a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 10 fun things to do in Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn might seem like a faraway capital that flies under the radar, but thanks to its proximity to Helsinki and its affordable price tag {compared to its Finnish neighbour city}, Tallinn is becoming quite the Baltic hotspot for travellers. It popped up on my radar thanks to a press trip I’d seen many travel bloggers attending last Christmas, when it was voted the capital city with the best Christmas market in Europe {a pretty big call if you ask me}.

When plans postponed and I decided this summer I’d spend trotting around Europe, I knew I had to make my way up to Tallinn to see the picture-perfect Old Town and get a taste of Estonia.

Tallinn is home to less than 500,000 inhabitants, making it a small city, despite being the largest in Estonia. Many of those inhabitants dazzled me with their good looks— Estonia breeds more supermodels than any country per capital in the world. It’s a marzipan-filled city with a gorgeous coastline and pretty viewpoints that I quickly fell in love with!

This post is here to help you plan your own trip to Tallinn, complete with how to get there, where to eat, and the best things to do!


read on for a complete tallinn travel guide


a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 12 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia

GETTING TO TALLINN

Like most European cities, Tallinn is serviced by a bevy of budget airlines through Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport, the city’s airport. RyanAir and AirBaltic both offer deals from London to Tallinn seasonally from £70 {USD $86}.

ECO TIP: Don’t forget to offset your carbon emissions!

Those with loose wallets might fancy reaching Tallinn via Baltic Cruise. There are a variety of cruise lines that make stops in the Estonian capital, though your time will be limited to the boat’s itinerary. I’m, personally, not one for cruises, but it is an option for those who prefer travel by sea. If you happen to be in Helsinki, Tallinn is an easy day trip via ferry boat.

GETTING AROUND

Tallinn has a public transport system made up of trains, trams, and buses. Apart from the palace, everything listed in this post is within walking distance from the Old Town of Tallinn. My recommendation? Save your pennies and explore on foot to find all the best bits of Tallinn.

a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 10 fun things to do in Tallinn, Estonia

WHERE TO STAY

I found throughout most of my European holidays that, if I wasn’t working with a hotel or hostel brand {i.e. an exchange stay}, the cheapest option was almost always an AirBnB.

PSST… Use my link to save yourself up to $50 off your AirBnB stay or experience!

a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 12 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia
a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 10 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia
a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 12 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia

WHAT TO SEE + DO

learn about Tallinn with a free walking tour

The free walking tour in Riga was, admittedly, not my favourite I joined in Europe, but it was insightful and did the trick {i.e. gave me context for the city I was seeing}. Bring some spare cash for the end of the tour, as tips are the only source of funding for free tours like this!

walk around old town {+ don’t miss the lookout points}

Now that you’ve gathered some context for the city from your free tour, you’ll want to explore the city for yourself. Particularly, the idyllic Old Town. For every European city there is an Old Town waiting to be adored by its visitors, and Tallinn is no different. Tallinn’s historic center has some of the prettiest doorways, most stunning architecture, and cutest alleyways I’ve seen in Europe.

HOT TIP: Don’t miss the lookout points throughout Tallinn, including the Instagram famous “The Times We Had…” lookout point.

a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 12 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia

make your own marzipan statue at the marzipan museum

Marzipan is a point of pride in Tallinn, as the town claims to be the birthplace of the sweet. It was first sold in pharmacies in little balls to solve ailments of all varieties, namely heartbreak. The Marzipan Museum in Old Town is free to visit and the front counter offers all guests complimentary tastes of a variety of marzipan. If you would like to create a tasty souvenir, you can pay €5 to paint and mold your own marzipan sculpture.

channel your inner spy at the kgb hotel museum

A little more costly than other attractions in Tallinn, the KGB Museum at the Viru Hotel is entirely worth the €11 cost of entry. Your admission fee gets you a guided tour through the hotel that was built during the Soviet era to host foreign visitors whilst spying on them— there were even “microphones” of sorts put into the cement that constructed the walls of the hotel. It’s a good chance to get an inside look at what Communist-controlled Estonia looked like.

a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 12 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia

stop to smell the roses at the flower market

I don’t know how many times I purposefully detoured us passed the flower market in Tallinn, but it was worth the extra steps. Stretching our an entire block is a row of florists selling bundles of every type of flower you can imagine. Think a much smaller version of London’s Columbia Road Flower Market minus the crowds and live music. Had I a flat to come back to instead of traveling onwards, I probably would have picked up a suitcase full of peonies and sunflowers just to feel luxe.

