Tallinn: the highlights

Why visit Tallinn for your weekend away

Tallinn is a stunning Eastern European city with affordable prices, a great food scene and a warm, friendly atmosphere. Most importantly it has an electric nightlife scene, full of people looking to drink, dance and party until the sun comes up. As a former European capital of culture, Tallinn also has tons of attractions and museums to explore, especially around the cobbled streets of the Unesco-listed Old town.

The Estonian capital is a top weekend destination all year round. Visit in winter for New Years Eve bashes, Christmas markets and some snowy winter nights. Or come during the pleasant summer months when the temperatures reach highs of 22 degrees for some rooftop bars, beer gardens and sunny beaches. Situated right on the Baltic Sea, it becomes a popular beach destination during the peak season.

Explore the city

Explore the Old Town

A mixture of historical and modern culture, Old Town is a hub of activity both day and night. It’s home to the beautiful gothic town hall and the city’s iconic merchant’s houses. Plus, it has loads of bars within walking distance, making it the perfect spot for a bar crawl.

Demolition derby

Kick up the speed with a Demolition Derby, where you’ll be let loose behind the wheel of an old Russian car for a no restrictions, extreme driving experience, where you can race against your mates. Get involved in the action and ram into your competitors for pretty much as long as your car can take it.

Husky Dog sledding

If you’re looking for an unusual adventure, then it’s got to be this. They’re man’s best friend, and now you can take their reins in a Dog Sledding adventure. Your group will definitely experience a challenge as you get to grips with your brand-new 4-pawed drive.

Pistol and shotgun shooting

Get to grips with some powerful weaponry and learn how to handle and fire a variety of guns in this mind-blowing activity. You and your mates can take aim and fire at the targets, working your way through each different type of weapon to prove who is the sharpest shooter of them all.

For the best view of the city

Head to Toompea Hill for a panoramic perspective of the city. There’s a viewing platform all year round and a café in summer for you to sit and admire the view.

Nightlife hotspots

Estonians love to party, and despite being quite a small capital city, Tallinn is packed with bars, pubs and nightclubs. Themed nights, underground cellar bars, modern clubs, sports bars and stylish lounges are just some of the exciting venues that the city has to offer complete with low prices and a buzzing party atmosphere.

Kalamaja district

The city’s trendiest district, Kalamaja, is an alternative nightlife area to the city centre, full of craft beer pubs, great food, trendy bars and edgy nightclubs. There’s so much to explore in the area, but head to the Telliskivi factory and warehouse complex first as most of the best spots are concentrated around here.

Club Hollywood

As one of the oldest nightclubs in Estonia, this club is an iconic favourite for both tourists and the younger locals. You’ll find many international and top local DJs playing over the impressive audio system here, which attracts a full house nearly every night.

Venus club

At venus club, the party never stops - its open seven days a week, and unlike most clubs, you’ll almost always find people dancing before midnight. The large, elegant and stylish club is located in the heart of the city, just 5 minutes' stroll from the Old Town.

Eat like a local

Tallinn has an enormous number of restaurants with everything from traditional Estonian spots to international eateries. Head to the Old Town to sample some of the best restaurants the city has to offer. While most European City’s Old Town’s can be tourist traps for overpriced dishes, Tallinn’s Old Town is an exception, with multiple good-value options available.

Beer

It may be a small city, but there’s a huge beer scene, with new breweries, experimental local brews and gastropubs for you to sample and enjoy. Pay a visit to Pudel Bar or Porgu Beer Cellar for an impressive selection of domestic and international beers.

Blood sausage

Ah, the famous Estonian blood sausage. Not the most drool-worthy name we’ll admit but if you can get past that, this Tallinn delicacy is a real treat. The sausages are filled with animal blood, pork, barley and spices - a unique tidbit that must be tried while in Estonia.

Live body table

It might not be what the locals eat, but it’s a definitely an experience you have to try while visiting Tallinn city. Enjoy a delicious sushi meal served on a live body table. Trust us, everything tastes better when it’s served on a beautiful naked woman.

