My Travel Guide to Tallinn: What to do in Tallinn in Winter
Travelling is my favourite thing. There’s nothing I love more than exploring new places, so when someone recommended I visit Tallinn in Estonia, despite not having been familiar with the place before, I did a bit of research and within minutes decided it was worth a visit. Plus, with flights for just £30 return, how could I possibly not? Having recently returned from this Estonian gem and seen everything that Tallinn has to offer, I can assure you it definitely is worth a trip. Think beautiful narrow streets you can get lost in, lively bars and pubs where you can chug back those steins (or a glass of wine if you’re me…), quirky food spots, breathtaking views and a medieval charm. If you’ve done Prague and Budapest and fancy visiting somewhere that’s not too dissimilar but less touristy, Tallinn is a very good option. So, if you’re thinking of heading to Estonia’s capital city or you just need me to persuade you that Tallinn should be on your travel bucket list, I’m here to talk all things Tallinn. From how to get to Tallinn to what to do in Tallinn, here’s my guide to the city:
Getting to Tallinn: We flew with Ryanair from London Stanstead to Tallinn and flights were about £30 return so it’s super cheap to get to. Obviously if you’re familiar with Ryanair then you’ll know all about the sneaky (and often hefty) charges they like to fine, so make sure you follow their check-in and baggage rules down to a T. The flight was about 2 hours 30 minutes and we managed to get people to trade seats with us on the plane without paying extra for it (stupidest rule ever) because despite being obsessed with travelling, flying isn’t actually my favourite thing. The good thing about Tallinn is that the centre isn’t far from the airport, with a cheap tram journey taking you to Tallinn’s old town in about 20 minutes (2 euros) or if you’re in a rush, a taxi takes about 10 minutes (9 euros). We did both and both were fine. Pay attention on the tram though or ask the friendly locals where to get off or you’ll end up like us, stranded in Tallinn and having to walk a mile through the snow but I guess that was nobody’s fault but our own. Whoops.
Where to stay in Tallinn: Staying in the old town of Tallinn is your best bet. Another good thing about this city is that you can pretty much walk everywhere from the old town so you don’t need to pay for transport if you stay central. We stayed at the Kreutzwald Hotel which I would 100% recommend. From the service to the amazing rooms, this 4 star hotel was perfect and in a prime location too, less than a 10 minute walk from the centre of the old town. We upgraded to the deluxe suite with the most amazing jacuzzi bath – perfect after a day in the snow sightseeing! Hotels are pretty cheap in Tallinn (in winter anyway) which again, is so good because it means you can get more for your money. Obviously if you want cheap, you can go really cheap! There’s lots of hotels in Tallinn so you’ll be spoilt for choice but if you’re stuck, I definitely recommend the Kreutzwald Hotel.
The weather in Tallinn: We went in February and when the plane landed, you literally couldn’t see anything other than white because the place was covered in snow! This might put you off but for me, that’s exactly how I pictured Tallinn to be. I wanted to see it in winter when the red rooftops were covered in white snow and that’s exactly what I got. Tallinn looks beautiful in the snow! Plus, we woke up to bright sunshine and beautiful blue skies every single day so the weather was perfect in my eyes. If you go in winter though, just make sure you bring a lot of layers! I found out that Primark thermals really aren’t the best…
How much money to take to Tallinn: Annoyingly, Tallinn wasn’t as cheap as I thought. From what I read online I thought it was going to be dirt cheap or at least be similar to places like Prague and Budapest. Although flights, accommodation and travel when there are cheap, we actually found food and drinks to be comparable to English prices. Yep, we got a shock! Maybe it was because of the Euro being bad, who knows! However, compared to it’s neighbour Finland, it was so much cheaper but more on that later…
How long to stay in Tallinn: We stayed for 4 nights but you could definitely do it in less. We also wanted to relax too and knowing we were gonna make a day trip to Helsinki, we decided 4 nights would be perfect. You could do it in 3 nights if you missed out Helsinki though.
