Tallinn is a rewarding detour for those who want to spice up their Scandinavian travels with a Baltic twist. Since independence in 1991, its Old Town has been scrubbed into a pristine Old World theme park — a fascinating package of pleasing towers, ramparts, facades, striptiis bars, churches, shops, and people-watching. Among Nordic medieval cities, there's none nearly as well-preserved as Tallinn, nor more dense with restaurants, cafés, and surprises — and the fun is comparatively cheap. Overlying all of that is the vibrancy of a free nation that's just a generation old. Estonian pride is in the air…and it's catching.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Tallinn's Old Town Well-preserved medieval center with cobblestoned lanes, gabled houses, historic churches, and turreted city walls.
▲▲ Russian Orthodox Cathedral Accessible look at the Russian Orthodox faith, with a lavish interior.
▲ Museum of Estonian History High-tech exhibits explain Estonia's engaging national narrative.
▲ Museum of Occupations Estonia's tumultuous, sometimes secret history under Soviet and Nazi occupiers from 1940 to 1991.
▲ St. Nicholas Church Art museum displaying Gothic art in a restored old church.
Town Hall and Tower Gothic building with history museum and climbable tower on the Old Town's main square.
Outside the Core
▲▲ Kumu Art Museum The best of contemporary Estonian art displayed in a strikingly modern building.
▲▲ Seaplane Harbor Impressive museum of boats and planes — including a WWII-era submarine — displayed in a cavernous old hangar along the waterfront.
▲ Kadriorg Park Vast, strollable oasis with the palace gardens, Kumu Art Museum, and a palace built by Czar Peter the Great.
▲ Song Festival Grounds National monument and open-air theater where Estonians sang for freedom.
▲ Estonian Open-Air Museum Authentic farm and village buildings preserved in a forested parkland.