The Estonian city of Tallinn is perhaps one of the most surprising destinations you’ll ever come across. While not high on the radar of the average traveller, with its fascinating history and its UNESCO protected Old Town, the secret is slowly getting out.
A charming fusion of modern and ancient, Tallinn’s extensive attractions are also highly accessible. Here are just three of them.
Architecture: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
With its distinctive onion shaped dome, this imposing Russian Orthodox church is relatively new, with construction completed in 1900. While it operates as a busy working church, it’s also a very popular tourist attraction, with some very impressive frescos adorning the interior. Situated in the heart of the Old Town on top of Toompea Hill, the cathedral was actually slated to be destroyed as it was seen as a symbol of Estonia’s oppression. Since the country’s independence from the USSR, however, it’s been beautifully restored and now stands as one of the city’s most revered architectural masterpieces.
Art: Kumu Kunstimuuseum
Kumu is the largest and certainly most impressive of the five museums that make up the official Art Museum of Estonia. It’s only been in operation since 2006, but its relative youth belies its impressive collections within. Kumu is not only home to important contemporary Estonian art; there are also collections from the 18th century (both Estonian and international) and a programme of performances, conferences and educational events. Set over seven floors with a central atrium running up through all the levels, Kumu is well worth visiting even if just for its stunning architectural features.
Fun and Food: Balti Jaama Turg
For a taste of the authentic heart of Tallinn, a visit to this vibrant Russian market offers a true feast for all the senses. Soak up the wonderful ambience as you wander through the many stalls of the traders selling everything from food, crafts and clothes to fabulous (and cheap) antiques, Soviet coins and memorabilia and quirky bric-a-brac. Situated right opposite the main train station, the market is open every day.
While Tallinn is fast being renowned as a progressive digital force to be reckoned with, its eclectic blend of cultures and strong links to its storied past are still evident at every turn.
How to Get to Tallinn
No longer cloistered behind the iron curtain of the USSR, Tallinn has excellent international links through its well-facilitated airport. You can book one of our convenient Tallinn transfers to get you to your final destination if you choose to fly in to the city. But flying is not the only way to get to Estonia. The train trip from the UK to Tallinn on Eurostar is a wonderful adventure in itself and takes three nights, with some spectacular scenery along the way. There are also great ferry (and train) connections from Copenhagen and Stockholm if you’re coming from Scandinavia.
Where to Stay
Tatari 53 Hotel – For affordable accommodation in the centre of Tallinn, the Tatari 53 Hotel offers a comfortable stay in a convenient location. With classically decorated rooms, wooden floors and modern bathrooms, the Tatari 53 Hotel also offers free Wi-Fi and cable TV. Breakfast is served daily and staff are on hand 24 hours a day. The hotel offers free parking, luggage storage and is just 2km from the train station.
Taanilinna Hotel – Situated in Tallinn’s Old Town, the Taanilinna Hotel offers elegant, authentic accommodation in a convenient location. Decorated in traditional style with wooden beams and medieval features, the hotel has free Internet, buffet breakfast, luggage storage and private parking. With 24-hour staff on hand, the Taanilinna Hotel is just 150 metres from Viru Square and 1km from the train station.
Hotel Telegraaf – World-class service, elegant décor and a superb position define the Hotel Telegraaf, situated just 70 metres from the Town Hall. The hotel features an indoor pool, free Wi-Fi, onsite spa, 24-hour room service, lobby bar and an onsite restaurant. Rooms are air-conditioned and have flat screen TVs, bathrobes and slippers available. The Hotel Telegraaf is ideally positioned close to St Catherine’s Passage and Toompea Castle.
Header image by photo taken by Georg Mittenecker, perspektivisch entzerrt von User:Ikiwaner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons