Print the page content is only available to registered and logged in users and only as a tourbook!

Tallinn Old Town

Worth visiting



Please wait - map data are loading

Type of sights

Old town / World heritage site


Name and address

Tallinn Old Town
World Heritage Site

EE-10146 Tallinn


Geodetic coordinates

59.437334 24.744601


22 m


Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, lies on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, only 70 km (43 mi) south of Helsinki. A city of over 400,000 inhabitants, it is home to a third of the country's population, and besides serving as the national capital, it is also the capital of Harju County in Northern Estonia.

Tallinn has been and continues to be an important port of the Baltic Sea, with the busy passenger section of the port reaching the foothill of the picturesque medieval Old Town, which has been astonishingly well preserved and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. In a striking contrast, the immediate outskirts thereof are filled with a cluster of modern office towers, with intermittent architectural monuments to the Soviet era. Further out, you will find a bewildering variety of historic and modern neighbourhoods, religious, civic, industrial and maritime heritage. This all provides for the city seeing very sizeable tourist traffic given its size, which in turn means the infrastructure is robust and extensive.



Tallinn is a historic city dating back to medieval times. The first fortress on Toompea was built in 1050 and Tallinn was first recorded on a world map in 1154. In 1219, the city was conquered by Valdemar II of Denmark, but it was soon sold to the Hanseatic League in 1285. The city, known as Reval at the time, prospered as a trading town in the 14th century, and much of Tallinn's historic centre was built at this time.

Tallinn then became a pawn in the geopolitical games of its big neighbours, passing into Swedish hands in 1561 and then to Russia under Peter the Great in 1710. By World War I and the ensuing brief Estonian independence (starting 1918) Tallinn's population had reached 150,000.

Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, only to be conquered by Nazi Germany (1941–44) and then retaken by the Soviets. In World War II, the city was quite extensively bombed by the Soviets, although luckily the medieval town remains. The Soviet Union undertook a program of massive Slavic migration, and just over 40% of Tallinn's current inhabitants are Slavic (compared to an average of 28% for the entire country). On 20 August 1991, Estonia declared independence and Tallinn became its capital once again.

Present day

Today Tallinn is a bustling, gleaming city of more than 400,000 inhabitants. However, among the tall glassy buildings and corporate headquarters, Tallinn retains an inner charm seldom found elsewhere. Estonia considers itself a Northern European/Nordic country, with very close ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties to Finland, and visiting Tallinn you will find a mix of at least three architectures in this very visual city—old Europe (the city walls with rustic buildings and charming living areas with well-preserved and colourful wooden houses of bourgeois taste of 1920s), Soviet brutalist (concrete apartment blocks), and modern Europe (including McDonald's next to the city walls!).

Tourism is important for Tallinn and this is especially visible in the old town where almost every door leads into a souvenir shop, restaurant or bar. Unsurprisingly the majority of visitors are day trippers from Finland. The neighbours from across the bay usually know their way around without a map and have already seen the sights of Tallinn a couple of times. They come to enjoy low prices on practically all goods and services from restaurant meals to fuel and even plastic surgeries, not to forget as much alcohol as the customs regulations allow you to bring into Finland!


Kesklinn (city centre)
Toompea Hill

According to myth, the hill was built on top of the grave of legendary Estonian king Kalev, but more historically, it's solid limestone and the site of the Danish castle that founded the city in 1219. Toompea was the home of the Danish aristocracy and relations between the toffs and the plebs were often inflamed, which is why it's surrounded by thick walls and there's a gate tower (1380) guarding the entrance. Check out the viewpoints, some of which give great views over the city. There's also a cluster of amber (merevaik) shops around here (no Estonian origin but popular among cruise tourists).

