Tallinn is a diverse city. It offers cultural and entertainment experiences and flavourful tastes at its many high-class restaurants. Even the café culture in Tallinn is in a class of its own. The city's beauty salons and health services provide pampering and expert service, and the shopping opportunities in shopping centres as well as in specialty boutiques are excellent. In Tallinn it also pays to go outside the Old Town, every time the city reveals something new to experience.
We recommend in Tallinn
The new centre for photography as an art form, Fotografiska Tallinn, is located in Telliskivi, an area popular among Finns, in the so called Red house. It presents international photography in a variety of ways. There are several temporary exhibitions on display. Finnish photographers’ works are often presented. On the sixth floor of Fotografiska, the rooftop, there is a bar and restaurant run by one of Estonia's most well-known chefs, Peeter Pihel. Tallinn Fotografiska is a sister museum to Stockholm Fotografiska.
Address: Telliskivi 60a/8
Photo: Tiina-Liina Uudam
It is a ten minutes bus ride from the city centre to Maarjamäe palace. With the surrounding park areas it is a very child friendly destination. The Estonian History Museum at the palace has a lot to offer for the whole family and the restaurant has also been praised. There is a Children’s Republic at the premises too, a place that introduces the interaction of states through play.
Estonian Film Museum
The Estonian Film Museum is located in the Maarjamäe palace park, about a ten minutes bus ride from city centre. A red carpet surrounded by artworks related to the film industry lead you to the museum. At the museum you can explore both the history of Estonian film industry and have a look behind the scenes of the whole film industry.
Memorial to victims of communism
In Maarjamäe there is an impressive monument complex to the suffering of Estonians during Soviet occupation. At that time Estonia had just about one million inhabitants and lost every fifth either by execution, deportation or imprisonment. The corridor-like part "Journey" is marked with names of 22 000 victims and the “Home garden” is a symbol for safety.
Lennusadam Maritime Museum
The pride of Tallinn, the Maritime Museum at Lennusadam Seaplane Harbour, has already for some years been the favourite destination for both Estonians and tourists. Main attractions are, besides the Lembit submarine, for example the steam-powered icebreaker Suur Tõll. The exciting and family-friendly exhibition is interactive. The Museum has a cafe-restaurant Maru, a terrace and a souvenir shop. It is easy to walk here from Tallinn Harbour A-terminal along the Culture Kilometre, a walkway about 2 kilometres long.
The TV Tower, originally built for the Moscow Olympic Games, is a well-know landmark in Tallinn. Experience the best views at the viewing platform 170 metres up. Daredevils can step on the glass covered holes in the platform floor. The TV Tower also has an interactive exhibition about the most important Estonian achievements. The tower has a café-restaurant on the 22nd floor and a terrace. Next to the tower there is a botanical garden and nearby the Pirita harbour and beach as well as the ruins of the Pirita klooster, St. Bridget’s convent.
KGB Museum and Valuutabaar, the Foreign Currency Bar
Sokos Hotel Viru, built in 1972, has turned two secret surveillance rooms, used by the Sovjet secret police, into a KBG Museum. From the hotels 23rd floor the agents spied on people and eavesdropped on hotel guests. A Finnish speaking guide will take you on a tour through the hotels history and tell you interesting stories. The tour ends at the Valuutabaar on the second floor. Try for example the drink Hammer and sickle, very popular during the Soviet era.
The unique and bohemian cafés of Tallinn serve delicious sweet and savoury treats. Popular by the locals are for example Rukis on Viru street and Komeet on the fourth floor at the Solaris centre. Trendy café-restaurant outside the city centre, in Kalamaja area, is F-hoone for example.
At the moment Kalamaja is the trendiest neighbourhood in Tallinn. Traditional two-storey wooden houses have been renovated and young artists, actors and musicians have moved in. Old factory buildings now house cafés and restaurants. The popular restaurant F-Hoone is located in Telliskivi area, behind the Balti Jaam railwaystation. There is a flea market nearby on Saturdays.
The Old Town
The Old Town is still one of the most popular destinations. The towers and city wall, till present day well-preserved, show that the medieval city of Tallinn was actually one big defence fortress. The Old Town alleys have many boutiques, restaurants, bars and small cosy hotels. Especially the Town Hall Square and Toompea Hill vantage points fascinate visitors.
Tallinn for families
Tallinn has many nice tourist attractions all year round. Popular destinations are among others Tallinn Zoo, the children’s museum Miia-Milla and puppetry museum NUKU, the TV Tower, the Maritime Museum at Lennusadam. Also the alleys and towers of Old Town are thrilling to explore. There are many indoor activity parks in Tallinn which children enjoy.
