Tallinn, Estonia. I’ve been in Estonia multiple times, but all my trips have ended somewhere else than capital of Estonia. Actually, I’ve been there twice – once going through to get on a ferry and the second one was a fun journey with destination Tallinn, which basically ended with a small evening walk and road to home. This time I went for a 4 days, which were tightly scheduled, but I managed to experience at least a few things from our northern neighbor life.
Estonians (Tallinn) are modern and, as a surprise to me, more open than average person you’ll meet in Riga. Don’t expect Italian or French openness, but they’ll be open to get to know you in conversations, care a bit more and if you happen to be a kind person, you’ll have a new friend at least for a time of a trip and what’s more – they’ll help you not to break some local rules, which they take really seriously.
Here you’ll be able to use Euro, as in more than a half of other European countries. Prices aren’t high, but everything (except bread, milk products and some tech) is slightly expensive than in capital of Latvia. As one of locals told – that’s cause of Russians, who have bought lots of real estate in the best neighborhoods. Don’t get confused by hearing Russian language. Locals will appreciate your try to communicate in English or Estonian.
You can be as walk loving person as I am, but Tallinn is much larger city than you have expected, so it’s worth to get in a one of a nearby bus to reach other sightseeing objects faster. Almost every bus stop has a large map with lines, so you won’t feel lost even in a furthest part of a city. There’s also a WiFi, which isn’t as fast and stable as I’m used to in Latvia, but it will do well to cover those few minutes till next bus. Ticket prices aren’t high (1,6€ for ticket purchased in bus), but for frequent transportation I suggest getting Tallinn Card, which will also cover some museum expenses.
If you’re willing to buy a prepaid SIM card, there are two with a great conditions – Simpel and POP. But be prepared that for some reason microSIM are rare in those start packs so you could have to visit at least few of big EMT shops before finding one.
- Pirita tee (street). Goes away/to city centre. The best and most popular place for locals to relax after a long working hours – going for a jog, relax your feet in a sand beach or sorting your mind. For tourists it’s a best place to catch sunrise over Tallinn Old Town or see live sea traffic. Grab some pizza at nearby food truck and go for a walk to nearby Tallinn Song Festival Ground or Kadriorg Park.
- Kadriorg park. Coming from Pirita tee you get through something similar “small Jurmala neighborhood” – Art Noveau houses, mainly inhabited by Russian speaking persons. After that you’ll get a long walk, which would be nice in warm weather, cause of all the nature wonders that are crafted in beautiful gardens, built also for presidential palace use, which is located in the Kadriorg area.
- Next one in the area is KUMU art museum, which is the largest one in Baltics. Not only have the exhibitions worth your time, but the way architecture completes itself in the area of Kadriorg.
- Lennusadam. Maritime museum. Something you won’t see in other Baltic countries. Prepare that it’s not only walkthrough museum, but place where learn about all the various sea transport. Ohh, did I mention that you can get into submarine?
- Katusekino. Seasonal chance to experience open air cinema. What’s more? They show mostly great classic movies, offer a good drinks and supply with blankets those, who feel cold.
- Old Town. Offers all the possible architecture, local shop, ancient touch, modern minimalism and tourist entertainment possibilities. It was day of football match Estonia – England when I visited it, so no experience of local quietness.
I had the best experience with hotel restaurant – great breakfast and a wonderful late dinner. If you’re up to experience something other:
- F-Hoone and Boheem. Modern Eastern European places, where you can experience new combinations of tastes. Popular places, so make your reservations before.
- Vapiano. Italian cuisine. Pasta, pizza and salads. If that’s your preference, then you won’t find a better place in Tallinn. Meals prepared right in front of you and served with some good wines.
- Leib Resto ja Aed. Interesting brunch place, hidden in gorgeous courtyard. Simple, but tasty dishes made by ingedients from local farmers and fishermen, completed with good choice of wines.
- Reval Cafe – place for earlybirds to eat breakfast.
- Chedi – a modern and stylish Asian food place.
- Budget eat – The Dubliner and Komperssor. First one serves food that you can expect in a pub. Its great quality and tasty, moreover, for a reasonable price. The second one is very popular amongst youth. Offers huge and cheap pancakes with various tastes.
- Be prepared that some supermarket cafes isn’t as cheap as they look on the first sight, so it’s better to get out of the city center by Narva mnt., where nearby are lot of small cafes.
As mentioned above, there are some things to see and do in Tallinn. If you’re not up for a classic tourist destinations, then you may find something for yourself in those categories:
- Music. Just like Riga, Tallinn is popular destination for some high class bands. Yeah, lots of them goes on a tour to each of those capitals, but if you’re truly enthusiastic, you’ll learn to find out when one or another is less crowded. There are local festivals like Jazzkaar International Jazz Festival, Simple Session or Tallinn Music Week, which attract regional media spotlight and then there are those small opportunities to see big acts only on one stage of Baltics, like Kanye West and Rihanna in July, 2015.
- Culture. Highly popular amongst locals opera or some of the art galleries are must have to do, if you’re visiting city for a longer period.
- Sport. It’s easy to say that Estonian national football team gets much better draw in a way of popular, highly ranked opponents, than Latvia (England and Netherlands in recent years versus Latvia’s long term opponents Greece). Tallinn have two popular women’s basketball teams, who compete in Estonian-Latvian championships, so you have a chance to choose who you’re rooting for.
Capitals of Baltic states
Riga – the most compact capital. Everything within a reach of a hand. Makes up a compact size with lots of activities in culture, sport and sightseeing.
Tallinn – the modern one. Tends to live Scandinavian style, even though cherish relationship with Latvians and Lithuanians.
Vilnius – the most religious capital of three. Tends to put a best effort to showcase each of touristic destinations. In recent years have been developing infrastructure, step-by-step taking best example from other Baltic states.