Prime 5 causes to go to Tallinn

1: The town hall square

Summer craft market on Rathausplatz (Dreamstime)
Summer craft market on Rathausplatz (Dreamstime)

Started as a medieval marketplace, Tallinn Town Hall Square has been the heart of the city for over eight centuries. Home to some of the city’s most impressive Gothic architecture, it is a popular hangout and ideal place to orientate yourself upon arrival.

Find the circular stone in the center of the square marked with a compass rose. From here you can see the five most famous towers in the city.

In summer the square is filled with street cafes. In winter it turns into one of the most beautiful in Europe Christmas Market. Don’t forget to explore the narrow streets that emanate from it. Here you will find cafes, restaurants, shops and tiny forgotten corners that look like they haven’t changed in centuries.

2: The food

A hearty Estonian meal in Tallinn (Dreamstime)
Hearty Estonian Food in Tallinn (Dreamstime)

Hearty and filling, Estonian food is based on Russian and German classics, but adds a distinctly local flavor. Pork and cheese are just as much a part of it as fish, which is caught fresh every day in the Baltic Sea.

Themed restaurants on the old town hall square offer a culinary experience straight from the Middle Ages with waiters in historical costumes and musicians playing melodies from the time.

While it’s fun, restaurateurs should head down the narrow streets that open up from the plaza or area around the university instead Wheel arch.

Self-catering is also an option. Start your day like a local, with a tablespoon or two of kama flour stirred into your yogurt. A ground mixture of roasted barley, rye, oats and peas has long been a stomach-filling favorite with Estonians who roll it in butter or lard for a quick snack. A teaspoon of local honey and berries, fresh from local forests, makes it much tastier.

3: The parks

Kadriorg Palace (Dreamtime)
Kadriorg Palace (Dreamtime)

From the tiny Green Market on Lai Street to the sprawling grounds of Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn is full Green spaces where locals and visitors can relax, take time out and enjoy their coffee.

Lindamäe Park on the banks of an old Swedish bastion is famous for its circle of old linden trees. Tornide Square offers excellent views of the church spiers that dominate the city’s skyline. Hirvepark, nestled in the moat surrounding the city bastion, was used as an arboretum for exotic plants and more recently as a public meeting place during the “Singing Revolution” of the 1980s that led to the liberation from the Soviet Union.

Also save a lot of time for the Kadriorg Palace parks. The park landscape was commissioned by Peter the Great in honor of his wife Catherine I and is one of the most impressive in Europe. A mixture of wild oak groves and meadows and carefully tended gardens in Italian, French and Dutch styles reveals a different mood and color to each corner.

The gardens are designed in intricate patterns, including a cross-shaped garden made up of 12 precious foreign trees. In the center is the castle, an imposing structure that is considered to be one of the most beautiful baroque buildings in the world.

4: The museums

Kadriorg Palace (Dreamtime)
Estonian History Museum (Dreamtime)

There are countless museums in Tallinn, each one telling a different aspect of the city’s history.

the Estonian Open Air Museum has collected venerable buildings from all over the country and placed them in a forest on the outskirts of the city. the Tallinn City Museum and the Estonian History Museum present key moments from the history of Estonia in appealing, interactive displays. the Museum of Professions reflects the hardships of half a century under Soviet rule.

Check out some of the city’s fancier museums too. the Lennusadam Maritime Museum is housed in old seaplane hangers, which were the first concrete shell structures ever built. the Viru Hotel KGB Museum describes the secret operations that were carried out at this KGB hangout, including forging foreign currency and setting honey traps for ignorant foreign dignitaries. the Nuku doll museum houses some of the most challenging and terrifying dolls you will ever come across.

Finally it goes to KUMU museum, one of the largest art museums in Northern Europe. It is one of five branches of the Art Museum of Estonia and looks a lot like a super villain’s den. Every year the museum organizes KUMU ÖÖ, a mini-festival in which the museums stay open all night and the guests dance until sunrise.

5: Nature on your doorstep

Walk through the moors in Lahemaa National Park (Dreamstime)
Walk through the moors in Lahemaa National Park (Dreamstime)

Estonia is a remarkably compact country, and Tallinn is a small city, so nature is never far away.

Located on the north coast of Estonia, it is close to picturesque fishing villages and wild beaches where ancient pine forests grow near the coast. The islands of Naissaar, Prangli and Aegna can be easily reached by boat from the port of Tallinn. Be careful on Naissaar Island as it was used as a firing range and duds are still occasionally found.

For something completely different, go to Lahemaa, Estonia’s largest national park. Viru, one of the largest moors in Europe, is just an hour east of Tallinn. A boardwalk allows you to go around it, but why not try your hand at bogshoeing, a popular Estonian pastime that is often combined with a place to pick berries.

British Airways has just launched a new direct route from London Heathrow to Tallinn, which flies twice a week. For more information, see ba.com.

Main image: Sunrise over Tallinn (Dreamstime)

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