Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

3 day guide to Tallinn Estonia Tallinn Estonia has been on my bucket list for about 16 years. To the surprise of my friends and family who all said. “your going where?” or my son “sure I might as well go. I’m sure I’ll never get the chance again?” My mother even told me it wasn’t in Europe. When I said it was she insisted it wasn’t in the Euro monetary system. Again YES IT IS.  As of January 2011 Estonia now uses the Euro hard currency. 

Estonia has had many rulers and did gain independence in 1918 for all of one day before being taken over again. In 1944 Estonia was taken over by the USSR and remained a Soviet ruled country until 1991. It became the first soviet ruled country to gain independence. Tallinn Estonia 3 day guideThe official name is Republic of Estonia. To those doubters I say “sure it even has it’s own soccer team”. When I lived in America I had a boyfriend from Tallinn. Vadim told me many stories about life here. That was before they gained their independence. The stories were all of Soviet rule their lack of choices, money and freedom and the stories we in the west associated with that Soviet rule and communism. I’m sure he would not even recognize the Tallinn we experienced.

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide Today Tallinn

is a small city with just 405, 000 inhabitants. It is a stop over for Baltic cruises. Tallinn Is a medieval city with a Gothic feel in many areas and buildings. I can honestly say It is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve every been too. The churches in Tallinn Estonia are beautiful and come with their own history. You can take tours of them and most charge a modest fee of just 2 euro which helps with the upkeep. You can even climb 1000 steps and that’s where we got our pictures from the height 🙂 its not easy though and I only recommend it for the fit.

3 day guide to Tallinn Estonia

Kalamaja

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

take the ferry to Copenhagen

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

Hells Hunt Pub. Tallinns 1st pub

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

Hells Beer

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

Old Town Tallinn

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

One Entry to the old town

Tallinn Estonia

Flower Market just outside old town

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

in the old town square

Day 1, we took it easy, it is cold in October so dress accordingly.  We left Dublin at 17 Celsius and arrived in Tallinn at zero degrees, by night time it was -3C.  We walked around to get a feel of the place, stopping for coffee and hot wine when we got cold. We even tried some Elk soup a common food here and for dinner we went to a bar called Hells Hunt Pub. They claim to be Estonia’s first pub and it is a favourite with locals I’m told. Whether it is true or not the food and drink were excellent quality and value for the old town and located smack in the center of it so very easy to find.   

Tallinn Estonia

Tallinn

From there we walked down VIRU street to the city center to a shopping mall called VIRU.  Very upscale and great shopping if that’s what you are into.  Channel has its own store here.  If you are looking for night clubs you will find many in this area. Upscale and down scale Tallinn has all kinds. Finding affordable yet fun places isn’t too difficult and doesn’t require you to leave the Old Town.  Viru street is generally regarded as a tourist-trap and the Suur-Karja street, known as “the Bermuda triangle” for its tendency to inspire acts of casual violence should be entered with caution. Ranging from dodgy back-alley bars to fabulous cocktail lounges. The main bus station is located in the city center as are many hotels and if you decide to take public transport from the airport you will arrive here.  You can take bus 1 and 2. It only costs 2 euro and is very quick journey.

Tallinn Estonia is small 🙂

A taxi to most places will cost between 10 and 20 euro. 

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

Free walking tour

Day 2

we opted for the free walking tour, free as in don’t forget to tip!  The guides are students trying to survive and tips are their wages.  It really surprised me how cheap some people are, a normal tip is 8-10 euro per person, Companies charge 20 euro per person for this tour and you are expected to tip their guides also.  Karoli was our guide on Monday and we loved her.  She was a fund of information and really loves her country and is proud of her culture.  She was witty and charming but not overbearing just as a guide should be. The tour took about 1 hour 40 minutes. Her stories of the history and the views and experiences of the people are what made it so interesting.

After that we went for a coffee to warm up. The coffee shops in this city are fantastic. Estonians love to eat out and the selection of cakes and fancy coffee shops is vast.  You will get many recommendations. The truth is they were all good.  I had coffee opposite the information center in a cafe so cool each time I walked past I wanted to go in.  Their prices were higher than Dublin so make your own choices. Location, location, location.

