Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is an incredible city. Of course the old town is the main attraction, and you can easily spend 2 days exploring just that area. But Tallinn really does warrant a bit more time if you have it.
Exploring beyond the old town is rewarding for anyone who does, offering everything from beautiful palaces, to pristine beaches, to Cold War prisons and maritime museums. Here are a few of the best things on offer, all within 15 minutes of the old town centre apart from #6 which is a little further afield.
1. Kadriorg Palace
Kadriorg Palace was founded by Russian Tsar Peter I in 1718 and was named after his wife, Catherine I. The Baroque palace is in a beautiful park setting, surrounded by fountains and flowers and trees, as well as a nice area of woodland with some lovely trails. The palace was actually modelled on Versailles, and is now home to an Art Museum – home to Russian art from the 16th to 20th centuries.
2. Patarei Prison
Patarei Prison is spooky and eerie and just one of those places that gives you the chills. Initially built as a sea fortress, the site was then used to house prisoners during the communist era – and is now a memorial to the victims of communism and fascism, telling the stories of mass deportation, torture and execution on a mass scale against the local population during the 1940s-80s.
From Kadriorg, you can walk through the woodland to reach The Russalka Memorial and beach. The memorial is a bronze monument in memory of the sinking of the Russian warship Rusalka (Mermaid), which sank en route to Finland in 1893.
Just behind the Memorial is a beautiful beach, which even on a scorching hot day we found to be deserted. We spent a couple of hours here just reading our books and relaxing looking out to the sea.
4. Seaplane Harbour
The Seaplane Harbour is part of the Estonian Maritime Museum and is the site that houses a number of cool ships, including a submarine, an old sunken ship, naval mines and other various ships that you can board and explore. Also inside the seaplane hangars are some local craft stalls which sell everything from Christmas decorations to clothes – the perfect spot for a souvenir.
5. Telliskivi Creative City (Kalamaja)
Kalamaja is definitely the cool part of Tallinn. Telliskivi Creative City, located in a former industrial complex within the Kalamaja district, consists of studios, creative companies, and lots of unique restaurants and bars.
There is also a flea market every Saturday which is nice to wonder through, and if you want to experience Tallinn night life, this is definitely the area to be. My personal favourite part was La Muu – an eco icecream shop.
6. Lahemaa National Park
One of my favourite trips from Tallinn was to Lahemaa National Park, home to an incredible landscape which is mainly bog. It’s been beautifully done with board walks to explore, and towers to view the unique views from. Getting to Lahemaa takes around 30 minutes, but it’s well worth a day if you can spare it.