Awesome vantage points
The best vantage points in Tallinn are worth the climb, some you can fortunately reach quickly by elevator. Besides the TV Tower, the views can be admired from Toompea Hill, at for example Kohtu street and Patkuli lookout points. The bars at Radisson BLU Tallinn Hotel or Swisshotel have spectacular views during sunset. Climbing the 250 stairs to the tower of Oleviste church is a real exercise. The church, built in the 14th century, is an attraction itself.
The best way to get to know Estonian lifestyle is to visit different marketplaces. To buy food at marketplaces is ordinary life to locals, but the marketplaces are interesting to visitors too.
The renewed Balti jaama turg, behind the railway station, has become a new and trendy place to be for people living in Tallinn. The modern marketplace also houses pop up shops, restaurants and traditional antiques stores. Balti jaama turg is one of Tallinn’s main attractions.
From Keskturg (Central Market), near Stockmann department store, you can buy food, vegetables, fruits and affordable clothes. At the Sadamaturg (Harbour Market) near A-terminal, you will find Estonian fresh produce. Kalamaja Kalaturg (Fish Market) is open every Saturday.
One of the more beautiful marketplaces is located in Nõmme, on the outskirts of town. The lively yet neat marketplace has a long history and people from the lush neighbourhood of Nõmme really love it. You can buy both local products and delicacies from abroad. There are also small shops specialized in for example meat, honey and potatoes.
A guaranteed summer destination, with 2 kilometres of sandy beach that literally invites you to sunbathing and the brave to try out the adventure park. Enjoy the ruins of St. Bridget’s convent and Pirita harbour and have a spectacular view from the TV Tower viewing platform 170 metres up in the air.
A delightful Christmas market
From the beginning of December until early January a very popular Christmas market takes place in Tallinn. The Town Hall Square gets you into Christmas mood with its small charming houses that sell handicrafts, delicacies and Christmas ornaments among others. Remember to take a break during shopping to enjoy some warming mulled wine.
Colourful and rough Noblessner
In the north part of Tallinn, next to Kalamaja and Lennusadama, there is an area called Noblessner, one of the more trendy areas in Tallinn today. The former submarine dock area has been renewed, yet respecting the old, and the old factory buildings are in use again. The area has new residential buildings with boutiques and galleries. There is something for the whole family here and we will give you some tips on interesting destinations.
Proto invention factory
At Proto you can, through virtual reality, be part of the most significant inventions that have transformed the world in the last century. Put on your virtual glasses and experience what it's like to drive the very first car ever. Technology also allows you to try things that man has not yet been able to do. Perhaps you want to take a look at the future. Test how it would feel like to walk on the bottom of the sea.
Address: Peetri 10
Even though beer may not be your favourite beverage the Põhjala brewery, said to be the flagship of Estonian small breweries, is worth a visit. Here in the brewery's tap room, the skilled staff helps to find the beer that is most to your liking. They have 24 different beers on tap, their own beers but also "guest flavours". From tap room you also have a view to the brewery and beer production. In addition to beer, there is also American-style food made on site on the menu. The Põhjala Brewery was founded in 2011 by Estonian businessmen.
Address: Peetri 5
Shishi Home of Beauty is a Norwegian-Estonian company that specializes in home decor. The selection is wide, ranging from stylish flower pots to the most imaginative interior elements and of course Christmas decorations, which now are on the lips of all trend-conscious decorators. For them, it pays to get to Shishi's outlet shop, which is next to the main store. hi Home of Beauty is a Norwegian-Estonian company that specializes in home decor. The selection is wide, ranging from stylish flower pots to the most imaginative interior elements and of course Christmas decorations, which now are on the lips of all trend-conscious decorators. For them, it pays to get to Shishi's outlet shop, which is next to the main store.
Stop by Kalhoj, if Scandinavian interior style appeals. Kalhoj offers minimalist style tableware and furnishings, as well as children's clothing and Nordic food and drink delicacies. Similar products can be found in Finland and in interior design stores in Telliskivi, but it pays to take a look at the offerings at Kalhoj – there might be the one treasure that appeals to you.
