The entire old city center of Tallinn is listed with UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, while some of the hippest dance clubs in Europe are open all night within those very same blocks. Whether its modern trends or old-world charm you crave, Tallinn delivers and our apartments are all located right where the historic and contemporary action is.


Though there have been human inhabitants along the Baltic coast since the end of the last ice age, Tallinn's early days remain enigmatic. It was already occupied when the Danes arrived in the 13th century, but no one knows much about the town before that. Estonian identity is a rather new invention because throughout its history, the region has been inhabited and ruled by a succession of outsiders including Danes, Germans, Swedes, and Russians.

Tallinn's boom was in the Middle Ages and its famous architecture hails from 14th and 15th centuries. As a major port and member of the Hanseatic League and later the Teutonic Knights, Tallinn was a well-populated and well-known town (though it was known as Reval or Revalia until 1918). A highly fortified city, Tallinn's city walls were also built in the Middle Ages, and of the original 66 watchtowers that punctuated the wall, 20 still stand. The city's most famous church, Oleviste or St. Olav's, was built in the 16th century and was, for a few decades, the tallest building in the world with a spire over 150 meters tall.

Swedish rule brought some stability to the region, which had been torn apart during the Livonian War of the 16th century. In the 1600s, the Swedish crown established a printing press and the region's first university and gave peasants more rights. The Swedish Empire was forced to give Estonia to the Russian Empire in 1721, which held power over Estonia until independence in 1918, and then again throughout the 20th century.

Despite its location in the boundaries of the Russian Empire, Estonia fostered a strong sense of national identity throughout the 19th century, creating Estonian-language literature, theater and art. This strengthened cultural identity helped Estonia through the rather tumultuous years surrounding World War II and Soviet dominion. While Russia claimed Estonia as part of the Soviet Union until 1991, much of the world continued to treat Estonia as an independent nation by recognizing its politicians and diplomats.

Even though the demography of Estonia changed dramatically in the 20th century, the Estonians emerged as a forward-looking, progressive people after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Recent decades have seen rapid growth in Estonia's economy and political power, granting the country easy access to the United Nations and the European Union. Tallinn today is known as a modern capital city with a charming medieval core. Information technology and electronics industries dominate the economy and the city is in the middle of a tourism boom, with an improved port for cruise ship and ferry docking. People are coming to Tallinn from all over Europe and the world to experience its old-world charm in the safe context of a contemporary setting.

Location and size

Tallinn is situated on the Baltic Sea directly across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki. The natural harbor is made up of three peninsulas and the city occupies about 160 square kilometers.


Tallinn has just over 400,000 residents made up of mostly Estonians and a large population of Russian nationals, who came during the Soviet occupation and never become Estonian citizens or subsequently EU citizens (nearly a third of the city's population are not EU citizens despite Estonia's firm place in the Union).


Estonian is the official language of Estonia, though it shared this distinction with Russian for most of the last century. Estonian is very similar to Finnish and very dissimilar to the languages spoken by Estonia's closest neighbors—Latvian, Lithuanian, and Russian. While Estonian is rather different from most European languages, Russian and English are both very common second languages spoken in Tallinn.


Art Museum of Estonia (Eesti Kunstimuuseum): The national art museum has five branches located throughout the city. Kumu is the main branch (Weizenbergi 34 / Valge 1), which houses the permanent exhibit with a focus on Estonian art. The exhibition at Kadriorg Palace (Weizenbergi 37) has European paintings and ceramics. +372 602 6000.

Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum): The main collection of the city museum is housed in a 14th century building in the old town. The exhibitions tell the story of Tallinn through artifacts. Vene tn.17. +372 644 6553.

Estonian Museum of Architecture: This museum contains maps, sketches, drawings and models representing architecture from throughout Estonia and a few of its neighbors. Housed in the historic Rotermann's Salt Storage building. Ahtri 2. +372 625 7000.

Museum of Occupations: Between 1940 and 1991, Estonia was almost continually occupied by either the Soviet Union or Germany. This museum tries to make sense of those occupations and their role in the nation's history. Toompea Street 8. +372 668 0250.

Estonian Open Air Museum: If you don't have time to see the rest of Estonia, hopefully you have time to head 15 minutes outside of Tallinn to visit the open air museum. Lots of traditional buildings from throughout Estonia's history are compiled here, giving a wonderful impression of the country and the culture outside of Tallinn. +372 65 49 101.


