What to see in two days in Tallinn
I visited Tallinn as part of a 10 day trip to Copenhagen, Tallinn and Stockholm (which I’ll cover in further posts), travelling between each by plane. You can find the full itinerary for this trip here. I spent two full days in Tallinn and enjoyed every minute. Sufficiently compact for a short stay but bursting with great restaurants and beautiful architecture, it makes a perfect long weekend destination.
This is how I spent my two days in Tallinn.
Getting to Tallinn
Ryanair, Easyjet and British Airways fly to Tallinn from the UK and if you book in plenty of time the flights can be well under £100 return. Tallinn airport is just 4km from the centre of town so it’s a quick and cheap cab or bus ride into the centre.
Staying in Tallinn
I stayed in a rented apartment up on Toompea Hill. I found it on Booking.com, which has a lot of options in Tallinn Old Town, most of which are apartments rather than hotels. It’s a nice area to stay as it’s quiet and extremely pretty, with cobbled winding streets and views out across Tallinn, within easy walking distance of some great restaurants and bars.
Where to eat and drink in Tallinn
Tallinn has some excellent restaurants, which I wasn’t really expected. I had recommendations from a friend before going, but also used TripAdvisor to pick some places and it didn’t steer me wrong. I had outstanding meals at both Rataskaevu16 and Vegan Restoran V which are both on Rataskaevu, as is Von Krahli Aed which I didn’t try but which also has excellent TripAdvisor reviews. Make sure you make reservations ahead of time, although you might get a walk-in at lunch time.
The medieval centre has plenty of other options for lunch and dinner when wandering around.
For a pre-dinner drink you can do a lot worse than Porgu which has a ridiculously large selection of both draught and bottled beers in a cosy cellar environment. They also sell a range of snacks as well as more substantial meals.
What do see in Tallinn
Tallinn is very compact so you can see a lot in two days. This map shows a handful of places to visit and the below itinerary pulls it all together into a suggested two day tour.
Day 1 in Tallinn
If you’re staying around Toompea Hill explore the castle (free entry) and cute cobbled streets and small artisan shops before heading to Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a 19th century cathedral built in the Russian style and the nearby St Mary’s Cathedral (also called the ‘Dome Church’), the oldest church in mainland Estonia.
Wander Tallinn’s medieval Old Town passing through pretty St Catherine’s Passage, lined with artisan workshops. The 13th century Dominican Monastery is one of two remaining medieval monasteries in Tallinn. Tours of the monastery claustrum operate daily between 11am and 5pm between 15 May and 30 September. Visit the nearby Lutheran Holy Spirit Church.
The Estonian History Museum in the city’s medieval guildhall explains the key events in Estonia’s history. It’s €6 entry for adults and opens 10am – 6pm every day except Wednesdays.
Head to the Town Hall Square to watch the world go by over lunch. It’s a very picturesque square with plenty of places to eat, you’ll be paying for the location, but sometimes that’s ok. The Town Hall itself is an attractively portioned building with some interesting architectural features like it’s dragon-headed gargoyles.
The Museum of the Occupations tells the story of Estonia during three periods of occupation: the Soviet occupation of 1940–1941, the German occupation during 1941–1944, and the second Soviet occupation 1944–1991. Open 11am – 6pm Tuesday to Sunday, €6.50 admission.
Day 2 in Tallinn
This is where I would have recommended you visit Patarei sea fortress, but regrettably it’s now closed to visitors, presumably pending some kind of renovation project, which has been in discussion for over a decade. Patarei was built as a sea fortress, completed in 1840 but was never actually used as a fortress and became a barracks. From 1920 to 2002 it served as a prison under various regimes.
Patarei was truly was one of the most interesting places I’ve visited on my travels, so it’s a shame than it’s no longer possible to visit, but let’s hope it’s put to good use in future.
However, they now offer tours of other parts of Estonia, so why not take the opportunity to get out of Tallinn. Choose between ancient churches, stately homes and natural beauty.
Visit St Nicholas’ church, a 13th century church which was partially destroyed by Soviet bombing in WWII. Today it houses part of Estonia’s Art Museum and includes some very fine artworks include a Danse Macabre by Bernt Notke and a number of other late Gothic and early Renaissance works including a striking 15th century altar piece. It’s well worth a visit (entry is €6) for the beautiful space itself and its interesting selection of paintings.