Tallinn, Estonia - Stein Travel
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Estonia's ancient seacoast capital, Tallinn exudes a sense of romantic history, being one of the most completely preserved medieval cities in Europe, a gem on the UNESCO World Heritage List that is only beginning to be discovered by delighted visitors of all ages. A spirit of mystery still pervades the cobbled courtyards of the picturesque Old Town, the winding alleys overhung with original 12th and 13th century merchant's houses, barns, warehouses and a profusion of perfectly preserved medieval church and state buildings.

While preserving its past Tallinn is as forward-looking and progressive as any other modern European capital. This is probably best reflected in the interactive exhibits at the Tallinn Science and Technology Centre, the city's showcase for the arts and sciences. Public transport is modern and efficient; the nightlife is pumping from cigar bars and pool halls to nightclubs; and dining out is a tasty choice from take-away pizza and Chinese to formal French and traditional Estonian cuisine.

Information & Facts


Like the rest of coastal Estonia, Tallinn has a temperate climate, with warm summers and severe winters. Temperatures range from a summer average of 21°C (70°F) to an average in winter of -8°C (18°F). Being on the Baltic Sea the city is subjected to sea breezes and humidity, and its northern latitude means long summer daylight hours (the longest summer day stretches to 19 hours) and dark winters when daylight lasts sometimes only six hours. The cold winter does not necessarily mean constant snow; in fact snowfalls are few and far between. When it falls it stays, however, and there tends to be a layer of snow on the ground constantly between December and March. Summertime brings unexpected rain showers, so an umbrella and light raincoat are recommended.

Getting Around

A system of buses, trolleys and trams connect all parts of the city between 6am and 11pm every day. Tickets can be purchased at newsstands or from the driver at vehicle stops, which is more expensive. Visitors can purchase the Tallinn Card, which provides unlimited use of public transport along with entry to various attractions. Minivans also provide transport and metered taxis can be hailed on the street or ordered by telephone. There are plenty of parking lots in downtown Tallinn, and streetside parking is provided which must be paid for in advance on kerbside machines.


Locals speak Estonian, which is part of the Finno-Ugric family of languages. English is widely used and understood among the younger generation and those involved in the tourist industry.


The Estonian currency is now the Euro, as the Kroon (EEK) was discontinued from 2011. Foreign currency can be easily exchanged at hotels, banks and exchange bureaux in the larger towns, at the airport and main railway station. Major credit cards are generally accepted in the larger hotels, main restaurants and shops, but it is wise to check first. Preferred travellers cheques in Estonia are Amex, Thomas Cook and Eurocheque. Banking hours are weekdays 9am to 4pm. Exchange bureaux are open till 6pm on weekdays and from 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. Some open on Sundays. ATMs are available in most towns.

Night Life

Tallinn's nightlife has a big reputation that belies its diminutive size as one Europe's smallest capital cities - albeit one of its most attractive. The biggest influx of visitors come from Britain where cheap flights draw stag parties and people on salacious weekend breaks, and Finland, where booze cruisers dock to take advantage of inexpensive alcohol. Tallinn's nightlife is conveniently clustered around the compact old town, and the streets are safe to walk around at night. The top nightclubs are Venus Club and Club Hollywood, both long-standing mega-venues that accommodate over 1, 000 patrons and attract top DJs. The most famous bars are the Nimeta, and the Nimega (respectively the bar with and without a name) and Molly Malone's an Irish theme pub overlooking the town square. To sample some of the local micro-brews visit the appropriately named Beerhouse. When these get too crowded seek out the many chic lounge bars and trendy wine bars that attract more locals than visitors. Tallinn artists and intellectuals tend to gather in the Von Krahl theatre bar, while homesick Britons cluster at Café VS which offers excellent curries. Tallinn also has many revue bars which offer an up-market striptease experience. For live music, visit Guitar Safari, and for larger concerts see the programme at Saku Suurhall in the old town. There are some excellent classical music concerts at the Estonia Concert Hall and the imposing Linnahall. See the schedule of performances in the free Tallinn In Your Pocket guide available throughout the old town. There are four main cinemas, all centrally located, and all showing films in their original language with Estonian subtitles. There are also a few casinos, such as the glitzy Olympic Casino and old-town based Casino Grand Prix.


One of the most exciting cities for shopping in the Baltics, Tallinn will appeal to all shopaholics' senses. With a wonderful variety of shops, boutiques and specialty stores hidden away in pokey side streets, there's plenty of time and money to spend in this historic city. The main shopping streets in the Old Town are Viru, Müürivahe, Suur-Karja, Väike-Karja and Kullassepa. For those who prefer to confine themselves to a shopping centre, head to the Viru Centre is the place to find a selection of fashion, homeware and music stores. The Old Town is the place to head for souvenir and antique shopping, while the Katariina Passage is a magical place to observe where medieval-style workshops create glasswork, ceramics, leather goods and quilts right before your very eyes. The Central market is worth strolling around, even if only to mingle with the locals. The most popular souvenirs from Tallinn are amber jewellery and accessories, Vana Tallinn liqueur , handicraft items like carved wooden beer mugs, felt hats, ceramics and glassware. Kalev-brand bittersweet Estonian chocolate, and hand-painted marzipan are also popular souvenirs. Most shops are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays. The sales tax, which is levied on most good and services on Estonia is 18% and non-European travellers can apply for a tax refund on good bought at a minimum of EEK 2, 500. A form needs to be filled out at the point of purchase in order to claim tax back and these forms can be obtained from most retailers and Customs Offices.


A city steeped in history and a rich cultural heritage, Tallinn is a sightseer's paradise and a great place to explore on foot or by bus. Dubbed 'mini Prague', the beautiful cobble-stoned streets of the Old Town are the perfect place to start your discovery of the city. Featuring old buildings and churches, such as Alexander Nevsky Cathedra and St Olav's, the tallest church in Medieval Europe, travellers will love the enchanting feel of the town. Stroll through the Estonian Open Air Museum, take the kids to the Tallinn Zoo for the day, or pack a picnic and enjoy a day out at the Botanical Gardens. Visitors in Tallinn keen on doing a lot of sightseeing should look into purchasing a Tallinn Card, which enables the bearer to free public transport, a free two-hour city sightseeing tour, and free admission to all of Tallinn's museums. The card is available for 6 hours, 1, 2 and 3-day options starting at EEK 185 for adults and EEK 95 for children. The card can be bought from the airport, harbour, tourist information offices and most hotels.


Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

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