Day 1 in Tallinn
Welcome to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Make your transfer to your destination, arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do.
Begin your afternoon with a pleasant lunch at any of the charming cafes in the picturesque Old Town. Take in the atmosphere of the medieval city complete with ancient city walls made from limestone, a beautiful town hall, and brightly colored buildings that line the cobblestone streets.
Afterward, take a free walking tour of the Old Town. This is an excellent way to learn about the town and its history while taking in the main sights. And learn about the medieval tales of executioners walking the streets to stories of the KGB and Soviet spies, it definitely adds a lot more color to the sightseeing around town.
Make sure to visit the distinctive circular stone in Town Hall Square. Standing here gives you the best vantage point to see the steeples of five historic churches around Tallinn. Then head inside the church-like Town Hall, built in 1404, the oldest town hall in Northern Europe, where you`ll discover fantastic Gothic arches and beautiful artworks.
You`ll also want to pay a visit to Europe`s oldest continually running pharmacies, Raeapteek. The store showcases its history with a mini museum that exhibits the antique medical tools and early healthcare techniques. Make sure to sample some of the herbal tea blends offered and created from local ingredients in the pharmacy`s basement.
Another highlight in Tallinn`s Old Town is the Viru Gate. Once part of the city wall`s defense system, this 14th-century structure features fairy-tale-esque, round towers topped with coned roofs fit for a princess. It is also possible to walk a section of the city walls which connect the Nunna, Sauna and Kuldjala towers. Get an interesting vantage point and soak in the fairy tale charm of Tallinn, while gaining the perspective of the guards that used to roam the walkways, guarding the town against medieval invaders.
Finish your evening enjoying a relaxing meal. Try one of the local favorites, verivorst, a traditional Estonian blood sausage and the country`s national dish you`ll see represented on a number of menus. After dinner, take a stroll back in time and wander through the cobbled alleyways and winding streets at night, which offers a bit of a different atmosphere.
After a packed day of exploring, head back to your hotel for a restful night sleep.
Day 2 in Tallinn
Start your morning off in the Creative City, a distinct contrast to the old city and one of Tallinn`s trendiest areas, to enjoy some excellent coffee and breakfast at the Balti Jaama Turg market. This is a fairly newer constructed indoor/outdoor market offering up local produce, excellent food and eateries, antiques and much more.
The outdoor market area welcomes local farmers and vendors to sell fresh vegetables, jellies and pickles every morning. Inside the indoor space, there are a variety of permanent shops like a large grocery store, butcher shop, cupcake store and wine shop. Upstairs from the food stalls, you will find stands of local artists and producers. There are jewelry producers, screen printers and all sorts of other kinds of designers.
Continue your exploration of this neighborhood to enjoy the street art viewing. You could spend several hours just admiring the incredible street art murals. There are vibrant graffiti-style pieces, tongue-and-cheek cartoon pieces, politically charged murals and 3-D installations. After spending some time in this area, you`ll surely understand where the name Creative city comes from.
The Creative City neighborhood also offers some great pop-up restaurants built into shipping containers, refurbished Soviet-era watch towers, and public art installations. Stop in one of these restaurants to grab some lunch and take in the fun and creative vibe this area offers.
Spend the remaining part of your afternoon with a visit to the KGB Museum and Museum of Occupations. You`ll get a glimpse into what it felt like to be living in the Soviet region during the Cold War era, a dark time in Estonia`s history.
In the 1970`s, the Viru Hotel in central Tallinn was the only hotel where foreigners were allowed to stay, and the KGB had a secret spy base on the 23rd floor to keep tabs on everyone. The KGB museum is built inside this base, retaining many of the KGB artifacts exactly as they were during the Cold War. You will be up close and personal with the equipment used by the KGB agents. Note: you will be required to pre-book tickets to this museum.
Spend your last evening in town in the Rotermanni Quarter. Tucked away in the downtown commercial area, this shopping and restaurant area offers a mix of new construction modern architecture and old industrial ware houses. There are many restaurants in this area to enjoy some excellent regional cuisine.
Finish off your evening with an after-dinner drink. Estonia has a growing craft beer scene and you`ll find many of these in Telliskivi (also known as the Creative City) part of town. There are some great local beers to sample offering up some fun spots to hang out. And if a cocktail is more your pace, there are plenty of great selections of bars to choose from as well.
Additional Days in Tallinn
If you have additional days to spend in Tallinn, check out the Estonian Maritime Museum. With more than 2,300 islands in its territory, Estonia has a strong maritime culture, and this museum does a great job highlighting it. The museum is located inside a historic 500-year-old building and allows visitors to see inside Submarine EML Lembit, a 1930`s-era vessel that is one of the few remaining submarines of its time. You can also hop aboard the Suur Tõll icebreaker and explore the powerful steamer`s captain's cabin, crew rooms, and officers` mess hall. Hundreds of other artifacts displayed throughout the museum continue to tell the story of maritime history in Estonia.
Another worthwhile visit is at the Kadriorg Palace and surrounding gardens, a beautiful remaining artifact of Russian influence in Tallinn, both commissioned by Czar Peter the Great for his wife Catherine in 1718. The palace currently houses the Kadriorg Art Museum, a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia, but it`s worth going in for the elegant, ornate décor on display as much as what`s on the walls. Its gardesn, which bloom bright year-round, are laid out in geometric patterns, a luxurious swan pond, a serene-Japanese garden, and an English landscape park with an oak grove, the perfect spot for some nature therapy!
Your Last Day In Tallinn
Depart your hotel for the plane, train or ferry where you will head home or make your way to more European adventures. Savor the memories of a very special time in Tallinn on the Southern Coast of the Gulf of Finland.