Hip Things To Do in Tallinn For The Cool Kids (I meant you, adult you)
Located in the Baltics, Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia – a fascinating young country with rich culture and interesting things to offer its visitors. Sure, there are tons of things to do in Tallinn but Estonia is not that big of a country and if you have enough time, you can even take tons of day trips outside the capital.
I know I said that Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an underrated capital of Europe but I think I’d apply the same idea about Tallinn but in a different way. The thing is, Estonia is steadily growing on the technology side making the country one of the leading and fast growing expert on this subject. In just a short amount of time the country has been independent, there’s no denying that the Estonians are eager to make a statement about them in the world. Heck, they can even vote online with their super high-speed internet! How freaking cool is that?
On a side note, I think it is safe to say that perhaps Estonia is a Digital Nomad’s Dream. It is affordable, there are things to do, and as well the fast wifi.
Apart from the country’s enthusiasm when it comes to technology and anything geeky, Estonia is also the least religious country in the world with most of its citizen live their lives without even stepping into a church. So, despite the fact that there are tons of Orthodox church around the city of Tallinn and all over Estonia, it is mostly just for decorations nowadays.
So, why should you visit Tallinn, Estonia (apart from its super high-speed internet)?
First of all, Estonia has three major cities: Tallinn, Tartu, and Pärnu – all beautiful on its own but we’ll only tackle Tallinn for this post.
To start with, Tallinn’s old town is a well-preserved medieval city making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in the old town alone you’ll get the opportunity to inhale its medieval atmosphere and enjoy a fantastic time checking out some of the Baltics crown jewels.
When is the best time to visit Tallinn?
Any time of the year I would say! That said, it is always up to you when you want to come. I do suggest visiting in Spring or in Autumn though since, as it always is, Summer is peak season and you’ll most likely see more crowd than usual. Winter is great since the city gets covered in snow and it looks beautiful and magical. Plus, the old town itself is small that you don’t even need to spend so much time outside to see the beauty of Tallinn.
I do suggest to dress appropriately for winter when you plan to visit Estonia in cold season so that you can enjoy the town without freezing your ass off. Also, if you’re interested, you can also check out this list of awesome places to visit during winter in Europe!
Things to do in Tallinn, Estonia
Table of Contents
- 1 Join the free walking tour in Tallinn
- 2 Roam around the Old Town of Tallinn
- 3 Enjoy Estonian cuisine in a Medieval Setting
- 4 Seek out the best Pelmeenid in town!
- 5 Pub crawl around the Old Town of Tallinn
- 6 I dare you to drink with an Estonian
- 7 Don’t miss out on Elk soup at III Draakon
- 8 Check out what the hipsters are up to over at Telliskivi
- 9 Take a day tour to Helsinki from Tallinn
- 10 #YOURTHOUGHTSMATTER
- 11 RELATED POST:
Join the free walking tour in Tallinn
If you’ve seen my other city and travel guides on this website, then you’re probably aware that I love joining free walking tours and truthfully, I can’t recommend Tallinn’s free walking tour enough.
Not only you’ll get to learn a bit about the city and the country itself (history and culture), but you’re also supporting a group of people who are passionate about sharing their knowledge – for free! I know that these walking tours are tip-based so in the end you anyways pay a little bit but they are not necessarily expecting that. However, it is a nice gesture to give a little bit of something in exchange for the little knowledge they share.
Also, in Tallinn, the free walking tour is guided by young locals. The idea behind it is to give an alternative to the younger citizen to do something meaningful rather than wasting their precious time doing something that does not contribute to the society. So, in the end, we all win in this.
Roam around the Old Town of Tallinn
Tallinn’s old town is small yet charming. In fact, most tourists who pass by this city are mostly spending their time in the old town which I don’t exactly recommend because Tallinn as a capital have tons to offer outside the old medieval town.
However, if you’re short of time then, of course, roaming around the old town will be a treat for your eyes. Often times, there are many activities happening to entertain its visitors, and since it is small, you’ll get to watch and experience most of them by just simply walking around.
What to see in Tallinn which you can hunt down:
- St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
- Danish King’s Garden
- Bastion Passages
- St Olaf’s Church
- Toompea Hill
Photo by Jesús Gorriti | CC 2.0
Enjoy Estonian cuisine in a Medieval Setting
Traditional Estonian cuisine to begin with revolves around the changing of seasons and with that said, just like its sister country Finland, they rely heavily on the summer produce and preserving them for the winter when nothing comes out from the ground. However, meat (pork) and dairy products are also two of the main factors in an Estonian diet thus you’ll most likely find tons of pork dishes on restaurant menus.
What to expect in a medieval Estonian restaurant?
Tons of pork, potatoes, and preserves! Sorry vegetarians, some countries do love their meat! But, don’t worry though because let’s face the fact that we now live in a modern world where food import and export is reliable – you’ll likely find restaurants that sell vegetarian options.
For the meat eaters, however, you’re in for a treat! Because not only you get to experience eating in a tavern lit with candlelight (no actual electricity here guys!) and servers dressed in medieval clothing, but you also get to eat some of the weirdest food you’ll ever have in your life (that perhaps neither the Estonians these days would eat). It’s medieval, come on, the cuisine has evolved since the dawn of times.
You must be wondering now, was it good?
Well, I was semi-drunk before the meal arrived with all those aperitif shots, but as far as I remembered, it was delicious, and the experience was excellent. The only thing I remember didn’t stick well was the fermented fish with cottage cheese – that was extra weird for me but I tried it and for the sake of actually having tried it I now know that I won’t be ordering it when I see it in a menu.
