"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.
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:Lots of history to explore
- Cons:Can be busy with cruise-ship tours
- In a nutshell:Towers and tiles and spires and cobbles.
In Raekjoka Plats there is a stone slab. This is supposed to be the 'Centre of Tallinn', and the text surrounding it... more travel advice
This is a small cottage in which Peter the Great lived from 1714 to 1716, when he visited Kadriorg to oversee the... more travel advice
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