Tallinn: Wikis


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High rise buildings looking over the Old Town


Coat of arms
Tallinn is located in Estonia
Coordinates: 59°26′14″N 24°44′43″E / 59.43722°N 24.74528°E / 59.43722; 24.74528
Country Flag of Estonia.svg Estonia
County Flag of et-Harju maakond.svg Harju County
First appeared on map 1154
 - Mayor Edgar Savisaar (Estonian Centre Party)
 - Total 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi)
Population (March 1, 2010[1])
 - Total 407,951
 Density 2,554.7/km2 (6,492.8/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Website www.tallinn.ee
Satellite image of Tallinn

Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) with a population of 407,951.[1] It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km (50 mi) south of Helsinki.



Historical names

In 1154 a town called Qlwn[2] or Qalaven (possible derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan)[3][4] was put on the world map of the Almoravid by cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi who described it as a small town like a large castle among the towns of Astlanda. It has been suggested that the Quwri in Astlanda may have denoted the predecessor town of today's Tallinn.[5][6]

The earliest names of Tallinn include Kolyvan (Russian: Колывань) known from East Slavic chronicles, the name possibly deriving from the Estonian mythical hero Kalev.[7][8]

Up to the 13th century the Scandinavians and Henry of Livonia in his chronicle called the town Lindanisa: Lyndanisse in Danish,[9][10][11] Lindanäs in Swedish, also mentioned as Ledenets in Old East Slavic. According to some theories the named derived from mythical Linda, the wife of Kalev and the mother of Kalevipoeg.[12] who in an Estonian legend carried rocks to her husband's grave that formed the Toompea hill.[13]
It has been also suggested that in the context the meaning of linda in the archaic Estonian language, that is similar to lidna in Votic, had the same meaning as linna or linn later on meaning a castle or town in English. According to the suggestion nisa would have had the same meaning as niemi (meaning peninsula in English) in an old Finnish form of the name Kesoniemi.[14]

Other than Kesoniemi known ancient historical names of Tallinn in Finnish include Rääveli.

After the Danish conquest in 1219 the town became known in the German, Swedish and Danish languages as Reval (Latin: Revalia). The name originated from (Latin) Revelia (Estonian) Revala or Rävala, the adjacent ancient name of the surrounding Estonian county.

Modern name

The old town

The origin of the name "Tallinn(a)" is certain to be Estonian, although the original meaning of the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from "Taani-linn(a)" (meaning "Danish-castle/town"; Latin: Castrum Danorum) after the Danes built the castle in place of the Estonian stronghold at Lindanisse. However, it could also have come from "tali-linna" ("winter-castle/town"), or "talu-linna" ("house/farmstead-castle/town"). The element -linna, like Germanic -burg and Slavic -grad / -gorod, originally meant "fortress" but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names.

The previously used official German name About this sound Reval (Russian: Ревель) was replaced after Estonia became independent in 1918–1920. At first both forms Tallinna and Tallinn were used.[15] The United States Board on Geographic Names adopted the form Tallinn between June 1923 and June 1927.[16] The form Tallinna appearing in modern times in Estonian denotes the genitive case of the name, as in Tallinna Reisisadam (Port of Tallinn).

Other variations of modern spellings include Tallinna in Finnish and Та́ллин in Russian.

A form Tallin deriving from the Romanization of Russian spelling of the name Та́ллин [17] was also used internationally during the era Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union.


The Danish flag falling from the sky in the 1219 Battle of Lyndanisse.
Seal of Tallinn, 1340

The first traces of human settlement found in Tallinn's city center by archeologists are about 5000 years old. The comb ceramic pottery found on the site dates to about 3000 BC and corded ware pottery c. 2500 BC.[18]

In 1050 the first fortress was built on Tallinn Toompea.[3]

As an important port for trade between Russia and Scandinavia, it became a target for the expansion of the Teutonic Knights and the Kingdom of Denmark during the period of Northern Crusades in the beginning of the 13th century when Christianity was forcibly imposed on the local population. Danish rule of Tallinn and Northern Estonia started in 1219.

Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

The historical Old Town
State Party  Estonia
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 822bis
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1997  (21st Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

In 1285 the city became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Tallinn along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346. Medieval Tallinn enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers.

A weather vane, the figure of an old warrior called Old Thomas, was put on top of the spire of the Tallinn's Town Hall in 1530 that became the symbol for the city.

With the start of the Protestant Reformation the German influence became even stronger as the city was converted to Lutheranism. In 1561 Tallinn politically became a dominion of Sweden.

During the Great Northern War, Tallinn along with Swedish Estonia and Livonia capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local self-government institutions (Magistracy of Reval and Chivalry of Estonia) retained their cultural and economical autonomy within Imperial Russia as the Duchy of Estonia. The Magistracy of Reval was abolished in 1889. The 19th century brought industrialization of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification measures became stronger.

Tallinn on an 1890s photochrom
The original Old Thomas (1530)

On 24 February 1918, the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in Tallinn, followed by Imperial German occupation and a war of independence with Russia. On 2 February 1920, the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed with Soviet Russia, wherein Russia acknowledged the independence of the Estonian Republic. Tallinn became the capital of an independent Estonia. After World War II started, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1940, and later occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941–44. After Nazi retreat in 1944, it was occupied by the USSR again. After annexation into the Soviet Union, Tallinn became the capital of the Estonian SSR.

During the 1980 Summer Olympics, the sailing, then known as yachting events were held at Pirita, north-east of central Tallinn. Many buildings, like the hotel "Olümpia", the new Main Post Office building, and the Regatta Center, were built for the Olympics.

In August 1991 an independent democratic Estonian state was re-established and a period of quick development to a modern European capital ensued. Tallinn became the capital of a de facto independent country once again on August 20, 1991.

Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts:

  • The Toompea (Domberg) or "Cathedral Hill", which was the seat of the central authority: first the Danish captains, then the komturs of the Teutonic Order, and Swedish and Russian governors. It was until 1877 a separate town (Dom zu Reval), the residence of the aristocracy; it is today the seat of the Estonian government and many embassies and residencies.
  • The Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens", was not administratively united with Cathedral Hill until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval trade on which it grew prosperous.
  • The Estonian town forms a crescent to the south of the Old Town, where the Estonians came to settle. It was not until the mid-19th century that ethnic Estonians replaced the local Baltic Germans as the majority amongst the residents of Tallinn.

Historically, the city has been attacked, sacked, razed and pillaged on numerous occasions. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the latter stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town (including Toompea) became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

At the end of the 15th century a new 159 m (521.65 ft) high Gothic spire was built for St. Olaf's Church. Between 1549 and 1625 it was the tallest church in the world. After several fires and following rebuilding, its overall height is now 123 m (403.54 ft).

Panorama of the central Town hall square (Raekoja plats)


Panorama of Tallinn's City Centre

Tallinn is situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in north-western Estonia.

The largest lake in Tallinn is Lake Ülemiste (covers 9.6 km²). It is the main source of the city's drinking water. Lake Harku is the second largest lake within the borders of Tallinn and its area is 1.6 km². Unlike many other large towns, the only significant river in Tallinn is Pirita River in Pirita(a city district counted as a suburb). The river valley is a protected area because of its natural beauty. Historically, the small Härjapea River flew from Lake Ülemiste through the town into the sea, but the river was diverted into sewage in 1930s and has since completely disappeared from the cityscape.

A limestone cliff runs through the city. It is exposed, for instance, at Toompea, Lasnamäe and Astangu. However, Toompea is not a part of the cliff, but a separate hill.

The highest point of Tallinn, at 64 meters above the sea level, is situated in Hiiu, Nõmme District, in the south-west of the city.

The length of the coastline is 46 kilometres. It comprises 3 bigger peninsulas: Kopli peninsula, Paljassaare peninsula and Kakumäe peninsula.

