Tallinn Best Places to Visit
We watched in wonder as our cruise ship, the Seabourn Quest slowly pulled into the Tallinn Port. In front of us was a large modern city with skyscrapers standing next to one of the finest medieval Old Towns in Northern Europe.
Tallinn is the capitol city of Estonia and its 13th century city walls, ancient citadel, and medieval watch towers on Toompea Hill are so well preserved. Dating back to the 12th century, this Baltic country has battled the Danes, Germans, Swedes and Russians for its independence. The Estonians have been pummeled, displaced throughout the centuries, and since 1991, they have regained their independence.
Many claim this “Singing Nation” sang its way to freedom. A quarter of Estonia, 300,00 people gathered in 1988 at the Tallinn’s Song Festival grounds to sing national songs and listen to leaders make calls for independence. This was a defining moment known as the “Singing Revolution.” The people of Estonia love to sing–everyone we have met here is part of a singing group, a choir, or a festival choir.
We met our local guide, Külli Kõiv to see Tallinn’s highlights. Here is a list of top things to do & see in this UNESCO World Heritage town!
WHAT TO DO
Pirita, the Song Festival Grounds:
The “Clam shell” outdoor stage (built in 1869), has space for 22,000 on stage and 250,000 in the audience. Interesting feature of Estonian concerts: the audience sings along with the choirs or quartets or solo artists!
Kumu: Art Museum of Estonia:
We saw the exterior architecture which is fascinating. Heard the interior is just as interesting and of course the art collection.
This President’s Palace, complete with Baroque gardens. And stop to see Peter the Great’s Summer Palace. Both near the Rumu Art Museum.
Fascinating! The architecture is astounding, designed by same architects who built the Sydney Opera House in Australia. The floor of the museum is modeled after the ocean floor, the 2nd floor is how high the level of water is adjacent to land, and the third floor is all about sea planes. We were able to tour The Lembit submarine, one of the few submarines to have survived intact and holds the world record for the longest consecutive period of time spent in the water – 75 years!
A visit to the Old Town is a must! There’s a castle, medieval rooftops, winding cobbled streets, passageways, and the impressive Nevsky onion-domed Cathedral. There are a couple locations where you can have panoramic views of city’s towers, city wall, and the lower town below.
Walk down the “Long Leg” to the Lower Town:
You’ll pass the Kiek in de Kok Tower and the Maiden’s Towers. Lower Town is a maze of narrow 13th century passageways. Don’t miss Pharmacy Lane & Catherine’s Passage where you’ll find handicraft workshops.
This is a historical treat! The Oldest Pharmacy in Europe, formally recorded in 1422, but believed to have been operating much longer.
This lane is where the artisans work and live and cook. We visited wood shops, wool and textile shops, glass shops, leather and paper shops. Beautiful craftsmanship–patterns of fabric and designs of yarn representative of the regions of the country where they have come from. Artisans take great pride in their work. Much needlework, wool vests/hats, stockings, quilts, ceramics. I asked the carpenter when he makes these amazing items from Birch. He smiled and replied, “We have long winters.”
Visit one of the many gates in Tallinn. The Viru Gate is one of the town’s best well known landmarks, and you can enter into the Old Town on one of the most famous streets in town, the Viru street leading to Town Hall Square. This busy street is lined with restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops.
Artist Galleries in 14th Century Loewenschede Tower:
There are several artists who have set up their studios and galleries in one of the Old City Towers. Visit this link to find the location and hours.
Stop by a local bakery and pick up some hearty, filling bread or treats.
As we left Tallinn, we saw a placard that read, “The Times We Had” – a saying Estonians might say about their country, heritage, and lives today. They have been through so much. And yet, here they are, dusting themselves off and composing a new life with reverence and respect for those who have come before them. It is inspiring!
Global Adventuress would like to thank the Tallinn Tourism Office for hosting our tour.
We also would thank Travelpro for the carry-on spinner suitcase, a favorite of travel crews and avid travelers, as well as DK Travel for the Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania travel guide.
Special thanks to artist Diane Stone for the watercolor paintings of the scenes and skylines from this Scandinavian & Baltic Cruise. More of her artwork can be found at: www.DianeStoneArt.com
Seabourn Seabourn is a fabulous luxury cruise line that cruises through the Baltic and Scandinavia regions, as well as worldwide.
TRAVEL PRODUCTS & SERVICES
Tallinn Tourism Office: To help you plan your travels to Tallinn and the surrounding area, visit this site.
DK Travel: Excellent travel guides with helpful maps, inspiring images, and lots of great information to help you plan your travels.
TravelPro: High quality luggage, preferred by flight crews, frequent travelers, and the Global Adventuress Team.