Tallinn is a Baltic fairy tale

By |2018-01-04T21:53:43+00:00February 3rd, 2016|Destination, Estonia, Europe, Fairytales, UNESCO sites, Urban|26 Comments

Tallinn is a Baltic fairytale

Last summer was all about fairytale and medieval destinations. I went to the magical Lake Bled and the enchanted Lake Bohinj in Slovenia, to Game of Thrones locations in Dubrovnik and the historic town of Kotor in Montenegro.

When I came to Tallinn, I wasn’t at all prepared for the intense medieval atmosphere. Entering the Old Town was like entering a fairytale; a small kingdom in the Baltics with tall thick city walls, narrow alleyways, and locals in traditional attire. I literally felt like I was back in the 13th century.

THE GOTHIC TOWN SQUARE

After checking in at my charming Russian hotel, I went for a stroll down the cobblestone streets of the Old Town. Right around the corner from my hotel, I found the town square which is the heart of Tallinn. The tall, Gothic town hall in the middle is surrounded by traditional colorful houses and a number of restaurants, cafés and bars.

Tallinn, Estonia

This is the only intact Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. It was built in 1402.

Tallinn, Estonia

From June to August, you can climb up the 64-metre tower for a view over the Old Town

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

TALLINN’S MEDIEVAL RESTAURANTS

The medieval buildings and houses certainly added to the fairytale feel, but so did some of the restaurants. One of the more well-known places is Olde Hansa, located right next to the town hall. The restaurant comes with medieval menu cards and atmosphere, but prices are hefty. Personally, I preferred Kuldse Notsu Kõrts restaurant, which offers traditional Estonian meals, all prepared with fresh products from local farms.

I loved visiting local restaurants where the staff was dressed in traditional clothes and the interior was medieval. It turned my dinner into a whole experience! And even though it came across as touristy, I wasn’t put off by it, because the food was great and people were nice. The dressed-out locals, the themed restaurants and the colorful old houses brought a certain energy and charm to this Baltic city.

Tallinn, Estonia

Menu card from Olde Hansa

Tallinn, Estonia

Dressed-out locals in the Old Town

FAIRYTALE CITY WALLS AND TOWERS

My favorite thing about Tallinn was the city walls. They reminded me of the walls in Dubrovnik and I liked that you can walk on them and get a view of the town. Aside from the fact that the walls made Tallinn’s Old Town a UNESCO site in 1997, they are almost 800 years old and still in fairly good shape.

A few tips: You’ll get the best view from Viru gate, Kiek in de Kok and Hellemann tower. And another thing, the walls are split into sections so it’s not possible to walk around the entire city. You’ll need to pay an entrance fee of €3 every time you enter a new tower and walking passage.

Tallinn, Estonia

Viru gate – the entrance to the Old Town

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Hellemann tower

Tallinn, Estonia

You can walk on these walking passages

Tallinn, Estonia

CHURCHES & CASTLES

Tallinn’s Old Town is divided into two parts: the lower part (the center) and the upper part (Toompea Hill). If you want a panoramic view of the Old Town, its towers, steeples, and picturesque red-tiled roofs without climbing the city walls, you should go to Toompea.

Aside from the viewpoint, the upper part has another stunning feature → the beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Do you remember I showed you a Russian cathedral in Riga? Both that one and the Alexander Nevsky cathedral was built during the Russian oppression and they stand out from the rest of the city.

Tallinn, Estonia

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built in 1894

Tallinn, Estonia

St. Nicolas’ Church

Tallinn, Estonia

Maiden’s Tower

Tallinn, Estonia

City Wall

Tallinn, Estonia

View from Toompea Hill

Tallinn, Estonia

Impressive architecture. I love it!

STUNNING SUNSETS & HAPPY ENDINGS

Tallinn is one of those cities that are best viewed from above. Aside from Toompea Hill, the walls and St. Olav’s church, I went on a balloon trip to enjoy the view – and the sunset of course. You know me, I can’t visit a place without watching the sunset  I’m sure it would have been beautiful from one of the other viewpoints too, but really guys… Would you look at the view I had from the air! ↓

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

They say that on a clear day, you can see all the way to Finland

Tallinn, Estonia

Can you imagine how Tallinn looks in the winter with a frosty blue sky and all covered in snow?

Tallinn, Estonia

So what do you think? Would you visit Tallinn?

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The ultimate fairytale destination, including medieval buildings, cobblestone streets, city walls, towers and castles.

