Reasons To Go: It may be a tiny city in Eastern Europe that you have never even heard of, but isn’t that part of the charm? The classically medieval architecture will lend itself to some killer photos, and (bonus!) the ferry to Helsinki is only an hour long (two countries, one stone?). Another reason to go is THIS restaurant: Rataskaevu16. It is my favourite in the world, and I am solely considering flying back to Estonia to eat there again.
How Long To Go For: 3-4 days. You can easily get through the main sights and restaurants in three days. Four is pushing it a bit, but if you usually take your time with touring a new city, then you can maybe stretch it out.
1) Christmas markets! Eastern Europe does not mess around when it comes to Christmas. I managed to get presents for everyone whilst I was there. They also have a truly impressive Christmas tree set up in their city center.
2) Dress warmly (doubly so if you’re going in the winter… which I highly recommend!). Bring some extra socks while you’re at it.
3) Prepare yourself for down time. Be it coursework, or a pack of cards, you should definitely bring some extra entertainment, as the evenings get dark quickly (around 3:30pm in December) and shops close early.
What to Do:
Walking tours are the perfect way to get to know the city you are about to be thrown into. You get ushered around to all the really important bits, while learning history and other fun facts. I’ve found that the free walking tour guides tend to be a bit more charismatic, as they work for their tips. It also helps that you decide exactly how much you want to spend. The Youthful Tallinn Traveler organizes a free walking tour of the city center every day at 12pm. Additionally, if you are planning on some serious sightseeing, you might want to invest in a Tallinn Card. They come in 6-, 12-, 24- or 48-hour options, cost from €12 and provide you with free entry or discounts at nearly 100 attractions as well as free public transport. You must visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It's one of the town's most famous pieces of architecture and for good reason. In no particular order, here are some other things you could fill your time with: Kadriog Art Museum, Long Leg, Patkuli, the Tallinn Zoo, Viru Keskus, the KGB Museum, Balti Jaama Turf, St Catherine’s Passage, Fat Margaret’s Tower, Patkuli and Kohuotsa viewing platforms, Vanaema Juures, Vana Tallinn, the Kumu Art Museum, Rotermanni Quarter and last but not least Toompea Hill.
Where to Eat:
I found this guide to be particularly helpful. Stenhus, nAnO, Chocolats de Pierre are also highly recommended. If you want to try something a bit more adventurous go toIII Draakon for elk meat soup. Kompressor is truly versatile restaurant would work for breakfast, lunch, or dessert. They focus solely on pancake based meals that come in sweet and savory options. They're simple, but very filling, and very delicious. Rataskaevu16 is known as the restaurant without a name, as its name is merely its street address. It's undeniably the best restaurant in Tallinn, so book in advance. I was a fool, and went without a reservation. Luckily, their sister restaurant is right down the street, and provides the same high quality food in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford