Generally speaking, Tallinn is usually only on someone’s radar if they are taking a cruise to St Petersburg from Stockholm or Copenhagen and see that Estonia is one stop along the way. And for that same reason the city itself, or at least old town, is full of tourists of that nature, the cruise tourists. I have nothing against them, by the way, and have myself been one, I’m just saying, that makes it crowded with people who have to get a whole lot done in a very short time. Granted, we came on a “cruise” but it was the direct line from Helsinki to Tallinn, arriving very late at night so we slept on the boat before heading in early to drop off our bags out our Airbnb and then start wandering.
We did another free walking tour (seriously, these are great, I’ve yet to be disappointed) offered by Traveller Tours that meets outside the Tourist Information Centre in Old Town. Our guide, Maria, was very enthusiastic and lots of fun, and while this was on the more typical side of 1.5-2 hours in length, we saw a lot. She filled us in on all the history of Tallinn, taking us down the one major street destroyed by bombs in the war and past an old tower, Kiek in de Kök, by the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Parliament (once the queen’s palace), to a great view of the city (by a lot of souvenir shops) and weaving back through the old town to Town Hall Square. It gave us a great overview of the history as well as a lay of the land for later, as we would be staying an extra day.
We then had lunch at a very touristy medieval tavern, but even at tourist prices Tallinn is very cheap compared to a lot of Europe and the service was excellent. Actually, nearly everyone we encountered in Tallinn was quite friendly, all things considered. The food, also, was excellent at this place, Olde Hansa Medieval Restaurant, and I think everyone was full and satisfied with it. Also, their honey beer is a definite must try!
After checking in to our Airbnb, and old building right in Old Town, we grabbed coffee and started wandering, either going in places or making plans for the next day (many things are closed on Mondays). The coffee at Caffeine, by the way, was amazing! We got this Spicy Mochaccino thing that was indeed spicy but so yummy!
Over the two days we did the tunnels beneath the city with adjoined carved stone museum, attached to the Kiek in the Kök tower and museum, but the former must be guided, which will dictate the time you spend there. Not a lot of lingering is had, but the tunnels are still super cool, especially when learning about all the things that have been done with them since they were built in medieval times. The stones were also interesting. The tower, however, was not my favourite. Lots of old stairs all over the city had everyone’s legs aching, as they are uneven and, for someone who is short, often required me to lift my leg above my hip line, not fun. But even saying that, while the tower offered a great view, the museum inside was very typical museum, with mannequins in old costumes and tons of signage, probably great for the curious history buff but by the time we moved to the next museum I tapped out. Personally, I like museums well enough if they are super different/unique, but having done a lot in the last week or so I was not overly interested in doing one that only offered information I could probably just get a book about.
Which takes us to the next museum, the one I skipped, which was on the other side of the old city wall. We first climbed some more stoney stairs to walk along the old wall to a little cafe, that was of course tourist priced, but still decent, with good cakes and very nice hot wine. We had also done a walk along a part of the wall you can see for 2 euros, which hasn’t been all done up like a cafe in another part of the city, so it was interesting to see the difference between the original and the touched up parts.
All of this was of course intermingled with many souvenir stop shops. There are tons all over the old town, especially near the Cathedral in the upper town, and they sell just about everything you could see on a Baltic cruise from many other countries. The main thing, however, was amber, everywhere. Just tons of amber stores. And while Boyface and I didn’t get much, our friends were on the hunt for gifts for those back home. Also, postcards, because postcards are awesome.
We probably did a lot more, there was definitely a lot of walking on those couple of days in Tallinn, and so many old stairs, but to prevent this doubling in length with my rambling I will just say that I really loved Tallinn. The food was good, the drinks were good, and the city was gorgeous. I just wish we’d had more time to get out into the city proper, but that will just have to be saved for another trip. I highly recommend it, though be warned that on some days, when the cruises come in, it will be swarming with other tourists, which could just make some sites very busy. Otherwise, please visit Estonia. It’s a very lovely place filled with amazing people.