Where to stay

Like most of the cities in Europe, Tallinn has a huge variety of hotels and hostels available to accommodate you and your mates. For those who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, it’s probably worth checking out some of the hostels on offer in the city centre. Or, if you want to spend a bit more cash try one of the stylish hotels in the Estonian capital.

Your insider's guide to the medieval city

Tallinn might have held on to much of its prettiness and not sold its soul to cheap and cheerful, but it’s still an amazingly exciting, lively and good fun city to visit. It makes no claims about the weather, so it’s an all-year-round destination (you’ll have to wrap up warm in winter, but the Baltic Sea lapping at the shores was probably a clue there). It isn’t precious about its history, in fact the Old Town is a fantastic place for a night out. And while there’s no doubt it’s looked after itself over the past 800 years, nothing feels stuffy or preserved or antiquated, totally the opposite. More than 30 per cent of Estonia’s entire population live in Tallinn and they like to play, party, eat, drink and throw caution to the wind occasionally just like the rest of us.

Tallinn at a glance:

  • Capital of Estonia and the country’s largest city
  • Looks out across the Baltic Sea and has wilderness adventures on its doorstep
  • Once named the European Capital of Culture, it also oozes contemporary cool
  • An up-and-coming destination for young tourists in the know, it boasts vibrant nightlife and exciting clubs

Local knowledge:

Old Town – 800 years of history and still having fun with it Quaint doesn’t even come close to describing Tallinn Old Town.The streets are narrow, twisty and cobbled. Spires and turrets dominate the skyline. Ancient churches and town halls and houses and monuments are everywhere, punctuated by broad town squares and beautiful little gardens. As well as being the city’s biggest tourist draw, the Old Town’s where you’ll find most bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs clustered together and in no particular order.

City Centre – contemporary, cool and creative Tallinn’s city centre is sometimes hard to distinguish from the Old Town because it’s not short of history. But mixed in with stunning churches, museums and monuments there’s a thoroughly new side of Tallinn too. Look to the Rotermann Quarter, where run-down factories and buildings revitalised as great shopping, cultural venues, restaurants, cafés and bars, show how seriously Tallinn takes the spirit of transformation.

Best beer in Tallinn:

Beer House, Dunkri 5, Old Town Estonia loves beer and doesn’t care who knows. Explore the country’s rich and drinkable history at the Beer House, hearty food and live music are all part of the experience.www.beerhouse.ee

Beer Garden, Inseneri 1, Old Town Great range of traditional local beers, real pub atmosphere and right in the heart of the Old Town – gets down and parties later in the evening most nights.www.beergarden.ee

St Patrick’s Pub 1, Suur-Karja 8, Old Town There are several St Patrick’s Pubs in Tallinn (even one by the sea) but this beautifully restored Merchant’s House in the Old Town is best for authentic Estonian atmosphere, good beer and a change of pace from party.www.patricks.ee

Scotland Yard, Mere pst 6E, city centre A gentleman’s club in every sense with deep, leather sofas and reading lamps, a cigar lounge and a piranha tank in one wall (of course). Local bands play at weekends.www.scotlandyard.ee

Valli Bar, Müürivahe 14, Old Town Big local favourite (some seats at the bar are reserved for regulars, so select with care). Great choice of beer and the house speciality is the ‘jelly shot’.

Kolmas Draakon, Raekoja plats 1, Old Town If the Old Town isn’t Medieval enough for you, have some historic with your pint at Kolmas Draakon. Tankards are the norm here, the Elk Soup is excellent and it’s lit by candles, naturally.www.kolmasdraakon.ee

Best bars in Tallinn:

Chicago 1933, Aia 3, Old Town With its circular bar and retro prohibition style décor this is a seductive place to start a cocktail night, lots of booths and little hidden away corners.www.chicago.ee

Ice Bar, Dunkri 4/6, Old Town Freezing vodka shots in glasses made from ice served in icy-white surroundings - cool as...you get the picture. The bar is tiny but brilliant and if you want spread out you can move to the hotel lounge.www.merchantshousehotel.com

Rootsu Rannabaar, Haabnemee Beach More New Hampshire than edge of the Baltic but it’s also one of the city’s best cocktail bars. The staff are masters in the art of mixing, the surroundings are lovely and there’s even a roof-terrace and beach for summer evenings.

