Guide of TALLINN

Tallinn is a charming city on the Baltic Sea and the capital of Estonia. Here is an interesting fact about Tallinn; chimney sweeps in the city still wear 19th-century uniforms and if you come across one, be sure to touch his brass buttons, legend has it that this brings good luck! The city is a great place to explore architecture, history and art, but surprisingly also has some pleasant beaches nearby. 

A brief history of Tallinn

Established in the 10th century, on a site known as Lindanise, by the 13th century, the Danish had created a fortified city called Reval, which was Tallinn's name until 1918. The current name, Tallinn, is derived from the Danish word 'Taani linn', meaning 'Danish town'. The city stayed under foreign Danish rule for centuries, but the local peasants that lived outside the city walls kept Estonian culture and language alive, even though they were not allowed any influence over politics or displays of their culture in the city.

After the collapse of the Teutonic Order, in 1561, Reval, as Tallinn was still known, fell under Swedish rule. The periods following this were also turbulent; there were wars with Russia, the plague and the great fire of 1684 which damaged the city and reduced the population. In 1710 during the Great Northern War, the Russians invaded the town and destroyed part of the port,  it was rebuilt under Tsar Peter I, who also restored the ancestral privileges of the old, established German community.

The name was eventually changed to Tallinn, and in 1940, Russia occupied Estonia, then Nazi Germany seized the power of the country just a year later! After the Second World War, the mighty Soviet empire annexed Estonia and the Kremlin politically and economically ruled for more than five decades. On the 20th of August 1991, Estonia finally regained independence. Today, the city has become an important tourist hub where the number of visitors is growing year on year.  

Things to do in Tallinn

The old town in Tallinn is absolutely fascinating and probably one of the most interesting areas of the whole country. The Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral is magnificent, completed in 1900, it has a large dome. Then be sure to make your way through the cobbled streets, down to the lower town, where the roads are still how they must have looked in the 15th century! Pikk (or Long Street) is particularly beautiful. Eventually, you will reach the Town Hall Square, which is another historic space in the city, it has been a marketplace since the 11th century! 

Kadriog Art Museum is also worth a visit, built between 1718 and 1736, it features works from Italian, Dutch and German artists, and there is also a charming garden at the back of the museum. Another great gallery is Kumu, which is much more modern. The building itself was completed in 2006, by a Finnish architect who successfully integrated limestone, glass, and copper. The gallery contains the most extensive collection of Estonian art, as well as other contemporary pieces from around the world. The Estonian Open-Air Museum is perfect for adults and children. It is an outdoor complex that features historic buildings set amongst tall trees along with staff dressed in period costume to create a time-warp effect for visitors! If you want to escape the city, then head to Lahemaa National Park, which is not far from the capital. There is a long stretch of coastline included within this area, and there are plenty of hiking trails for all abilities.

Beaches around Tallinn

Kakumäe Beach is probably the city's quietest and cleanest beach; it has calm, shallow water, so it is excellent for families with small children. There are also changing cabins, a food kiosk, and a play-park for the kids, and if you wait around late enough, then the sunset is breathtaking here. To get there, take the bus, either number 21 or 41. Pikakari Beach is another good beach close to the city, it is part of a nature conservation area, and there are various hiking trails right near the main beach as well as a nudist section. To get here, take bus number 59 from Balti jaam and get off at the last stop. Finally, there is Stroomi beach, which has a cafe, toilets, volleyball nets and sunbeds for rent, as well as a vast outdoor play-park for the kids. Due to its proximity to an industrial port, it's not quite as scenic as some of the other beaches, but that doesn't bother the locals who all show up here on hot summer days to cool off. To get here, take bus number 40 from the underground Viru Centre bus terminal and get off at Supelranna.

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Travel guides and tips: TALLINN

Discover how to reach and what to do to Tallinn: tips, events, local festivals, culture, food and all the other details to explore Tallinn can be found on our blog!

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