Of course those of you who are following my Instagram already know that I traveled to beautiful Estonia this summer. In this post I would like to show you my favorite places around Tallinn, give some tips and recommendations and of course show you heaps of pictures! This post is part 1 of 3 in my Estonia travel series.
So… why Tallinn?
It all started with my friend Bridget and me planning to go somewhere together as we hadn’t seen each other in 2 years. We felt like exploring a city for a couple of days but didn’t want to pick one of the larger and more touristy European capitals. As the summer had been crazy hot in Europe this year it also wasn’t particularly important to us to choose a destination with a warm climate. So the Baltics appeared to be a great option for us and we decided on Tallinn, the Estonian capital, and booked our flights.
Where to stay in Tallinn
We knew we wanted a nice Airbnb and it was really tough to decide as there were plenty of reasonably priced options available. We decided on a studio apartment on the 19th floor overlooking the entire town of Tallinn as well as the harbor with its large cruise ships. I really enjoyed being awakened by the morning sun up there on the 19th floor while the morning mist still covered the streets and alleys below like a soft, wispy blanket. The view at night was just as spectacular with a million lights burning in the darkness like glowworms all across the city.
We stayed in what seemed to us like a more businessy area of town so naturally there wasn’t much going on there at night. This was a good choice as it was very quiet at night while the old town with its bars and restaurants as well as stores and shopping malls were still in walking distance. However, as Tallinn isn’t a particularly large city pretty much every area of the inner city would be fine as a homebase for exploring the area. We usually walked everywhere (as we wanted to get to know Tallinn) or used uber, which is so crazy affordable that we didn’t even bother to look at public transport (ok ok, I’ll admit it – as uber is illegal back home in Germany I just really wanted to use it and gain some experience with it while I could 😀 ).
MUST DOs and MUST SEEs in Tallinn
(Haha, “must” means “black” in Estonian… I like that.) Of course Tallinn’s Old Town is always worth a visit. With its many restaurants, bars, shops and medieval taverns it’s the perfect spot for going out for dinner and shopping for souvenirs. It is also a must see if you’re interested in culture with its historic buildings, churches, castles, parks and the city wall which you can actually climb and walk for a couple of bucks. The Old Town is not that vast and if you made a checklist of what you’d like to see you’ll notice that you’re pretty much going to see everything sooner or later just by walking around the town center for a couple of hours.
The harborfront might also be worth checking out as there is some architecture left from the time when Estonia still belonged to the Soviet Union. It’s also a great photo and video spot and we came across quite a few people taking pictures for their Instagram or even shooting music videos. Another super interesting spot there would have been the Patarei Prison. We were super sad to learn that it was closed to the public just recently. The abandoned Soviet prison is still partly furnished and, gathering from the pictures I’ve seen, could well be the stuff of nightmares. We would’ve loved to explore it but unfortunately it’s only open for special events at the moment, not for regular tourist tours. While fretting about the prison, we luckily stumbled upon the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia and decided to check it out. We were really impressed with the exhibition and enjoyed our stay there a lot.
What’s also noteworthy about the harborfront is that you can catch a ferry to the smaller islands around Tallinn and even to Helsinki. We did go to the small island of Aegna, which is about 17 km from Tallinn, but this fantastic day deserves (and is going to get) a blog post of its own!
Close to the harborfront is the Rotermann quarter. If I lived in Tallinn, I would love to have an apartment there. Not that I could afford it, but a girl can dream, right? A very modern and Instagrammy area, this part of town sports lots of stores, services, bars, restaurants and great areas to just chill out and relax. If you’d like to go shopping in Tallinn, this area, as well as the many malls in town are great options.
Probably my fav part of Tallinn is Telliskivi, the Creative City. With its industrial vibe, its cute stores and unique cafés and restaurants it was a truly inspiring place. I really could’ve spent days there just shopping, drinking coffee and taking outfit shots and Instagram pics on abandoned railroads. There are a ton of different restaurants available and lots of areas to relax in. I could so picture myself sitting there sipping a soy latte with my tablet, studying or writing blog posts. SO worth checking out!
Another must do, in my opinion, is leaving Tallinn behind and exploring the wilderness of Laheema National Park about 60 km outside of Tallinn. As this is a trip for a whole day (or even several days) Laheema NP is going to get, you guessed it, a blog post of its own.
Food in Tallinn!
(This heading has an exclamation mark because food is always such a massive part of my vacation 😀 ) Our experience was that even in the town center you can get really good food for reasonable prices. Not super affordable prices, but reasonable prices. I was a huge fan of the food served there and was more than satisfied with the veggie options that were available in most of the restaurants. Also, in many restaurants we got homemade bread and butter as a starter, which was absolutely delicious!
If I had to pick my absolute fav though when it comes to restaurants… it would have to be Tai Boh. Crazy and super unique interior: check. Fantastic food: check. Interesting people: check. Great selection of drinks and cocktails: check. Seriously, if I had only one night in Tallinn, that’s where I’d go for dinner (again). I had their vegetarian Pad Thai, got addicted instantly, couldn’t live without this dish anymore and tried to cook it myself as soon as I got home.
Another honorable mention goes to Reval Café, which appeared to be some kind of Estonian starbucks as it can be found absolutely everywhere. As one of them was conveniently located next to our Airbnb we had breakfast there almost every day. I loved their porridge and was happy that I could get my fav healthy breakfast from home while on vacation 🙂
Also, when looking for bars and clubs, there’s pretty much no way around a narrow street named Sauna (yes, it’s the street name) and the surrounding area. We went to several of the bars there such as Sigmund Freud, Frank and (in a different street, but close by) Must Puudel and really liked all of them (I told you that “must” means black. Can you guess what Must Puudel means then?).
Alrighty guys, I hope you enjoyed this post about my trip to Tallinn! As I mentioned, there will be two more posts in my Estonia series about our trips to Aegna and Laheema!