Valuutabaar, Viru-Valjäk 4, city centre Touch of Soviet-era Tallinn with your cocktails? The name translates as ‘hard currency’, the cocktails are amazing and the atmosphere is the opposite of oppression.www.sokoshotels.fi

Nimeta, Suur-Karja 4, Old Town Big tables, cheap cocktails and Old Town party vibe. This is the city’s other ‘pub with no name’, a bit less cool than its counterpart but all the better for it.www.nimetabaar.ee

Labor, Suur-Karja 10, Old Town Smoking cocktails, weird and wonderful concoctions, Labor is inspired by the mad scientist’s laboratory and its tube shots are the stuff of legend in Tallinn.

Best clubs in Tallinn:

Club Münt, Müürivahe 22, Old Town Tiny club but always packed. The drinks are the cheapest in Tallinn and there are go-go dancers several nights a week.http://clubmynt.eu/en/events/

Club Hollywood, Vana-Posti 8 Baroque Theatre setting and club of choice for the young, beautiful and wealthy of Tallinn. The dancefloor is always busy and the atmosphere is more debauched than debutante – Wednesdays are good for girls because entry’s free and drink prices reduced.www.clubhollywood.ee

Arena 3, Sadama 6/8, city centre Enormous, sprawling club with a constant crowd of wild, young clubbers. Loves a theme night and any old excuse to dress up. Good DJs and a summer roof terrace for chill-out.www.arena3.ee

Plub, Valli 1, Old Town Only club in the city open seven nights so it’s popular. Sound mix is varied and different on different nights but the atmosphere is always good.

Vabank, Harju 13, city centre Used to be a bank now it’s one of Tallinn’s most exclusive clubs. Pulls a big crowd but you can book ahead for VIP rooms, tables and even beds.www.vabank.ee

Food: eat like a local:

Traditional Estonian food might take a bit of getting used to (eels, tongue, blood sausage), but there are hundreds and hundreds of restaurants in Tallinn so even if you don’t want to go too native you won’t starve.

Rataskeavu 16 (Rataskeavu 16, Old Town) is a little restaurant loved by locals and visitors. The food is fantastic and it’s very friendly and welcoming – there’s also a lovely, sheltered terrace in summer. Lido (http://www.lido.ee) on Estonia pst 9, city centre, offers great views over the Opera House in the city centre and the best value buffet in Tallinn. The choice is huge and covers everything from soups and salads to pasta and pudding.

Paris in the 1930s Paris is the inspiration for C’est La Vie (http://www.cestlavie.ee) on Suur-Karja 5, Old Town, a sweet French café. Champagne and coffee are served upstairs and for food you want the Medieval cellar.

The ultimate comfort food is a Kompressor (http://www.kompressorpub.ee) on Rataskaevu 3, Old Town, speciality – light, fluffy, American style pancakes filled with just about anything you want. Perfect for the morning after the night before.

When to visit:

The weather never gets too hot in Tallinn, even in summer. But it’s pleasantly warm and sunny and there’s plenty going on. Winter is very, very cold but Estonia’s used to that and just wraps up warm and gets on with it – you should too because it’s a great time to visit.

Best view of the city:

For a panoramic perspective on the Old Town and the new, head for the east of Toompea Hill. There’s a viewing platform all year round and a café in summer.

Getting about:

Buses, trains and trams cover Tallinn easily. Pick up a smartcard from post offices or ticket kiosks and just top it up with cash to cover your transport – it calculates the cheapest fare on any journey and never charges more than 3€ a day.

Staying safe:

Only use Tallinn Taxis in the city, all others hike up fares for visitors.

Useful phrases:

Hello = tere How Are You? = kuidas läheb? Goodbye = nägemiseni Thank You = tänan Cheers! = tervist!