Where do I even start?
I can’t speak more highly of Tallinn. I had zero expectations when arriving… simply because I knew very little about it. I quite literally stumbled off the bus with no map, wifi, hostel reservation, or knowledge about the city… or even country for that matter. I’d only heard of the country from a ‘Viva La Bam’ episode where he and his cousin flew there to pick up a mail order bride.
Well, I couldn’t have discovered a more magical place for myself. Cobblestone streets. Medieval fortresses. Old Taverns. Eating stew with no spoon. The works. Not only was the city a diamond in the rough, but the people were so chill and laid back. For living in a country that’s freezing 6 months out of the year, everyone is smiling and friendly.
What to See
- Free city tour from the local college students everyday [almost] at 12pm at the town info center. It lasts about 1.5hrs which is a bit long in the cold, but you get some brilliant history and stop at the best overlooks. Also, they leave you right next to the best soup joint in town.
- Patarei Prison – I took a tour of this abandoned establishment through my hostel, led by a local, and it was fantastic. Winter is by far the best time to go when it’s eerily quiet, dark, and with a backdrop of fresh fallen snow. No matter the season, it’s always a good glimpse into Soviet-era prison life with a modern graffiti twist.
- Patkuli Viewing Platform & Kohtuotsa Viewing platform
- Climb the many stairs to the top of St. Olaf’s Churchtower for a different perspective of the city
- 4x4ing – Recommended in the winter after fresh fallen snow
Where to Stay
Red Emperor Hostel : AMAZING staff, chill, fun, great to hang out with. Facilities are clean and plentiful and there’s plenty of wifi (though the city already has “city-wifi”). One of the highlights has to be the bar just downstairs. You can go out without having to actually GO OUT in the cold. There’s something different going on every night, live music and games, happy hour AND a happy happy hour. Fun AND cheap?! I even extended my stay by 2 extra days and I would have stayed permanently in a heartbeat if the prospect of a trip to Russia didn’t arise.
Eat & Drink
- 3 Dragons – Walk in and you enter a cozy, candlelit old tavern with no electricity and wooden benches for seating. The elk stew is in a giant cauldron but don’t ask for a spoon or you’ll be advised to wittle one yourself. Try the spinach or meat pies – they’re hot, tasty, and CHEAP. Grab a beer or mead as well and sit relax from the cold.
- Renard Coffee Shop
- Frank Underground – for cocktails
Let’s just say Tallinn will suck you in like a black hole, but I mean that in the best way possible. Every person I met either extended or wanted to stay longer. We nearly missed our ferry because we were just having too much fun. When I say nearly, I mean they had to wait for us as we bolted down the bridge and pulled up the gate behind us.
Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that I did not take as many photos as I would have hoped to in my favorite city thus far. Because I was having too much fun with the amazing group of friends I found? Most likely.