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Estonia's Capital City


Old Town Tallinn

Old Town Tallinn

Kerry Kubilius, licensed to About.com
Tallinn is one of the most-loved Baltic cities among those who travel to the capitals of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia often. Why? Because Tallinn, though its tourism industry flourishes, maintains a particular character that can be felt almost immediately. Its old town harbors an authentic medieval feel, even while internet is widely available in modern establishments appointed with clean lines, chrome, and glass. And whether you love nightlife, sightseeing, food, or something else, Tallinn presents all with personality.

Tallinn’s Location

Tallinn occupies a location on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. It is situated in the northern part of the country and is northernmost of the Baltic capital cities. Due to its nearness to Finland and ease of access by ferry, many travelers visit Tallinn by way of Helsinki, which is under 50 miles away.

Old Town Tallinn

Tallinn’s old town is its uncontested main attraction, and it is easy to wander into this former fortified town and spend hours appreciating squares lined with looming historic buildings, the steeples of churches reaching into the air, and the cozy courtyards containing artists’ studios, cafes, and small shops. Old Town Tallinn is also a hub of activity throughout the year. Whether it’s the Tallinn Christmas market, Vastlapaev or the summertime crowds, the historic core is busy from morning well into the night.

Tallinn History

Tallinn has been known by various names through the centuries, and guides may tell you that its current name, Tallinn means “Danish town” and refers to the castle the Danes built there in the 13th century. However, the origins of the name are disputed. Another name, which appears as a relic of Tallinn’s heritage in historic documents, in the names of modern cafes and restaurants, or as cultural references, is Reval. This German name for Tallinn was replaced when Estonia declared independence in 1918.

Tallinn has been a part of various other empires and countries throughout its history, and historic ruling territories include Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Russia. Though independence was declared in 1918, Estonia was absorbed by the Soviet Union after WWII.

Estonia achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and is now a technologically savvy city with a well-developed tourist infrastructure.

Restaurants and Bars in Tallinn

Tallinn’s restaurant and bar scene offers anything from cozy medieval pub atmospheres serving pork and sauerkraut to slick establishments with sophisticated menus and exceptional service. Venues in the main square or close to it command the highest prices for value, but it is possible to get an affordable, tasty meal just by conducting little research. All menu prices are in euros and tipping, for tourists, is expected to be at least 10%.

Shopping in Tallinn

Tallinn’s old town overflows with small shops selling mass-produced souvenirs, folk crafts, handmade chocolates, and artisan jewelry. Tallinn’s shopping opportunities don’t stop there, with several completely modern shopping centers within walking distance of the old town with stores that represent major European brands.

Sightseeing in Tallinn

One of the best ways to see Tallinn is through a tour, which can help you become acclimated and oriented to the city. If you have only a short period there, guided tours are also great for making sure you don’t miss any of the high points of the city. If you prefer to go it alone, the Tourist Information Center or your hotel will have maps that identify major points of interest. The Upper Town and the Lower Town of the historic center differ somewhat in their architectural styles and history, so if you concentrate your efforts on old Tallinn, it’s important to try to see both areas.

Other sights re located outside of Old Town Tallinn, such as Kadriorg Palace from the time of Peter the Great, located in Kadriorg, 2 km outside the of the city center

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