Tallinn, Estonia is a quick, easy and inexpensive weekend addition to a tour of Scandinavia. With its charming old town, ringed with stone walls and fairytale turrets, it’s the perfect place to experience pure Baltic flavor. Be sure to get accommodations inside old town to experience the best of Tallinn.
Estonia has a unique heritage of having won independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 through a peaceful revolution consisting of mass singing demonstrations. In Tallinn you’ll have a chance to learn more about the Soviet and German occupations at the Museum of Occupations, which is filled with historical artifacts and informative videos that present a window into Estonia’s unique and turbulent history.
Top Sights in Tallinn
You can see most of Tallinn’s sights in just a few days, with plenty of time left over to relax and enjoy the city’s café culture. Your first priority should be to explore the walled Old Town, the most enchanting part of Tallinn. Filled with churches (be sure to check out the unique Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral) and souvenir shops, the winding alleys of old town will transport you back in time, peppered with medieval eateries serving up traditional Estonian specialties like Wild Boar Stew. For something off-beat, check out the Museum of Puppet Arts, filled to the brim with unique handmade puppets. Here you can visit puppet-making studios and even take in a puppet show in the museum’s theater. In the underground “chamber of horrors” you’ll find the museum’s most creepy and demonic puppets.
Tallinn for Foodies
For traditional Estonian cuisine in a cozy, candlelit setting, Vanaema Juures Restoran has a delicious selection of hearty stews and flavorful meat dishes for good prices. Try “Grandmother’s Sunday Roast,” a slow cooked beef dish with potatoes and pickled cucumbers that goes great with mulled wine.
For a modern interpretation of Estonian cuisine inspired by seasonal herbs and the flavors of Estonia’s Muhu island, Neh is a must-go spot for all foodies. Surprisingly affordable, the dishes here are artfully created and simply unforgettable.
Retreat to plush white armchairs under crystal chandeliers for marzipan-infused pastries and coffee at Cafe Mademoiselle. Nearby you’ll also find the Kalev Marzipan Museum, which is an essential stop for all lovers of marzipan and European pastries. This historic sweet shop, which is not really a museum, is the epicenter of Tallinn’s marzipan circuit, and here you’ll find windows filled with marzipan-sculpted figurines like marzipan mice, marzipan burgers, and marzipan storybook characters. You can also watch food artisans hand-paint marzipan figurines with food coloring.
Tallinn is charming and seeped in history. Although it’s no longer undiscovered, a visit here still offers the unique chance to step back in time, if just for a moment, and experience a truly magical city.