Address: Staapli 3
The restaurant with the witty name is led by Michelin star chef Mathias Diether. The prestigious international restaurant guide White Guide Nordic has also placed it among the top three restaurants, among several very high quality restaurants, in Estonia. So 180° alone is a reason for the gourmet to visit Noblessner. The name derives from the chef's table arrangement. A chef’s table is a table that the chefs personally serve and take care of. The table goes around the open kitchen and offers a 180 degree view of how the food is made, hence the name of the restaurant. Of course, the restaurant also has individual tables and a six course fine dining vegetarian menu.
Address: Staapli 4
The restaurant, serving tasty burgers, is named after the Patarei prison, which is about a kilometre away. The name reflects the theme of the restaurant. Patarei Burger's versatile menu has burgers named after prisons around the world. Here you can, for example, enjoy an Alcatraz hamburger named after the prison in San Francisco. The hamburger Patarei is based on Estonian cuisine and contains beef, braised cabbage and cranberry mayonnaise. The whole family gets enthusiastic about these robust burgers.
Kai Art Center
At Noblessner you can also enjoy art. Kai Art Center presents work by international and Estonian artists from various fields of contemporary art. There will be among others photo
art, paintings, installations, dance and music artwork and art therapy.
Address: Peetri 12
Photo by Martin Dremljuga
Staapli 3 Art Gallery
Staapli 3 is located in the trendy Noblessner area. Staapli 3 is combining a cafeteria with a gallery – a gallery without formalities. You can enjoy a piece of delicious cake or even a glass of whiskey while studying the art at the gallery. Staapli 3 was founded by Scottish Mark Gaskin. His aim is to be a strong message-bearer of Estonian and Scandinavian art.
Address: Staapli 3
Navitrolla Art Gallery
The Navitrolla gallery presents art of the Estonian artist Heiki Trolla, also called Navitrolla, who combines naive art and surrealism. Navitrolla has a versatile technique. The gallery presents among others oil paintings, graphics and sculptures. Navitrolla has been making art since the beginning of 1990. His works often depict fantasy worlds and animals. A visit to the gallery is also a dip into colour since Navitrolla loves colours.
Address: Peetri 5
A walk along the Beta-promenade
A rough footpath called Beta-promenade has come about north of Kalamaja. The walkway is about two kilometres along the seaside and reaches from Kalasadama (Fishing harbour) to Noblessner harbour. The Beta-promenade corresponds partly to the Culture Kilometre. The Beta-promenade starts with the fishing harbour which is a short walk away from the A-terminal and Saturdays at 10–16 they have a marvellous Kalaturg, i.e. fish market. Fresh local fish from nearby waters and fish farms are sold here. When the fish market closes, the area is still open for recreational use.
When you continue walking Kalaranna leads the traveller from the surroundings of the Fishing harbour and Fish market towards the Patarei sea fortress. In between there is the Kalaranna beach, a popular picnic place among locals. It is not popular among swimmers though.
The most rugged destination along the promenade is the Patarei sea fortress that was built in 1840 by orders of Tsar Nicholas I. Over the years it has been used as barracks and during the Soviet period as a prison. Last years it has been a museum, but is for now closed to the public. Even from the outside the fortress is an eye-opening sight.
Next stop ahead is the seaplane hangars, built in the beginning of the 20th century, are now the home of the Seaplane Harbour Maritime centre, where history under water, above water and up in the air is told. Besides the hangars, the Maritime museum has another exhibition place. Its main exhibition is located in the Fat Margaret cannon tower in Old Town. The Lembit submarine from the 1930s is on show in the Seaplane hangars. When you continue walking you will arrive to Noblessner area.
Shopping in Tallinn
Tallinn has various and versatile shopping possibilities. For example during a Day in Tallinn cruise you can visit T1 Mall of Tallinn – the new shopping centre in Tallinn, the shops in city centre or the boutiques in Telliskivi.
Ülemiste shopping centre is the largest and most modern in Estonia. Here you will find the vastest assortment of fashion, shoes, children’s clothes and accessories as well as sports brands and interior design shops in Estonia. You can naturally dine here during shopping and there are play areas for children. It is convenient to stop and shop at Ülemiste if you are heading towards the south of Estonia by car. The shopping centre is near to the airport and about 4 kilometres from the city centre.
T1 Mall of Tallinn is located in Ülemiste near The Ülemiste shopping center and the airport. Much waited attraction, the ferris wheel on the roof of the T1 Mall of Tallinn, will be open for public during winter 2019. Besides about 200 shops this shopping center has a lot to offer if you travel with kids. You’ll find for example playground area of 400 square meters here and can enjoy a fun ride with bumber cars. There is also a trampoline area in T1 Mall of Tallinn. You will find stylish restaurant area where to have a meal. Finnish dSign Vertti Kivi & Co has been part of the designing team of the restaurant area.
