Travel to Tallinn, Estonia

Tallin city, Estonia

Almost twenty years since shedding the Soviet yoke, Estonia still pulsates with the excitement and adrenaline of a fledgling state – and nowhere more so than in its dynamic capital Tallinn.

After centuries of foreign rule, Estonians have finally got control of their country and they’re determined to enjoy every minute of it. In fact, with the economy booming, cultural events rife, and a restaurant and nightlife scene that keep going from strength to strength, Tallinners have never had it better!

Throw in a UNESCO-listed Old Town, a scattering of Gothic spires, a Medieval castle, Tsar’s Palace and a couple of sandy beaches by the Baltic, and it’s little wonder that us foreigners want a slice of the action too! Let us be your guide to this amazing city and you’re sure to find plenty of great hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, and places to have fun. As well as giving you the low-down on all of the above, we’ll also dish out some top travel info and tips, helpful language hints (for impressing the locals) and keep you up to date with the latest news and events in the city.

Whether you’re a city slicker planning a wild weekend, a student traveller touring the Baltic greats – or maybe a local looking for some English guidance – we aim to be your number one source of information in the city. Tallinn has much to offer the traveller and local alike, but as with anywhere knowledge is the key to unlocking its best treasures. We plan on giving you that knowledge in as fresh and fun a way as possible!

Tallin city, Estonia

Tallin city, Estonia

We do our best to keep the information thorough and up-to-the-minute. However if there is something you can’t find, please contact us. Even the best can get better and we won’t stop until we’ve created the number one guide to Tallinn!

Seeing as you’re in the neighbourhood, why don’t you call in on our friends in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Riga, Vilnius and Warsaw? Wherever you go in the East you’ll be sure to find that the hospitality is warmer than the weather!

So we’re in Tallinn… And what to see?

The most prestigious is, undoubtedly, Kadriorg, where the President lives and which, with its respectability and greenery, is the dream district of many Tallinners. Romantic villas with totally amazing architecture can be found in Kadriorg. Incorporate your walk in Kadriorg with a meal in a pleasant restaurant, also named Kadriorg (last stop on the tram) and a visit to the Kadriorg Palace, Mikkel Museum and Peter’s House. How to get there? With trams 1 and 3, or busses 1,1A, 5, 8, 34 (Poska stop).

To get to Tallinn’s oldest suburb, Kalamaja, you have to cross over the railroad and tram tracks at the Balti Station. This is the favorite neighborhood of Tallinn’s artistic young people and bohemians. The atmosphere is fascinating-you are only 10 minutes from Town Hall Square, but at the same time, you feel as if you were in a small town. The condition of the buildings is uneven-the nicer houses are between Salme and Graniidi streets, but many are dilapidated. Kalamaja’s better days are still to come, but already real estate prices are skyrocketing. How to get there? With trams 1 and 2 or bus 3.

In Kassisaba (Adamsoni, Wismari, Ao and other streets), the street plan surviving from the 17th to the 19th century should be mentioned. The oldest buildings originate from the 19th and 20th century. The British Embassy (Wismari St.) is located in Kassisaba, and Mart Laar, Estonia’s ex-Prime Minister, lives there (Ao Street).

Tallin city, Estonia

Tallin city, Estonia

Nõmme differs from the other districts, because its is a forest town. From 1920 to 1940, Nõmme was actually a separate town. In Nõmme, vacation villas and boarding houses from the Tsarist period have survived, alongside private homes built during the period of the first Estonian Republic, which are still highly prized. Acquaint yourself with the Glehni Castle and Park; in the woods, you’ll find a ski jump; and in the center of Nõmme, a market, shops and places to eat (for instance, the Bulldog Pub). How to get there? With busses 36, 5, 23 and 23A or the Pääsküla train from Balti Station.

Coming from the port, you should note the large, massive limestone and brick buildings, which fill a whole district. In one of these, you’ll find the Rotermann`s Salt Storage, where you have perhaps attended an exhibition? This is the historic Rotermann district, which should, in the future, pulse with galleries, restaurants, parks and other attractions for both city dwellers and tourists. Currently, developed is halted due to disputes and the wind whistles through the empty buildings…

City excursion on the tram

Tallin city, Estonia

Tallin city, Estonia

The Tallinn tram, which celebrated its 115th birthday in August, offers an opportunity to acquaint yourself with Tallinn. For instance, tram number 1 takes you from Kadriorg, through the center of town and the Balti Station to the Russian-speaking world of Kopli and back again. Tram #2 travels between the sleeping district (the name Tallinners have for the living districts built during the Soviet period) of Lasnamäe and Kopli; and #4 between Lasnamäe and Tondi. On weekdays, number 5 travels from Tondi to Kopli and #3 from Kadriorg to Kopli.