What to do in Tallinn:
Fall in love with the old town
The old town was my favourite part of Tallinn. Without sounding like a total grandma, I absolutely love old towns. There’s something about the cute cobbled streets, winding alleyways and cafes and restaurants lining the squares that just draw me in and make me fall in love with cities. After seeing pictures of Tallinn’s old town online, I had high expectations and luckily, I wasn’t left disappointed. Tallinn’s old town is beautiful and there’s plenty to see there too. From the hub of the old town, Raekoja Plats aka the Town Hall Square to the beautiful walkway St Catherines Passage to the breathtaking views of Toompea Hill, the old town in my opinion is the best part of Tallinn. From the top of Toompea Hill, you’ll find the two main viewing platforms; Kohtuotsa and Patkuli, the former being slightly more well known due to it’s ‘the times we had’ sign making the wall a popular insta-spot. Oh and there’s also a bird that seems to live here too so watch out for him! The views from these viewing platforms are beautiful, especially in winter when the rooftops are covered in snow. At the top of Toompea Hill, you’ll also find the impressive Toompea Castle along with the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and St Mary’s Cathedral (the Dome Church) sitting prettily. Not forgetting the prettiest narrow cobbled streets lined with hidden shops.
You have to head to the old town of Tallinn at night too. The lit-up streets are so pretty and in winter, you can go ice skating too…
Definitely head to Beer House in the old town on an evening. We went on a Friday night and the atmosphere was amazing!
Head to Kalamaja and Telliskivi Creative City
Paying a visit to Tallinn’s coolest neighbourhood, Kalamaja is a must whilst in the city. Here you’ll find Telliskivi Creative city. It’s edgy, it’s cool and it has a Berlin vibe to it with graffiti adorned walls, quirky shops and restaurants and shops disguised as old warehouses. Known to be a good nightlife spot, Kalamaja is where the young people of the city head to. I’d recommend seeing it both during the day and at night. During the day, you can sample the food at Balti Jaam market before heading to F Hoone for lunch (a must – see pictures below!) and at night you can take advantage of the cool bars Kalamaja has to offer. Just a few streets away from the quirky industrial buildings, you’ll also find a residential area with colourful wooden houses. Kalamaja is very different to the old town of Tallinn so it allows you to see two sides to the city.
Explore the ‘Modern’ part of Tallinn
What makes Tallinn so interesting is that there’s such a contrast between each area. Nestled next to the old town and before you reach the edginess of Kalamaja, you’ll find the more ‘modern’ area of Tallinn which is home to the main hotels and big shopping malls such as Ulemiste Centre that come with most city centres. This is where the likes of Zara and H&M are so if you fancy a shop, this is the place to go.
Wander through the Rotterman Quarter
Known as the new old town (if that makes any sense at all…), the Rotterman Quarter is another area for you to explore. Located in the centre of the city, the Rotterman Quarter used to be an old industrial centre with its old factories having since been renovated with a cool modern touch. Nowadays, you’ll find shops, bars and restaurants, making it worthy of a visit whilst you’re in the city. Plus, the streets are super pretty…
Head to Kadriorg
Known as the most beautiful area in Tallinn, Kadriorg is where you’ll find a gorgeous park (the biggest one in Tallinn) and the palace. It was a fair decent walk from the old town so I’d recommend hopping on a cheap tram to save yourself the effort. The park and palace looked exceptionally pretty covered in snow.
Don’t forget to eat pancakes at Kompressor. Kompressor is pretty famous in Tallinn, known for it’s amazing (and cheap) pancakes. Be prepared to queue! It’s totally worth the wait though…
Take a break from Estonian food with the best Italian at Amalfi Italian restaurant. Their pasta is incredible!
Take a day trip to Helsinki, Finland
Okay, so it’s totally random but Helsinki is literally only a 2 hour ferry away from Tallinn and an amazing opportunity to explore another country whilst you’re so close. We set off at 7.30am, got there for 9.30 and had the full day there before returning at about 5ish back to Tallinn. First things first, Finland is expensive. My god it’s a pricey place. I don’t think in all my travels I’ve ever experienced anywhere quite as expensive as Helsinki so we basically didn’t eat or drink all day long…I’m joking but it did hurt to pay those prices. I won’t pretend I’m any expert on Finland as obviously you can’t see everything Helsinki has to offer in just a day but it was so interesting to explore the city and a great chance to see a place I would probably never have visited otherwise.
Due to the weather and the fact a beach didn’t sound too appealing it the snow, we skipped a visit to the beach, Pirita in Tallinn but it might be worth checking out during the warmer months.
So there we have it, my guide to Tallinn, Estonia. A lovely city to explore, I’d definitely recommend a visit to this incredibly pretty place. If you have any questions or want any more recommendations then just drop me a message and I’ll be happy to help!