The fast-growing Hansa town, Tallinn, is an interesting mixture of rustic old and shiny modern. Glossy office buildings looming behind the medieval Old Town walls seem to fit right in the spirit of the vibrant city. The advantages of Tallinn are its quality restaurants and the cobblestone paved Old Town, which takes you to the rich history of the city.
Many re-built areas, such as Rotermann, Telliskivi and Baltijaama are culinary paradises, with international street food and fusion kitchen side by side with wine bars and microbreweries.
Where to stay in Tallinn
The Old Town is the heart of the city containing most of the attractions, restaurants, bars and night clubs. As such, nearby areas are well-suited for accommodation.
What’s more, the public transport travel card of Tallinn provides easy access to locations such as Kadriorg, Pirita or Rocca Al Mare, that are situated farther away. You can get the card conveniently from the closest R-Kiosk or from these listed places. With the travel card you can purchase a 24-hour ticket.
Alternatively, you can download the mobile app Pilet.ee from your mobile store. A single ticket, that is valid for one hour, you can purchase from the bus or tram with Visa or Mastercard.
Find your hotel in Tallinn from Booking.com Hotel Map Search
Things to do in Tallinn
The most famous attractions in Tallinn, such as Tallinn Town Hall Square and Bastion Passages, are situated in the Old Town. The Old Town, which is inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO, may be of great interest to adults, but families should head outside the walls. Many family-friendly attractions, such as Tallinn Zoo or Seaplane Harbour, are situated away from the center.
The medieval Tallinn Old Town, inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO, is the buzzing center of Tallinn. The Old Town contains something for everyone: various types of restaurants, trendy wine bars, karaoke bars, mysterious underground tunnels, the Parliament and the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in Europe.
The Old Town is divided into two areas, the upper town (Toompea Hill) and the lower town. The beginning of the town dates back to 1219, when the Danish conquered the Toompea Castle. The name of the town may have originated from the same event, as “Taani linn” is Estonian for “Danish castle”.
If you’re systematic, the main attractions of the Old Town are easily explored on foot in a day.
1. St. Olaf’s Church
You should begin the Old Town walking tour from St. Olaf’s Church in the northern end of the area. The tower of this Lutheran church reaches 123,8 meters, and as such it is one the highest buildings in Tallinn. During the cold war, the KGB used the church as a radio tower.
2. Catherine's Alley
Continue to the picturesque Catherine’s Alley, and witness the work of local craftsmen in their small studios creating beautiful jewelry, ceramics and textiles, among other things. The skilled craftsmen use original methods from the 13th - 15th centuries.
3. Tallinn Town Hall Square
Tallinn Town Hall Square has served as the best-known meeting place in Tallinn ever since the 13th and 14th century. There are concerts and other events all year round in the square. In summer, the square is surrounded by terraces swarming with people, as they gather to enjoy sunshine and refreshing drinks. In December, the square is the venue for Tallinn Christmas Market. The name of the square originates from the Gothic Town Hall next to it. Today, the impressive building serves as a concert hall and a venue for receptions.
The oldest continuously operating pharmacy in Europe is situated in the corner of the Town hall Square. The pharmacy introduces visitors to medieval medication, such as snakeskin and mummy juice. The pharmacy is still in operation today.
4. Freedom Square
Freedom Square at the foot of the Toompea Hill is the symbol of Estonian independence and nationalism, where various events and a military parade on Estonian Independence Day are a common sight. The flamboyant column-shaped monument to the War of Independence, dedicated to the bruising battle against Russian troops in 1918-1920, is located on western border of the square.
5. Kiek in de Kök and Bastion Passages
Get acquainted with Tallinn's war history in the Kiek in de Kök defense tower and literally dive deep into the past of Tallinn in Bastion's underground passages. Besides its rich history, the 13th century Kiek in de Kök offers fantastic scenery over the Old Town. The Bastion Passages, dating back to 1600s - 1700s, introduces its visitors to the intriguing underground defense network of Tallinn.
Website: Kiek in de Kök
6. St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The onion-domed St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is standing tall on the Toompea Hill. This Orthodox cathedral, completed in the year 1900, is still one of the most beautiful buildings in Tallinn. The interior with a collection of mosaics and icons, is worth a visit.
The Parliament of Estonia belongs to a larger complex of the medieval Toompea Castle, which has partly deteriorated into ruins over the years. The exotic, pink parliament building was built in 1920-22, and allegedly it’s the only expressionist parliament building in the world.
8. Dome Church
The white Dome Church at the top of Toompea Hill constitutes a plain prototype of a Lutheran church. The interior contains numerous beautifully carved funeral escutcheons and tombstones to indicate the tombs of German noblemen and Estonian dignitaries. There is an admission fee of 5 euros to enter the church.
