Tallinn: An Overview And Tips

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A brief overview of Tallinn

Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia.  Located in North-Eastern Europe, Estonia shares its borders with both Latvia and Russia, as well as being just a short ferry ride from Finland.  Previously one of the less – visited places in Europe, Tallinn is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination each year.

There are plenty of things to do and see while you’re in Tallinn.  You can easily spend a day or two wandering the UNESCO heritage listed old town, which is one of the better preserved old towns throughout Europe.  Try the free walking tour to learn a little about Tallinn’s history.  It’s really interesting to learn about, from the multiple wars and occupations over hundreds of years to finally achieving independence in the 20th century.

If you want to explore a bit further, Tallinn is also a great place to hire a bike. Head to the outskirts of the city and start to take in some of the Estonian countryside.  And when you’re done, there are plenty of bars and pubs in the city where you can enjoy a beer or three.  If you’re staying for a few days, you can even fit in a quick day trip to Helsinki, which is just a couple of hours away on a ferry across the Baltic Sea.

We’d recommend spending at least 3 nights in Tallinn so that you can properly explore the city and its surrounds.  If you’re thinking of adding in a couple of day trips, it might even be worth an extra night, to make sure that you don’t miss out on anything.

Our top tips and things to know

  • Do the Tallinn Free Walking Tour when you first arrive. It runs daily at 12pm, and is a great introduction to the city.
  • If you haven’t been, take the ferry to Helsinki for a day trip.  There are plenty of trips each day, and it’s a great chance to explore another city.
  • Try the pancakes at Kompressor, in the old town.  They’re cheap and the portions are big.
  • If you’re coming from or heading to Riga, consider taking the tourist bus between the two cities.  It’s a great way to explore some of the countryside and smaller towns of both Estonia and Latvia.
  • You can download an offline map of Tallinn on google maps before you go. Zoom to Tallinn, search ‘okmaps’, and then download the area you have selected.
  • Estonia uses the Euro as its currency.  Check the exchange rates before you go.
  • June to September is the best time to be in Tallinn if you’re looking for good weather.  Outside of this, christmas is also good, as there are christmas markets all throughout December.

 

Where to stay in Tallinn

While in Tallinn, you’re best to stay in or as close to the old town as you can. Almost all of the main sights and things to do are in and around here, as well as a lot of restaurants and bars.  The majority of the hostels and hotels are in and around the old town, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding somewhere.

  • Tip:  If you’re looking for a more social or a party hostel, The Monk’s Bunk seems to be the first choice in Tallinn, followed by Red Emperor Bar and Hostel. There are lots of highly rated hostels here though, so you have plenty of choice.

Getting around Tallinn

The majority of the main sights and things to do in Tallinn are within the old town, which is quite compact and easily walkable. Walking will likely be the main way that you get around while you’re here.

  • Tip:  You can download an offline map of Tallinn on google maps. Simply zoom to the area you want to download, and type ‘okmaps’ into the search bar. You’ll then be prompted to choose the area of the map to download. Do this before you arrive if you can – it makes getting around a lot easier.

Public Transport

For things further outside of the city, Tallinn has a good public transport network consisting of buses, trolleys and trams. If you’re taking just a single journey, you can buy a paper ticket off the driver for €2. If you’re using it more than once, you might be better to buy a smartcard from one of the kiosks – it’s just a €2 deposit, and after this becomes really cheap: 24 hours for €3 or 72 hours for €5. The smartcard just needs to be validated every time you hop on, by the machines on board.

For more info on the public transport system Visit Tallinn has a great guide that breaks it all down. To look up your journey, either use google maps, or have a look at the city’s bus route planner which is also really easy to use.

Tallinn Card

Tallinn also offers a tourist card, the Tallinn Card, which gets you unlimited use of the public transport and free entry into a lot of museums and attractions. It’s quite expensive in comparison with a standard public transport card, with prices starting at €25 for the 24 hour card. It’s only going to be worth your money if you plan on staying a while and doing a lot of the more expensive attractions. We don’t think its really worth it, but if you want to check it out for yourself, Visit Tallinn has a really easy to read explainer on the card, which lists all the attractions that you get for free and even has a savings calculator.

Hiring a bike

While you definitely won’t need or use a bike to get around the old town, if you want to explore a bit further outside of the city, hiring a bike is a great way to go. City Bike does bike hire, and if you want a bit more structure to your sightseeing they have some really good self guided GPS tours for less than €20 euro.

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