Got a day to get to know Tallinn? If so, you’ll have time to see the star attractions of Estonia’s 1,000-year-old capital and delve a little deeper into its history, culture, and off-the-radar sights. Here are our ideas for making the most of 24 hours in this lively city.
Things to do in Tallinn
Welcome to Tallinn
Separated from Helsinki by only a thin strip of Baltic Sea, Tallinn stands proudly on the south coast of the Gulf of Finland. As the capital of Estonia, it plays a major role as a political and economic power that has been the breeding ground for countless startups, giving it the nickname "The Silicon Valley of Europe." However, the historic past of the city is a major draw: Founded in 1248, Tallinn Old Town is a UNESCO-listed wonder, surrounded by a sprawling Soviet new town. Walking tours take visitors around the stunning medieval buildings, such as Toompea Castle and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral; through Kadriorg Park; and to the imperial Russian palace at its heart. Enjoy an evening by walking on the cobbled streets and joining a beer tasting in Olde Hansa for a taste of the Hanseatic times, a flavor of old Estonia. The Pirita district's botanic gardens, marina, and beach are also worthy of attention, as well as the Pirita Convent ruins. Those going further than just a shore excursion can go 31 miles (50 kilometers) east to Lahemaa National Park, a fascinating mix of forest and swamp. Only a four-hour drive away, the Latvian capital of Riga also awaits with its mass of fine Art Nouveau buildings.
Top 10 attractions in Tallinn
Guidebook descriptions of Tallinn’s Old Town (Vanalinn) often use the phrase ‘chocolate box’ or ‘jewel box’ because the area is a delight that is filled with treasures....
The Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is situated on the hill of Toompea, opposite the Estonian parliament buildings and Toompea Castle. The cathedral is as popular with visiting tourists as it is with people of Orthodox faith. It is dedicated to the Russian hero St. Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod, who saw off German invaders at the 13th-century Battle of the Ice at Lake Peipus. The cathedral, which is Tallinn’s largest, was built in a classical Russian Revival style by Mikhail Preobrazhensky between 1894 and 1900 – a period when Estonia was part of the tsarist Russian Empire – and strategically placed on the former site of a statue of Martin Luther. As a result, the cathedral is the subject of controversy with some Estonian nationalists calling for its destruction. The cathedral features the onion domes, typical of Russian Orthodox churches, and the interior is filled with mosaics, icons, paintings and ornate gold leaf decorations....
The Dome Church (Toomkirik), also known as the Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin, sits on Toompea Hill, to which it lent its name. Despite the name, the church does not feature a dome: the name is in fact a corruption of the Estonian word toom, which means cathedral....
Kadriorg Park is a 173-acre area that was built in 1718 under the orders of Russian tsar Peter I, with additional sections having been designed and created over the past few centuries. Within the park you will find Kadriorg Palace, which was originally built as a summer home for the tsar and his family and now serves as the presidential palace and a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia. While the palace was being built, Peter I, also known as Peter the Great, lived in a cottage on the property, which is now a museum. The rooms are furnished with items from that era, and some of his personal belongings are on display as well. The area near the flower beds surrounding Swan Pond, as well as the promenade leading from the pond to the palace, are popular routes for a stroll through the park. There is also a newly added Japanese garden designed with plants that were chosen to fit with Estonia's colder climate....
The Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Lauluvӓljak) was the site of one of the most stirring events in Estonian history. Here, in September of 1988, 300,000 people (more than a quarter of the country’s population) filled the grounds for the Song of Estonia festival. Together they sang patriotic hymns and demanded independence in what later became known as the Singing Revolution. Two years later, half a million people came to the festival grounds for the Estonian Song Festival, which was the last major event before Estonia finally gained its independence. The open-air amphitheater has an official capacity of around 100,000 and hosts the Estonian Song Festival every five years in July, as well as regular rock concerts. The festival was established in 1869, along with the Estonian National Awakening, a period when the country was still under the rule of the Russian Empire. The festival is one of the world’s largest amateur choral events....
Built between 1402 and 1404, Tallinn's Gothic Tallinn Town Hall (Tallinna Raekoda) building is the only Gothic town hall building in northern Europe that remains intact, sitting as the centerpiece of Tallinn's main square. The structure was originally a meeting place for rulers, though today it is mostly used for hosting visiting presidents or kings, as well as for concerts....
Toompea Castle, situated on a crest on the edge of the Old Town, was built in 1219 by Danish invaders on the site of an ancient wooden fortress, dating from sometime in the ninth century. The castle served as a seat of succession of foreign powers for seven centuries and since 1922 have housed the Riigikogu, Estonia’s parliament....
In 1718, Peter the Great, the Russian tsar at the time, ordered a palace to be built in the then-newly designed Kadriorg Park. The palace, designed by Italian architect Niccolo Michetti, was originally built to be the summer home for Peter I, Catherine I and their family. The baroque palace is surrounded by manicured gardens, houses a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia called the Kadriorg Art Museum and today serves as the presidential palace. The museum has hundreds of 16th- to 20th-century paintings by Western and Russian artists on display. Several interesting side buildings surround the palace, including a restored kitchen building that is now the Mikkel Museum. Peter the Great's cottage is also on the property and is now a museum where visitors can see some of his belongings and what the rooms might have looked like at the time. The palace governor’s house is now home to the Kastellaanimaja Gallery and the Eduard Vilde House Museum....
Pirita is a section of Tallinn located just a few miles west of Old Town and city center. Dating back to at least the 15th century when a convent was founded here, the area hugs the coastline, where many people enjoy spending time on the beaches. Pirita Beach is the largest and most popular stretch of sand, running for 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) and including a good view of Old Town and the ships in the Gulf of Finland. There are ball courts, playgrounds, lockers, chaise lounges and water sport equipment rentals here, and during summer, up to 30,000 people visit the beach each day....
Top activities in Tallinn
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the top things to do in Tallinn?
What are the top activities in Tallinn?
Top activities in Tallinn include:
Discover the top things to do in Tallinn.
- Tallinn Shore Excursion: City Sightseeing Tallinn Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Tallinn Bike Tour from Tallinn Cruise Port
- Tallinn 2.5-Hour Bicycle Sightseeing Tour
- City Sightseeing Tallinn Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
- City tour Craft Brewery visit and tasting of craft beers ciders and cheeses
Discover the top things to do in Tallinn.
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Things to do near Tallinn
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