Tallin - the medieval pearl of Baltics
January 1, 1970
by Ilze Geke
Baltic states consists of three countries – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Tallin, the capital city of Estonia, lays on the North of the country, near the Gulf of Finland. Filled with testimonies from middle ages, alluring parks and great shopping and business centres, Tallin is a mixture of a little bit of everything, that makes this place suitable for all kinds of travellers and various types of holidays.
Tallin Old City – nuts, munks and Fat Margaret
Right – with nuts I mean nuts, almonds with different tastes -chilli, cinnamon, orange, cherry… Those are traditional nuts for Tallin, which were made of monks and they are incredibly tasty. You can taste and buy them from merchants in Old City, these nuts make perfect souvenir and gift, costs about 5 euros per 100 grams, and it is definitely worth it. Monks are very popular in Tallin – or were, once upon a time. In nowadays there are actors, which are trying to brighten up medieval culture in Old City, also they are trying to sell some crafts for tourists or shouting out adverts for restaurants, museums or events. Do not avoid these people, they are actually very friendly and willing to take photos with travellers. You can recognize them from brown robes and medieval look.
Famous Walls Of Tallin
As in general, Old City is famous of Walls of Tallin – group of medieval towers constructed to defence the city. Most popular are Pikk Herman (the highest one), Viru Gate – two towers, which marks the start of Old City and lines of souvenir shops, Kiek in the Kok with photography gallery inside and Fat Margaret, which is really wide and that is where the name comes from, now there is Maritime museum inside this tower. Take a look at Tallin’s Fortifications through centuries and find out more about Walls of Tallin in this video: [vc_video link=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpDGpSP0lH0]
The best viewing points in Tallin
While wandering around Old City, try to find good viewing points, such as Patkuli and Kohtuotsa viewing platforms on the Toompea hill. You will see quite picturesque city landscape with red rooftops, medieval towers and churches. Take a deep breath – Tallin is at your feet. Of course, it is better to enjoy these sights without the crowds of other tourists, so the Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer won’t be good choice to go sightseeing Tallin. However, most of museums and other attractions are closed on official holidays like Christmas or Easter, but there will be more tourists in Summer, although the Tallin is never crowded like New York or other big city. There will always be places to get away and find your perfect vantage point, bench in the park or lovely cafe with excellent cupcakes.
Other objects in Old City which are worth visiting:
- Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – spectacular building with a touch of Russian culture in Tallin
- Town Hall Square – popular venue of national events, markets and parades. There are a lot of cafes and souvenir shops around
- Bastion tunnels – your chance to visit the underground of Tallin. It’s a testimony from World War II and accesible for guided groups only
- Toompea Hill – “The times we had” writing on the wall and great view to the city.
Places for walking in Tallin
Go to promenade and mole, there you will have a chance to catch a sunset and loads of fresh sea air. Promenade and mole are both quite long – suits well for long walk in a lovely weather, not recommend if it’s windy and cold. Also a very well known place is Kadriorg park near the palace under the same name. This park is famous with swan pond in the middle of it, but the park itself is well decorated, although it can be crowded in the evenings. Speaking of best kissing places in Tallin, except promenade and Kadriorg park first place takes Hill of Kisses – small park on the top of the hill, in which you will find statue of two lovers kissing. Good place for a first date, isn’t it?
Where to have a meal in Tallin?
Try to avoid eating at restaurants in Old City, usually food there is really overpriced. Good places to eat are Bogapott, Cafe Inspiration and Cafe Josephine – all middle priced and offers typical Estonian dishes. Try bloody sausage, cabbage soup and head cheese – it is kind of meat jelly. If you want to indulge yourself, go to one of the best chocolate shops in the city – The Pierre Chocolaterie, which offers many kinds of chocolates. Of course, if you are on a budget, go to nearest food store, buy something prepared ( in Tallin, food stores are full of healthy and ready to eat food – salads, sandwiches and smoothies), and have your meal in the park or Old City with a nice view.
Tallin – great place for shopping!
If you want to combine your city trip with shopping afternoon, it is good know best shopping places. Keskturg – Central market is a best place to buy fresf fruits and vegetables, plus it’s more cheaper than in supermarket. Take your time to walk around many merchants and you will find the best products to make your own Estonian meal. For clothes, shoes, accessories and electronics you should visit Tallin’s biggest shopping centres – Tallinna Kaubamaja and Viru Centre, both in the centre of city. Look for sale items, great discounts will be available in the end of each season. To buy souvenirs, go to Estonian handicraft shops – like Allikamaja Handicrafts and Estonian House. Must buy thing when visiting Tallin is Vana Tallin – herbal liqueur with many ingredients and bitter sweet taste.
Good to know
- You can buy a Tallin card and get special offers and discounts in many of tourist attractions. Look for it at information centers
- Nightclubs are opened only on Fridays and Saturdays, with few exceptions
- Best time to visit Tallin is summer. Late spring and early fall are also good options
- Locals usually speak Estonian, also Russian and English, but anyway it’s suggested to learn some basic expressions in Estonian, if you are planning to be there more than one day
- When planning your trip, check for public holidays in Estonia. On these days most of tourist attractions are closed, and museums usually are closing few hours earlier on day before public holidays
- Good website about Tallin is The official city guide – you can find a lot of useful information there
Have a nice trip and don’t forget – Tallin, as one of the Baltic pearls, sparks beautifully on every season, just take a look closer and breathe in!