With beautiful cobbled streets, stunning architecture and medieval charm in abundance, there’s no city in Europe quite as enchanting and captivating as Tallinn. And with a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, Estonia’s capital is the perfect destination for a weekend break. Read on for our round-up of Tallinn’s best sites and attractions.
Tallinn has always been heavily influenced by neighbouring Russia, and the daily Russian markets are a real must for visitors! Situated opposite the city’s main train station, Balti Jaam, you’ll find around 50 stalls selling everything including antiques, tableware and even locally-made jams.
One of the best things to do on weekend breaks is just spend time exploring, and there aren’t many better places than Tallinn to just let your feet guide you and get lost in a maze of pretty cobbled streets. While you’re exploring, be sure to head to Katariina Käik (St Catherine’s Passage) which is lined with craftsmen’s workshops. Another favourite is to walk up Pikk Jalg, which heads up to Toompea Hill. Up here toy can enjoy stunning panoramic views across the red-tiled roofs of the city and across the Baltic Sea to Finland. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and St Mary’s Cathedral – the oldest church in Estonia) are also located on top of the hill.
Experience a taste of Estonian life from times gone by at the Open Air Museum on Kopli Bay. A short drive away from the city centre, the reconstructed rural village in a forest park is open all winter and contains twelve farms, windmills, a church, fire station, tavern, schoolhouse and watermills.
It might not be the tallest building in Europe anymore, but St. Olaf’s Church is still the tallest building in Old Tallinn, and no buildings are allowed to exceed its 124m height. Not much is known of the builder of this Gothic church, as he shielded his name from the townspeople as part of a bargain. If they managed to guess his name he would wave his fees, but otherwise he would receive a large sum of money for the construction.
Literally meaning ‘peek into the kitchen’, Kiek in de Kök takes its name from the men guarding the tower, who were said to have been able to see down the chimneys into its kitchens. You can see evidence of Ivan the Terrible’s 16th century attack on Tallinn in its 4m thick walls, and 9 cannonballs are embedded in its stone, a symbol of its mammoth strength.
Re-opened in 2012 following years of renovations, the TV Tower is one of the most important symbols of Estonian history and, at 314 metres, is the tallest structure in the country. Besieged by Russian tanks in 1991, the tower was central to Estonia’s fight for independence, when Estonian police officers risked their lives threatening to release gas from the tower’s fire extinguishing system to stop invading soldiers from gaining control of the nation’s broadcasting. Take the lift to the top of the tower and, as well as a number of exhibition rooms telling the tale of the tower, you’ll enjoy a panoramic view of the city and even see Finland! There’s also a café at the top.