check out the train museum

On our way back from Tellskivi to Old Town {for the fourth time}, we stumbled upon an old train that had been gutted and turned into a museum about transportation in Tallinn. While the exhibits were in Estonian, the photos and maps were all incredibly interesting, as was the general set up of the “museum”. Since it’s free to enter, there’s no harm in giving it a look over. You never know, you might learn something new!

head to telliskivi creative city for the best street art, vegan food, + shopping

By far and away my favourite part of the city {outside of the viewpoints}, was Telliskivi Creative City, a hip and happening area of Tallinn filled with trendy eateries, vegan food, boutique shopping, and art installations. On Saturday mornings, there is a market with secondhand stalls and handicraft vendors. The best street art in the city is found in Telliskivi, and much of it is thought provoking or politically charged.

grab a love potion from raeapteek

One of the oldest operating pharmacies in Europe sits in the Old Town of Tallinn. Raeapteek, as it’s called by locals, has a free museum attached to the {still operational} pharmacy. At the counter, ask for the traditional “love potion” {spoiler alert: it’s marzipan} to ease your heartbreak or help you attract a lover {I ordered a double ;)}.

a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 10 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia

picnic at kadriorg palace + gardens

I spent the better part of a day basking in the sunshine amongst sprawling gardens and bright red walls of Kadriorg Palace. Kadriorg is considered the grandest example of Estonian architecture despite actually being designed by the Russian Czar in charge at the time. Today, the interior is used for art exhibitions, so it does cost to enter {€8, roughly USD $8.80} Lucky for budget travelers, the gardens and surrounding area is free to the public.

peep the peeping tom statue

Thanks to an episode of {you guessed it} 48 Hour Travel Man, I was determined to find the Peeping Tom Statue lingering on a rooftop in Old Town. According to urban legend, one man was constantly watching another man’s wife get ready in the morning. The married man, jealous and angry, built a statue of a man peeping and attached it to his roof looking into the other man’s flat window. Make sure you’ve got your eyes gazing upwards or you’ll likely miss the “peeping Tom”.


WHERE TO EAT + WHAT TO TRY

balti jaama turg {local market}

Those looking for fresh produce for a picnic need look no further than Balti Jaama Turg, the local market selling everything from artisanal donuts at hipster stalls to punkets of berries from nearby gardens. Berries themselves were a bit pricier than at the local supermarket, but knowing where the vendors source their fruits seemed worth the extra pennies spent.

fika café

Fika is a Swedish word that doesn’t translate directly into English. Roughly, it refers to a state of mind or a concept that is integral to Swedish culture. Usually, it involves coffee or tea and respite. Fika Café in the Creative City of Tallinn, is a place of calm amongst serving up artisanal coffee and pastries that speaks to the Scandinavian influence of the area. The café also has a full breakfast menu, but I’d already eaten, so I can’t speak to the quality {if it’s anything like the chai and croissant I had…it’s top}. I liked the hand-cut flowers at each of the mix-matched tables and the Edison lightbulbs dangling from the industrial space’s ceiling.

f-hoone

This dinner spot is absolutely a must. It was one of the most expensive meals I had in Europe {though I was pretty good in terms of making my own lunches + dinners, so this doesn’t mean much}, but it was also one of the most memorable. After one of the only rainy days during our entire 3+ month Europe/Northern Africa/Middle East stint, the streets of Tallinn were completely flooded. A soaked Tara headed into the dimly lit F-Hoone and was greeted with blankets at every table, as if the staff knew even the heater wouldn’t be enough to keep patrons warm. This personal touch, along with the candles on each table, also made it feel like one of the most romantic nights I’d spent in Europe.

la muu

Vegans: save this spot for your visit! La Muu is a new ice cream shop in the hip Telliskivi Creative City that serves up delicious cones of vegan ice cream. Yes, there is the regular stuff too, but it’s the vegan ice cream that really impressed me. The mint chocolate chip was so yum I contemplated going back for seconds, but figured two scoops of deliciousness was enough for one day.


MAP

NEED HELP NAVIGATING? Don’t worry! I’ve made a map for you with all the eateries + attractions listed in this post. Peep it below!


LIKED THIS POST? PIN IT!

a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 10 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia #TALLINN #TRAVELTALLINN #THINGSTODOINTALLINN
a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 10 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia #traveltallinn #tallinnthingstodo #visitestonia
a complete Tallinn travel guide: where to eat, how to get around, + 10 things to do in Tallinn, Estonia #thingstodotallinn #tallinn #traveltallinn