Two days in Tallinn: exploring Estonia's capital

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Kohtuotsa viewing platform, Tallinn End up in another century in Tallinn © Emma Sparks

What to do and see

Old Town

Tallinn’s medieval heart is made for wanderers. Whether you spend a morning venturing through ancient arches and snapping panoramas from the city’s scenic lookouts, or meandering along pale lilac cobbles at dusk on the hunt for dinner, Tallinn’s historic centre is best experienced by simply getting lost. Eventually you’ll reach the foot of at least one of the city’s famous spires – go up to the top of St Mary’s Lutheran Cathedral or St Olaf’s Church for lovely lofty views.

Cat street art, Kalamaja, Tallinn Find modern touches in a medieval city © Emma Sparks

Kalamaja

Tallinn’s trendy district is home to Telliskivi Creative Hub, a concentration of independent businesses including cool cafes and design shops. A flea market runs on Saturdays from 10am til 3pm.

Linnahall, Tallinn My favourite Tallinn discovery © Emma Sparks

Take a detour to the port to explore Linnahall, an abandoned concert hall and ice rink built in 1980 for the Moscow Olympics. Today the interior is closed to visitors, but you can walk up to the roof for views of the ocean and incoming cruiseliners. It’s a fun place to come and chill out if the sun is shining – though locals are anticipating its renovation, starting next year.

At Linnahall, Telliskivi and Tallinn Creative Hub you’ll find street art spanning everything from portraits and murals to graffiti-style tags.

Kadriorg Art Museum, Tallinn Get out of the centre and explore the arty outskirts © Emma Sparks

Kadriorg

Catch a tram or walk to Kadriorg. The 70-hectare park is a well-maintained expanse of fountains, flowerbeds and gravelled walkways. Home to multiple art galleries and museums, as well as the presidential palace, it makes the perfect afternoon picnic spot. Nearby, Tallinn Song Festival Grounds hosts al-fresco gigs and festivals every summer.

What to eat and drink

Pegasus

Harju 1, 10146 Tallinn

Probably the best meal I ate on my Baltics trip. Pegasus feels (and tastes) like a fine-dining experience, but the bill doesn’t match the high standards. Come for top-notch affordable fare with a side of friendly, professional service. The LP guide didn’t lie when it said this place’s bread is perhaps Tallinn’s best – the waiter brought me extra after seeing me wolf down the first two slices!

F-Hoone, Tallinn Hipster HQ © Emma Sparks

F-Hoone

Telliskivi 60, 10412 Tallinn

Brunch took forever to arrive (granted it was a busy Saturday) but the setting is divine. Hipster Tallinn at its height.

Frank

Sauna 2, 10140 Tallinn

Grown-up cocktails, sleek, retro decor and good service. Frank was perfect for a pre-dinner drink, but the food on nearby tables looked tasty too.

Must Puudel, Tallinn Must Puudel? A must! © Emma Sparks

Must Puudel

Müürivahe 20, 10140 Tallinn

Step into what could be your nan’s living room (think upgraded ruin bar with modern touches) for a delicious meal. Anywhere that includes baked cheese on the starter menu is a winner in my book.

NOP

J. Köleri 1, 10150 Tallinn

A cool cafe with plenty of healthy options on the menu. Check it out on the way to Kadriorg Park, which is just around the corner.

Kompressor Tallinn Sweet delights © Emma Sparks

Kompressor

Rataskaevu 3, 10123 Tallinn

This place is packed at peak weekend lunch hours – and the casual service means you simply have to wait and pounce on a table when it becomes free. The stress was such that I almost knocked out an old man who refused to give up the seat that he was hogging merely to store his wife’s handbag (she already had a chair!), and the wait was long. But this pancake house knows how to flip ‘em. One chocolate sauce and ice-cream pancake later I was placated – but still throwing shade at the selfish OAP.

Where to stay

Since this trip was half leisure, half business, I chose a cosy Kalamaja Airbnb that was well-placed for sightseeing but also worked perfectly as an office. It cost £31 a night plus service fees and I got a 15% discount for staying for a week.

Plan your trip

Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways fly direct to Tallinn from the UK. I flew Ryanair one-way to London for £106 (but had travelled overland to Tallinn from Riga, Latvia). I booked pretty last minute so it’s possible to get cheaper tickets in advance.

Further reading

Destination Inspiration: Tallinn, Estonia – Suitcase Magazine

A weekend break in Tallinn – Telegraph

Tallinn beyond the Old Town – Lonely Planet

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