Amongst the splendid mixture of carved stone buildings and futuristic glass walled malls of Tallinn visitors will be enchanted by the blend of old and new. Hiding behind the medieval face of the city is a treasure-trove of outstanding retail and dining options, with a sophisticated selection of trendy and innovative restaurants on offer.
Tallinn is often described as a city of two faces, and that dual character is reflected in the hotel scene. In the Old Town, you’ll find a combination of quirky guesthouses housed in medieval terraces and high-class urban mansions, but just a five-minute stroll away is the steel-and-glass-dominated business district with its skyscraper chains and contemporary boutiques. If you favour old-world charm, the Hotel Telegraaf (Vene 9) with its famous spa is unbeatable. Nearby L’Ermitage Hotel (Toompuiestee 19) is an architectural work of art with a contemporary feel, while the equally stunning Baltic Hotel Vana Wiru (Viru 11) is a stylish budget option.
With several futuristic malls, a growing menagerie of Estonian designer outlets and more souvenir shops than you can shake a stick at, Tallinn is an increasingly consumer-friendly city. Better still, despite the tourist influx of recent years it’s still possible to pick up luxury goods at appealing prices. Browse the shop windows in Viru and Müürivahe streets for big-name bargains, and don’t forget to check out the outdoor knit market that stretches along Müürivahe. It’s also worth investigating Estonian designer brands, such as Hula (Pikk 41), Kristiina Viirpalu (Suur-Karja 2) and Lilli Jahilo (Veerenni 24C), as well as the traditional souvenirs sold at the Estonian Handicraft House (Pikk 22).
The medieval facade of Tallinn’s Old Town hides an incredible smorgasbord of diverse dining options. Cosy pubs such as the rustic Alfred’s (Rahumäe tee 25) rub shoulders with sophisticated ‘vinotheques’, the newest and trendiest additions to the city’s gourmet scene. Gloria Wine Cellar (Müürivahe 2), an elegant hideaway built right into the medieval town wall, is one of the best – it has the widest selection of vintages in the Nordic countries, so even dedicated wine connoisseurs should find something to tickle the palate. For a true taste of Tallinn though, head to Olde Hansa (Vana Turg 1). This medieval-themed restaurant is so fabulously authentic that it’s worth the stiff price tag.
Tallinn Fire and Ice Festival
The frigid Estonian winter gives way to light, noise and celebration every January and February as the Fire and Ice Festival comes to town. With fire sculptures, ice sculptures and a series of artistic workshops, it’s the perfect way to beat the cold weather.
Independence Day Parade
The Estonian Republic celebrates its birthday in style each year with a series of parades, religious services and fringe events. Don’t miss the military parade on Freedom Square at 11am.
This long-running jazz festival is one of the most popular events in Tallinn’s annual calendar. It features more than 60 concerts every year, as well as buskers and open-air performances that the whole family can enjoy.
This multi-day event brings artists from all over the world to Tallinn – in the past, acts have included Manic Street Preachers, Moby and Mika. A beer tent, bungee jumping and amusement attractions add to the atmosphere.
Traditional and contemporary collide at this summer dance festival – the biggest of its kind in Estonia. Original performances take place on the street and in theatres across Tallinn.