9. Kohtuotsa viewing platform
Kohtuotsa viewing platform is a good location to end the walking tour in the Old Town. Rain or shine, it’s packed with enthusiastic photographers. The platform provides the best of views over the whole town right before your very eyes.
Kadriorg Park, situated a couple of kilometers outside the center, is a perfect target for a long-distance walk and a picnic to top it off. The best time to head to the park is between May and the end of September, when the trimmed grass and colorful flowers of the park are at their finest.
The park belongs to Kadriorg Palace, which hosted the grand opening in 1718 in the presence of Peter the Great. Today, the palace houses the Art Museum exhibiting the foreign collection of Estonia. The area is larger than it looks at first glance. For example, there’s a harmonic Japanese garden, opened in 2011, hidden in the woods.
Fotografiska photographic art center
Founded originally in Stockholm, , the Fotografiska photographic art center was opened in Tallinn in 2019, gaining immediate success and raising the cultural standards of Tallinn and whole Estonia to a greater international level. Fotografiska presents photo exhibitions on a seasonal basis. Their restaurant and cocktail bar on the top floor is likewise a popular hot spot.
Art Museum KUMU
The most famous Estonian art museum, Kumu, is situated next to Kadriorg Park. The museum, which was opened in 2006, is an architectural attraction on its own, but the main interest is drawn to its art collection. The collection at KUMU is versatile, having something to everyone’s taste. On display, there are various art movements and artifacts from the 16th century to contemporary art, with the main focus on local artists. Since you’ve come all the way to KUMU, you might as well visit the Kadriorg park as well.
Balti Jaam (Baltic Station) Market
Baltic Station Market is a gastronomic paradise, with market vendors, street food and much more in two storeys. While going to the market, you might as well visit Telliskivi, which is situated right next to it.
Website: Baltijaama Turg
Telliskivi Creative City
Telliskivi Creative City is a buzzing culture hub near the Old Town, with cultural events on offer all year round. The old industrial building complex has been remodified into trendy bars, casual restaurants, designer studios and startups. You should check out the event calendar of Telliskivi before heading off to Tallinn.
The old Soviet army shipyard area can hardly be recognized any longer, since the Noblessner marina area has been developed rapidly into one of the most comfortable and stylish areas in Tallinn.
Known for its design apartment buildings and trendy restaurants by the sea, Noblessner is the new Telliskivi of Tallinn that is best enjoyed on the area's terraces at sunset, especially in summer.
In addition to design, the highlights of Noblessner include the brewery restaurant Põhjala Tap Room, the Proto invention factory, and the Noblessneri Valukoda concert venue.
The KGB Museum in Viru Hotel offers guided tours to introduce the visitors to the practices of Soviet secret service. During the Soviet era, Viru hotel hosted foreign visitors under the watchful eye of the KGB. The museum exhibits microphones, wireless audio technology and radio room equipment. To visit KGB Museum, a booking in advance is required.
Website: KGB Museum
Things to do for families in Tallinn
TV Tower - Teletorn
Tallinn TV tower is not just the highest building of Tallinn; instead, it’s an important symbol of Estonian independence. The tower, which was built for the Moscow Olympics, reaches a whopping 314 meters, but the entrance ticket only grants access to a viewing platform at 170 meters. In good weather, you can see all the way to Helsinki.
The bottom level contains videos and photos concerning the events of August 21, 1991. Just one day earlier, Estonia had declared independence from the Soviet Union, which was struggling from the turmoil of attempted coup. The soviet troops tried to regain control over the tower with tanks, to prevent broadcasts promoting independence. The rest of the events of that day are not unveiled here.
As one of the best sites for the whole family, the Seaplane Harbour contains plenty of interesting things for adults and children to experience. The spacious museum hall has numerous artifacts of wartime and maritime history on display. The main attractions include a Short 184 waterplane and the Lembit submarine, built in England, which introduces the visitors to the life inside a submarine.
Seaplane Harbour has plenty of video films, simulators and a separate children’s area to guarantee interesting pastime for everyone. Don’t forget to visit the museum ships at the harbor behind the museum. They’re included in the price of the ticket.
Website: Seaplane Harbour
Tallinn Zoo is situated about 5 kilometers away from the center in Rocca al Mare. The zoo contains versatile species, such as snow leopard, polar bear and black rhinoceros.
More information can be found here.
Proto was opened in 2020, and it is situated in the Noblessner area near the Airport. Proto contains gadgets, with prototypes of hundred-year-old technical inventions being connected to modern times with the help of virtual reality.
More information: prototehas.ee
Restaurant recommendations in Tallinn
Culinary Tallinn is one of the city's selling arguments — and for good reason. Its abundant and high-quality restaurant selection is combined with a very reasonable price level.
The range of restaurants is extensive in the city. You can find cuisines from different corners of the world, but the most fashionable trend is a healthy New Nordic-style menu, which uses seasonal ingredients from lakes, forests and marshes.