During rush hours, the trams can be quite crowded, so it is smarter to take your small journey during the day or in the late evening. Tickets (15 EEK) can be purchased on the tram or from newspaper kiosks.

Pirita

About 7 km from the center of town, Pirita is one of the most popular living districts and also a pleasant neighborhood for spending free time. In Pirita you will find a yacht harbor (with yacht rental), the old Pirita cloister (in ruins) and the new convent of the St. Bridgettine Sisters (you can stay there overnight!), a long and beautiful beach and beach pavilion (with the Opium nightclub, bowling, gym, sports shop, hairdresser, restaurant(s), etc.), the Pirita River with boat rental (see page 37), the historic TOP building (the Tallinn Olympic Sailing Regatta Center, built for the sailing events of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which took place in Tallinn, including: a swimming pool, saunas, sports fields, shops, hotel, etc.). There is also a famous cross-country motor course in Pirita (where the Tallinn Rally is still held).

Especially enjoyable is the road to Pirita, which winds along the seaside, passing many sights, such as the Kadriorg Park, Russalka Monument, Song Festival Grounds, Flower Pavilion, Maarjamäe Memorial and Maarjamäe Castle (History Museum), and a bicycling path; on the left, the sea churns and the seagulls screech. Therefore, TTW recommends that, on a late summer day, you take long walk to Pirita. Or roller skate or ride a bike, the paths are there. And don’t forget to admire the famous silhouette of Tallinn (Old Town) and the always beautiful sunset across the sea.

You can visit about 20 museums in Tallinn. The most impressive museum building was completed in February, when Kumu, the new building of the Art Museum of Estonia was completed in Kadriorg. Tallinn This Week highly recommends a visit to Kumu. The Estonian History Museum is located in two buildings – in Old Town and Pirita. During the last 15 years, the Museum of Architecture has organized over 200 exhibits; the Maritime Museum, located in an artillery tower, introduces Estonia’s long maritime history; there are 13,000 objects stored at the Museum of Applied Art and Design; you can get a contemporary museum experience at the Tallinn City Museum located in a 14th century residence; become familiar with Estonia’s 166-year photo history at the Museum of Photography; very distinctive is the Estonian Open Air Museum, which introduces Estonian rural life and architecture on a large territory in Rocca al Mare, etc. Tallinn’s museums charge admission.

Tallin city, Estonia

Tallin city, Estonia

This year is special for Estonian theater, since it marks the passing of 100 years since the birth of professional Estonian theater: 1906 saw the establishment of the Estonia, which developed into the current National Opera, as well as the Vanemuine Theater in Tartu (Tartu-the university town 186 km from Tallinn). Of course, Estonia’s theatrical traditions date further back-the local Baltic Germans already started their theatrical activites in 1809, and Estonian-language semi-professional theater developed in the 1870s and 80s.

Currently almost 30 theaters operate in Estonia. The best Estonian theaters are definitely on a par with the rest of Europe; this is proven by the awards collected by the City Theater, Von Krahl Theater and National Opera at international festivals and competitions. More than 10 international theater festivals and 5 dance festivals are also organized in Estonia. Therefore, Estonia has a very active theater life, and the best actors-directors are stars in Estonia. Why don’t you take part in the wonders of (Estonia’s) theater some night? Further information: www.teater.ee

Estonians are often known around the world due to their music-their composers, high-quality choirs, and conductors. You surely know that Arvo Pärt is an Estonian born in a small Estonian town, and then there is Erkki- Sven Tüür, Helena Tulve, and the conductors Tõnu Kaljuste or Neeme and Paavo Järvi; the choirs: the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Estonian National Male Choir, Tallinn Boy’s Choir, the Ellerhein Girl’s Choir; and the orchestras: the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, the old music ensemble, Hortus Musicus, and others.

Estonia’s musical life is quite lively: Estonian Concert, the state concert organization organizes over 800 concerts a year in Estonia’s cities and towns, including several international festivals such as NYYD, the Tallinn Organ Festival, the Orient-Eastern Music Festival, Piano-the festival of pianists, the Glass Pearl Game, opeNBaroque … etc. In March of every year, the Estonian Music Days take place, where you can hear newly composed works.

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