Tallinn Estonia

Pickled herring

Estonian cuisine is heavily influenced by German as well as Scandinavian and Russian cuisine, so it can be difficult to pinpoint any dish as “uniquely Estonian”. It pretty much boils down to meat (typically pork) and potatoes, although the people here have also taken a liking in the herring.  You will see food like rabbit, Elk & bear and a lot of pork of pork on menu’s and I must admit Ive never seen Elk or Bear on a menu before.   They love to serve sour creme with everything.  The traditional food is yummy and like the Irish they love their potatoes so you will find them everywhere.  You will however find every style of food here. 

Stuffed Crepes

Stuffed Crepes – Boheem Restaurant

Tallinn Estonia 3 day guide

Old Town Center

We even had sushi in the old town which was excellent.  It was 2 minutes walk from the main square towards the information center.  Black bread is worshiped and its peculiar taste furiously defended.  Our tour guide remembers her grandmother making her eat pieces she dropped on the floor it was that sacred. Be sure to avoid the tourist-trap restaurants around the Town Hall square as you’ll be overcharged. You won’t have to walk much further to find excellent dining experiences for any budget. Smaller cafe’s and restaurants with their value meals are popular among the office crowd. Cheaper joints will get you good food for 2-4 EUR. Even in the Old town we had full main courses for 5 and 6 euro and outside the old town a meal with 3 mains, a bottle of wine, 2 desserts and 2 carafes of water for 35 euro and that was in a trendy hipster joint.

Where to eat ??? Here is a few that I tried in the old town as they were recommended by locals.

Hell Hunt- A Great pub with great food and by Irish standards very good value, they claim to be Estonia’s first pub only open since 1993?? great beer.

Ill Draakon: Located in the old town. It is touristy but but cool as hell.  I loved it.  Hot wine 2 Euro, hot cider (nasty) also 2 euro. Pies, Elk soup, candles. The staff are dressed medieval style and the place is in a cave like building and lit with candles. Very dark and impossible to read menu’s. 

Kompressor – A students’ heaven with enormous incredibly tasty pancakes. 

Tallinn Estonia

desert Koogel Moogel

Koogle Moogle – As we are actors we had to go here. Its really a locals place and fantastic if you have children with you.  Great play indoor spot for children with amazing views. Its a theater and a cafe and its excellent. Its tucked away and you feel your really special as you are truly with the locals tucked away at the top of the city.

St Patrick’s: – They say they are Irish themed. As an Irish person and an ex bar owner this pub is not remotely Irish. That’s not a bad thing as its lovely and the food was excellent.  The service was rubbish however and the WiFi was terrible, unusual in Tallinn but the building is so old and the walls so thick I forgive them.  Great value and worth the visit.

Klaus Kohvik: -located in Kalamaja district I referred to above. It was probably our most expensive meal in Tallinn but very worth it. I recommend the Creme Brulee and the black risotto. 

Tallinn Estonia

Klaus Kohvik

http://www.klauskohvik.ee/

Drinking on the streets is prohibited and while the police are generally reasonable, doing so can still get you a fine. Remember that shops in Tallinn do not sell alcohol between 10 PM and 10 AM. Don’t try to take alcohol into bars and clubs with you as most places fine you around 70 euro.

Despite the rapidly growing prices, going out isn’t too expensive in Tallinn. Beer prices average at 2-3 EUR.  In the more up class places you’re looking at 3-4 EUR and 5-7 EUR for cocktails.

Tallinn Estonia

Tallinn christmas markets

Tallinn’s Medieval Old Town make the perfect setting for Christmas markets. They won the title of best Christmas markets in 2011. Tallinn is also the home of the world’s first Christmas tree. This tree was erected on Tallinn’s Town Hall Square and was the focal point of a ritual, that began in 1441. The ritual involved unmarried merchants singing and dancing with local girls around a tree which was then burnt. The tree was the first public Christmas tree ever put on display in Europe by the Brotherhood of Black Heads guild. The tradition has now been revived. The Christmas Markets are so charming and great for shopping. It’s fast becoming one of Europe’s favourite Christmas Markets. From skating on Old Town’s outdoor ice rink to enjoying a cup of hot spiced wine in a cosy café. It really is stunning.

What to buy In Tallinn Estonia?