Climate data for Tallinn
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.2
Average high °C (°F) −2.9
Average low °C (°F) −8.2
Record low °C (°F) −31.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 45
Source: Pogoda.ru.net[19] 7.09.2007

Administrative districts

Districts of Tallinn.jpg
District Area Population
1. Haabersti 18.6 km² 35,000
2. Kesklinn 28.0 km² 34,985
3. Kristiine 9.4 km² 27,531
4. Lasnamäe 30.0 km² 108,644
5. Mustamäe 8.0 km² 62,219
6. Nõmme 28.0 km² 35,043
7. Pirita 18.7 km² 8,507
8. Põhja-Tallinn 17.3 km² 52,573

For local government purposes, Tallinn is subdivided into 8 administrative districts (Estonian: linnaosad, singular linnaosa). The district governments are city institutions that fulfill, in the territory of their district, the functions assigned to them by Tallinn legislation and statutes.

Each district government is managed by an Elder (Estonian: linnaosavanem). He or she is appointed by the City Government on the nomination of the Mayor and after having heard the opinion of the Administrative Councils. The function of the Administrative Councils is to recommend, to the City Government and Commissions of the City Council, how the districts should be administered.


Ethnic composition (2009)[20]
Nationality Percentage
Estonians 52.2%
Russians 38.6%
Ukrainians 3.8%
Belorussians 2.1%
Finns 0.6%
Others 2.7%

The registered population of Tallinn is 407,951 (as of 1 March 2010).[1]

According to Eurostat, in 2004 Tallinn had the largest number of non-EU nationals of all EU member states' capital cities.[21] As of 2009 around 22% of its population are not EU citizens.[20]

In addition to the native Estonian language (which is of the Finno-Ugric group, closely related to the Finnish language), Russian, Finnish and English are widely understood in Tallinn.

Population development
Year 1372 1772 1816 1834 1851 1881 1897 1925 1959 1989 1996 2000 2005 2006 2007
Population 3,250 6,954 12,000 15,300 24,000 45,900 58,800 119,800 283,071 478,974 427,500 400,378 401,694 399,108 400,911


In addition to longtime functions as seaport and capital city, Tallinn has seen development of an information technology sector in recent years; in its 13 December 2005, edition, The New York Times characterized Estonia as "a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea." One of Tallinn's sister cities is the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos, California. Skype is one of the best-known of several Tallinn IT start-ups, and a first venture capital firm was founded in 2005.[citation needed] Many are housed in the Soviet-era Institute of Cybernetics, which is said to be one of the seeds for Estonian adoption of computing technology. Despite this, the most important economic sectors of Tallinn are the light, textile, and food industry, as well as the service and government sector. There is a small fleet of ocean going-trawlers that operate out of Tallinn.[22]

Estonian Air has its headquarters in Tallinn.[23]


Institutions of higher education and science include:


Alexander Nevsky Cathedral built in 1894–1900.

Since independence, improving air and sea transport links with Western Europe and Estonia's accession to the European Union have made Tallinn easily accessible to tourists.

Estonia has made rapid economic progress since independence and this is reflected in local prices.[citation needed] Although not extortionate, neither are prices as cheap as in other former Eastern Bloc countries.

St. Catherine's Passage

The main attractions are in the two old towns (Lower Town and Toompea) which are both easily explored on foot. Eastern districts around Pirita and Kadriorg are also worth visiting and the Estonian Open Air Museum (Eesti Vabaõhumuuseum) in Rocca al Mare, west of the city, preserves aspects of Estonian rural culture and architecture.

Toompea – Upper Town

This area was once a separate town (Dom zu Reval), the residence of the Chivalry of Estonia, Roman Catholic bishops of Tallinn (until 1561) and Lutheran superintendents of Estonia, occupying an easily defensible site overlooking the surrounding districts. The major attractions are the walls and various bastions of Castrum Danorum, the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (built during the period of Russian Empire, the church was built on a site that formerly housed a statue of Martin Luther) and the Lutheran Cathedral (Toomkirik) and the old Estonian Royal Palace now the Parliament building.

All-Linn – Lower Town

Viru Gate, entrance to the Old Town. One of two remaining towers that were once part of a larger gate system built in the 14th century
Part of Lower Town city wall

This area is one of the best preserved old towns in Europe and the authorities are continuing its rehabilitation. Major sights include Raekoja plats (Town Hall square), the town walls and towers (notably "Fat Margaret" and "Kiek in de Kök") and St Olaf church tower (124 m).


Kadriorg Palace

This is 2 kilometres east of the centre and is served by buses and trams. The former palace of Peter the Great, built just after the Great Northern War, now houses (part of) the Art Museum of Estonia, presidential residence and the surrounding grounds include formal gardens and woodland. Restored 2001–2004 with a large donation from the Swedish Government

The new residence of the Art Museum of Estonia: KUMU (Kunstimuuseum, Art Museum) was built several years ago.


This coastal district is a further 2 kilometres north-east of Kadriorg. The marina was built for the Moscow Olympics of 1980, and boats can be hired on the Pirita River. Two kilometres inland are the Botanic Gardens and the Tallinn television tower.


The port of Tallinn, seen from the tower of the St. Olaf's Church

City transport

The city operates a system of bus (62 lines), tram (4 lines) and trolley-bus (8 lines) routes to all districts. A flat-fare system is used. Payment is made either by pre-purchase of tickets at street-side kiosks or by a purchase from the transport vehicle.


The Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is about four kilometres from Town Hall square (Raekoja plats). There is a local bus connection between the airport and the edge of the city centre (bus no. 2). The nearest railway station Ülemiste is only 1.5 km from the airport.

The construction of the new section of the airport began in 2007 and was finished in summer 2008.

There has been a helicopter service to and from Helsinki operated by Copterline and taking 18 minutes to cross the Gulf of Finland. The Copterline Tallinn terminal is located adjacent to Linnahall, five minutes from the city center. After a crash near Tallinn in August 2005, service was suspended but restarted in 2008 with a new fleet.[24] The operator cancelled it again in December 2008,[25] on grounds of unprofitability.

Rail and road

The Edelaraudtee railway company operates train services from Tallinn to Tartu, Valga, Türi, Viljandi, Tapa, Narva, Orava, and Pärnu. Buses are also available to all these and various other destinations in Estonia, as well as to Saint Petersburg in Russia and Riga in Latvia. The Go Rail company operates a daily international sleeper train service between Tallinn-Moscow.

Train station in Tallinn

Tallinn also has a commuter rail service running from Tallinn's main rail station in two main directions: east (Aegviidu) and to several western destinations (Pääsküla, Keila, Riisipere, Paldiski, Klooga and Kloogaranna). These are electrified lines and are used by the Elektriraudtee railroad company. The trains are a mixture of modernised older Soviet EMU's and newly built units. The first electrified train service in Tallinn was opened in 1924 from Tallinn to Pääsküla, a distance of 11.2 kilometres.

The Rail Baltica project, which will link Tallinn with Warsaw via Latvia and Lithuania, will connect Tallinn with the rest of the European rail network. A tunnel has been proposed between Tallinn and Helsinki, though it remains at a planning phase.

The Via Baltica motorway (part of European route E67 from Helsinki to Prague) connects Tallinn to the Lithuanian/Polish border through Latvia.

Frequent and affordable long-distance bus routes connect Tallinn with other parts of Estonia.


Tallink's ferries and TV Tower
See also: Ports of the Baltic Sea

Several ferry operators, Viking Line, Linda Line Express, Tallink and Eckerö Line, connect Tallinn to

The most popular passenger lines connect Tallinn to Helsinki (83 kilometres north of Tallinn) in approximately 90 minutes by fast ferries or 2–3.5 hours by cruiseferries.