  • Toompea Castle (Parliament of Estonia), Lossi plats 1A,  +372 631 6357. 10:00–16:00. It's the seat of Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu). The castle complex consists of several parts: the western wall and the towers of Tall Hermann, Pilsticker and Landskrone built by the Danes between 13th and 15th centuries; the classic style building of the government of Estonian Governorate built 1767–1773 by the Russians, and the building of the Riigikogu from the 1920s. It's believed that already in the 9th century there was an ancient Estonian wooden fortress on the location. 
  • Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Lossi plats 10,  +372 644 3484. A classic onion-domed Russian Orthodox church, built 1894–1900, during the Russification period when Estonia was part of the Russian Empire. In 1928, when Estonia was independent, it was argued that the church is a symbol of oppression and architecturally non-suitable, therefore should be demolished. But it survived also the Soviet times, and now is used by the Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate. 
  • St. Mary's Cathedral (Tallinna toomkirik), Toom-Kooli 6,  +372 644 4140. The oldest church in Tallinn, originally built as a Catholic church in 1229 but renovated and expanded many times since then, becoming a Lutheran church in 1561. 
  • Stenbock House (Stenbocki Maja), Rahukohtu 3. Today, the Stenbock House is the seat of Estonia's government, but it was originally built as a courthouse in late 18th century, at the behest of the erstwhile Russian authorities. The Russian treasury eventually found itself unable to pay for the building, so the Count Stenbock, who erected the edifice, was left with it as his personal residence. The treasury was only able to buy it more than a century later, when it finally became the courthouse it was intended to be. 
  • Estonian Knighthood House (Eestimaa rüütelkonna hoone), Kiriku plats 1. The green Renaissance revival building was erected in mid-19th century as the fourth consecutive home of the Estonian Kinghthood, a congregation of essentially German nobles who pratically controlled Estonia up to its independence in 1920s. Since 1920s, it played host to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Nattional Library, and the art collections currently on display at Kumu. As of 2014, it is home of the Estonian Academy of Arts. The building is not open to the public as it is used for instruction and faculty work. 
Vanalinn (Old Town)

The medieval Old Town (Vanalinn) of Tallinn was built in the 15-17th centuries.and is excellently preserved. It contains a large part of Tallinn's sights and is the only UNESCO world heritage site located entirely in Estonia. As clichéd it may sound — you can't say you've been to Tallinn if you haven't visited the old town. This compact area is best explored on foot.

  • Viru Gate (Entrance to the Old Town via Viru Street). This section of town is known as All-Linn or "Lower Town", as it's where the merchants and artisans of old Tallinn lived. Today, Viru is still Tallinn's trendiest shopping street and the entire All-Linn is the busiest (and most touristy) bit of Tallinn. 
  • Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats). The square in the heart of the Old Town, just next to medieval Town Hall (Raekoda), ringed with cafes and restaurants. The square was formerly used as a marketplace. 
  • Town Hall (Raekoda), Raekoja plats 1,  +372 645 7900. Tallinn Town Hall, built at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, is the oldest town hall in the Nordic countries and Baltic states. Its heavy stone structure dominates the square. Nowadays it's used as a museum where smaller concerts are held. 
  • St. Olaf's church (Oleviste kirik), Lai 51. Originally built in the 12th century - today it is a Baptist church and probably the most visible landmark on the northern end of the Old Town. When Estonia was part of the Soviet Union the tower was used as a radio tower and a surveillance point. free. 
  • St. Nicholas church (Niguliste kirik), Niguliste 3. W-S 10-17. St.Olaf's lookalike is located at the other end of the Old Town. Heavily damaged in WW2 and a fire in the 1980's, it is nowadays not used as a church but as an art museum. adults €3.50, concessions €2. 
  • Museum of Occupations (Okupatsioonide muuseum), Toompea. 8,  +372 668 0250. M-Su: 10AM-6PM. Describes the life conditions under Soviet and Nazi regimes. Adult: €6; Concession: €4; Family: €13. (updated May 2016)
  • City Wall. A section of the City Wall can be climbed from the corner of Suur-Kloostri and Väike-Kloostri, with entry into three towers possible. Quite frankly, the views from up on Toompea are better, and the spiral staircases are steep and somewhat claustrophobic. Admission: €1.25. 
  • Estonian History Museum (Great Guild), Pikk 17,  +372 696 8690. Daily 10-18 (1 May - 30 Sep); Thu-Tue 10-18 (1 Oct - 30 Apr). The History Museum's main location is the medieval Great Guild Hall. Here, the permanent exhibition takes you through 11,000 years of Estonian history by means ranging from striking exhibits of artifacts to interactive "time capsules". Topics covered include a surprisingly wide range, from coinage and wine to the history of the Great Guild building itself. On top of that, there are always some temporary exhibitions which usually serve as a link with present-day Estonia and Tallinn. 4 €; Free entry on the last Thursday of every month and on the International Museum Day, 18 May. 
  • Estonian Maritime Museum (Fat Margaret), Pikk 70 (Trams 1/2 and bus 3 to Linnhall),  +372 620 0550. May–Sept: Mon–Sun 9.00 – 18.00; Oct–Apr: Tue–Sun 10.00 – 18.00. The Maritime Museum dates back to 1935 and is housed inside the largest of the Tallinn city wall towers, aptly named "Fat Margaret" (Paks Margareta). Visiting the museum allows one not only to see the potpourri of maritime-themed artifacts, but also the 16th-century cannon tower and experience the view from the cafe on its roof. While the museum is the original location of the Meermuseum, you absolutely cannot miss their second location in the Seaplane Harbour, where the ships and airplanes are stored (see below) €5, combined ticket with Seaplane Harbour - €14. 
  • Ex-KGB Headquarters, Pikk 61. Now the Interior Ministry and not generally open to the public, this is where the KGB detained and tortured suspected dissidents. A Soviet-era joke says that this was the tallest building in Estonia: even from the basement, you could see Siberia. Interrogations were indeed conducted in the basement and you can see even today how the windows were crudely bricked up with concrete to mute the sound. 


