If you had asked me a few months ago, where Tallinn was, I wouldn’t have been able to point it out on a map. Even more embarrassingly, I probably couldn’t have told you where Estonia is. But the weekend I spent in Tallinn a few weeks ago was the most memorable one in a long time!
A beautiful medieval city overlooking the Baltic Sea, it has charm and energy; you don’t have to spend more than a few hours in the town to experience both.
5. Walk around Old Town
The cobbled streets of Old Town in Tallinn are easily doable by foot in a few hours. Here’s a link to a walking map that’s really easy to use.
Along the way, you will pass many narrow and winding streets with charming cafes, architectural reminders of both Soviet times and the years before, friendly locals and much more.
I also highly highly recommend finding a vantage point… which is pretty easy to do because of the remnants of the gates that encompass Old Town. The views of Tallinn from up top are truly breathtaking.
The great thing about Tallinn is that since it’s so small you can easily do it justice and take some time out to see other places around it. I made a day trip to Helsinki which is accessible by a two-hour ferry ride. The beach is also easily accessible by a 30-minute bus ride from Tallinn (they have beaches in the Baltics?!?!). Another popular trip that I wish I had time to do is the Lahemaa National Park, famous for its beautiful coastal scenery, forest trails, and fishing villages. Est Adventures in Tallinn offers organized tours as well as Tallinn Backpackers Hostel where I stayed (more to come on that later).
Ferry ride to Helsinki3. Do a pub crawl around Tallinn
Now, I would like to think I don’t fit the stereotype of the backpacker who goes from one city to another, getting trashed at different bars. But Tallinn has a great nightlife scene that you have to explore ranging from low key bars to nightclubs spinning top 40 tunes! The great thing about the nightlife in Tallinn is that it is unpretentious, cheap, has something for every taste and everything is easily accessible by foot. During the summer months, like many parts of North Eastern Europe, Tallinn has about two hours of the day without light, which means you can really maximize your nights out and get a view of Tallinn in twilight. I stayed at the Tallinn Backpackers Hostel (which I HIGHLY recommend…TIP: cheaper to book on their website than through hostelbooker.com) which organized nightly pub crawls. The great thing about the Hostel was it was primarily meant for single backpackers, so everyone was looking to meet new people. My stay in TBH was probably the most fun I have ever had in a hostel!
Apart from old Soviet architecture, there are other ways to learn more about the Soviet occupation in Estonia. The Museum of Occupations and Soviet Prison that offers organized tours are both great ways to get a history lesson while having some fun.
1. Eat and drink your way around
No trip for me is ever complete without exploring local food and drinks. Cider beer is very popular in this part of the world and I highly HIGHLY recommend the berry flavored ones. There are lots of great cafes and restaurants around town offering a variety of cuisines. I even found quite a few Indian restaurants! One highly recommended place is a totally non-pretentious place called Kompressor that serves ginormous crepes and berry cider for cheap prices. How can you lose?!