Medieval Old Town: Tallinn has quite possibly the best preserved medieval town center in all of Europe. Exploring the narrow winding streets and gawking at the charming stone buildings is sure to take up much of any visitor's time in Tallinn. Be sure visit St. Olav's Church, once the tallest building in the world with a spire that still dominates the skyline.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral: This beautiful Orthodox church looks like it came straight from St. Petersburg and represents Estonia's relationship to Russia. Even putting religion and politics aside, the cathedral is a powerful sight and well worth a peek inside. On Toompea Hill. Lossi plats 10. +372 644 3484.

Kiek-in-de-Kok: A beloved medieval defense tower, the Kiek-in-de-Kok ("Peek into the kitchen") has nice views of the old town for both protecting and peeping. The tower houses a military history museum and other temporary exhibits. Komandandi tee 2. +372 644 6686.

Kadriorg Palace and Park: Tallinn's tsarist period is remembered at Kadriorg—the complex built primarily by Peter the Great. The palace houses an art museum and the park is a favorite place for a stroll.

Toompea Castle: The castle tops the limestone hill known as Upper Old Town or Toompea Hill. The architecture reflects Tallinn's various inhabitants from Danes to Swedes to Russians. While much of the castle has been rebuilt, parts of it date back to the 14th century. The current Estonian parliament building is also located within the historic walls. The views from the hill are quite nice.

Day trip

Pirita Beach: Just 20 minutes or so from the city center, Pirita Beach offers several kilometers of white sand beach. If you're lucky, the weather will be perfect for sunbathing and swimming, but in case the weather is more typically Baltic, there is a patch of forest to enjoy and the Olympic Yachting Center (built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics) to explore. Several city buses head to Pirita from the city.

Helsinki: Finland's capital city is just 2 hours away by ferry. Boats travel back and forth across the Baltic several times a day, which means you can pack in another Baltic capital city on just a day trip from Tallinn. Of course Helsinki is a destination in its own right, so if you have time, spend more than just a day there.

Soomaa National Park: Soomaa is one of the last remaining massive areas of bogland in Europe. Located less than 2 hours inland from Tallinn, the park offers a glimpse into a very unique landscape that is home to a special variety of flora and fauna. Boardwalks offer a way of hiking through the flooded park, and canoe trips are also very popular.


While more and more international restaurants are appearing in Tallinn, it is still possible to find good Estonian food served hearty and home style or updated and upscale. With potatoes, pork, and black bread dominating the cuisine, Estonian dishes are usually simple and filling, but a few meat and dairy creations unique to the region make sampling some national dishes a little more adventurous. And while the Baltic is famous for its herring (usually pickled), Tallinn is quickly earning more of a reputation for serving up excellent Italian, Thai, Japanese and American food.


The nightlife alone attracts large numbers of tourists to Tallinn. There's an unusual number of strip clubs in this cozy medieval town, but the variety of dance clubs, pubs and "gentleman's" clubs means that there's probably something for everyone here after hours. Whether is artsy and adult you want, a quiet wood-paneled ex-pat pub, or a kitschy Texas themed bar, Tallinn can deliver. Of course there are plenty of cozy local joints for beer or wine, snacks, billiards and cigars as well. And gay and straight dance clubs are open well into the morning hours.


The shopping is good in Tallinn. The old town is full of antique and souvenir shops, but of course you should always exercise caution and know what you're doing when it comes to buying antiques. Baltic amber and crystal is available, too, for the discerning shopper. Estonian fashion designers are making a name for themselves throughout Europe and its possible to pick up something totally unique from a new label at a number of boutiques.


Tallinn's airport is small but modern and getting to the city center is an easy 10 minute ride by bus or taxi.

Local Traffic

It's pretty easy to get around Tallinn by car, just keep in mind that parking in Old Town is expensive and difficult. Find a place to stash the car and explore on your own two feet like the medieval residents did.


The public transportation system includes buses and trams that all use the same tickets. It's easy to negotiate and can get you almost anywhere in the city. Tickets are sold for single rides or for a specific period of time.


It's best to know the phone numbers of some reputable taxi companies you can call if you need a ride. Jumping into a cab without negotiating a price first is an easy way to get ripped off in Tallinn.


Tallinn enjoys typical temperate Baltic weather. Winter temperatures plunge below zero in January and February, but summer is warm without getting hot. Long summer days make visiting in the warmer months a good idea, while short and dark days in winter make that season a bit harder to bear. Cloud cover is common and it rains about 180 days a year but rarely are showers very heavy.

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