Former ferry operators SuperSeaCat and "Nordic Jet Line" declared bankruptcy in October 2008.

International relations

Twin towns – sister cities

Tallinn participates in international town twinning schemes to foster good international relations. Partners include:

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c "Tallinna elanike arv" (in Estonian). tallinn.ee. 1 March 2009. http://www.tallinn.ee/g4258s9268. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  2. ^ Fasman, The Geographer's Library, pp.17
  3. ^ a b Ertl, Alan (2008). Toward an Understanding of Europe. Universal-Publishers. p. 381. ISBN 9781599429830. http://books.google.com/books?id=X9PGRaZt-zcC&pg=PA381. 
  4. ^ Birnbaum, Stephen (1992). Birnbaum's Eastern Europe. Harper Perennial. ISBN 9780062780195. http://books.google.com/books?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=%22who%20called%20the%20settlement%20Kolyvan%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wp. 
  5. ^ Fasman, Jon (2006). The Geographer's Library. Penguin. p. 17. ISBN 9780143036623. http://books.google.com/books?id=bE2oerrW_IkC&pg=PA17&dq. 
  6. ^ "A glance at the history and geology of Tallinn" by Jaak Nõlvak. In Wogogob 2004: Conference Materials
  7. ^ Terras, Victor (1990). Handbook of Russian Literature. Yale University Press. p. 68. ISBN 9780300048681. http://books.google.com/books?id=VjKh2gkCudAC&pg=PA68&dq. 
  8. ^ The Esthonian Review. University of California. http://books.google.com/books?id=-D9DAAAAIAAJ&q=%22the+old+Russian+name+for+Reval+has+been+retained+(Kolyvan+from+Kalev)%22&dq=%22the+old+Russian+name+for+Reval+has+been+retained+(Kolyvan+from+Kalev)%22&ei=LRUISeivAaX2MaLHpJwB&client=firefox-a&pgis=1. 
  9. ^ (Danish)In 1219 Valdemar II of Denmark, leading the Danish Fleet in connection with the Livonian Crusade, landed in an Estonian town of Lindanisse
  11. ^ (German) Reval's ältester Estnischer Name Lindanisse, Verhandlungen der gelehrten estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat. Band 3, Heft 1. Dorpat 1854, p. 46–47
  12. ^ Wieczynski, oseph (1976). The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History. Academic International Press. p. 230. ISBN 9780875690643. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&q=%22the%20Scandinavians%20called%20it%20Lindanisa%20after%20Linda%2C%20the%20mother%20of%20Kalev%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wp. 
  13. ^ Ransome, Arthur (1923). "Racundra's" First Cruise. B.W. Huebsc. http://books.google.com/books?q=%22The+old+giant+Kalev+died+here+at+Reval%2C+and+Linda+heaped+stone+after+stone+upon+his+grave+and+so+made+that+proud+hill%22&btnG=Search+Books. 
  14. ^ VIRKKUNEN, A. H. (1907) (in Finnish). ITÄMEREN SUOMALAISET SAKSALAISEN VALLOITUKSEN AIKANA. Suomen Muinaismuistoyhdistys. p. 91. http://books.google.com/books?id=OK4MAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA91. 
  15. ^ Singer, Nat A.; Steve Roman (2008). Tallinn In Your Pocket. In Your Pocket. p. 11. ISBN 0014062690. http://books.google.com/books?id=PZdt1EnuafsC&pg=PA13&dq. 
  16. ^ Decisions of the United States Geographic Board. The Board.. http://books.google.com/books?id=F40tAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA8-PA39&dq. 
  17. ^ Young, Jekaterina (1990). Russian at Your Fingertips. Routledge. p. 100. ISBN 0415029309. http://books.google.com/books?id=rve6qRtMPYUC&pg=RA1-PA100&dq. 
  18. ^ Alas, Askur. "The mystery of Tallinn's Central Square" (in Estonian). EE. http://www.ekspress.ee/2008/10/29/eesti-uudised/5040-vabaduse-platsi-mysteerium-kuhu-kadus-kaks-sajandit-ajalugu. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  19. ^ "Pogoda.ru.net" (in Russian). http://pogoda.ru.net/climate/26038.htm. Retrieved September 7, 2007. 
  20. ^ a b Statistical Yearbook of Tallinn 2008. Tallinn: Tallinn City Government. 2009. pp. 160. http://www.tallinn.ee/est/g2677s45500. 
  21. ^ Eurostat (2004). Regions: Statistical yearbook 2004. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. p. 115. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-AF-04-001/EN/KS-AF-04-001-EN.PDF. 
  22. ^ Reyktal AS fleet
  23. ^ "Contact - AS Estonian Air." Estonian Air. Retrieved on January 18, 2010.
  24. ^ Copterline web page
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ "Twin Towns - Graz Online - English Version". www.graz.at. http://www.graz.at/cms/beitrag/10045157/606819/. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  27. ^ "Groningen - Partner Cities". © 2008 Gemeente Groningen, Kreupelstraat 1,9712 HW Groningen. http://www.groningen.nl/functies/pagfunctie.cfm?parameter=1285. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  28. ^ "Malmö stads vänortssamarbete" (in Swedish). © 2004–2009 Malmö stad, 205 80 Malmö, Organisationsnummer: 212000-1124. http://www.malmo.se/faktaommalmopolitik/internationelltsamarbete/vanortssamarbetet.4.33aee30d103b8f15916800032874.html. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  29. ^ "Twin cities of Riga". Riga City Council. http://www.riga.lv/EN/Channels/Riga_Municipality/Twin_cities_of_Riga/default.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  30. ^ "Vilniuse sõpruslinnad" (in Estonian). © 2002–2009 Tallinn. http://www.tallinn.ee/est/g1471s41613. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Guard tower in the city wall
Guard tower in the city wall

Tallinn [1], the capital of Estonia, lies on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, only 70 km (43 mi) south of Helsinki. At the historical and medieval heart of the city is the hill of Toompea, covered in cobbled streets and filled with medieval houses and alleyways. The lower town spreads out from the foot of the hill, still protected by the remnants of a city wall. Around the city wall is a series of well-maintained green parks, great for strolling.

The city's old town has been astonishingly well preserved and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, it is now in better shape than ever, with the bigger roads converted into fashionable shopping streets reminiscent of Zürich or Geneva. Especially in summer, the Old Town is packed with tourists, with the traditional daytrippers from sister city Helsinki increasingly supplemented by Europeans taking advantage of cheap flights.

Alas, the new town sprawling all around is largely built in typical concrete Soviet style, now joined with glass-and-steel cubes celebrating the post-Soviet economic boom. The new centre of town is Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square) at the edge of the old town, and nearby is the giant matchbox of Hotel Viru, the former Intourist flagship and notorious den of Cold War intrigue (every room was tapped and monitored by the KGB!).

Old Europe meets New Globalisation
Old Europe meets New Globalisation
Tallinn is a historic city dating back to the medieval times and it was first recorded on a world map in 1154, although the first fortress was built on Toompea in 1050. In 1219, the city was conquered by Valdemar II of Denmark, but it was soon sold to the Hanseatic League in 1285. The city, known as Reval at the time, prospered as a trading town in the 14th century, and much of Tallinn's historic center was built at this time.

Tallinn then became a pawn in the geopolitical games of its big neighbours, passing into Swedish hands in 1561 and then to Russia under Peter the Great in 1710. By World War I and the ensuing brief Estonian independence (starting 1918) Tallinn's population had reached 150,000.

Estonia was eventually occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, only to be conquered by Nazi Germany (1941-44) and then retaken by the Soviets. In World War II, the city was quite extensively bombed by the Soviets, even though luckily the medieval town remains. The Soviet Union undertook a program of massive Slavic migration, and just over 40% of Tallinn's current inhabitants are Slavic (compared to an average of 28% for the entire country). On Aug 20, 1991, Estonia declared independence and Tallinn became its capital once again.

Today, Tallinn is a bustling, gleaming metropolis of 400,000 people. However, among the tall glassy buildings and corporate headquarters, Tallinn retains an inner charm seldom found anywhere else. Estonia considers itself a Northern European/Scandinavian country, with very close ties to Finland (ethnic, linguistic, and cultural), and visiting Tallinn you will find a mix of at least three architectures in this very visual city -- old Europe (the city walls and rustic buildings), Soviet brutalist (crumbling apartment blocks), and modern Europe (including McDonald's next to the city walls!).

  • Tourist Information Centre in Old Town, Niguliste 2 / Kullassepa 4, Phone: +372 645 7777, (Email: turismiinfo@tallinnlv.ee), [2]. In summer also look for the Tourist Information Tent located across the road from the centre.

Getting there

By catamaran or ferry

Sea is the easiest and most common way of reaching Tallinn. The most common ferry shuttle route is the short journey from Helsinki in Finland to Tallinn Port [4], which has upwards of 20 departures daily. Depending on the ferry you choose, journey time is anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 hours. Prices start from €16 one way, but exact pricing depends on operator, season (summer costs more), day of week (Fri and Sat cost more) and even time of departure (to Tallinn in the morning and back in the evening is popular and hence more expensive). Particularly popular are day cruises, which can go for as little as €19 return. All ferries except Linda Line's catamarans can also carry cars, from €25 one way. As of April 2009, the list of operators is:

  • Eckerö Line [5]. Operates only one ship, the aging 2000-passenger Nordlandia (3 hours one way). Often has the cheapest fares.
  • Linda Line [6] – Small catamarans Merilin and Karolin. The fastest option (1.5h) with frequent departures, but susceptible to bad weather. April-September only.
  • Tallink [7] – Up to 6 departures daily on large Star, Superstar, Superfast ferries (2h). They also operate the Baltic Princess (3.5 hours), a slick new 2800-passenger behemoth with cabins for easy overnight stays in Tallinn.
  • Viking Line [8] – Large Viking XPRS ferry (2.5h), two sailings daily.

Tallink also offers a year-round daily service from Stockholm (16h, overnight).

All ferries except Linda Line dock at Reisisadam port, to the north of the center. From here, there is a direct bus (No. 2) to both the city center and the airport. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely 15 minute walk, first east to Mere pst and then down to Viru Square. Linda Line uses the Linnahall terminal, a short distance to the west from Reisisadam, and is also within walking distance. The journey from the port to the city center is not all that impressive but don't be shocked - this isn't the real Tallinn! Starting from June 1, bus route no. 2 is extended to Port Linnahall, where Linda Line catamarans dock. Map of the extension is available online. [9] .

  • Traffic schedule for bus No. 2: [10]
  • Autobussijaam - Bus station; Lennujaam - Airport; A.Laikmaa - City Centre stop; Reisisadam - Passenger Port; Linnahall - Port Linnahall stop.

By plane

Tallinn Airport [11] (or "Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport") (IATA: TLL) (ICAO: EETN), about 5 km from the city center, is increasingly becoming an airport hub of the Baltics. Estonian Air [12] provides good quality services to a series of European cities, including London, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Riga, Vilnius, Kiev and Moscow. Other major airlines include Finnair with up to 7x/daily service to Helsinki, SAS to Copenhagen and Stockholm, and EasyJet to London. Detailed information is available at Tallinn Airport timetable [13].

A taxi to the city center should cost between 100 and 150 EEK (ca. 16 EEK = 1 €). The initial fee for taxis varies from 25-75 EEK and you shouldn´t necessarily get into the first taxi in the row.

Bus line 2 comes in front of the airport and goes to the city center in just a few minutes. The bus stop (A. Laikmaa) is located between Hotel Tallink and the Viru Center shopping mall/Bus terminal. The bus does not stop in the Bus Terminal itself. Be careful, because line no. 2 buses also go to the Mõigu area from the same stop, but today almost all buses have electronic displays. To get to the city centre, take the bus on route "2 Reisisadam". You can buy tickets at the R-Kiosks all round the city, in the Bus terminal or in the Bus itself.

By helicopter

Copterline's [14] on-again, off-again helicopter service from Helsinki has again been suspended until further notice.

By train

There are limited train domestic services [15] within the country and only one international service to Russia (Moscow by Go Rail [16]. Therefore, train is perhaps not the best option to get into Estonia. If you're visiting from Russia, consider a plane; if you're in Latvia or Lithuania, consider the bus; if you're in Poland, fly to a European hub and transfer to Tallinn, or catch a bus. A good opportunity is flying to Helsinki and then taking the ferry to Tallinn.

By bus

There are a series of fairly frequent bus routes that radiate out from Tallinn and serve other countries. These particularly go to Riga in Latvia, Vilnius in Lithuania, and Saint Petersburg in the Russian Federation (about €30 for an eight hour ride) as well as other parts of Estonia. Some buses have free wireless internet and bus attendants available. They are usually much better than the train if you live in one of Estonia's neighbouring countries. Increasingly, the buses are also servicing Russia, Germany and Poland.

Domestic bus routes can be found at Bussireisid.ee [21] and Peatus.ee [22].


Approximate distances to other cities:

A tram passes by the old city
A tram passes by the old city

The Old City is best navigated on foot, not that you have much choice. A network of buses, trams and trolleybuses covers the rest of the city. There is an abundance of relatively cheap taxis.

By public transport

Buses, trolleys and trams operate regularly between 6AM and 12AM. Make sure that you have a valid ticket when riding on public transportation. You can buy tickets from newsstands or from drivers.

For ticket prices see: [23]. The Tallinn Card [24] holders may use unlimited public transportation free.

Timetables in English can be found here: [25].

Map: [26] (pick Ühistransport)

One-day ticket (24h)- 55 EEK; Three-day ticket (72h) - 70 EEK; 10-day card - 125 EEK

By bus

The bus network covers the whole city from southeast to northwest. You can buy a one-time ticket from a newsstand for 13 EEK (buying from a driver is 20 EEK). Discount tickets are respectively 6 and 12 EEK and you must have your ticket punched after entering.

By tram

The tram network covers the city centre. There are 4 lines and they all meet at Viru Center, at stop Hobujaama. About 15 carriages have a lowered middle-section, which makes trams wheelchair-accessible. These departure times of those carriages are marked in the schedules with yellow background. Usually these vehicles serve the lines 1 and 4. Tickets also 13 or 20 EEK.

By trolleybus

All trolley lines have a direction to south or west. There are eight lines, 1-7 and 9. Trolley no. 8 was closed in 2000 and replaced with bus no. 22. The fleet is relatively new, though there are some old Škoda-s. Tickets 13 or 20 EEK.

By taxi

Tallinn has a huge number of different taxi companies and independent taxis. There is no standardised base price or price per km. Some tourist scam taxis have absurdly high prices, although as long as those prices are cited on the sticker in the window and on the dashboard, they are completely legal. Needless to say the locals never take those taxis, their sole modus operandi is to prey on ignorant tourists. Do as the locals do and order a taxi by phone.

Do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting at the harbour or train station. Same goes for any taxi that looks shabby or does not carry the logo of one of the reputable companies. Also be wary of taxis that look overly luxurious: large Mercedes, TV-screens inside, usually only a very small and vague logo on the door. Taxis hanging out in front of nightclubs often have the highest prices.

Reputable companies are:

  • Tallink [27], yellow Mercedes and Audi cars
  • Tulika [28], usually white Toyota Avensis
  • Taksopark [29], black Mercedes
  • Sõbra [30], "economy" taxis with a mixed car fleet, somewhat cheaper than the competition. Unlike many other economy taxis, the cars are clean and the drivers competent.
  • Marabu [31], mid-price company
  • Krooni [32] according to Estonian taxi rating website Taksod.net [33] the highest rated taxi company (Oct.2009).

By car

Like other large cities, Tallinn has its fair share of traffic jams and therefore is not for the faint-hearted. The road rules and driving style can be confusing to tourists. The one and two way roads change frequently and some signposts are not . That being said, traffic jams in Tallinn clear very quickly and if you are from a large city, they will seem like speed-humps rather than traffic jams.

The speed limit in Tallinn is 50 km/h, except some bigger streets like Laagna tee, Pärnu mnt., Paldiski mnt., Peterburi tee etc., which have the speed limit of 70 km/h.

There is an abundance of parking, but you have to pay for it. Ticket machines, and other methods for paying for parking, aren't always obvious. However, you might notice a lack of ticket machines, or other obvious methods for paying. The ticket machines are not posted clearly. Here are a few helpful tips to avoid being fined:

  1. Each rental car should come with a clock mock up on the dashboard that should be clearly visible from the outside of the car. Every car in Tallinn gets 15 minutes free parking in paid parking areas.The clock mock up is used to indicate the beginning of of the parking.For example if you park at 5:30, your plastic clock mock up should show 5:30. You can park for free until 5:45.
  2. Find a bright-orange vested parking inspector in order to determine what type of parking ticket you need.. Ask for a parking ticket, "Palun, üks parkimispilet" in Estonian. It will help to use a combination of sign language and a phrasebook if your Estonian is limited or non-existent. You may want to simply take the 24EEK parking ticket to be safe.
  3. Scratch the correct date and length of time you'll be parking. When you get your parking ticket, it will look more like a lottery ticket. The ticket is split into sections and they are written in both Estonian and English. Scratch off the date of usage. Then scratch off the time you wish the ticket to start. Make sure it is clearly visible next to the clock on the dashboard.
  4. Mobile phone payment [34] is very popular, but you will need a local mobile contract to use it.
  5. Good link with the prices and additional information regarding parking in Tallinn [35]

By bike

There are more than 160 kilometres of bicycle roads in Tallinn. The Eurovelo international route goes from West to East, giving you good change to ride comfortable through the city. Many bicycle roads are located in green parts of the city and are meant more for recreation, although suitable for commuting. If you do decide to use a bike to get around, you should probably stay on the side-walk - it is in theory illegal, but much safer than driving on roads and police do not usually pay attention to this. City Bike [36] organizes bicycle tours around Tallinn. It is also possible to rent bicycles (more than 100 bikes on rental) and tour independently.

On foot

The Old Town of Tallinn is very comfortably covered on foot.

Take the Tallinn Chill Out Walking Tour [37]. This tour is an off beat alternative to regular walking tours in the old town with musicians for guides and interesting commentary. It takes about two hours and visits places not normally frequented by tourists. It also covers the usual sights in the Old Town. The tour is usually conducted in English and starts at the Tallinn Traveler Information Tent (located on the square in front of the official Tallinn Tourist Information Center). The tour also includes a snack at the end. Although it must be noted that is not the only tour in Tallinn and some of the official alternatives are a lot more useful for young people.

If you have a mobile phone, mobile tours in English have recently become available [38]. Audio guides in several languages are available at no charge at the tourist centres. Bus tours (look for the red-colored buses) are also available at designated stops in the Old Town.

View from Toompea over the Old City and surrounding parks
View from Toompea over the Old City and surrounding parks
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Tallinn's prime attraction is the excellently preserved Medieval Old Town, built in the 15-17th centuries. This compact area is best explored on foot.

Start your walk from Viru Gate, the entrance to the street of the same name. This section of town is known as All-Linn or "Lower Town", as it's where the merchants and artisans of old Tallinn lived. Today, Viru is still Tallinn's trendiest shopping street and the entire All-Linn is the busiest (and most touristy) bit of Tallinn.

Head to Raekoja plats, the square in the heart of the Old City, ringed with cafes and restaurants.

  • Raekoda (Town Hall), [39]. Built in 1371, this heavy stone structure dominates the square. It now houses the Tallinn City Museum.

From the square, continue up the hill along Pikk St and Pikk jalg. The road soon rises steeply (there's a staircase if you need it) to rise up to the hill of Toompea. According to myth, the hill was built on top of the grave of legendary Estonian king Kalev, but more historically, it's solid limestone and the site of the Danish castle that founded the city in 1219. Toompea was the home of the Danish aristocracy and relations between the toffs and the plebs were often inflamed, which is why it's surrounded by thick walls and there's a gate tower (1380) guarding the entrance. On the other side, you'll find:

  • Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a classic onion-domed 19th-century Russian Orthodox church that has become a touristy symbol of the city, much to the annoyance of nationalist types who regard it as a symbol of oppression. It was almost demolished in 1924 during Estonia's first brief spell of independence, but the Soviets left it to moulder and it has been restored to its former glory.
  • Riigikogu [40]. Estonia's Parliament, pretty in pink.
  • St Mary's Cathedral (Toomkirik). The oldest church in Tallinn, originally built as a Catholic church in 1229 but renovated and expanded many times since then, becoming a Lutheran church in 1561.
  • Museum of Occupations, Toompea str. 8, [41], at the corner of Toompea St. and Kaarli Blvd features the life conditions under Soviet and Nazi regimes.
  • Walk around Toompea (it only takes a few minutes) and check out the viewpoints, some of which give great views over the city. There's also a cluster of amber (merevaik) shops around here.

Return to the Lower Town and poke around some more.

  • A section of the City Wall can be climbed from the corner of Suur-Kloostri and Väike-Kloostri, with entry into three towers possible. Quite frankly, the views from up on Toompea are better, and the spiral staircases are steep and somewhat claustrophobic. Admission 15 EEK.
  • Ex-KGB Headquarters, Pikk 61. Now the Interior Ministry and not generally open to the public, this is where the KGB detained and tortured suspected dissidents. A Soviet-era joke says that this was the tallest building in Estonia: even from the basement, you could see Siberia. Interrogations were indeed conducted in the basement and you can see even today how the windows were crudely bricked up with concrete to mute the sound.
  • Tallinn Zoo, Paldiski mnt. 145 (stop "Zoo"), [42]. This is an enormous area. Among its live exhibits you'll find "the world's best collections of mountain goats and sheep", which means there a lot of them! Tallinn Zoo defies the realities of a relatively modest town -- it features all the elephants and crocodiles a visitor would expect to see in a larger zoo, as well as a breathtaking maze of lake-size ponds that host birds in summertime.
  • Open Air Museum, Vabaõhumuuseumi str. 12 (stop "Rocca al Mare" or trolleybus 6 or 7 to stop "Zoo" and then a 15-minute walk), [43]. This museum includes 72 buildings of "Estonian vernacular architecture and village milieu" of the tsarist time of rule in a dark, dense forest. This museum provides a picture about the life and its hardship in the old times. A local folk-dancing group gives free performances here at 11am each Saturday and Sunday.[44]
  • Holy Birgitta Monastery, [45]. Situated in picturesque Pirita beach area, some 5 km (3 mi) from the city center, is a monastery of Scandinavian female saints, as well as a landmark of 16th century catacombs and ruins. It includes a guest house operated by the nuns.
  • Patarei (Battery) Prison, Kalaranna 2, +372 5046536, [46]. Wed-Sun noon-6PM, Jun-Sep only. This is the most recent and least-developed historical attraction in Tallinn. Originally decreed by tsar Nicholas I in 1820 as a fortress to protect the city from the sea-born attacks, it was turned into a notorious KGB prison in 1920. The prison ceased operations only in 2004. Entry 30 kr, guided tours from 70 kr, or pay 500 kr for a three-hour "new prisoner experience" culminating in a last meal with a glass of schnapps (but no execution).  edit
  • Tallinn TV Tower, Kloostrimetsa 58a (stop "Motoklubi"), [47] is a 314-metre high, free-standing structure with an observation deck on the 21st floor, which with its 170 metres, is the highest in Northern Europe. It offers spectacular views across Tallinn and, on a clear day, you can see Finland. Unfortunately since late 2007 this tower has been closed to the public because it does not conform to fire safety regulations.
  • Kalamaja, north west from Old City. The oldest suburb of Tallinn, dating back to the 14th century. It was probably inhabited by fishermen (Kalamaja means "Fish house") and mostly houses workers. The current wooden buildings are from the 19th century.
  • The Rottermann quarter is an industrial district between the City and the Tallinn Port. The buildings are from the 19th and 20th century, with motifs of Art Nouveau and Historicism.New and stylish apartment buildings with shopping centre have now been built there widely regarded as architectural masterpiece in Tallinn.
  • National Art Museum KUMU, Weizenbergi 37/Valge 1 (stop "Kumu"), [48]. Opened in February 2006, this is the largest government built building since the liberation and it is an almost 50,000 m² (538,196 ft²). The museum houses a cyclopic house, partly cut out of limestone rock.
  • Song Festival Grounds (stops "Oru", "Lasnamägi" or "Lauluväljak"), [49]. A huge Modernist structure where the All Estonian Song Festival, which is held every five years, features 34,000 singers and dancers in addition to a massive audience.
  • Pirita district includes forest parks, Botanic Gardens and Metsakalmistu (the last resting place of well-known Estonians).
  • Tallinn Botanical Gardens, [50].

