• Town Hall Square, Tallinn, Estonia
    Town Hall Square


Tallinn is a rewarding detour for those who want to spice up their Scandinavian travels with a Baltic twist. Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, its Old Town has been scrubbed into a pristine Old World theme park — a fascinating package of pleasing towers, ramparts, facades, 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  nation that won its freedom just a generation ago. Estonian pride is in the air.

At a Glance

Central Tallinn

▲▲▲ Tallinn's Old Town Well-preserved medieval center with cobblestoned lanes, gabled houses, historic churches, and turreted city walls.

▲▲ Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Accessible look at the Russian Orthodox faith, with a lavish interior.

▲▲ Balti Jaam Market and Telliskivi Creative City One of Nordic Europe's best market scenes next to a high-energy hipster quarter of galleries, shops, and more.

▲▲ Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fascinating exhibition telling the story of the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Estonia.

Museum of Estonian History High-tech exhibits within the Great Guild Hall explaining Estonia's engaging national narrative.

Tallinn City Life Museum Interesting overview of Tallinn's past, from medieval times into the 20th century.

Hotel Viru Legendary Soviet-era tourist hotel, with hints of the KGB and a panoramic rooftop bar.

Rotermann Quarter Rejuvenated industrial zone east of the Old Town, with shopping, restaurants, and old-meets-new architecture.

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 displayed in a vast 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.

Pirita Neighborhood on the city's outskirts, with a popular beach, famous forest cemetery, and TV tower observation deck.

Estonian Open-Air Museum Authentic farm and village buildings preserved in a forested parkland.