Shopping in Tallinn
For a small city, Tallinn has plenty of shopping centers with renowned international clothing brands. The shopping districts of the very center and the Old Town contain the same stores as the large shopping centers outside the center, such as Kristiine or Ülemiste. It’s worth pondering whether to travel to larger shopping centers farther away or whether to go shopping in the center.
Rotermann is situated between the harbor and Viru Center. It contains stores of Spanish textile giants Inditex and Tendam, including Bershka, Stradivarius, Springfield and Pull & Bear.
Stockmann shopping center sells high-quality furniture, home appliances and other items as well as fashion for men, women and children.
Address: Liivalaia 53
Kaubamaja is slightly larger than Stockmann, but their selection are very similar. The selection contains high-quality international brands and departments, ranging from home appliances to textile and fashion.
Address: Gonsiori 2
Viru Keskus shopping center contains well-established brands such as Zara, Guess and Mango. in addition to clothing, the center has electronics and much more on offer.
Address: Viru väljak 4/6
Website: Viru Keskus
Nightlife in Tallinn
The bar and night club selection of Tallinn has plenty to offer for customers with different tastes – draft lager or gin & tonic with lime are by no means the only drinks on offer.
Tallinn nightlife is concentrated on the Old Town area, but there are exceptions. The Telliskivi area contains cozy beer bars, or more like beer living rooms, to continue the evening after dinner. Next, we’ve listed few of our favorite bars and night clubs in Tallinn.
Põhjala Tap Room
Estonia's most famous craft beer brewery Põhjala opened their new brewery in 2019 in the new Noblessner area. The huge brewery restaurant, called the Tap Room, has plenty of room and beers choices to taste. The brewery restaurant has also an interesting menu and delicious food that compliment the beer. For the fans of Põhjala, the Tap Room is an absolute pilgrimage destination.
Website: Põhjala Tap Room
Koht is situated at the heart of the Old Town, at the foot of Lai street.
Koht is the number one choice for beer connoisseurs in Tallinn. The dim lighting of the densely atmospheric Koht bar and the rustic jagged interior with arched vaults create the atmosphere of a monastery — we are now clearly at the origin of western beers. The bar offers an incredible number of bottled beers, which the waiters know incredibly well from bottle to bottle and help in choosing the beer.
Drink Bar & Grill
Equipped with a good beer selection, the atmospheric Drink is located on Müürivahe-katu right in the center of Old Town. Thanks to the central location, it is convenient to go to Drink to grab a quick thirst quencher - or perhaps two.
Hell Hunt is not about hunting hell. Instead, it’s one of the most laid-back beer bars of the Old Town, with one of the best malt selections in the city. To top it off, there’s pub food on offer.
Website: Hell Hunt
St. Vitus, a gastropub in Telliskive, is one of the nicest beer restaurants in Tallinn. The massive array of taps bordering the bar already tells you that this place is made for beer lovers. In addition to the comprehensive beer selection, the cuisine of St. Vitus provides some of the best pub food in the city, and the price level is quite affordable.
Website: St. Vitus
Unibet Sports Bar
Unibet Sports Bar, opened in 2022 near Virukatu, is, as its name suggests, a sports bar, and perhaps the only sports bar in Tallinn truly dedicated to sports. Televisions and screens are comfortably offered in every direction, and the selection of sports is extensive.
It's not in many Tallinn's restaurants – calling themselves a sports bar – that the background music is turned off not to disturb the sports experience. Here they do. Unibet Sports Bar's food selection is typical to that of sports bars and of excellent quality.
Website: Unibet Sports Bar
Nimeta Baar - Pub With No Name
The sports fans’ long-time favorite, Nimeta, is situated on the Suur-Karja street in the Bermuda Triangle of the Old Town. The bar is a mix of large screens and reasonable prices. You’re sure to enjoy the bar for longer than just the game you’re watching; the bar serves reasonably-priced pub food and the dance floor will fill up eventually, especially if the outcome of the game pleases the crowd.
Manna La Roosa
Manna La Roosa, housed in a historic wooden building at the outskirts of the Old Town, produces some of the best drinks in Tallinn. This loft style bar feels more like an art studio rather than a restaurant, since everything you see is an art piece on its own: décor, drinks and dishes.
Website: Manna La Roosa
The elegant Horisont Bar is situated in the top floor of Swissotel. As per the style of the bar, the drinks are also elegant, and they come with excellent service and a panoramic view over Tallinn. The prices are above the average.
Address: Tornimäe 3 (the elevator upstairs is situated left of the reception)
Website: Horisont Bar
Frank Bistro & Cocktail Bar
Frank has a simple yet stylish décor. This bistro with New York influence has good food and drinks that are certainly worth a visit. There’s a separate entrance to Frank’s Underground, where they only serve drinks. Besides serving classics, the skilled bartenders are happy to fix you a tailored drink.