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26 Comments

  1. Rafael Edgardo Ulloa Varela February 3, 2016 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    breathtaking.

  2. Wade February 3, 2016 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Fairytale is an apt description! Such a lovely place to explore; I too would have been drawn to the city walls and would have loved to take a stroll overlooking the city. Thanks for sharing!

    • Miriam February 3, 2016 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      My pleasure, Wade. Tallinn is a great destination if you like that fairytale feel, and it’s small enough to explore on foot. A pretty good combination if you ask me 🙂

  3. Stephen Garone February 3, 2016 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    I love Tallinn! It’s an incredibly beautiful, well-preserved city. But don’t forget to go outside the city walls, too. There are a few excellent museums right outside, as well as the opera house, and a short tram ride takes you to the beautiful Kadriorg Park. I dined at Kuldse Notsu Kõrts, too! By far my favorite restaurant in Tallinn.

    • Miriam February 3, 2016 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      True! Although the Old Town was the highlight of my Tallinn trip, there’s much to see outside the walls, too. Next time, I’ll visit the Patarei prison. Have you been there?

  4. Marissa February 4, 2016 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Your pictures are gorgeous (as always)! I’ve never heard of this before, but I’m adding it to my bucket list now.

    • Miriam February 5, 2016 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      Aw, thanks Marissa! Tallinn is a great destination and is easily combined with a trip to Riga or Helsinki, too.

  5. Jenny February 8, 2016 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    It does look like a fairy tale! I still have never seen an old European castle, definitely on my bucket list!

    • Miriam February 8, 2016 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Oh, you have something in store! 🙂 There’s just something about the castles in Europe. I hope to visit many more in Central Europe this summer.

  6. Steve February 10, 2016 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Some say fairytale is over used when describing Tallinn, but it is so true. The old town is beautiful. We loved our stay there during our Baltic Trip. We managed to pull ourselves away from the scenic old town for a few days and did some bike tours which were well worth it, visiting the regal Kardroirg district and the hipster Kalamaja district. Even found time to go visit the lush forests of Lahemma. A fantastic part of the world.

    • Miriam February 10, 2016 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Definitely is! I really liked Kardroirg and Kalamaja, too, but the Old Town was my favorite. Would love to visit during winter – I think it changes the whole atmosphere.

  7. solosophie February 12, 2016 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    Sunset looked absolutely incredible: I love all of the angles your photos are taken at too 🙂

    • Miriam February 12, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Sophie 🙂 That’s really sweet of you to say!

  8. eden February 13, 2016 at 2:17 am - Reply

    I love the fairy tale and medieval theme of this place, it looks so magical! I would love to visit here someday!

    • Miriam February 15, 2016 at 10:21 am - Reply

      Right? I loved it, too 🙂

  9. Audrey March 3, 2016 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    I loved Olde Hansa! I was only in Tallinn for a day, but I ended up eating there twice. They had a really tasty rose pudding that I’m still thinking about years later. 🙂

    • Miriam March 4, 2016 at 9:34 am - Reply

      Yeah, it’s a super fun place with a great vibe! I was introduced to Olde Hansa through your blog actually, so thank you 😉

  10. Jesper, The Biveros Effect March 6, 2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Tallinn really is a beautiful city, really looking forward to my next visit next month. 🙂

    • Miriam March 6, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      Oh, you’re visiting next month? I bet it’s extra charming in the winter.

  11. Kati June 10, 2016 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Hi!
    I promise you. It looks amazing in winter. There are fairylights everywere and a big christmas tree in the Raekoja Hill. Also there is a big bazaar in the december. Where they sell gingerbread and almonds with caramel (best thing ever). How I know? I’m an Estonian. 🙂

    Sorry if there are any grammar mistakes.

    • Miriam June 11, 2016 at 6:04 pm - Reply

      Sounds magical! I’d love to see Tallinn covered in snow 🙂

  12. Agness of Fit Travelling August 10, 2017 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Wow! Tallinn is truly picturesque and amazing! Stunning pictures, Miriam! When’s the best time of the year to visit it?

    • Miriam August 12, 2017 at 11:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much, Agness! I’d say every season is a great time to visit Tallinn. I imagine it’s extra magical in the winter 🙂

  13. Kumar Rahul August 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Good day Miriam,

    What a great photo enriched post you have published here. I especially loved those sunset photos.
    I wonder what kind of camera you are using for these shots?
    Again than you very much for sharing such a beautiful pictures.

    • Miriam August 15, 2017 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much, Kumar! I use a Canon EOS 750D, but you can take just as sharp photos with a mirror-less camera. Olympus is a great option – and one I’m thinking about switching too because it’s lighter and not so bulky.

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