Destination: Tallinn

It´s about time.

Source: Kaupo Kalda

Source: Kaupo Kalda

Destination: Tallinn

Estonia is a compact, small country with distinct regional differences, and our many perks include relatively short distances and very low population density. Tallinn, named the seventh-most desirable city to visit in Europe by readers of Wanderlust magazine, is an ideal destination. Enjoy the city's green spaces, quirky neighborhoods, pristine medieval Old Town, and expansive seaside views. Come for a weekend, though you'll end up wanting to stay much longer!

We are all about time.

To start with, there is a convenient tramline from the Tallinn airport, voted the cosiest in Europe, to the city. It takes 15 minutes to the city centre. Most hotels, venues, restaurants and sights are within walking distance. You have a Nature Reserve within 30 min reach from any given location in Estonia. Really. You do.

Estonia is one of the most digitally advanced countries globally, with 99% of state services available online. Everything from simple public transport tickets, taxis, car rental, and museum tickets to food delivery is just a click away — 5G is available even in the forest. Even the Tallinn Card is available as an app.

Did you know Tallinn was named The Best Destination for Remote Work by the Big7Travel in 2021, and the Lonely Planet nominated it among The Best Value Destinations in 2018?

As one can imagine, we have a bit of history, biodiversity, air that ranks one of the cleanest in the world, and food that is often put on par with top-notch New Nordic cuisine at a fraction of the price one would pay in Scandinavia. Let's see what else put Estonia on top of these lists.

Tallinn's magical medieval Old Town

The first written mention of Tallinn was connected to Valdemar II of Denmark's crusade to North Estonia in June of 1219. On the 15th of June 1219, there was a battle between Danish and Estonian forces on the spot where the future Tallinn would be. Although the Danish forces won, their victory did not come quickly. According to legend, their luck only turned when a red flag with a white cross fell from the sky. That flag is now the national flag of Denmark.

Medieval Hanseatic League City

Throughout history, Tallinn has been ruled by the order of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and the Teutonic Order. In the middle of the 13th century, Tallinn was recognised by the Lübeck Law and joined the league of medieval German trade cities.

During the end of the same century, Tallinn joined the Hanseatic League, and relations with Russia, especially Novgorod traders, became important. Due to that, a significant trade movement between Western Europe and Novgorod was concentrated here. In time, the city's role in the trade and politics of the Baltic Sea grew. By the 15th century, Tallinn blossomed as a medieval Hanseatic League City. Every summer, Tallinn turns back the clock and becomes a medieval city again during the popular Tallinn Medieval Days. Don your finest medieval garb and join in the fun!

The most important churches in Tallinn were established in the 13th century. The Toom School in Toompea also probably functioned during that time, but the first written mentions are from the beginning of the 14th century. At the beginning of the 15th century, the monastery of the Bridgettines Order or the Bridgettine Convent was founded to the east of the city.

Throughout history, Tallinn has been under Swedish as well as Russian rule, which has left its mark on the city's development and the cityscape. By order of Peter I, the construction of a war harbour began and admiralty workshops were established to build and supply warships.

Is it worth the trip?

Yes. Old Town is brag-worthy, and it will live up to your expectations. It is a full-size UNESCO-listed town, one of Northern Europe's best-preserved medieval cities, with more than a few instagrammable corners. The town will prove fairy tale cities are anything but fiction! Once home to wealthy merchants, it boasts medieval church spires and cobblestone streets. It's not only architecturally beautiful, but Old Town has also retained its traditional use as a living city with cozy corner cafes and quaint hidden courtyards serving cocktails, mocktails, and music for all tastes.

Bohemian vibes and lively neighborhoods

In 1870, the Baltic Railway connecting Tallinn to St. Petersburg opened, meaning trade and industries could enliven and develop. So in the 19th century, the number of residents in Tallinn grew and the suburbs widened. In 1888, a tram started to service people in Tallinn, which during that time was a horse-powered tram or a horsecar.