Kadriorg is a beautiful and rich seaside resort district with mostly wooden buildings from the 18th to 20th centuries, as well as 20th century Art Deco and Functionalist structures. It also includes the baroque pearl of Estonia, the Kadriorg Palace and Garden.

  • The Kadriorg Palace, Weizenbergi 37, [51] is an imperial Russian summer residence built by Italian architect Niccolo Michetti for Tsar Peter the Great in 1718. It is situated in a 90 ha (222 acre) park in the eastern part of the city. The Tsar himself, a classic and mysterious Russian soul, preferred to stay in a modest house nearby. This event signified the beginning of Tallinn's fame as a summer resort for noble and rich Russians for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. Currently the palace is housing some paint collections and other art. A portion of the complex is now occupied by the Office of the President and not available to the public.
Caribbean feeling at the Baltic Sea
Caribbean feeling at the Baltic Sea
  • Pirita Marina and Beach was the yachting venue for Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. It features a large sandy beach and in the summer it's full of locals and tourists. Look for the massive Soviet architecture located 5 km (or 3 mi) from the centre. Walk or take the bus 1A, 8, 34A or 38.
  • Saku Suurhall, Rocca al Mare, [52]. Estonia's largest concert and exhibition space, the venue for the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest. The hall and its facilities include an excellent shopping centre that can easily be reached by trolleybus 6.


A flag system that regulates swimming. A green flag means it is safe swim, a yellow flag means you can swim, but it isn't recommended and a red flag means swimming is not advised, go in at your own risk.

  • Stroomi Beach is in North Tallinn and a popular place to visit. The water is clean and warm, and it is the gay friendliest beach of Tallinn.
  • Harku Lake is in West Tallinn it is a small lake that draws a lot of people. The lake gets dirtier by the year and swimming is not always recommended.
  • Kakumäe beach is one of the youngest beaches in Tallinn. The water is almost the purest of all Tallinn beaches. Bus 21 from Balti jaam (where the trains arrive), bus 21A from Väike-Õismäe. Stop Kakumäe tee. Walk back to the city until you see a sign that shows a swimming area.
  • Pikakari Beach is the newest in Tallinn. The water quality is fairly good and it gets deep quite soon when you go in. The huge waves coming from the ships break on shore for the joy of all swimmers.

Sporting & Relaxation

Tallinn offers [53] a lot sporting opportunities - from ATV rentals to ice skating.

Tourists from well-developed countries often opt for spa holidays in the city.

  • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF), [54]. November/December. The festival combines a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, student films and children/youth films.  edit
Estonian Song and Dance Celebration in 2009 Photo: Egon Tintse
Estonian Song and Dance Celebration in 2009 Photo: Egon Tintse
  • Tallinn Music Week, Tallinn, [55]. Spring. Showcase festival, aiming to stage the best and most outstanding Estonian talent on two nights in Tallinn's most vibrant live venues, as well as a networking event for the music industry professionals.  edit
  • Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar, [56]. April. In addition to Tallinn jazz concerts also take place in Tartu and Pärnu.  edit
  • Tallinn Old Town Days, Tallinn, [57]. May/June.  edit
  • The Estonian Song Celebration (In Estonian: Laulupidu), [58]. First held in 1869, takes place every five years. In 2009, 35,000 choral singers gathered to perform for an audience of 90,000 people. It is recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.   edit
  • Õllesummer Festival, (Tallinn), [59]. July. Approx 70,000 people attend the festival each year over the course of 4 days.  edit
  • Birgitta Festival, Tallinn, [60]. August. Music and theatre festival, held at the ruins of the historical Pirita (St. Bridget's) convent.  edit
  • Simpel Session, Tallinn, [61]. Summer/Winter. International skateboarding and BMX event.  edit
  • Tallinn University of Technology, [62].
  • Tallinn University, [63].
  • Estonian Academy of Arts, [64].
  • Estonian Business School, [65].
  • Baltic Film and Media School, [66].

For more information please visit SmartEstonia.ee [67].


Estonia has become a hive of activity in IT. CV Online - Töö [68] has a lot of advertisements for speakers of Estonian or English in this field. Jobs for non Estonian speakers are less common in other fields.

English language teachers are also in demand, and if you have a TEFL certificate or equivalent you ought to be able to find a job.


The main shopping hub is on the Viru väljak. There are big department stores like Viru Keskus, Foorum, Kaubamaja and Melon. For heavy-duty shopping check out the Kaubamaja [69] and Stockmann [70] department stores, off Vabaduse väljak. The big shopping centre on the Viru väljak is Viru Keskus.

The area around the port has also sprouted an ever-increasing array of mini markets, supermarkets and hypermarkets catering to the tax-free alcohol brigade. The biggest shopping centre in Tallinn near Zoo is Rocca al Mare kaubanduskeskus in the Õismäe. Take trolley 6 or 7, bus 21 or 22 or the free bus from Passenger Port to get there. There is also big Ülemiste kaubanduskeskus near the airport. Take bus 2 or 15 to get there.

For boutiques and souvenirs, your best choice is Viru street in the Old City and its side streets. There are many stalls selling traditional items like woolen pullovers, crystal and amber. Prepare to haggle.

Lately the Rotermann Quarter [71] has emerged as a downtown shopping area with clothing and department stores and restaurants. It's situated between Viru Keskus, Tallinn port and the Old Town.

  • Ilusalong Felicia, Pronksi 7/9, 6485433, [72]. 9.00-19.00. Beauty salon , Tallinn  edit
Restaurants and cafes on Raekoja plats
Restaurants and cafes on Raekoja plats
Vanaema Juures, a typical Old City cellar restaurant
Vanaema Juures, a typical Old City cellar restaurant

The Old City is packed with restaurants claiming to offer authentic Estonian food, particularly on and around Raekoja plats. Prices are steep by Estonian standards, but still much cheaper than neighbouring Helsinki, which explains why on weekends they're always packed with day tripping Finns.

