Fast City Guides: Tallinn

Fast City Guides: Tallinn

Tallinn Old Town

Vital stats:

Population:  412,000

Location: Northern Estonian Coast

To Sum up: The Jewel of the Balitcs

Value for money:  Having joined the EU as of January 2011, Estonia has done away with its old currency the Eesti kroon and adopted the Euro. While this has caused costs to go up – it’s still probably the cheapest location in Europe that uses this currency.

Adventurer ranking




The Situation:

Tallinn’s got talent. While the spectacular old town draws its influences from centuries of mishmash occupation by Danish, Germanic, Swedish and Russian occupiers, the end result is something that’s uniquely Estonian.  Named as one of the top 10 digital cities in the world, this is a super modern town that will surprise and delight anyone for any combination of reasons – brutally cold winters aside. With its EU admission one can expect tourism to grow rapidly in the coming years – possibly stripping it of some its charm. But that’s a future hypothetical – for the time being the Estonian capital remains a highly underrated treat.

Laheema National Park

Who‘s it for

Anyone. The cities old town is a fairytale land of medieval and gothic architecture which is impossible not to adore.  On the flip side, Tallinn offers modern, cosmopolitan dining and accommodation for all budgets – especially those seeking to get a good deal. For party seekers the number of quality bars, lounge-bars and clubs per population is simply staggering and the nightlife is truly legendary. Summer time opens up even more options with the beautiful Pirita beach catering to all types with the exception of perhaps surfers. There are also numerous museums, art galleries and cultural events/gigantic piss-ups to check out – The biggest of which is no doubt the Midsummer night festival on June 23rd.

The Do’s

  • Tour the old town: It’s very small and compact – but also chock full on quality. There’s no need to rush here. The main icons here are the central Town Hall, St Katherines passage way and Toompea – the upper old town and medieval well-to-do’s section that also houses the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
  • Take a day trip to Laheema national park. It’s full of beautiful natural scenery, old Swedish villas and interesting wildlife. Considerably more pleasant during the summer time.
  • Visit Pirita beach on a nice summer day. It’s clean, the water is crystal clear and there are a lot of beautiful bodies on display.
  • Check out the nightlife scene – there is something for everyone here to cool lounge and jazz bars like Clazz and Sossi Klubi, highclass outfits like Prive and for hardcore party goers – the frequent raves that go down in the abandoned Soviet era prison – Paratei.
  • For a change of scenery day, trip over to the Finnish capital of Helsinki. It’s two hours away on a fast ferry.

The must do

Lots of people allocate a mere 1 -2 days to see Tallinn. I’d say you should make sure you lock in at least 4 or 5.

Avoid like the plague

Underestimating the winter cold. You’ll freeze. Or fall over on the ice and break something.

My Experience

I’ve been to Tallinn twice in both the summer and winter and it remains my favorite city in Europe. My winter excursion involved an insane Estonian/Russian house party, freakish temperature lows and an abnormal amount of time spent enjoying alcohol and the night scene. The second time in the summer was more leisurely and I spent a lot of romantic time with a fantastic local girl who among many things took me around interesting parts of town that I otherwise never would have seen.

Get there

There are plenty of options. You can take a  4 ½ hour luxury (and inexpensive) coach from Riga, Fly in with Air Estonia or budget airliner Ryanair from most big European cities, or take one of the frequent Ferries leaving from Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo. Be wary that these ferries are all different.  Some of them are geared entirely towards travelling comfortably, others are simply giant floating party hubs.

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