Ever been to Tallinn, Estonia?
Tallinn is one of the most fascinating capital cities, as well as one with the most compact and well preserved historical centres. And, not for nothing, it is called the “medieval pearl of Europe”.
Tallin’s charm comes from its unique blending of different cultures, due to its particular position in the Baltic Sea and to its history. Finnish, Russia, Slavic, Nordic, post-Sovietic and German cultures mixed in this small city, creating a unique mix of influences in both lifestyle and architecture.
I have visited Tallinn for the first time in the mid of May, thanks to a press trip organized by the Federation of the German Wood Industry, which included a visit to the veneer company BaltiSpoon.
I think Tallinn is the perfect destination for a weekend, because of its size and its very compact historical centre. Actually, I stayed less time, due to personal commitments, but even in a short time I was able to enjoy a nice walk and to have a good overview of the city.
Enjoy in this article a selection of things to do and see in Tallinn in 24 hours.
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24 hours in Tallinn / Top things to do in the city
1# A Walk in the Old Town
If you have just a short time to spend in Tallinn (like one or two days, so a weekend in Tallinn for example), I recommend you to focus in the historical centre. Tallinn’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, often referred to as the “medieval pearl of Europe”.
I confirm this. Walking into Tallinn’s Old Town is like walking into a Medieval fairytale, with its cobblestone alleys, colourful facades and red roofs. Some architectures date back to the 11th century and they are perfectly preserved, making Tallinn city centre a unique well preserved Medieval village.
Here some spots within the Old Town that you can’t miss in 24 hours in Tallinn:
- – Viru Gate: these two towers remained from the original gate system built in the 14th century and have become a symbol of the town;
- – Reakoja Plats: this is the Town Hall Square and it has been the centre of Old Town for the last eight centuries. It hosts open-air concerts, handicraft fairs and medieval markets; in winter, a buzzing Christmas Market;
- – Bastion Passages: this is part of the system of defence tunnels built in the 1670s during the time of Swedish rule;
- – St. Olav’s Church and Tower: Tallinn’s iconic Gothic church once was the tallest building in the world. From 1549 to 1625, to be precise;
- – Alexander Nevsky Cathedral: a large and richly decorated Russian Orthodox church, designed in a mixed historicist style, completed in 1900 and located on the Troompea hill;
- – Kalev Marzipan Room and Café Maiasmokk: enjoy finally a stop in the oldest café of Tallinn!
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
2# See Tallinn from above
After enjoying your walk inside the Old Town, make sure to walk to the top of the hill to get a panoramic view of the city, with its unique red roofs.
To enjoy the best view, make sure to walk up to the Toompea hill, where you can also find the Troompea Castle and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (see above).
In this area, you can find two viewing platforms: the Patkuli viewing platform and the Kohtuotsa viewpoint, showing two different sides of the city from the top. Totally worth it.
3# Buy flowers at the local market
Located near the Viru Gates, at the Old Town entrance, the market covers a whole side of the street and it’s about 100 meters long. It is very popular among both locals and tourists all year round, with 14 sales stalls recently completely renovated.
Flowers here are sold there both in winter and summer but, if you go to Tallinn in springtime as I did, celebrate the new season by doing some shopping here!
4# Eat rye bread
Tallinn is filled with nice restaurants and small places where to enjoy a good meal. Local food here is basically made of meat, smoked salmon, mushrooms, berries, with influences both from Nordic and from Russian food.
Don’t forget to try the black rye bread (rukkileib ), a delicious bread which accompanies almost every savoury food in Estonia.
PS: sorry no pictures of the bread as I was too busy in eating it. I could never be a food blogger, I know LOL
5# A walk in the forest!
If you still have time during your stay in Tallinn, you can also enjoy some time completely surrounded by nature.
Indeed, did you know that half of Estonia’s territory is covered with forests?
Right down in the forest near Tallinn, there is also the HQ and production of BaltiSpoon, one of the leading companies in the veneer production. Utilizing the most modern technology in the veneer production, every year they produce something like 30 million m² of the finest veneer.
Soon more about what I discovered during my visit to the production site!
All images © ITALIANBARK