The historic and modern city of Tallinn

28.01.2015
Aerial view of Tallinn Old Town

The Estonian capital Tallinn on the Gulf of Finland is a fascinating little gem, attracting millions of tourists every year from both home and abroad. The city is characterised by little traffic, everything within easy reach and contrasting combinations appearing side by side. The medieval Old Town, the seaside promenade, the maritime past and the Hanseatic architecture define the city just as much as the modern city centre with its many skyscrapers, restaurants, cafes and varied cultural scene. Around half a million people live in this city by the sea, which is also the most cosmopolitan city in Estonia.

The historic and unspoilt Old Town

View to the Town Hall Square

The city began to develop in the 11th/12th century with the building of a castle. Due to its strategic location by the sea, the city continued to grow. The Old Town was built between the 13th and 16th century, when Tallinn, or Reval as it was then called, was a member of the Hanseatic League. The Old Town has been largely preserved. Around 80 per cent of the buildings were built in the Middle Ages and are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Today, the city is a tourist attraction. The historic Town Hall with its big open square, Town Hall Pharmacy (one of the oldest in Europe), colourful, gabled houses with hidden inner courtyards, winding alleyways, cobbled streets, medieval markets and numerous churches are just waiting to be discovered, as are Toompea Castle in the Upper Town or the fortresses and defence towers in the Lower Town. The city is ideal for a weekend break, as everything is close and compact and can be explored on a two- to two-and-a-half-hour bus tour or by foot.

Coast and promenade

Panoramic view of Tallinn from sea

The city’s 46-kilometre-long coast offers a wide variety of leisure and cultural activities, especially during the summer. While visitors are invited to take a stroll or a bike ride along one of the many seaside promenades, the sunny beaches tempt bathers and water sports enthusiasts to take a dip in the sea. A number of daily boat trips along the coast are also available from one of the many ports. Festival lovers and culture vultures will love the various festivals and events. For example, the annual Tallinn Maritime Days, a weekend festival celebrating Estonia’s maritime culture with lots of good music. This year’s festival is being held from 17–19 July.

Families and children

A walk in Old town

Tallinn is not just a travel destination for city lovers or those who love short breaks. There’s also plenty for families, too. The city is compact, has little traffic and is easily accessible by foot. In addition to the Old Town, the coast, the sea, beautiful parks with playgrounds, the Children’s Museum, Tallinn Zoo and the Open Air Museum, where 19th century village life is recreated, offer variety and freedom for parents and children alike.

Travelling by plane

Tallinn is easily reachable by plane from Berlin. Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport (TLL) is around four kilometres south-east of the city centre. From 14 March 2015, Estonian Air will be offering three weekly non-stop flights from Berlin Tegel to Tallinn. The airline has scheduled flights every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Starting on 6 May 2015, Air Baltic will be operating four weekly flights from Berlin Tegel to the Estonian capital (Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays).

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