It is not easy to try and write about a city where you were born, grew up and became an adult in. It is almost like when someone is asking you to describe yourself; difficult to be objective and unbiased. So I feel the same when writing about Tallinn.
But hold on, I do want to tell the world about my city and my country. So there it goes…
Tallinn is awesome. I know, I know, but I do actually think so. It is effortlessly beautiful. The moment you reach its central part there it is – a poised, captivating beauty. Like that woman in a red dress from the Matrix, Tallinn is quite striking.
And speaking about red, it is actually a color of many rooftops of the old town – one of the most popular spots in the city. The Old Town is truly old, it dates back to 13th century and as of now Tallin’s Old Town is one of the best preserved Hanseatic town centres in the world. It is also a UNESCO heritage.
Every time I visit home I enjoy its narrow cobalt streets, cafeterias, roof terraces and multiple viewing platforms. I think I appreciate it more now that I am away than during the time when I lived there. I feel greedy thirst, I notice more and more beauty around.
But hey, I am gushing, so let me walk you through the city 🙂
The Old Town
Since we’ve already been taking about it, let’s continue. I put a lot of photos and a little text so you can feel the vibe. Every building in the Old Part of town has its history, many turned into open museums, some cost as little as 2 euro and give you an access to towers, hidden rooms, long wooden balconies and more.
If museums are not your jam you can just enjoy passing them by as the buildings themselves are quite spectacular.
There are many little cafes, one better than the other (August, Must Puudel, Sinilind), cute little pathways, there is a marzipan room, where you can make your own marzipan figures; there are old Lutheran and grandiose orthodox churches and all of this co-exists together in harmony.
Tallinn is also a pearl for gourmands. There are quiet a few traditional and I would even call them historical restaurants like Peppersack or Olde Hansa serving elk soup and home-brewed beer, and not only that; there is a garlic restaurant Balthasar that serves its every meal with garlic, yes, dessert as well. May I suggest a scoop of garlic ice cream? It is really good. There are high class Indian restaurants, Russian restaurants and of course A-la carte restaurants. You will not stay hungry in Tallinn that’s for sure.
There is a place in the Old Town that is very dear to my heart. It is called Neitsi Torn and it translates as a Maiden Tower. Now the tower has quite a dark history, but now it stands as a cafe and a museum and it is my first work place too 🙂 That is why it is always gong to be special for me. My parents say that Neitsi Torn cafe used to serve the best hot wine in town. I dare you to go and try it 😉
Outside of the tower there is a Danish King’s garden. At least that’s what they call it, but in fairness it doesn’t look like a garden, at least not now. It is still a very cool place just without your regular garden attributes.
It has something different though – it has three, a little bit creepy, yet inviting sculputers of monks in long capes and tourists love to be photographed with them. Every year, on the 15th of June this place celebrates the day of Danish flag.
There is so much more I can mention like numerous viewing platforms, Oleviste church that allows you to go 186 steps up and find yourself on a roof top of a church with a 360 view (not bad hah), there is a park in the valley called Shnelli where you can have a picnic, there is famous Kiek in de Kök – a museum and bastion tunnels, there is Tallinn Town Hall hosting concerts and Christmas market in winter…. there is so much culture in the air. Gushing again, but seriously, Tallinn is worth your while.
Walking away from the old town we have multiple options of where to go. For example we can walk for approximately 15 minutes and find ourselves in a modernly redesigned neighbourhood called “Rottermani”. Rottermani used to be a place with abandoned post soviet buildings back in the early 90’s so it’s a great thing that government decided to give it a new life. It turned out to be different but it somehow blends in with an overall view. Here you’ll find a cinema, multiple cafes, designer shops and office buildings. This place has what I call a Scandinavian swag.
If you are in Tallinn between April and Early October I highly recommend going to Pirita – a place with a beautiful green forest on your right and Tallinn bay, leading to the beach on your left.
You can take a long way of getting there and simply walk along the seaside or you can take a bus. On your way to Pirita you’ll pass one of the best parks in Tallinn –Kadriorg (read: Kad-ree-or). Kadriorg means Katherine’s valley and it got its name after the wife of a Russian Tsar – Peter The Great. A park also feautures a beautiful palace and a little lake with swans. The park and the palace were built as a gift to Katherine from Peter. I guess if you are a Russian Tsar you can afford gifts like that :D.
Not far from Kadriorg and more to the seaside are National Singing Grounds. Every summer it holds a lot of musical events and festivals and every five years it hosts Estonian National Song Festival (next to be held in 2019) that gathers around 30 thousand people. And may I add that Estonia is a small country, so 30 000 is a lot for us 🙂
I have my secret spot situated not far from the Singing Grounds that is much more private, where one goes to enjoy a bit of solitude or hide from the world if you want to put it that way. I used to love coming here, looking at the sea and just being. It’s a wonderful spot to watch a sunset too.
Next on your way to Pirita is Estonian History Museum and Maarjamae memorial. I prefer the memorial as you can walk up, seat on the stairs and enjoy the view. It’s really lovely in there.
And finally after around 2 leisurely hours you’ll arrive at the beach area. And I say area, because apart from the beach there is a place to rent boats, go for a snack, there is a surf club for kite surfing, dedicated area for beach volleyball and last but not least a strand of sand to lay down and relax.
I highly recommend renting a boat when you are in Pirita. It’s a very pleasant way to spend a few hours, especially in summer time.
There is so much more to the city that I left unmentioned. I guess I would need to write another post on Tallinn and uncover different parts of town like Kalamaja – newly refurbished bohemian neighbourhood, Telliskivi – a very hip place with tons of cafes, Estonian design shops, eateries and activity places and throw a few notes on Linnahall – former concerts venue just behind the walls of the Old Town, nowadays serving as a hang out place, or a spot to take photos. At least I know I did 🙂 So if you are thinking of where to go next – I recommend going to Estonia 😉