As I mentioned in the Finland post, Tallinn was more of a last minute trip so we really didn’t know what to expect when we got there. Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is 80 km (50 mi) south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. From the 13th century until 1918 (and briefly during the Nazi occupation of Estonia from 1941 to 1944), the city was known as Reval. Tallinn's Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tallinn is often dubbed as the Silicon Valley of Europe because it has the highest number of startups per person in Europe and is a birthplace of many international companies including Skype.
After the ferry ride from Helsinki, we took an Uber to our Airbnb. We were pleasantly surprised that Uber was available in Tallinn and that it was only about 3 euros to get to the Airbnb from the ferry port. Inside the apartment was OK but the exterior and common areas were pretty ghetto. There was a lot of exposed wiring and old wood with a moldy smell. Our first night we didn’t want to do much so we just went to bed.
Our first day in Tallinn we went to explore Old Town. Diem researched some restaurants and we went to Vaike Rataskaevu 16 for lunch close to the center of Old Town. Lunch was really delicious and Diem talked about extending our time in Tallinn so that we could stay and eat our way through the city. We decided to walk around Old Town Tallinn before trying to extend our trip. There are a number of sites to see in Old Town and they are all pretty close together. We saw the Town Hall Square, St. Catherine’s Passage, St. Olav’s Church and Tower, Cathedral of Saint Mary, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (Russian Orthodox), Kohtuosa and Patkuli viewpoints, Toompea Castle, Tallinn Wall and Cannon Tower, Freedom Square, the Opera House, St. Nicholas’ Church, and the Master’s Courtyard. The Old Town is really spectacular and I especially liked the viewpoints and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, although everything was beautiful. We had a really nice, sunny day so we decided to go up the Tallinn Cathedral Tower to get a panoramic view of the city. It was only 2 euro each to go up and it was the high point of the city so the view was pretty spectacular. We took some pictures and went back down. Nearby was a gelato place so we stopped to get a couple of scoops and headed back to the main square of Old Town. We had dinner at Pegasus in the main square. Again, we had a really great meal that was pretty affordable. Even though the food was amazing our first day, we had pretty much seen all the sights of Old Town Tallinn so we agreed that we didn’t need to extend our time in Tallinn.
On our second day, we had lunch at Must Puudel, a restaurant that was recommended by a friend. The interior was pretty cool but my duck was overcooked and rubbery. After lunch we took an Uber to the Botanic Garden and TV Tower outside of town. The Botanic Garden wasn’t too impressive from the outside so we decided not to go in. The TV Tower had some interesting exhibits on the first two floors about the history of the Tower and a widely known account of a handful of radio operators who in 1991 risked their lives to protect the free media of the reborn Republic of Estonia. The radio operators placed a matchbox between the elevator door and frame in such a manner that the elevator wouldn't work, forcing Soviet troops to climb every one of approximately 1,000 tower steps. The operators were regarded as heroes and their rebellious act help symbolize the Estonia Independence movement. Since we went up the Cathedral Tower yesterday we decided not to go up to the top of the TV Tower. Unfortunately,TV Tower was far enough outside the city that we couldn’t get an Uber back and had to take the bus. We picked up our laundry that we dropped off earlier in the day and then had dinner. We went to a pizza place in Old Town, Gelsomino, that was decent but not that good after we got rejected from our first choice, Trattoria Del Gallo Nero.
Our last day, I went for a run in the morning to the Maarjamäe Memorial that we passed yesterday on our way back from the TV Tower. The memorial was erected to those who had fallen defending the Soviet Union. The memorial is made up of both architectural and landscaping elements. At its center stands a 35-metre obelisk, but the ensemble also includes the graves of the crews of the Avtroil and Spartak minesweepers, dolomite-lined walls, grass-covered slopes, the pathways between them and a bronze sculpture of a flock of birds. The memorial was interesting from the highway but up close it looks pretty abandoned and in disrepair. After that we just packed up and then took ferry ride back to Helsinki.
See the full gallery of our time in Tallinn here: Tallinn, Estonia.