Pictures of the floating world

Tallinn: charming old town in 1 day

Have you already been to Tallinn which has one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe?

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Tallinn, a beautiful capital of Estonia, is a charming city with a unique magical vibe, colourful doors, great food and beautiful architecture. If you have never considered it as a travel destination, let me try to change your mind!

What to see in Tallinn?

Raekoja plats, or Town Hall square, is the heart of Tallinn old town without a doubt – probably you can start your exploration from those. It’s a venue for the Christmas markets and various entertaining activities throughout the year. Raekoda Town Hall located here is the oldest surviving town hall of northern Europe dating back to 1322! Don’t miss the Raeapteek Town Hall Pharmacy dating back to 1422, one of the oldest continuously working pharmacies of Europe.

The old town of Tallinn is famous for its colourful streets and ancient defensive structures with towers. Probably this should be you first thing to explore around Tallinn! The 16th century’s round tower called Fat Margaret Tower (Paks Margareeta) is one of the fortifications of the city wall and its size is very impressive as its name suggests.

Actually the nickname ‘Fat Margaret’ was given to the tower by Russian sailors impressed by this defensive structure. There is also a legend of Margaret and Herman’s love story linked to it: they were meeting only in the night before the midnight strikes, and once they missed the clock and rushed home, but all in vain: Margaret became this tower, and Herman became another tower – Tall Herman tower – on the other side of old Tallinn too! Paks Margareeta hosts a fantastic Estonian Maritime Museum, Eesti Meremuuseum, and don’t forget to get to the top of the tower: there is a cafe with a view. ⠀⠀⠀

Have a look at the Orthodox Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky dating back to 1900 dedicated to Kievan Rus Grand Prince and saint. It was beautifully restored in the late 20th century. You can also visit St Olaf’s church, or Oleviste kirik, probably dating back to the 12th century and dedicated to the Norwegian king Olaf II Haraldsson. For a long time it was the highest in the world!

Another gorgeous religious site is the Lutheran Dome Cathedral Toomkirik, or St. Mary’s Cathedral, built by Danes, a North Germanic tribe who invaded Tallinn in the beginning of the 13th century. Both Dome Cathedral and St Olaf’s church will provide you with beautiful views over the city and the port of Tallinn too!

Tallinn Estonia

What about other observational desks? Kohtuotsa viewing point on Toompea hill with a pink wall as a background and a permanently sitting seagull (is it still there?) is probably the most perfect spot for taking photos in the city.

As I’ve already mentioned, colourful houses and doors have a special meaning for Tallinn: just look how beautiful they are!

The lovers of the Middle ages should go to St Catherine’s passage, Katariina käik, connecting Vene and Muurivahe streets. Nearby you can spot the remnants of the Dominican monastery of St. Catherine from where the passage takes its name. Now there is a courtyard of masters, and the huge gravestone of the cemetery attracts many visitors. 
And on the side note, I had a very sad impression of the Tallinn Zoo. It has a really large territory, the variety of species was huge, but it was clearly suffering from the lack of funds.

Also I managed to visit Estonian Museum of Nature (Eesti Loodusmuuseum): it might not be as impressive al London or Parisian museums but I really loved the exhibition Secrets of the Ancient Sea: you get VR glasses and show a 360-degree film about what has happened in Estonia for the last 600 million years.

Where to eat in Tallinn?

Well, Anna, what’s about the best restaurants in Tallinn? This city is just the best place to eat, and the rich hearty cuisine of Estonia won’t leave you indifferent. The service unfortunately was not always up to the standards.

I really loved our experience at Olde Hansa stylised as a mediaeval tavern with their meaty food. The Tchaikovsky restaurant right in our Telegraaf hotel was another great venue with great food, fast service and a terrace. Maiasmokk cafe, the oldest one in the whole country dating back to 1864: Baltic German confectioner Georg Stude started producing marzipan which is still their speciality. This cafe was an absolute gem, their desserts were brilliant and the space was very nice too – and their name means ‘sweet tooth’ by the way (‘sweet lip’ in Estonian).

Katusekohvik bar was a cool place to be, especially if we forgot that they lost our order – but anyway it seems that it closed down now. Sad to say, but I didn’t enjoy our experience at the super hyped Troika restaurant at the Town Hall Square.

Where to stay?

We stayed in the Telegraaf hotel located very centrally in the old town, with nice rooms and magnificent breakfasts – and planning to return one day there to spend winter in Tallinn too!

You might also love my blogs about other Baltic cities:

St Petersburg

Hope you liked this blog!
Yours, Anna

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