Estonia’s capital is bound to inspire awe. It’s an exciting, thriving center with many breathtaking Gothic buildings that have somehow escaped war damage.
Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the last remaining truly medieval cities in Europe, with subterranean bars that serve locally-made vodka and absinthe and cast an enticing glow from their stone doorways. You can walk the dozens of winding, cobbled streets within the high wall and ramparts, and then stop for a cheap sandwich made on native thin, dense black bread at one of the many cafés, or “kohviks.” Still relatively undiscovered by visitors outside of the EU, this port city is becoming a weekend destination for many of its neighboring countries. It’s just a 45-minute ferry ride from Helsinki, a quick train trip from St. Petersburg and is easily accessible from Sweden and Germany.
From the airport
Tallinn’s pristine, small but modern airport is only 3 km from the city center. Bus #2 leaves from just outside the departures area every 20 minutes and costs the equivalent of less than a dollar; it stops at the Sokos Hotel Viru in the city center and also right next to the old town.
The train station is directly across the street from the old city; to get there, just walk through the underpass across the main Rannamäe tee road and head up Nunne Street.
The high-tech, ever-expanding ferry terminal is just three or four blocks’ walking distance from the old city. Alternatively, buses #92 and 90 can take you from Terminal D to the heart of the city center.
Buses serve all major towns and are generally cheaper, more frequent and faster than the train. Eurolines leaves from the bus station at Lastekodu 46, 1km from downtown. Buses also go from here to major cities in Russia, Poland and Germany. www.eurolines.ee.
Public Bus and Tram System
Most of the city is easily explored on foot. Buses and trams tend to get crowded, but the public transit system is functional and serves all entry points to the city. Tickets are sold at kiosks for 13EEK a ride or from the driver for 20EEK. Newsstands also sell 1hr (18EEK), 2hr (24EEK) and day tickets (40EEK). Most transport ends at midnight. The Tallinn Card offers free public transport as well as admission to 40 museums/sights and a free 2 ½ hour tour. It’s available for 6, 24, 48 or 72 hours (EEK 185/375/435/495).
Food & Nightlife
Pick up a copy of Tallinn This Week, which lists bars, clubs, restaurants and events. There is also an English-language Baltic City Paper that comes out every two months.