Amber shops are everywhere. Its lovely but not Estonian ? so your not buying yourself a local souvenir. There are a lot of authentic Estonian art and craft shops around the city and they can be recognized by the sign. I bought a hat. Its that or jewelry when I travel as I only take carry on luggage.Tallinn Estonia

Tallinn Estonia

has a lot going on. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look. Perhaps the biggest and most important event in Tallinn is the Song Festival. It takes place every five years. The festival sees around 24,000 people singing in the choirs to a crowd of 100,000.  Around June 23rd you’ll find the Midsummer’s. Don’t be surprised if you find Tallinn abandoned at this time as most if not all business close and people head to the countryside to get drunk and disregarding reason and personal safety jump over and/or into bonfires.Tallinn Estonia

Aside from these traditional events Tallinn is always busy. Parties and concerts are aplenty and the city has lots of funky venues catering to the more alternative crowd.

Walking distance from the old town and beside the Balti Jaam train station is the Jamma Turg Market. Its a flea market and has been there since soviet times. I’ve been told they plan to demolish it soon. To be honest I wasn’t too impressed with it as we have many similar markets in Ireland and we were never under soviet rule 🙂 I’m glad that I got the opportunity to see it. Locals recommended it and it was in a guide book I read and by chance I was walking past it. It just struck me as very old fashioned and was empty with no customers so I can see why they are tearing it down.Tallinn Estonia 

Considering the size of Tallinn their airport is really impressive with a nice duty free. A few restaurants including a sushi bar and a good children’s play area. The entire airport and the country has free WiFi so at any point you can sit and surf or work or call home. I would say in all my travels this is the most user friendly airport I’ve been to and I have worked in airports in the Middle East and across the USA.  Tallinn Estonia

Tallinn EstoniaDid you know that Skype was invented in Estonia?  Estonia in general has highest mobile phone usage in Europe if not the world. For every 100 people there are 120 mobile phones in operation. We were told Ireland held this title but Estonia seems to have overtaken us. Seemingly kindergarten kids have their own cell phones. Estonia is completely wireless, even school registration is online. High-speed WIFI was declared a human right in 2012 and it is free to everyone. 

The traffic in Tallinn is not bad at all. There is no congestion, but when I read that public transport is free to all Tallinn residents I realized why. No smog, no congestion, no parking problems and not many traffic accidents. Other countries could learn from this. 

The information center is excellent and will provide you with free maps and information on everything you need to know about Estonia.  

Tallinn Estonia

Ferry to Helsinki

I wish I had longer in this lovely city. On my next trip I will explore other towns and even perhaps take the ferry to Helsinki.  The ferry costs 22 euro and is cheaper if you book online. It goes twice a day in winter and 5 times a day in summer. The fast ferry is weather permitting so if the weather is bad you will be directed to the bigger ships in the port area. You can also take a ferry to Stockholm from here and the Baltic cruises stop off here also while on their way to St. Petersburg.  http://www.lindaline.ee/en/

From Tallinn you can also take the train to St Petersburg. It takes 6.5 hours and 1st class costs 42 euro and second class costs 34 euro. The lady at the train station advised me I must buy them in person that I couldn’t do it in advance online so that could be incorrect but for now that’s my information.

Tallinn EstoniaIn a lot of cities like Munich or Zurich for example I’ve purchased the travel card. Tallinn also has one it covers a 24 hour period and only costs 24 Euro. This entitles you to free entry to most museums, discounts in restaurants and some gift shops. On this trip I didn’t get one as Tallinn is easily walkable and most museums close on Mondays and Tuesdays and we were there for these days.   

I’m not big on tourist guides or tour books, rather I try to get local recommendations however I find this excellent www.likealocalguide.com/tallinn and for more information on events in Estonia check out www.culture.ee

I highly recommend this country for a visit and I will definitely come back.  The same questions I always ask after a trip to a new place. Would I go back, definitely ASAP, would I live there, most definitely.

Once I fell in love with a man from Tallinn, this weekend I fell in love with his city.


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About Sandra

Just a girl from Ireland who wants to live everywhere. Not a planner, a winger when it comes to travel. I don't even like people who plan too much. Without spontaneity there is no depth. A jack of all trades. A great friend, loyal and passionate and I expect the same in return. Always ready for the next adventure at a moments notice.
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  1. Pingback: Reasons Finland is a must see - Sandra O'Rourke-Glynn

  1. […] located in the city centre and embark on a ferry journey into the neighbouring nations of Russia or Estonia, well I did not take such a journey myself I am informed such journeys are quite short and run […]