Tallinn is the small big city with so many medieval vibes and so many beautiful houses. Every little alley is a charm and every little cobblestone tells a story. Tallinn is simply hard to resist. Especially since it is so close to Sweden and it is easy to see the whole city in one weekend. It's practically just a stone's throw by ferry or a short hop by plane to get here. You actually barely make it up to 10 meters before the flight descends for landing. And yet Tallinn feels so far away.
Tallinn only has about 400 inhabitants and the old city inside the ring wall is so small that you can easily walk through it in a few hours. There are no must-see museums in Tallinn, but everything revolves around the alleys, the ring wall, the churches and the medieval houses. So take the opportunity to take it easy, have coffee at some of the affordable and cozy cafes and enjoy the atmosphere. And when you've finished your coffee, here's a list of tips on sights to discover.
1. Town Hall Square
Town Hall Square is located in the middle of the old town and is the heart of Tallinn. Once upon a time, the city's big market was located here on the square, and every Christmas the square regains a little of its commercial luster during the big Christmas market. Not entirely unexpectedly, the old Gothic town hall with its narrow observation tower is located in the middle of the town hall square.
2. Marzipan making
It is said that marzipan production originated in Tallinn. At the time, it was a miracle cure for heartache. Today, you rather buy marzipan to give to someone you love. IN Kalev's marzipan room you get to see how to create and paint the most amazing little marzipan figures. They are so beautiful they almost look like porcelain. If you don't have the heart to eat a nice little marzipan figure, you can also buy pralines or chocolate cakes with marzipan. Regardless, it's GOOD!
3. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Tallinn's beautiful Russian Orthodox cathedral Alexander Nevsky is hard to miss. You can often see the onion-shaped domes peeking out over the rooftops when you walk around the city's streets. The grand cathedral was built over 100 years ago, when Estonia was part of the Russian Tsar's empire, and it's easy to see where the style comes from. Wander into the cathedral and marvel at all the gold and beautiful mosaics.
4. The virus port
The virus port is the most beautiful of all the gateways to Tallinn. Once upon a time, part of a much more complex gate into the city, but in order to allow larger transports into the city more easily, parts of the entrance were demolished 150 years ago. Today, only two of the towers remain, but the view towards Viru street and the town hall is fabulous. Especially at sunset with rain clouds like above... At Viruporten there is a large flower market, with the most well-tied flower bouquets you will ever see.
5. Fat Margareta
The sturdy cannon tower Thick Margareta stands in the direction of the sea and protects Tallinn against invaders. Nowhere else in the ring wall will you find such a large cannon tower, it is clear from which direction visitors and the enemy mainly came in the past. The picture above does not show the grandeur of the tower (as it is the half-cut-out tower on the left of the picture), but the tower was under renovation when we were here in October 2018. In late 2019, it will again be possible to visit the tower and its rooftop cafe.
6. The ring wall
Tallinn is the city that I have visited that has had the best preservation ring wall. Complete with its pinnacles and towers, it embraces Tallinn and gives the city its fairytale shimmer. At several places there is an opportunity to climb the wall and hike. We strolled by Helleman's tower, a 14th-century tower, where you take a spiral staircase up to the top of the wall and wander and look out over the city's streets, roof terraces and church towers.
7. Kohtuotsa viewpoint
Viewpoints are always a good way to navigate around a city and Kohtuotsa is no exception. Look out over the spiers of the churches, the towers of the wall and see all the way to the ferries in the harbor. It is when you stand here and embrace the whole city that you see that Tallinn is so much more than the old city within the walls. So much to discover!
8. Katariina Käik
The alley is a little half hidden Katariina Käik, with its crude medieval house walls and with its unique small arches with roof tiles bridging the alley. In the basement premises there are shops of small craftsmen and one wall of the alley is made up of St Catherine's church – Northern Europe's largest medieval church. This alley is one of Tallinn's coolest places, be sure to visit it both during the day and during the hours of darkness (it's illuminated in the evening)!
9. Balti Jaama Turg
A really lovely place to discover in Tallinn is Balti Jaama Turg. This was so nice that it even deserved its own post.
Read more about the market in my post Balti Jaama Turg – The market you shouldn't miss in Tallinn.
10. Estonia Monument "Broken Line"
One place that is hard not to be touched by is the memorial ”Broken line". A reminder of the 852 victims of the Estonia ferry that sank on the Baltic Sea on a stormy autumn day in 1994. A large memorial stone with all the victims' names stands next to it.
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Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.