Between the 19th and the 20th century, the level of education and the economic situation of Estonians had improved and the Estonian nationalism livened due to that. The first Estonian mayor, Voldemar Lender, was elected in 1906.

Both World Wars left their mark on the city, the number of residents plummeted and many buildings were damaged in World War II. In the years after the war, however, the number of residents started to rise quickly, industry and production grew, and new districts arose.

Where else to explore

When cobbled stones have worn out your feet, and your neck is sore from admiring St. Olaf´s church among other spires, there's something else for you! After a day's sightseeing, we recommend exploring old neighbourhoods that have now been brushed up. Kalamaja, for example, so well that Time Out magazine readers voted it among the TOP 40 coolest in the world. Design shops, craft beer makers, start-up companies and small-batch gin distilleries have made Telliskivi Creative City, Noblessner area and Kopli district their playground. Noblessner area is so new that you will probably see some locals doing their first discovering, too. Kopli is a newly re-emerged district, where you can still see the patina of the times gone past. That´s a true phoenix out of the ashes!

Soviet Tallinn

If you wish to extend your time travels from medieval Tallinn to closer history, we do have quite a bit to offer. The 50-year Soviet period has left Estonians with not only collective memory but also with more palpable landmarks. Some landmarks are so intact that the 2020 blockbuster film Tenet was filmed mainly in Tallinn. Districts like Lasnamäe, Mustamäe and Õismäe are almost entirely built during the Soviet era.

Seaside, parks and sunsets that last a lifetime

The presence of the sea can really be felt in Tallinn. The city stretches along the coast of the Baltic Sea, and driving the East-West axis, you will see plenty of it. If you happen to be a sea-folly, there are three public beaches in Tallinn: Pirita, Stroomi and Kakumäe. Sand is soft and golden, and the seawater is clean, reaching temperatures up to 24c in July (for Estonians, 18 c is enough to get in). You can rent a stand-up paddleboard and enjoy the fresh sea air in all of them. Reidi tee, a relatively new promenade between the city centre and Pirita district, offers a lovely environment for a stroll. Kalaranna promenade connects the harbour area to the previously mentioned Kalamaja and Noblessner area.

Seaside is perfect for sunset romance. Estonian sunsets last and last. Golden hour and pink haze will bathe you in their glory for hours at a time. We do not have a full polar day or night, but there are almost 23 hours of daylight in the month of June.

There are many parks and inner-city park forests, which make Tallinn a very green city. They offer shade, a place where to have a bread roll and a take-away coffee, and ponder on your day´s experience. Perhaps a moment for meditation. If you have kids with you, most parks have a playground, too. Green areas are all well maintained and safe.


PÖFF - The Black Nights Film Festival is the only A-category film festival in Northern Europe, sharing that status with some of the leading festivals in the world such as Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Locarno and San Sebastian.

If you plan to travel a little further from Tallinn, then plenty of entertainment is out there. For example, in the cosy town of Viljandi, there´s is the annual Viljandi Folk folk-music festival. Behold, it is not only our cherished ancient humming but also pretty funky tunes inspired by folk music. On Saaremaa island, also annually, Opera Days charm the audience in July. And for film friends - in every August, Tartuff, the Tartu Love Film Festival, brings together both hopeless and hopeful romantics in Tartu, the capital of Southern Estonia.

2024 Festivals

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Museums and galleries

Tallinn's TOP museums and must-see attractions

Day trips from Tallinn

Toss a coin to decide which direction to take! East, South, West and North all offer interesting day trip opportunities. All of them are possible by public transportation, but it will require careful planning. A rented car offers much more flexibility. There are big international car rental companies, but also app-controlled car rentals like Bolt Drive, CityBee or Elmo Rent. Estonian roads are well-maintained and easy to drive. There are no cliffs nor mountains, in Estonia Earth is relatively flat – the highest peak reaches 318 m above sea level. See ways of travelling around Estonia here

Some of our recommended day trips are doable in half a day. In most cases, you do not need to worry about any meals. Some places have a White Guide restaurant nearby; if not, then at least a gas station cafeteria or a supermarket.

Five most popular day trips from Tallinn