On the Northern coast of Estonia’s rugged terrain lies Tallinn, a modern capital with bucketloads of medieval atmosphere. Though it’s not en route for a traditional European jaunt, unsuspecting tourists who happen across Tallinn often end up falling in love with the place. It’s just one of those cities. The first thing visitors notice is the beauty of the place; its enchanting demeanour gives Tallinn the impression it was torn straight from the pages of a fairytale storybook. Combine that beguiling facade with a delectable food scene, fascinating cultural sites and a burgeoning nightlife, and you’ve got a recipe for a Baltic adventure you’ll never forget.
Sure, it might be off the beaten track, but since when are BUCKiTDREAMERs ever ones to follow convention? If you’re planning a trip to the continent, you’ve probably got the usual hotspots like Paris, Rome and Berlin all sewn up. But be sure to make some space for the Estonian capital; there’s a lot to discover in the Baltic wonderland. Check out BUCKiTDREAM to discover other traveler’s tales of Tallinn, then keep that BUCKiTDREAM planner handy as we take you through the best way to spend 48 hours in the Estonian capital!
Ramble ‘Round the Old Town The cobblestoned streets of Tallinn’s Old Town are the medieval heart of the city, much of which looks unchanged from the Dark Ages. The first thing you’ll probably notice is the towering Town Hall, which has dominated the main square (and much of the city’s skyline) since it was constructed in 1404. There’s a pretty informative museum in there which will give you a bit of background about this fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site. After you’ve brushed up on your Tallinn history, take a slow wander around the main square, checking out the many restaurants, bars, stalls and entertainers as you go.
Conquer St. Olaf’s Church To get a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the city’s skyline, look no further than St. Olaf’s Church, which provides a stunning reward if you can conquer the narrow, steep 232 steps leading up to it. The ancient church tower dominates the city from almost any angle, and has come to be known as a symbol of Tallinn.
Enjoy Some Tallinn Fine Dining Tallinn has undergone a bit of a food revolution in the past few years, with a number of world-class restaurants popping up in and around the capital. One of the most intriguing is Baojaam, located inside Baltijaam Market, a hotspot for contemporary street food. This delectable pop up shop serves up authentic Asian street food, overseen by an ex-Michelin starred chef. The result is a surefire hit with locals and visitors alike. On the more traditional end of the scale is Kaks Kokka, an exceptional fine dining spot which is part of a collective of restaurants in the city. As part of its menu, it serves up its own unique Estonian take on ramen, among other rustic delights.
Visit the Breathtaking Seaplane Harbour Billed as the most exciting maritime museum in Europe, Seaplane Harbour houses a stunning collection of seafaring artefacts, ranging from a complete submarine to a centuries old icebreaker. This one’s not just for naval fanatics either; a host of interactive exhibits will ensure that kids and adults alike are engaged by Tallinn’s aquatic adventures.
Then Discover the Enigmatic KGB Museum This small museum tells the fascinating story of Hotel Viru and the legacy of the KGB in Estonia. Those who are intrigued by the underworld dealings of the city’s shadowy side will certainly enjoy the tour around the 23rd floor of the hotel; you’ll get an idea of what operatives were up to during their time in the capital, and also gain some insight into the history of the hotel, which was designed specifically for foreign visitors traveling to the U.S.S.R. Booking in advance is probably advisable for this one.
Head Out into the Tallinn Night Tallinn has a hopping nightlife just waiting to be discovered, filled with eccentric bars and exotic beverages. There are plenty of hotspots to be discovered in and around the Old Town, but venturing further outside the cobbled streets of the city center can produce some exciting results too. One of these delights is Peatus, a cool bar fashioned out of an old train carriage. Punters can partake in some competition at the resident ping pong table, and also enjoy an eclectic food menu and good coffee. Another unique Tallinn establishment is the Depeche Mode Bar, which pays tribute to the 80s superstar band by being completely devoted to them and their music.
Take a Tour of the Bastion Tunnels Finish off your 48 hours in Tallinn with a remarkable tour of the underground tunnels which lurk below the city. The tunnels were originally built by the Swedish when they ruled Tallinn in the 17th and 18th centuries, and were used as a safeguard against a Russian invasion, for quick movement of supplies and troops. Since then, they’ve been used as bomb shelters, an anarchist haven, and a homeless sanctuary. All this history and more is covered in the fascinating tour.
Tallinn may be off the grid, but that just means there’s plenty of new experiences to uncover there! If you’re planning a bucket list trip to Europe in the near future, hopefully we’ve convinced you to add Tallinn to your itinerary – you won’t regret it! Make sure to record all your Estonian adventures for your fellow ‘DREAMERS, and share all your snaps and stories with the BUCKiTDREAM community!