Estonia Day I: Diving Into & Exploring Tallinn, the Historic Capital (+3 Must-Do’s)
After a pleasant flight with a very small Air Batic plane (about 70 people and only about half full is NOT much), I arrived at Tallinn Airport at 1 (local time) in the morning on Saturday, September 26, with a slight headache, due the fact that I didn’t get much sleep the night before.
However, I couldn’t have been happier.
A crookedly smiling Mr. T. was waiting for me, also looking a wee bit exhausted.
I made it, finally, and all of a sudden, the past five weeks were completely forgotten. Ahead of us were five days of the less ordinary, exploring and road-tripping a little.
We took a taxi to the Nordic Forum Hotel - which was a surprise as I didn’t know where we’d stay - and it took less than 10 minutes from the lennujaam (meaning ‘airport’).
Bed time. Finally. It’s undoubtedly been the coziest and most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in, like a baby.
A few hours later we were up an bouncing and even more excited when we discovered that the sun was greeting us warmheartedly.
Medieval Tallinn was in all its glow. What else could we possibly want?
After a large, fueling breakfast (I had to try my personal power food in this country: porridge, naturally, which tasted different than the one I usually eat), we jumped right into Tallinn life.
The small capital, which only has about 400,000 inhabitants and with it is the largest city in Estonia, was buzzing. Naturally, this is usually the first destination when people travel to Estonia. The country only has two airports. Well, there’s only 1.3 million people. The other one is located in Tartu, our last stop of the journey.
The hotel was only a 3-minute walk from the hotel, so it couldn’t have been more convenient. Tell me about happy hormones!
Out and about in Tallinn. And wow, did this city surprise me. I’ve heard good things about it, but its medieval atmosphere, small cobble-stoned streets and alleyways as well as colorful houses blew me away.
It is such a charming city and feels more like a small town. Everything is within walking distance, which saves you money for transportation.
Every house - smaller or larger - is unique. I particularly liked the little independent shops and cafés.
We aimlessly wandered the streets of Tallinn and that was definitely the best we could do, for when else do you stumble upon the best photo spots and hidden places?
We slowly but surely left the city center for a little while and approached the harbor - the former dock.
Cheesy pictures had to be taken, which is usually not the case.
This abandoned dock even features a night club (’klubi’ - what a cute word for club).
Here, T. told me about his surprise: a day in Helsinki. Whuuut?
Tickets bought and I was almost drowning in excitement.
We returned to the town hall square, which was filled with people on this lovely Saturday afternoon.
Sorry, folks, but I just can’t help but ‘aw’ at the language that sounds so cute. I mean, come on, ‘Iiri Pubi’? How can this not sound adorable?
And this is exactly how I experienced the people: reserved, but very welcoming and willing to help.
After a quick rain shower, the sun peeped out again.
And we decided it was time to see the city from above, which I believe is one of my favorite things to do, no matter where I am.
Swinging my hair around like no one’s watching.
We walked up a few stairs in the old town and had a great view on the city.
I am that kind of person who enjoys being alone. I can cope with my own thoughts quite well and do love a good getaway, all by myself, during which I can decide on my own pace.
However (and you might have seen this one coming), I do love making memories with a person I am very close with. Whether it be a good friend, my significant other or a family member. As long as we are on the same wave-length and agree on how we want to explore / experience a city, I am more than happy to share personal adventures. This can make a trip even more enriching as you can actually talk about all the new impressions.
More so, it fills my little heart with a lot of happiness and knowing I’ve had the chance to see a place together with a beloved person makes traveling worthwhile.
This might be the reason why this trip has been - and still is and will be - so memorable.
In one of the alleyways we found a timeline pointing out the most significant incidents and historic events of this small, green Baltic country.
Those Estonians, they are ahead of time.
We continued our rather aimless walk through town and, walking hand in hand, totally forgot the world around us. I was stunned. I really was.
Tallinn is one of those cities that left me with a warm feeling deep down inside. I could feel at ease there. I assume it’s mainly because I expected nothing at all - or rather something completely different that wasn’t as positive as I, luckily and eventually, got to experience Tallinn.
Due to its size, although rich in history, Tallinn is not one of those capitals that offers endless things to see and do, at least compared to other cities. The alleyways themselves are a highlight.
Maybe because you generally can get a good overview of the city in a short period of time makes being here so relaxed. You just soak in the atmosphere and don’t have to run around like a headless chicken to cover all the ground.
However, there are a few things you should not miss (and will more or less stumble upon by accident anyway), but these are things you should have on the list when visiting Estonia’s capital.
Soak in the Atmosphere on Raekoja Plats
👟 ✈ You will hardly miss this one. It’s the town hall square with many restaurants and souvenir shops. However, this place is quite touristy and prices do not reflect the average rates and fares. Still, it’s worth stopping by and soaking up the vibrant spirit of this medieval town.
Visit St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
👟 ✈ This cathedral was built during a time when Estonia was still subject to Russian rule. It’s stunning and I definitely recommend you have a look inside. It’s free.
Have a Great View from Patkul and Court Square Lookout
👟 ✈ When climbing a few stairs, you’ll soon have a wonderful view on specifically Tallinn’s old town. Anyone else enjoying the bird’s eye view?
And one last tip on top: if you are really keen to learn more about the city’s history in-depth, visit the City Museum.
After having rested our feet for an hour in the late afternoon (oh cozy, cozy bed, I am obsessed with you), we headed out again to eat dinner.
Then, our first day in beautiful Estonia came to a close and the sunset from our hotel room was the cherry on top.
I fell into a deep sleep (probably the best I have ever had in a while; can I sing an ode to the bed?).
I was dreaming about chilly, nordic Finland.
I’ll tell you all about our sweet escape to Helsinki soon.