Essential guide to Tallinn, Estonia
Tuesday, 12 July 2022
One of the hidden gems of a Baltic cruise, in this article we explore the essential information everyone should know about Tallinn, the Estonian capital. An under-the-radar destination, Tallinn has a fairy-tale feel with its stunning Old Town, a rich history and incredible culture just waiting to be explored, so read on to find out more.
Where is Tallinn?
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is on the north coast of the country looking out onto the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea. Estonia itself sits above Latvia, below Finland (although not connected by land) and West of Russia, with Tallinn lying almost directly South of Helsinki and directly East of Stockholm in Sweden.
READ MORE: Essential guide to St. Petersburg, Russia
Can you use Euros in Tallinn?
Yes, Tallinn (and Estonia) use Euro as its sole form of currency. Before the Euro, Estonia used a currency called Estonian Kroon, which was replaced by the Euro in early 2011. Estonia also used the Ruble at one point in history when it was incorporated by the Soviet Union between 1940 and 1992.
Can you see the Northern Lights in Tallinn?
Yes, it is possible to see the Northern Lights in Tallinn. Although Tallinn falls just over 900Km south of the Arctic Circle (the best place to see the lights) it’s not unheard of for the lights to appear above the city. One benefit of the city’s location is that it overlooks the Gulf of Finland and so receives very little light pollution from the direction the lights are most likely to appear from. It’s for this reason that the Paljassaare Peninsula just north of the city is a popular place, as it doesn’t suffer from the city centre lights.
For those who are desperate to see the Aurora, we offer Northern Lights cruises from the UK that are dedicated to the search.
What is Tallinn famous for?
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
One of the most recognisable sights in the capital city is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Located in the city’s Old Town, this orthodox cathedral is as eye-catching as it is historic. Dedicated to Alexander Nevsky, an orthodox Saint, it was consecrated in 1900 and is the largest of its style in the city. During the Soviet reign in Estonia, many cathedrals and churches were left in disarray but since 1991 it’s been meticulously restored to its former glory.
Tallinn TV Tower
Tallinn TV Tower is the tallest building in the city and so, a visit to the viewing platform is a great way to get a unique perspective on the surroundings. Built to help telecommunications for the 1980 Moscow Olympics Regatta, it’s now open to the public and you can wander its Soviet-feeling interior and take in the surrounding views from 170 metres above the ground.
Kumu Art Museum is the largest museum of its kind in Estonia, displaying works from the 18th century to modern-day. This cutting-edge attraction is one activity anyone interested in culture, art or design must do while in Tallinn. Having opened in 2006, the building itself is considered an architectural masterpiece – which is a relief, considering it took a decade to plan and construct.
Just two years after opening it won the much sought-after European Museum of the Year Award, a recognition of its dedication to conserving and celebrating art in an incredible setting. The museum aims to educate and inspire people about art and artistic life in general.
As you approach Tallinn’s port, the city’s Old Town will dominate the skyline. This is Northern Europe’s best-preserved medieval city, with narrow cobbled streets winding their way between stunning Gothic architecture. In 1997 it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which has gone a long way in preserving the character and charm of the city. These buildings have been here since the birth of Tallinn, and one of the most recognisable is the Viru Gate, one of the original city entrances. They have stood through numerous wars over a number of centuries. It may seem like any other old corner of a city, but almost nothing has changed here.
Town Hall Square
Situated in the centre of the city, the Town Hall Square and Town Hall are an idyllic setting with market stalls. The Town Hall itself dates back to the Hanseatic League, a 12th-century medieval confederation of market town creators, and is the oldest Town Hall in any of the Baltic States. If you visit during the Christmas season, you can also enjoy the Christmas tree display, which has been taking place in the square since 1441.
With all of this on offer, Tallinn is certainly a destination to look forward to on any value cruise. So, whether you choose to stroll around the old town or explore history at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, you’re sure to be in for a treat.
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