Telliskivi creative centre is located in old factory surroundings and houses small trendy artisan design companies. Among the stores there are for example clothes for adults and children, interior design shops, pop up stores and a health food shop. The area also has many popular restaurants and different events in summer.
Solaris shopping centre in the city is the place for everyone interested in Estonian design as well as Estonian and Baltic natural cosmetics. The centre has several European style cafés and restaurants but also for example Japanese, Chinese and vegetarian ones.
Viru centre is well-known to the Finnish visitors as it, together with Original Sokos Hotel Viru, is a legendary landmark. There are for example clothing, sports and cosmetics shops and several restaurants among the more than 100 companies at the centre. There are small happenings or exhibitions about current events in Tallinn and Estonia at the central square. There is also a bus terminal below the shopping centre.
Nautica shopping centre is close to D-terminal. The modern shopping centre has numerous clothing stores and restaurants as well as recreational possibilities. The shopping centre has concentrated on brands that you cannot find in Finland, such as the clothing company Takko or beauty products by Tradehouse. The centre also has a big indoor golf course Park Minigolf and Futuruum, a virtual games centre.
In spite of several trips to Estonia, many Finns do not know much about the country's contemporary history. In Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom near the Freedom Square, one can get acquainted with how life was in Tallinn and Estonia during German and Soviet occupation. The museum has a separate part for children and with an e-guide one can experience the museum also in Finnish. Old town’s notorious KGB prison cells, which are now open to the public, are also subject to the museum.
Address: the occupation and freedom museum Vabamu:Toompa Tänav 8
KGB prison cells: Pagari 1
The Museum of Estonian Architecture
The over 100 year old building was formerly a Rotermanni salt storage, but currently houses the Estonian Museum of Architecture. The exhibition of miniature models highlights in an interesting way the country's architecture. The exhibition changes as new models are ordered, but also as older, more
unknown models are revealed from the archives. The museum serves tourists, children and professionals alike.
Address: Ahtri Tänav 2
Kumu Art Museum
Kumu, the main building of the Estonian Art Museum, has, in addition to permanent and changing exhibitions, many other things, such as an elevator said to be the largest one in the Baltics. The permanent exhibition presents Estonian art from the 18th century to the early 1990s. Modern art from Europe is also presented. Visitors who have attended Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, may notice that Kumu has similar architectural expressions.
Address: August Weizenbergi Tänav 34
Best tips to Tallinn from our staff
Shop in the gorgeous Shishi
Shishi Home of Beauty is a Norwegian-Estonian company that specializes in home decor. The selection is wide, ranging from silk flowers and flower pots to the most imaginative decoration elements and of course Christmas decorations. These have, in recent years, put the store name on the lips of all trend conscious. Next to Shishi's store in the fashionable port area Noblessner there is also an outlet where you can make nice bargains, especially for Christmas. Shishi's prices are also quite affordable from the Finnish point of view.
Address: Peetri 3
To Pirita beach by bike
Rent a bike in summer and cycle along the beach road to the most popular beach in Tallinn, Pirita beach in the district of Pirita. There are, in addition to excellent conditions for sunbathing, also a good selection of restaurants. Admire the sunset on the way back.
A morning jog in Kalamaja
The city of Tallinn awakening to a new day is worth experiencing. For example, when staying near the Old Town, set the alarm clock to ring and go for a walk or jogging to the north of the Old Town. Come through the Toompark public park, admire the Snelli pond and the high-rise Old Town wall. Continue your trip to the Kalamaja wooden house area and enjoy.
Take the tram to new neighbourhoods
The old town, already known to many, is magnificent but the city has so much more to offer. Be brave and get yourself a day-trip ticket for public transport in Tallinn. Jump on a tram and make a tour of the city on your own. Jump off when you see something interesting or you just feel like it, stay awhile and then continue your tour.
Visit craft beer brewery
Tallinn is also known for its craft beer and here the dream of two young Finnish men came true. With the help of crowdfunding they were able to start Sori Brewing, which is located near the Ülemiste shopping centre, in a factory building from the Soviet era. A tour at the brewery also includes a beer tasting. NB! Book the tour in advance.
Sauna in Tallinn
There are many interesting saunas in Tallinn where you can go relax, also with a bigger group. For example Radisson Blu Sky's rooftop sauna or hotel Von Stackelberg's Japanese-style ZEN sauna with its own pool. The locals also use a public sauna called Kalma, which can be an interesting experience for those who like sauna.