Address: Sauna 2
The small but atmospheric Botaanik cocktail bar in the Old Town is a guaranteed choice for enjoying delicious drinks in an intimate and sophisticated environment. The bar can accommodate very few people, so a reservation is recommended. The staff of Botaanik is one of the friendliest and the most knowledgeable drinkmasters in Tallinn without a doubt.
Address: Suurtüki 2
Beaches in Tallinn
While strolling around the cobble stone streets of the Old Town, you might forget that the Tallinn area contains plenty of shoreline with fine sand, perfect for beaches.
In summer, the beaches of Tallinn are packed in good weather, since the locals just love a deep tan. There are several small beaches in the city area, but Pirita Beach and Stroomi Beach are the most popular and the most beautiful ones.
The beach closest to the center of Tallinn is called Russalka. It consists of a small beach strip, which unfolds in front of the statue of Russalka. The water on the beach is shallow, which is why it is also suitable for families. During the summer, you can rent SUP boards on the beach, and there are food and ice cream stalls next to the beach.
The two-kilometer-long beach stretch is the longest and the most popular of the beaches in Tallinn. A section with fine sand begins right after the Olympic harbor. While it’s reserved for surfers, a more general beach stretch begins thereafter.
St. Patrick's restaurant on the beach is a good choice to have lunch when spending the day on the beach. The Pirita surf club, located on the Olympic harbor side, rents SUP and windsurfing boards, among other things.
The nearest bus stop: Supluse puiestee
Another very popular beach, Stroomi Beach, is situated in northern Tallinn in Pelguranna district. With its shallow shoreline, it’s well-suited for families with children. There’s a playground with trampolines and other fun dedicated to kids. Near the shoreline, there’s a small bar-cafe serving snacks and cold drinks.
The nearest bus stop: Supelranna
Prices in Tallinn
The prices in Tallinn are on the rise, but the holiday essentials such as accommodation as well as food and drinks in restaurants are on the average level in the European Union.
Below, there are examples of restaurant and hotel room prices in Tallinn. Hotel room prices refer to median prices at Booking.com.
Pizza in restaurant
33 cl local beer
3-4* hotel (April)
3-4* hotel (July)
Arrival in Tallinn
From Tallinn airport to the city center
Tallinn airport is situated in Ülemiste, just 4 kilometers away from the center. If you’re feeling brisk, you could in fact walk to the center.
A taxi ride to the center takes 10 minutes and costs 10-15 euros. The cooperation partners of the airport, Tallink Takso and Forus Takso will pick you up from the taxi stop next to the airport entrance. Taxi drivers should always use a meter, and the fare to the Old Town should never exceed 15 euros.
Public transport option is bus. A ticket to costs 1.50 euros. To the center, use the bus line 2. Public transport options take about 20 minutes to the center.
From Tallinn ferry terminals to the city center
In Tallinn, there are two ferry terminals used by ferry companies: Tallink arrives at Ferry terminal D (Reisiterminal D), while Eckerö Line and Viking Line arrive at Ferry Terminal A (Reisiterminal A).
Of these, the ferry terminal D is slightly closer to Tallinn's modern city center, about a kilometer away. From Terminal A, you can reach the Old Town slightly faster, which is also about a kilometer away. Overall, there is not a significant difference in which terminal you arrive at.
From Terminal D, you can also take a bus to Viru Keskus, but for convenience, taking a taxi is an easier option if walking is not an option. A new tram line is under construction, which will provide access to the city center from both harbors in the future.
The taxi company Tallink Takso charges around 5-8€ from the harbor to the city center, and their taxis are usually plentiful at the harbor. It's not advisable to hop into any taxi at the harbor, as there are taxis that overcharge. It's recommended to check the price in advance, at least.
When to travel and weather
The ideal time to travel to Tallinn is during the summer months, from June to August. In that period, the weather is at its best; the highest temperatures and the least amount of days with rain.
Winter: It’s cold during the winter months, from December to February. In December, it’s rainy and slushy with average temperatures between -2 and 0°C. January and February are the coldest months; temperatures may drop to -10°C and lower, but average temperatures are about 5°C.
Spring: In March, there may still be snow on the ground with average temperatures slightly below 0°C. Daily highs exceed 0°C frequently. In April, daytime temperatures may rise to about 10°C. In May, temperatures may reach 20°C but remain at about 10°C on average.
Summer: Summer months are the best time to travel to Tallinn. Average temperatures are about 16-18°C, but daytime temperatures may reach 30°C.
Fall: In fall, the weather begins to cool down and the daily highs drop below 20°C. Fall is the rainiest time of the year in Tallinn. In October-November, temperatures drop to about 0°C.
Text & photos: Ville Ryynänen