How to spend your stopover in Tallinn, Estonia
Tuesday, 26 July 2022
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a true hidden gem on a Baltic cruise. The stunning city has an amazing history, a fairy-tale feel and has a lot to offer travellers visiting for a day on a cruise ship. So, whether you are planning your cruise around the Baltics or are wondering what’s on offer if you choose to book, read on to discover how to spend a day in Tallinn, Estonia.
Visit the Old Town
The old town of Tallinn is famous the world over as the idyll Medieval fairy tale city, however, be sure to remember where you came from, as its winding streets and alleys can even leave locals confused as to where they are. A stop in St. Catherine’s Passage is a must as it is home to handcraft and antique shops and is slightly off the beaten track.
Here, one of the best sites is the Old Wall. Originally the wall spanned over 1.5 miles with 8 gates and 46 towers, today over 1.1 miles are still open to visitors with most starting their walk near the cruise terminal. For those who are willing to exert a little more energy first thing in the morning, you are also able to climb towers along the route to gain unrivalled views over the city, including Nunna, Sauna and Kuldjala. In 1997, the old city, its walls and towers were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which has gone a long way in preserving the character and charm of the city.
See the Town Hall Square
Raekoja Plats, the Town Hall Square, is the beating heart of Medieval Tallinn, with visitors and locals alike using the square throughout summer and winter. Built in 1404 it is one of the only remaining Gothic town squares in Northern Europe. There is always a concert or festival happening during summer in the square so if you stop by, you never know what you might see.
Hidden in one of the corners is Europe’s oldest pharmacy originally opened in 1422, still dispensing medication to the city’s citizens daily. It is also open to visitors throughout the year and a stop at their historic section will fascinate you with its old cures book. Also, be sure to try and hunt out the paving stone with arrows embossed on it which point to the five old towers of Tallinn!
Explore stunning churches
Churches, cathedrals and spires are some of the most iconic sites in the city and for that reason, you should try and visit a few whilst in town. Whether it’s the Russian-orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St. Olaf’s Church (once the highest building in Europe and frequently struck by lightning) or St. Nicholas Church which is used as a museum today.
A fun fact about Tallinn is that the church spires are the tallest points in the city after a law was passed that new buildings could not be higher than St. Olaf’s spire – 405ft tall. This is why, when you pull into the port, you’ll often see the churches first.
See the city from Toompea
You only need to see a few photographs of Tallinn to realise quite how idyllic it looks. With red-roofed buildings painted in warm colours, trees throughout the city, cobbled streets and historic landmarks; it’s truly stunning. For those who want to see the city in the best light, a trip up Toompea Hill is the way to go. With multiple viewing platforms, you can get a wonderful vantage over the city centre.
It’s not just that, though, as Toompea is an attraction in its own right. Part of the Old Town UNESCO Heritage Site, here you can find the centre of Estonian Government in the Riigikogu, 13th-Century Toompea Castle after which the hill was named and some of the historic churches worth exploring in the city. There are even myths that Kalev, a famous Scandinavian/Baltic hero, is buried here and the mound was built by his grieving wife.
Enjoy the local cuisine
No trip anywhere would be complete without sampling some of the local cuisine on offer and, although you might not have ever considered Estonia a culinary leader of Europe, you can still enjoy some delicious food whilst here.
One popular option is Rataskaevu 16. Serving up local, Estonian fare, the dishes are modestly priced and delicious. Meat eaters should try the braised elk roast for a truly memorable experience. Or, looking for something more casual? Kompressor is a legendary pancake house serving up a wide range of sweet and savoury pancakes in the Old Town.
READ MORE: Essential guide to Tallinn, Estonia
How to spend a day in Tallinn, Estonia:
- Visit the Old Town
- See the Town Hall Square
- Explore stunning churches
- See the city from Toompea
- Enjoy the local cuisine
So, whether you are planning for a 2023 cruise holiday and are trying to decide on where to go or are just trying to work out exactly what to do at each stop on an upcoming Baltic cruise, we hope that this article has got you as excited to visit Tallinn as you should be. It really is something special.
For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog.