"Most Beautiful Old Town?" Tallinn County by kit_mc
Tallinn County Travel Guide: 1,006 reviews and 1,871 photos
My visit to Tallinn was a fleeting one. While visiting friends in Helsinki I'd got it into my head that I wanted to go to Tallinn and see the Old Town that I'd heard talked up so much. Expecting something much smaller and certainly not as pretty as I found the place to be, I set off in the early hours of a cold, cold, dark, dark Helsinki Monday morning to catch the SuperCat to Tallinn.
The catamaran over was a little bumpy but certainly the fastest way over. In fact on the way back the cat was cancelled and we had to catch an earlier ferry home, about a 3 hour ride, twice the time of the SuperCat and nothing like as comfy. This also cut down the amount of time we could spend in Tallinn, which was a pity as there were quite a few restauarants that I would have liked to try out for an evening meal.
I'm not easily impressed when it comes to Old Towns to be honest. Often they tend to be places full only of tourists, with little sense of local living going on, too many 'local craft' and souvenir shops and overpriced, poor quality cafes and restaurants. My favourite Old Town is Gamla Stan in Stockholm, as it's where my favourite cafe is and I also spent a lot of time there when friends were living in Osterlanggatan near the castle.
Anyway, back to Tallinn. This place is definitely high on the list of beautiful places I've been to. It's very well restored without being plastic and although there were certainly lots of tourists about, and the inevitable souvenir shops all over, I suspect we were spared the worst excesses as it was the middle of winter. One interesting thing I found was the number of Finnish visitors who went straight for the nearest cafe and the nearest glass of beer! Even though we'd arrived aroun 9.00am, the beers were straight on that table. I was in no such mood, so I did a lot of wandering about and drinking of coffee rather than boozing.
Things in Tallinn are certainly cheaper than many other European cities and I can see what the Finns come home with whole crates of beer and spirits. A highlight for me was finding a great arts and crafts shop, which deprived me of approximately 90 pound in return for some gorgeous ceramics. One of the cutest things for me (patronising, moi?!) was that if you wander around the parliament, you can actually walk right by the window to the parliament gym! This is kind of a sign of how small a country it is and is quite refreshing coming from a city where the parliament has been cordoned off to avoid terrorist acts.
Tallinn is certainly somewhere that I'd like to return to, maybe for an overnight stay while checking out the rest of the country, or even on a tour of the Baltic states. It's certainly whetted my appetite for this part of the world. There is something really quite Scandinavian about the place, but take a look at greater Tallinn from up on the hills of the Old Town and you'll certainly be reminded that for a long time this was part of communist eastern Europe.
- Pros:Cheap and beautiful, some delightful architecture
- Cons:Lots of Finnish daytrippers stocking up on booze
- In a nutshell:A cheap but beautiful destination, not quite undiscovered but...
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