers and cyclists enjoying the cool breeze. Up north of the Pirita Tee is a Russian monument from several decades ago over the graves of soliders.
The Pirita Yacht Club is at the the place where the Pirita tee crosses the Pirita River, and this place is approximately where international regattas were held during the 1980 Moscow Olympics. I hear rowboats can be rented here...wish I had more time...
Which way to go in Tallinn? left or right?
This is a weird tip, but it's true. It's so nice to just walk all around the Old Town, also known as Vanalinn. It's like going back to the 14-15th centuries when you walk along the cobblestone roads, going under arches, marvelling at tall spires and several staircases...just get lost. On top of this, there's several cafes and restaurants and little interesting stores. I got Tallin shirts for my little kids for only $5 each...inexpensive! I even found an Esprit bag for my wife...I guess the Scandinavian neighbors (specially Finland) go here because it is so much more affordable.
But before getting lost, take a look at the 64-meter high Town Hall Tower, imprint it on your mind and use this as your LANDMARK! have fun getting lost!
View from Bus tour from Viru, Tallinn, Estonia
Old Town of Tallinn can be easily explored by foot, but some may want to ride the bus. I think there is also a hop-on-hop-off bus, but I decided to take 2.5 hour "bus and foot" combination tour starting from the white skyscraper you can't miss, the Hotel Viru (bus tour times at 1030, 1230, 1500). I just waited at the lobby of this hotel, and had a confirmation in hand from a reservation I made along with my ferry ride from Stockholm to Tallinn (booked while I was still in the USA).
I was met by a nice lady and was brought to a big bus - but then, I was the only passenger that afternoon for the WHOLE bus! It was kinda sad having the bus waste gas all for myself.
The bus tour brought me to the outskirts, offering glimpses of Pirita where a regatta was held during the 1980 Summer Olympics, north-east of central Tallinn (I think the guide just mentioned it and I am not sure if what I saw was the actual Pirita beach). Then they also bring you to the Song Festivals Grounds, an important place where Estonian patriotism flourished through the sound of music. You get to see the statue of Gustav Ernesaks, crouching on the green grass in front of the open air stage. He became my friend when I sat beside him.
Once at Toompea Hill, the tour continued on foot. I was shown the Parliament building and the Russian Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with its onion domes, built in 1900. Next to the church is a 14th-15th century fortress wall with the towers Tall Hermann and Kiek in de Kök (Peep-into-the Kitchen), a medieval citadel.
The foot part brings you into winding cobblestone streets leading to platforms that offer breathtaking panoramic views of Tallinn and finally to the Town Hall Square with the dominating Gothic structure, and also where you can see the Town Hall Pharmacy which has been in business for 500 years.
Overall, a nice tour, and extra-nice since the guide was giving me all the attention as I was the sole client!
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn, Estonia
Ever since I visited Russia, I have been a fan of onion-domed orthodox churches. Tallinn has one that you cannot miss as you walk through Old Town.
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built to a design by Mikhail Preobrazhensky in a typical Russian Revival style between 1894 and 1900, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire. It is Tallinn's largest and grandest orthodox cupola cathedral, and I read somewhere that it was built over the grave of an Estonian hero. Who was it? - I have no idea...but maybe some of the 1.3 M Estonians know (as of 2008). A third of the population is ethnic Russian.
Church free and open daily 0800-1900
Gustav statue in Tallinn's Song Festivals Grounds
I was brought to this outdoor theatre called the Song Festival Grounds where, in 1988, Estonians gathered at ( also known as Lauluväljak) to sing patriotic tunes of the Singing Revolution that led to the overthrow of Soviet rule.
My research says this new structure was built in 1959, and that the crouching statue (whose stance I copied goofily) is that of Gustav Ernesaks (Peningi, Harjumaa, November 12, 1908 - Tallinn, January 24, 1993) an Estonian composer. The statue was added in 2004.
Ernesaks was important during the Singing Revolution and was one of the father figures of the Estonian Song Festival tradition; one of his songs, set to Lydia Koidula's poem Mu isamaa on minu arm, became an unofficial national anthem during the Soviet occupation. But ironically, he was also the composer of the Anthem of Estonian SSR used between 1945 and 1990.
Although the structure was only completed in 1959, the Song Festival has a long history. In 1869 Johann Voldemar Jannsen established the Estonian Song Festival while the nation was still a province of the Russian Empire. It was responsible for fostering an Estonian national awakening. I guess the people of Estonia are really moved by music and it has been a tradition that these Song Festivals are held every five years.
Today, Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds hosts modern musicians, the Sundance Festival, and even the rock band of Metallica (which apparently just performed last week at the Jobing.com arena beside our home here in Metro Phoenix, AZ!)
Town Hall Square, Raekoja plats, Tallinn, Estonia
I love squares or plazas, and the one in the Old Town of Tallinn is very nice. I enjoyed taking shots of the pigeons flying around, seeing tourists with their tour guides, and people enjoying the small shops and cafes. You will reach this medieval square through winding cobbled streets. It has been a marketplace since the 11th cenury, and was also the legendary site where criminals were chained to pillories for public humiliation and knights had chivalrous tournaments.
The area is dominated by the Town Hall (Raekoda), built in the 14th and 15th centuries and also the only surviving late Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. Now it is a museum and you can climb the tower for a view.
I had a glimpse of the medieval "pharmacy" decor at what is believed to be the oldest pharmacy in Europe called Reapteek, functioning since 1422! Apparently generations of families have owned this Pharmacy, but I am not sure who owns it now (maybe the city of Tallinn?). Beside it is a café called Kehrwieder Café.
Directions: Get lost in Old Town and end up nicely in this Square
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