Saturday, 26 January 2013

Tallinn: Do's and Don'ts!

Tallinn is definitely a little European gem, and one that is fast rising in popularity. Perfect for a short city break or a jumping off point for a longer Baltic adventure, the Old Town is a beautiful piece of medieval history in Estonia, whereas the rest of the city, whilst not quite as picturesque, reflects a more recent era of Soviet rule.

We loved exploring the winding streets and filling up on mountains of delicious food, and for a budget destination that's compact and easily accessible, it's hard to beat. Here's some advice on how to spend a few days in the city...


- Put away the guidebook for a while. Tallinn is an extremely walkable city, and whilst the cobbled roads, passageways and alleyways can become confusing, you'll never be far from the centre, and may discover some hidden treasures along the way. We discovered high viewpoints, historical buildings and artisan workshops just by following paths that seemed interesting.

- Consider staying in an apartment if you plan to visit for a few days or more. There are many advantages to having your own little corner of the city for the duration of your trip - many of the apartments available are historical, with original features and a cosy feel. Having your own kitchen helps to make a budget stretch further, and the price is very often less per night than a hotel would be, particularly if you shop around and look out for deals. Plus, who would ever turn down the opportunity to have their own at-home private sauna?!

- Brave the below freezing temperatures and stay during the winter months. The beauty of Tallinn's Old Town is accentuated by a dusting of powdery snow, crunching under your feet as you walk within its walls. Steaming bowls of meat broth and glasses of warm berry juice taste all the sweeter if they are also helping to defrost you from the inside out, and candlelit pubs are all the more atmospheric when darkness falls early. All this aside, there are also more practical reasons for choosing the low season. Prices for accommodation and flights are a considerable amount lower, and there are far fewer tourists.


 - Miss out on a medieval feast at Olde Hansa restaurant. It might look and sound a little tacky at first glance, but when we were there the place was packed with locals, and the food really is second to none. There's even a small shop if you fancy taking a piece of the restaurant home with you in the form of rustic bowls and glasses. Whilst on the subject of food, seek out some of the smaller pubs and cafes as well - a number only have one or two dishes on offer, which is often an indication of high quality (we certainly found that to be the case!).

- Miss the little quirks and features that Tallinn hides. Tucked around corners, down passages and high on buildings are beautifully decorated clocks, stone archways, small courtyards, carved animals...I could go on and on. Keep your eyes open and wander without intention, and it will all open up to you.

Find my other Tallinn posts here:

The winding streets of Medieval Tallinn
Stepping back in time in Tallinn: A photo-blog


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