  • Cafe EAT, Sauna 2, [73]. Dumplings with different fillings and really delicious doughnuts. This is probably the most reasonably priced cafe in the Old Town. 10 EEK for 100g of dumplings and 30 EEK for a 0.5L beer. It is very popular among local students and backpackers. You can also play free foosball, exchange books or play one from many board games at this cafe.  edit
  • Mauruse Pubi (Estonia pst 8), (Near the city library.), [74]. A great local pub, featuring cheap food with hearty portions.  edit
  • Basso, Pikk 13, +372 641 9312, [75]. 11-01. A bit old and uninspiring interior but with decent food with mid-range prices Tue-Thu 11AM-01AM, Fri-Sun 11AM-03AM.  edit
  • Controvento, Katriina Käik, [76]. A very nice little Italian restaurant stashed away in a small side passage in the Old Town. Offering genuinely excellent food at reasonable prices with good service. Its only 'flaw' is that its hard too get into and is most often completely full, even on off-season weeknights. You may want to call ahead and make a reservation. Pizzas and pasta dishes are around €6-7.  edit
  • Kompressor, Rataskaevu 3 (Just few minutes walk from Raekoja plats.). This place offers an assortment of huge and delicious pancakes. Good deal.  edit
  • Pirosmani, 1 Uliopilaste tee, +6393246. 10 - 24. Georgian food as it is done in Georgia. It's well out of the way, but that's a good thing. Almost everyone at this restaurant is local (although the menu has English), and tourists are not in sight, so the food here is good and great value. Try the Khinkali or the Harcho.  edit
  • Troika, Raekoja plats 15, [77]. One of the better options in the area, Troika offers generous portions of Russian food. In the warm summer months, people dine on the terrace. In winter, they head down to the warm cellar. To fill up, get a misnamed "small" zakuski appetizer plate. It's big enough for three (61 kr), then dip your pelmeni dumplings (49 kr) in smetana or the other sauces provided and wash it down with a shot of vodka (20+ kr).  edit
  • Viikingite küla (Viking village), Saula küla, Harjumaa, [78]. The "Vikings' Village" is just a few kilometers from the city, next to Pirita river and Tallinn-Tartu highway, but in a deep forest is a scenic place with a tavern, accommodation and its own small lake, from where everyone can catch their own fish and let it cooked. Foods are traditional Estonian and prices very reasonable. (59.221022 N,25.034065 E) edit
  • Aed (Embassy of Pure Food), 8 Rataskaevu., 626 9088. 12-22. Excellent organic/biodynamic/Demeter food. Beautiful interior, very charming and romantic, wonderful service. Lower-than-tourist prices.  edit
  • Bar Fish and Wine, Sakala 20, +372 6623013, [79]. The name pretty much says it. This is a modern cocktail bar and restaurant serving vodka and caviar, fish dishes and a wide range of wines. Mon-Fri 8AM-11PM, Sat 11AM-11PM.  edit
  • Bocca, Olevimägi 9, + 372 611 7290, [80]. 12-24. . This is one of the trendiest restaurants in tallinn features Italian cuisine by Nicola Tanda. It also has a nice bar to enjoy cocktails and snacks. This is one of the busiest restaurants in Tallinn. Reservations are highly recommended. 20€.  edit
  • Chedi (chedi), Olevimägi 11 (next to restaurant Bocca, in old town), +3726461676, [81]. 12-24. Modern Asian kitchen supervised by Alan Yau from Hakasan, London. The modern and warm interior make you feel like you're in Singapore. Reservations recommended. 20€.  edit
  • Korsaar, Dunkri 5, +372 666 8064, [82]. The name means "Pirate" in Estonian. The place is a Pirate themed restaurant where the interior design feels like stepping back in time or onto a Pirate ship. Gourmet food, and great fun and costumed staff. Mon-Fri 6PM-12AM, Sat 12PM-12AM.  edit
  • Kultus, Vabaduse Väljak, [83] Restaurant Kultus has opened at the place where Cafe Moskva used to be. During Estonia's first independence before WWII, a restaurant called Kultus used to exist at this very spot. The current version tries to recreate the glamor of the former. Upmarket and rather expensive. Has a large terrace with views to the Independence Monument.
  • Kuldse Notsu Kõrts, Dunkri 8, +37 2'' 6286567, [84]. This is the most interesting menu of the huge, tourist-friendly "traditional" Estonian restaurants surrounding the main square. Try the Piglet beer or vodka and fresh pumpkin apertif with your blood sausage or vegetarian mushroom and leek dish. The traditional desserts are also worth a try. Mon-Sun noon to midnight. €20-30 including drinks and desert.  edit
  • Olde Hansa, [85]. The ruling king among Tallinn's restaurants with some of them trying to copy its style. The place is simply medieval, not just in terms of food but also in the sense of performance - no electricity, no music except live and authentic, no modern inventions. The house special is bear meat "marinated in rare spices and cooked over a fire in honour of Waldemar II, the brave King of Denmark" costing no less than €40. Try one of the extraordinary beers, such as the honey beer.  edit
  • Ö (restaurant o), mere pst. 6E (close to old town, near harbour), +3726616150, [86]. 12-24. . This was voted the Best Restaurant in Estonia in 2007. Award winning Chef Roman Zastserinski has made a seasonal menu using only Estonian ingrdients. Good view of old town. 20€.
  • Vanaema Juures, Rataskaevu 10/12, 626 90 80. Translates as "Grandma's Place", which gives you an idea of the warm welcome you can expect here. Friendly and attentive staff are happy to explain the traditional dishes. Excellent value for money. It's a tiny place, so reservations are essential in the high season. Try the meatballs or the pork with sauerkraut and don't miss the kama porridge for dessert.  edit
  • Musi, Niguliste 6, 6443100, [87]. 17-24. This is primarily a wine bar, but it has light meals as well. From the outside it looks like a cosy oasis, and you might think the place is one little rustic room on display but there is more tables behind the wine bar. Welcoming staff and a good selection of wine by the glass. Glass of wine ca. 60 EEK. Small dishes from 80 EEK. A good place for a relaxed meal, or with your friends before or after dinner.  edit
  • TEXAS Honky Tonk & Cantina (TEXAS), 43, Pikk Str, +3726311755, [88]. 12-24. No-one does Americana quite so well in Tallinn. The menu is mostly Tex-Mex (the burritos are superb), and the atmosphere lively and yippee-ayo-ta-yay fun.  edit


Tallinn's nightlife is all out of proportion to the city's small size and extensive enough to be notorious, although the days of armed mafiosos are (mostly) over and these days any drunken fights tend to involve British stag parties. Exercise some caution in choosing your venue, as some strip clubs and regular clubs make their money by fleecing tourists who come in for a drink. In local places, beers cost €2-3.

  • DM Baar, Nunne 4, [89]. A small and somewhat dingy Old Town bar entirely dedicated to Depeche Mode, it even has all-Depeche Mode playlist and video screens displaying Depeche Mode clips and concerts.
  • Hell Hunt, Pikk 39, [90]. "The Gentle Wolf" is a comfortable and homey pub in the Old Town and offers a wide selection of beers (including two of their own brews) and some pretty decent food.
  • Beer House, Dunkri 5, [91]. Plenty of beer types to choose from in this large authentically styled and decorated Bavarian Beer hall, including 5 of their own beers made on site. Try the Medovar Honey beer.
  • Kuku klubi, Vabaduse väljak 8, [92]. Founded 1935 by local art community and claiming to have had the best accessible cuisine in whole former USSR since 1958 during the Russian occupation.
  • Levist Väljas, Olevimägi 12. A cozy alternative bar in Old Town with a small dance floor.  edit
  • Stereo Lounge, Harju 6, [93]. A trendy but surprisingly inexpensive bar and cafe with a futuristic all-white interior.
  • Club von Überlingen, Madara 22A, +372 6608805, [94]. Trendy nightclub with frequent guest DJs.  edit
  • Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina, Pikk 43, +3726311755, [95]. 12-24. Texas-style cantina is a casual place to knock back a Corona or a Bud, or even to try out the frozen margaritas churning in the electric mixer behind the bar. More serious drinkers can try the ‘tequila flights’ - 3 or 5 shots of different tequilas to give you a sampling, not that you’re likely to remember which was which next time around.  edit
  • Von Krahli, [96]. An avant-garde theatre/bar.
  • Bonbon, Mere Pst 6e, [97]. Until recently members only, now open to all who can get past the strict "face control". Over the top decor (chandeliers, leather seats) and prices to match.
  • Hollywood, Vana-Posti 8, [98]. Enormous club with five floors and three bars. A better version of its sister Club, Heaven Studios in Timisoara
  • Parlament, Tartu mnt 17, [99]. Bubblegum pop and live events.
  • Terrarium, Sadama 6/8, [100]. In the port area, plays middle of the road pop and disco. Popular with the young crowd and reasonably priced.
  • Prive, Harju 6, [101]. Tallinn's flashiest nightspot, run by legendary warehouse party organizers Vibe, often has foreign DJs playing. Expensive and has strict face control, so dress up.
  • Tallinn Backpackers, Olevimägi 11, 6440298 (), [102]. One of the nicest hostels in Tallinn. It includes a sauna. from 180 EEK (€12).  edit
  • Hostel Vana Tom, Väike-Karja 1, +372 6313 252 (), [103]. The staff is friendly, there is kitchen and a common room. Wi-fi available in all rooms.  edit
  • City bike hostel, 33 Uus (Located comfortably in corner of oldtown.), +372 5111 819 (), [104]. Great small hostel, particularly for cyclists. Includes guided city tours by bicycle and bicycle rental.  edit
  • Hotel Shnelli, Toompuiestee 37, Tallin 10133 Estonia, +372 631 0100, [105]. The hotel is near the medieval Old Town of Tallinn, close to Snelli Park and the Baltic Railway Station and within walking distance of Toompea. Airport: 5 km; Bus station: 4 km; Railway station: nearby; Passenger Port: 700 m; The Old Town: 50 m; City centre: 800 m. Double room €38 a night which includes the VAT. There are discounted rates for guests arriving after midnight - 500 EEK.
  • OldHouse, Uus 22, Tallinn, 10123, +372 6411464, [106] offers inespensive, but tiny, rooms at €31 for a single and €44 for a twin, but the real secret is their decadently comfortable and pleasant holiday apartments. Starting at €71 a night (total!) for a two-person apartment with full kitchen and bathroom. A four-person apartment with bubble bath is €115. For €230 a night you can geta sprawling six-person luxury model with sauna and wi-fi. They're all beautifully and individually decorated and furnished, and located within the Old Town. During the off-season you can get discounts of up to 40% off for a four-night stay.
  • Olevi Residents, Olevimagi 4, Tallinn, 10123, +372 6 277 650, [107]. Really nice and comfortable hotel in the middle of the Old Town. Free internet access. It has a very good hotel restaurant. The building is from the 14th century [108] and has lots of character. From the hotel, you're no more than a ten minute walk to all the best shopping, restaurants and bars in the Old City. Double rooms are €72 a night which includes the VAT. It also comes with a full complimentary breakfast buffet.
  • Uniquestay Hotel [109]. This is a good choice, as its reasonably priced and within a short distance of the Old Town. Prices vary, but expect to pay about €75 per night. The hotel also has partner hotels in other Baltic capitals.

Apartment rental is also a viable mid-range option.

  • Apartments, Aasa 2, +372 5045444, [110]. Brokers offer a wide selection of budget-priced apartments in Tallinn. Prices from €29 a night.
  • City Style Apartments, Lai 30,Gonsiori 3, Narva road 16, Paldiski road 3,Rotermanni 5, +372 53 038 522, [111]. Family owned apartment rental company in Tallinn with apartments starting from 32EUR.The free transfer makes the check in process very swift.
  • Merchants House Hotel, Dunkri 4/6, tel +372 6977 500, [112]. The hotel is located only yards from the Town Hall Square and has 31 rooms and six suites. The hotel is a small complex of 14th and 16th century buildings with rooms all looking in on the central courtyard. The historic buildings contrasts nicely with the luxurious designer interiors of the rooms.
  • Sokos Hotel Viru, Viru väljak 4, tel. +372-6809300, [113]. This is a large matchbox of a building and, for a long time, it was the tallest modern building in Tallinn. It's very centrally located at the edge of the Old Town. In the Soviet days, when Tallinn was a hotbed of espionage, Viru was the city's premier hotel and every single room was famously bugged by the KGB. Today it's just a very good Finnish-run business hotel, and even the gray facade has been whitewashed.
  • Townhouse Apartments [114] There are 11 comfortable apartments for rent. Apartments are located on one of the main streets of Tallinn's Old Town. Excellent view to the Old Town of Tallinn.
  • Radisson Blu Tallinn Rävala pst. 3, tel +372 6823000 [115]. Located in the heart of the city, this modern hotel opened in 2000. The Radisson SAS Tallinn offers 280 rooms, all equipped with television, telephone, minibar, air conditioning, trouser press, minisafe, refrigerator, internet connection, bathrobes (in superior rooms and suites), hair dryer and coffee and tea making facilities. The rooms are decorated in Scandinavian, Italian, Maritime and Oriental styles. Free broadband.
  • Reval Hotel Olümpia Liivalaia 33, tel +372 6315333 [116]. Located in the center of the city. This hotel has 390 air-conditioned rooms and bars and restaurants. It also has a conference centre, health club with swimming pool and saunas. Free wireless internet throughout the hotel.
  • Swissôtel Tallinn Tornimäe 3, 10145 Tallinn, tel +372 624 0000 [117]. This contemporary hotel is set in Tallinn's tallest building within the banking district, 800 meters from the Old Town. The hotel offers 238 elegantly appointed guest rooms. The hotel houses two restaurants and a deli for guests on the run; Amrita SPA & Wellness delivers private fitness and relaxation facilities, including an indoor pool, a gym, a sauna and a steam room. Views over Tallinn and Old town are spectacular from 30th floor Horisont Bar.

The official Estonian tourism website provides an extensive list of options for accommodation in Tallinn.

Stay safe

Overall, Tallinn is a safe town if you don't go out of your way to court trouble. Look out for pickpockets in crowded areas, especially on public transport and at Viru Street.

The main danger for tourists in Tallinn is getting ripped off at "tourist traps". All erotic clubs or "gentlemen clubs" at Viru Street and in the surrounding streets are tourist traps with exorbitant prices and all kind of hidden "fees". Credit card skimming and other similar scams are common practice in those establishments. Stay away, unless you particularly enjoy losing your months pay in a few hours.

Neighbourhoods of Kopli and Lasnamäe are probably best avoided after dark, although both are a lot less unsafe than the "bad neighborhoods" in Western-European or North-American cities.

  • Netherlands, Rahukohtu 4-I [119]
  • Germany, Toom-Kuninga 11 [120]
  • Great Britain, Wismari 6 [121]
  • Belgium, Rataskaevu 2-9 [123]
  • Soomaa National Park is about 100 miles south of Tallinn and is known for its swamps and bogs (Soomaa means "land of bogs" in Estonian). Surprisingly, swimming is popular and is said to rejuvenate the skin.
  • Lahemaa National Park is about 50km east of Tallinn and is a place to find some nice forests, seaside and swamps and bogs. One of the most suggested place to go there is Viru raba (Viru bog), that has 5km foottrack and watching tower. You can also start and finish in same location if You go to tower and back or take a round trip back to start around the bog. There are good maps and information tables at the track.
  • Kaberneeme village is about 40km east of Tallinn on the coast. The village has 2km long beach area with pine tree forests edging right up to the shore.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Compound of Taani and linn (Danish town).


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  1. The capital of Estonia.

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Estonian Wikipedia has an article on:

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  1. Tallinn


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