My ultimate favorite Medieval themed Estonian restaurant in Tallinn is Olde Hansa. So, this should be high up on your things to do in Tallinn list! Because it sure is a must.
Seek out the best Pelmeenid in town!
Pelmeenid is a dumpling quite similar to ravioli of Italy but instead of eating it with some pasta sauce – you eat it with sour cream! It is delicious, and it is one of my favorite Estonian dishes. My partner, who is Estonian by the way, totally agrees on this.
However, Pelmeenid does not originate from Estonia, and I think most Baltic countries have their version of Pelmeenid. In fact, Pelmeenid (for Estonians) originated from Russia and was adopted by most Baltic countries that were once part of USSR. Nevertheless, each country now produces their very own Pelmenis which are delicious on its own.
Why should you try this Estonian dish?
I always say this on every guide I write, why shouldn’t you try it? At one point you’ll have to eat in the day, you’re there and might as well grab that opportunity to try something new! Also, make sure they serve it with sour cream which they normally do but just in case it doesn’t come with it.
If you’re wondering where to get this awesomeness, I suggest Restaurant Troika – it is a little bit on the pricier side for Estonian standard but it was excellent, and I loved it.
Pub crawl around the Old Town of Tallinn
For years now, Tallinn has been the backpacker’s haven with tons of free-spirited travelers either passing by or staying put for a season and tons of these awesome people are looking for a good time, so it is just normal that hostels hosts pub crawls around Tallinn. Joining a pub crawl will lead you to meet some of the coolest people in the world who are on the same page as you, and if you’re traveling alone, it is always fun to meet like-minded jolly fellows like yourself.
That said, there are tons of eccentric bars around Tallinn’s old town, and it is worth a try to join these pub crawls if your hostel arranges it. Typically they are for free but you buy your drinks (obviously), and it is a lot of fun!
However, if you’re staying in hotels, then you can ask for brochures or pub crawl schedules. If not, you’re in luck because most pubs in Tallinn are not far from each other and you can start your very own pub crawl! Just make sure you’re responsible and drink wisely. Estonian beers and strong spirits will hit you right on the spot to take it easy and remember, don’t be that stupid tourist.
I dare you to drink with an Estonian
I’ve tried but failed miserably. There’s no denying that this part of the world is the place where most heavy drinkers reside. Don’t mistake them for alcoholics though because there’s a huge difference. Estonians, like the Finns, love their alcohol and surprisingly handles it perfectly well. I’ve seen tons of other nationalities dare Estonians on a drinking fest only to see them defeated and the last man standing is still holding a vodka on the one hand with seemingly no signs of drunkness – yes, I’m talking to you Estonians.
If you’re brave enough, then I must say now that Estonians are awesome people and though they’re not exactly the friendliest type, it doesn’t hurt to mingle with the locals. Therefore few drinks with them shouldn’t hurt – unless you get shitfaced then boy, the pain will follow you like a waggling tail the next day.
Don’t miss out on Elk soup at III Draakon
To be quite frank, Tallinn food scene, in general, is getting really interesting every time I visit but if there is one thing I often recommend to people visiting Tallinn besides going to a medieval restaurant is to go to III Draakon to try their elk soup. Why? Not only because it is awesome, but also the ladies working there are awesome! I won’t spare you the surprise, but often they’ll make you sing for your spoon, and I thought that was funny.
The moment I started singing they waved their hand and gave me the spoon. Terrible singer much? Also, the soup cost only 2€, and they also sell several varieties of savory pies. Plus, you get to fish your pickles from a bucket. I thought it was cool and most of my friends who has been at III Draakon agrees.
Photo by Guillaume Speurt | CC 2.0
Check out what the hipsters are up to over at Telliskivi
To round it up, there are only a million Estonians and most of these live in the capital city which is Tallinn, and it didn’t take long for people to realize that living situation is getting tougher each year thus younger people started seeking out for places to stay at.
Telliskivi used to be an industrial area with factories that was later shut down. The young creatives of the city saw this abandonment an opportunity to turn the area into something unique and interesting, and in no time, Telliskivi became one of the hippest parts of the city with cafe’s, restaurants and interesting shops to visit. Nowadays, some of the buildings in the area were transformed into sought-after apartments.
Here are some of the cool cafe’s and restaurants to visit in Telliskivi:
Take a day tour to Helsinki from Tallinn
I can’t end this guide to Tallinn without recommending a quick visit to my favorite city in the world – my current hometown of Helsinki. Also, it is only 80 kilometers and about two hours ferry ride, and you get to tackle two cities in one holiday or vacation. There are tons of offers online to check out which can take you from Tallinn to Helsinki and back as cheap as 15€ and most large ferry lines offer day trips starting from both ends. So, if you eventually ran out of things to do in Tallinn – Helsinki is only 2 hours away for you to check out.
Why should you visit Helsinki for a day?
I would like to lay out and say Helsinki is awesome, but not a lot of people agree with me on this. However, I’d still say it – Helsinki is an awesome stopover destination, and you don’t need a lot of time to see most of the city’s main highlights. Trust me. It is that small.
In fact, not long ago my buddy Jp from The Rustic Nomad decided to take a day trip to Helsinki and in his four or five hours stay in the city, I got the opportunity to show him around some of the city’s beautiful sites. I could have taken him to more sites, but we were chit-chatting quite a lot!
So yes, I do suggest visiting Helsinki for the day. It will be worth it, trust me.
Here’s a list of ferry companies that have day cruises to Helsinki:
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- Have you been to Tallinn, Estonia?
- If yes, how did you like it?
- If not, from this list of things to do in Tallinn, which one you fancy?
- Let me know in the comment below!
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