I had this down to do a spotlight a few weeks ago, and then I… dunno… changed my mind? Oh that’s right I went with St Petersburg. Well, today I am going full on for Tallinn because I have to tell you, it’s a really brilliant little city. Yes, little it is, but worthy of consideration when headed to Europe because it is simply charming.
The old town is inside a citadel and the streets are all cobble-stone and narrow, there’s a grandly appointed square, there many alleyways as well, arches here and there, it has a brilliant vibe and is not nearly as expensive as Western Europe. In fact – many Swedes come to Tallinn for the weekend to party for a couple of days because even with the travel and accommodation, it’s much cheaper than partying in Stockholm. Need I say more?
I stayed at a wonderful hostel. A few years back it was less than 10 Euro a night for a bed with polished floorboards, multiple kitchens, clean and full of character. Friendly staff as well, the place is so compact that many night venues are a short walk only from hostels in the old town.
The old town has this lovely sort of arched walkway, called St Catherine’s walk. It’s like the rest of the old town, but with arches and it’s lovely! The Town Hall Square is pretty much smack in the centre of Tallinn, with a church-like building (possibly actually the town hall lol) in the centre and in the summer, loads of outdoor bars and restaurants open up. There are many little restaurants hidden around the old town, you won’t be short on a place to eat.
Overlooking the old town is a big hill, and at the top is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It’s nice on the outside, fantastic on the inside (I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the inside, now I see pics of it everywhere on the web!) and not only that, there’s no better spot to get a view of Tallinn from that hill. Perfect for the photographers!
For something a little different, the Bastion Tunnels under Tallinn are a good way to spend a few hours. Tours are available and cheap, and you’ll get to see what lies beneath, something that not every city in the world can offer you! These tunnels were first built for soldiers to move about undetected whilst the country was occupied by the Swedish in the 1600s.
Not too far from Central Tallinn, a short ride on a bus away, is the Pirita Monastery. It is mostly the shell of the building, but there are grounds to explore and you can see the wide harbour from that part of town. Not too far from Pirita on the way back into Tallinn I discovered a large park with a number of Soviet style (and presumably era) statues and monuments erected inside it. It was pretty… cool really 😉 But then I like these sorts of things!
Tallinn has a lot more, including a large number of different museums, bars, and a short ferry that connects Helsinki if you want to do a day trip from either to the other. It’s a little chilly, that’s true, but it has so much to offer the tourist. The only bad thing I can say is, that even a few years ago when I was there, it was not a tourist secret. It was October and there were a lot of tourists in Tallinn at the time.
But, again, it’s not nearly as busy as Prague. Go on, give Tallinn a try. It’s pretty awesome.