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.
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.
▲ Tallinn City Museum Interesting overview of Tallinn's past, from medieval times into the 20th century.
▲ 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 (open only in summer) 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.
▲ Estonian Open-Air Museum Authentic farm and village buildings preserved in a forested parkland.