The Old Town is packed with restaurants claiming to offer authentic Estonian food, particularly on and around Raekoja plats. Prices at restaurants near the Raekoja Plats are generally more expensive, yet offer the same quality of food, as restaurants off this main square. Prices are steep by Estonian standards, but still much cheaper than neighbouring Helsinki, which explains why on weekends they're always packed with day tripping Finns.

  • Kohvik Narva, Narva mnt 10. M-Sa 10:00-20:00, Su 10:00-18:00. Cafe Narva boasts its old-style interior preserved from USSR times. Ladies at the counter are also somewhat brusque and mostly Russian-speaking, although this should not prevent you from enjoying traditional food of Soviet workers as well as delicious pastries baked on the premises. 
  • Kompressor, Rataskaevu 3 (Just few minutes walk from Raekoja plats.). This place offers an assortment of huge and delicious pancakes at great prices. Don't give in to the temptation to order two portions, one pancake is usually enough. Pancakes: from €3. 
  • Maiasmokk, Pikk 16,  +372 646 4079. 9 AM to 9 PM mostly. The oldest still operating café in Tallinn, dating back to 1864. Coffee, tea, chocolate and various sweet and savoury pastries available, at a quite cheap price. Spacious with stylish decor. Right next door is the Maiasmokk confectionery shop, which sells quality Estonian chocolates to take home with you. (updated Oct 2015)
  • Kohvik Moon, Võrgu 3,  +372 631 4575. 12:00 - 23:00 mostly. A rather small restaurant with a nice, minimalistic decor. Serves traditional Estonian food with a Russian influence. Voted best restaurant in Tallinn in 2010. Very popular among tourists, and as such it is usually quite full. Prior reservations are recommended but not mandatory. Main courses 10 € - 20 €. 
  • Oliver, Viru 3,  +372 630 7898. 10 AM to midnight. A traditional restaurant in the heart of the Tallinn Old town. The menu is centered on various kinds of steaks, but there are also pastas and vegetarian dishes available. Main courses 15 € - 23 €. (updated Nov 2015)
  • Restoran Peppersack, Viru 2 / Vana turg 6,  +372 646 6800A middle ages-themed restaurant one block away from the city hall square - even the names of the dishes are medieval themed. Outdoor seating available in the summer, when they also played medieval (what else?) music on a small outdoor stage, and they seem also to have sword fight and oriental dance performances. Probably the main competitor of Olde Hansa and a bit touristy indeed but fun. 
  • Vanaema Juures, Rataskaevu 10/12,  +372 626 9080. Translates as "Grandma's Place", which gives you an idea of the warm welcome you can expect here. Friendly and attentive staff are happy to explain the traditional dishes. Excellent value for money. It's a tiny place, so reservations are essential in the high season. Try the meatballs or the pork with sauerkraut and don't miss the kama porridge for dessert.
  • Olde Hansa, Vana turg 1,  +372 627 9020. The ruling king among Tallinn's purely touristy restaurants with some of them trying to copy its style. The place is simply medieval, not just in terms of food but also in the sense of performance - no electricity, no music except live and authentic, no modern inventions. The house special is bear meat "marinated in rare spices and cooked over a fire in honour of Waldemar II, the brave King of Denmark" costing €40+. Try one of the extraordinary beers, such as the honey beer. It is not likely that you will meet any locals here. 


Inside the range of 4 km:


Inside the range of 4 km:

Information about copyright

Rights characteristic / license

by-sa: CREATIVE COMMONS Attribution-ShareAlike

Link to the description of the license

Input taken over from:

Wikivoyage contributors, 'Tallinn', Wikivoyage, The FREE worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit, 15 July 2016, 20:33 UTC, <> [accessed 25 August 2016]

taken over / edited on

07 Mar 2012 - 18 Nov 2016

taken over / edited by