From the 13th century until the first half of the 20th century, Tallinn was known in most parts of the world by its historic German name: Reval. First mentioned in 1154, Tallinn received city rights in 1248, but the earliest human settlements date back 5,000 years.
Medieval Tallinn was one of the best fortified cities in Europe. The city walls were built in the 14th century and were adorned with 66 defensive towers – only 20 of them remain today. The great building boom hit Tallinn in the 15th century. However, most of the important places of worship were built in the 13th century, including Niguliste Church (1230), Oleviste Church (1267), and St. Catherine's Monastery (1240).
GPS 59°26′14″N 24°44′43″E
The capital and largest city of Estonia occupies an area of 159.2 km2 and has 438,569 inhabitants. It lies on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm, and west of Saint Petersburg. It is classified as a global city and was listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world. The city was the European Capital City of Culture in 2011, along with Turku in Finland.
Seventeen European Airlines offer scheduled flights to Tallinn, with additional routes and carriers added in the summer. The main Baltic airlines are airBaltic, which offers several daily flights between Tallinn and Rīga, and Finnair, which offers up to seven flights per day between Helsinki and Tallinn.
Tallinn Airport is located just 4 km southeast of the city center and offers flights to 34 other Baltic and European destinations. From the airport, Bus 2 will take you to the center of Tallinn and then on to the passenger ferry port.
Ferries swarm across the Baltic Sea from Tallinn to Helsinki, St Petersburg, Mariehamn, and Stockholm.
There are three main passenger ship piers, all less than 1 km from the Old Town. Most ferries and cruise ships dock at the Old City Harbour.
Regional and international buses depart from Tallinn's Central Bus Station, about 2 km southeast of the Old Town, and are connected by two tram lines and eight buses. Lines depart from here to Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and other European destinations.
The national bus network is extensive and connects Tallinn with pretty much any destination you want to go to. All connections are summarized on the extremely handy Tpilet website.
Thanks to an easily navigable network of roads in Estonia, Tallinn is easily reached by car. Crossing into Estonia from Latvia on the Via Baltica highway is a breeze, as both countries are part of the Schengen Area, so there are no border checks. The main border checkpoint from Russia is at Narva. Car ferries from Helsinki and Stockholm run regular service to Tallinn.
The Baltic Station is located on the north-western edge of the old city. Despite the name, it has no direct connections to other Baltic states. GoRail operates a daily service stopping at Narva to St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Under the Old Town of Tallinn is a labyrinth of 17th-century tunnels. During WWII these were used as bomb shelters, but they were not widely known about by visitors until 2010 when 380 of the passageways were opened to the public. This place has an air of mystery and is definitely worth visiting!
The Tallinn TV Tower is not just the largest building in Tallinn but also the highest open-viewing platform in northern Europe. Standing at 314 meters, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Old Town and the Baltic Sea. If it is clear enough, views can even be enjoyed all the way to the coast of Finland. It’s the view that can't be missed!
Opened in 1864, Maiasmokk is the city’s oldest-running café. Translated as Sweet Tooth, the café serves delicious home-baked goods. The interior décor of the café has remained unchanged for almost a century and it even houses its own Marzipan Museum.
Go back in time with the Old Town’s alleyways and beautiful streets. Here you will discover the narrowest, longest, and widest streets in the city.
The Soviet-era Medieval Prison is a sea fortress built in 1840. It has had many uses over the years but until recently it was a functioning prison. The prison remains virtually unchanged.
The best time to visit Tallinn is during the mildest weather from May to September. The busiest months for tourism in Tallinn are June, April, and September. Almost all festivals are scheduled during the summer and the biggest celebrations occur during Midsummer’s Eve. Prices for hotels and flights are the most expensive during these months, although you can save if you book well in advance.
Tourists are unlikely to visit Tallinn in February, but fans of cross-country skiing should head to Otepaeae, the unofficial winter capital, from December to March. Those willing to travel during the winter will likely find that this is the most convenient month. The Christmas season in Tallinn is unforgettable, with Christmas markets and an almost 600-year-old tradition of putting up a Christmas tree in the main square.
Located in Tallinn’s Old Town, The Three Sisters Boutique Hotel offers luxury accommodation in a beautiful 14th-century building.
Hotel Schlössle was fully refurbished in 2016! Renovated in 2016, this stylish 5-star Schlossle Hotel is housed in 13th and 14th-century buildings and located in the center of Tallinn’s Old Town. The exclusive à la carte Restaurant Tchaikovsky serves Russian and French cuisine.
The magnificent building Hotel Telegraaf was built in the Old Town of Tallinn at Vene Street 9 in 1878. Only 70 meters from Tallinn's Town Hall Square.
Located in Tallinn’s Old Town, Savoy Boutique Hotel offers comfortable rooms including a unique “Art floor”, specially crafted by artists inspired by the fabulous views of the city’s historical heritage.
As Tallinn’s highest-rated restaurant on Tripadvisor, Rataskaevu 16 deserves the recognition it’s getting. The restaurant offers delicious Estonian food such as fried herring fillets and elk roast and boasts warm, friendly service. There are plenty of options for vegetarians, too.
Vegan dishes like spicy tofu with quinoa or potato and kale casserole with seitan provide a very filling meal. The menu is small but everything is of very high quality. Like most establishments in the Old Town, Vegan Restoran V is located in a beautiful old building.
Also located on Rataskaevu Street, Von Krahli Aed offers a wide range of dishes for very affordable prices. Here vegetarians will find plenty of choices, though most of the menu consists of meat-based Estonian dishes like venison stew.
One of Old Town’s classic cafe-restaurants, Kompressor specializes in sweet and savory pancakes, offering almost 30 different variations. Tasty food and great prices make it legendary among locals – so much so that it can be difficult to find a free table.