"Towers and tiles and spires and cobbles." Tallinn by leics

Tallinn Travel Guide: 1,899 reviews and 5,405 photos

I'd wanted to visit Tallinn for quite a while. The early-morning budget flight from Stansted is a real pain for me to get to (it meant leaving home at 2.30am), so it's taken me some time to organise.

Tallinn is very obviously a town of two parts: the Medieval Old Town (the World Heritage site) and the rest (and the suburbs), where ordinary life goes on. I always walk a lot, but this time I had to walk even more because my hotel decided it was 'over-booked' so put me in its sister hotel further out than I wanted to be (and with much poorer access to public transport). I was a bit cross (especially as I'd emailed and got a re-confirmation only a couple of days beforehand), and was not really assuaged by 'upgrading to an executive room' (I am not impressed by being on the 18th floor of a tower block, however many fluffy bathrobes you give me, even if the view is excellent).

But there you go: from what I can make out (and this was confirmed by a tour guide) this sort of thing is not at all uncommon in Tallinn hotels. So be prepared to end up somewhere other than where you chose to be.

I liked the Old Town, especially when it wasn't stuffed with tour groups from the cruise ships which dock at Tallinn ('Baltic Capitals', I assume). But it was stuffed during the day (from about 10.30 to about 5), and clearly caters for that trade. And why not? I don't begrudge anyone making a living from tourists.

Alcohol in Tallinn isn't much cheaper than in the UK now, so (hopefully) that has cut down on the number of embarrassing stag/hen parties visiting. Certainly I only saw one or two groups, and the loudest lot were (I think) Finns (alcohol is still cheaper than in Finland).

I did like the Medievial-ity of the Old Town: the cobbles, and the merchants' houses (nice to see so very many of them remaining), the winding lanes and the churches. At quieter times one could imagine the city as it once was, to a degree, although Estonia's history has caused difficult periods through the centuries. And I could find some of the tiny detals and un-noticed features that I enjoy so much, although there were fewer of these than I had anticipated.

It's not a massive city: a couple of days would be more than enough to fully explore the Old Town. But nearby is Kadriorg, built by Peter the Great for his wife (although the family rarely stayed there), which is easy to get to by tram and certainly worth a morning or afternoon's visit. I'll build a travelogue for that soon.

The Estonian Open-Air Museum at Rocca al Mare is also well worth visiting (he link takes you to my museum page). It's set in a lovely wooded site (take the insect repellent!) and comprises all sorts of old buildings from around the country, appropriately restored and furnished with 'characters' carrying out traditional crafts etc. I really enjoyed the hours I spent wandering through this site (the tour groups seem to arrive in the late afternoon, so it's best seen earlier on!).

It is very rare indeed for me to take an organised tour. But I knew that I'd want to see a bit more of the country than just Tallinn, and I knew that public transport would make this very limited (I don't do hire cars by myself).

So I booked to go on a tour of Lahemaa National Park with Andrew Meek, an Australian who has recently started Estadventures. Highly recommended: this was an excellent and really interesting seven or so hours, during which time I saw bits of Estonia which I know I would not otherwise have seen.

Kiiu with its tiny tower.
Rebala Bronze Age graves.
Altja, an old fishing village.
Palmse and
Sagadi manor houses.

And Viru bog, which I've had to put on the Tallinn County page.

An excellent day out altogether, although I also ended up with the largest bite I've ever had (tennis ball-sized, on the back of my hand) so......take the insect repellent!! :-)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Lots of history to explore
  • Cons:Can be busy with cruise-ship tours
  • In a nutshell:Towers and tiles and spires and cobbles.
  • Last visit to Tallinn: Jul 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (41)

Comments (16)

  • Aitana's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2013 at 6:10 AM

    I'm visiting Tallin in a few days and your page is a good appetizer. Thanks.

    • leics's Profile Photo
      Aug 9, 2013 at 6:20 AM

      Thank you! I'm sure you'll enjoy Tallinn: there's a lot of history to see (which is why I liked it). :-)

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    Thanks for your recommendation on the Greek Ukranian Orthodox Catholic chruch - we'd have mised this fascinating building without your guidance! Regards Cathy

  • MikeBird's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Great idea on how to get out of the city. Am thinking of Tallinn and this has helped. Thanks, Mike

  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
    Apr 24, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Very informative and liked your photos. I've been to tallinn but nowhere else in Estonia.

  • King_Golo's Profile Photo
    Feb 5, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    Looks like you love Tallinn as least as much as I do! Great pages!

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Tallinn is worth visiting, of course... Thanks for your page! ><><><><

  • nyperose's Profile Photo
    Aug 14, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    Very interesting Tallinn page! A place I would love to visit:-D

  • DennyP's Profile Photo
    Feb 14, 2009 at 1:29 AM

    Thanks for sharing your very informative tips and nice pics on Tallinn..as I have this on my must see itinerary..it has been most helpful...thanks again.....

  • Fullmoonfever's Profile Photo
    Feb 7, 2009 at 9:12 AM

    "I'll have you know that nothing, absolutely nothing 'sucks' in England" Thats sort of disappionting.

  • leecouk12324's Profile Photo
    Jan 31, 2009 at 12:39 PM

    ALso nice first pic of Tallinn I guess when one drinks Wine one likes to look at places one has been - and i love that Tallinn keeps its city trees


“'Take clothes you can layer....' :-)”

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