Tallinn combines a medieval aesthetic with a cutting-edge mentality that results in a character that is entirely its own. Within just a short time in the Estonian capital, you can go from strolling through medieval streets under the shadow of swooning spirals, to marveling at thoroughly modern museums and the technology that earned the country the moniker Estonia.
Day 1: Medieval walks and delicacies
Begin your trip with a bird’s eye view over Tallinn’s medieval Old Town from the top of the town hall tower on Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats). With a little more exertion, you can get another great view of the Old Town and Toompea Hill from the walkway that runs along the city wall.
Afterwards, explore the Old Town from the ground level. Let yourself get lost wandering through the medieval streets; duck into shops, courtyards and churches, be sure to make time for coffee at any of the Old Town’s numerous cozy cafes and to treat yourself in some exquisite chocolate treats at Chocolaterie Pierre, just off Vene Street.
In the evening, make reservations for dinner at the wildly popular medieval-themed restaurant Olde Hansa: indulge in exotic meats and Juniper cheese, and wash it all down with honey beer and spiced wine.
Day 2: Art, parks and palaces
Set aside a few hours for the excellent KUMU (kunstimuuseum) in Tallinn’s Kadriorg district. The museum’s spectacular futuristic-looking building, made of limestone, glass and copper, is almost as awe-inspiring as the exhibits (including a huge collection of centuries of Estonian art and Soviet-era propaganda posters) inside.
While you are in the Kadriorg district, take time to enjoy the wooden Kadriorg Park. The park is a peaceful respite from the Old Town and has lots of pathways as well as a charming little café. Kadriorg Palace, which dates from the mid-18th century, is also in the area and is home to a collection of Dutch, German and Italian art.
In the evening, relax the Estonian way: with a sauna – almost every hotel has one.
Day 3: Escape to nature
On your last day, venture a little further out of town with a visit to the Open Air Museum in the Rocca al Mare district or to the Botanical Gardens and TV Tower in Pirata. While in Pirata, if the weather co-operates, take some time to enjoy Pirita Beach and its surrounding cafes and restaurants.
Alternatively, go even further out of town to Lahemaa National Park – an unspoiled rural area with forest trails, a picturesque coastline, lakes, bogs and an interesting collection of plant, bird and animal life.