When we are travelling, we always appreciate recommendations from locals. We like to visit places that also locals love to visit. Especially the bars and restaurants. It usually means that those places are doing this extra something to earn regular customers.
Since we both have been living in Tallinn over 12 years, we have sorted out some of the places that we find a worth recommending. So from this article, you can find our top picks for sightseeing, souvenir shopping and eating.
Where to go sightseeing?
As a local, it’s very hard to recommend something that seems very essential to us. For eating it’s easier, but sightseeing is harder. How often do you visit typical sightseeing places in your town? But still, we have some favourite places where we like to take our guests.
St. Olav’s Church tower and observation platform
St Olav’s Church tower is 124 m high. In summer, you can climb to the tower’s observation platform to enjoy views of the city. But be aware that there are 232 steps leading up to the observation platform! Ticket for an adult will cost 3€.
St Olav’s Church is located at Lai 28, Tallinn. It is in the old town, near to Linnahall.
Patarei Prison was originally built as a sea fortress (Peter the Great’s Naval Fortress), but with changes in military technology, the fortress soon lost its value as a defence structure. In 1919, Patarei was converted into a prison – it suited well for that thanks to its 2-metre thick walls. The Soviet Union imprisoned lot’s of innocent people in the Patarei Prison on an ideological pretext.
In Patarei, there is now opened an exhibition about the communist regime of the Soviet Union. The authentic prison interior of the Patarei exhibition area introduces vividly the nature of communist ideology and the crimes of its implementers in different countries, the stories of the victims of communism and Nazism, and the eventful history of Patarei Prison.
An adult ticket will cost 5€, a reduced ticket for students, university students, pensioners and teachers will cost 3 €. You can read more about Patarei and the exhibition here: https://patareiprison.org/en/visit/
Patarei is located at Kalaranna 28, Tallinn near the harbour. It is at walking distance from the city centre. From the Freedom Square walking will take approximately 25 minutes and from the old town, it is even less. Alternatively, you can catch a bus 73 from Freedom Square, and ride to bus stop “Lennusadam”.
Old town viewing platforms
There are 3 viewing platforms in Tallinn old town. Kohtuotsa viewing platform is the most famous of them, From there you can see the old town, the modern city centre, many of the Town Wall’s defence towers and much more. Kohtuotsa viewing platform is located at Kohtu 12, Tallinn.
The second platform is Patkuli viewing platform. It is located at Rahukohtu 5, Tallinn, at the north side of the Toompea hill. From Patkuli you can see Tallinn’s Town Wall and towers, St. Olav’s Church and the harbour area.
The third platform is Piiskopi viewing platform. It is located at Toom-Kooli 21, Tallinn, on the west side of Toompea hill. From Piiskopi viewing platform is a view to the Pelgulinn and Kalamaja areas.
When you have more time and you want to go somewhere outside of the city centre, then Paljassaare peninsula is a great place for that. It is a quick getaway to nature in Northen Tallinn. Paljassaare peninsula is a great place for sunbathing, walking, cycling and discovering old military buildings. You can read more about Paljassaare, how to get there and why we love going there from this blog post.
Where to shop?
The one stressful thing about travelling is that friends and family at home are expecting some great souvenirs. And finding some interesting souvenirs can be really stressful. So hopefully we can reduce your stress a little bit with our list.
Hää Eesti Asi
Hää Eesti Asi is Kätlin’s favourite souvenir shop in Tallinn. They sell Estonian handicraft and food. We like this store because they will not sell typical souvenir staff like matrjoška dolls and amber (which, by the way, has nothing to do with Estonia). Instead of that, you can find there lot’s of wooden products, handmade jewellery and Estonian food products. Hää Eesti Asi is located at Viru 23, Tallinn. It is right after Viru gates- at the entrance of old town.
Hää Eesti Asi is located at Viru 23, Tallinn. It is right after Viru gates- at the entrance of old town.
Kalev chocolate shop
If you are a sweet-tooth, then this is a place you should visit. Kalev is Estonian chocolate factory which dates back to 1806. Like the name says – Kalev chocolate shop sells different types of chocolates, candies, gift boxes, marzipan figures etc. Kalev chocolate shops are located in Rotermanni Quarter, Roseni 7 and Balti Jaam’s market.
Rotermanni chocolate store also offers workshops. In one workshop you can make marzipan figures and in the other workshop, you can make chocolate truffles. Both workshops will take about 2 hours. Marzipan workshop will cost 23€ per person and the group must be 4-10 people. The chocolate workshop will cost 35€ per person for 4-10 people group. If you have a bigger group, then the prices are cheaper. You can check more from Kalev’s homepage: https://kalev.eu/kauplused/rotermanni-sokolaadipood/
When you are coming to Tallinn during Christmas time, the Tallinn Christmas Market is definitely a place worth visiting. It offers traditional Christmas goods: sweets, handicrafts, and trinkets. Most of the products are local. It is a perfect place to do some Christmas shopping. And after shopping, you can have some warming glögg and enjoy the beauty of Tallinn old town in Christmas lights.
Tallinn Christmas Market is opened every year from the end of November until the beginning of January.
Balti Jaam’s Market
If you still want to visit a market, but you are not visiting Tallinn during Christmas time, then the good alternative is Balti Jaam’s Market. It is a newly renovated market in a train station. I would even say it is a kind of hipster market. They are selling all the traditional market stuff (fresh fruits, meat, pastries, handicraft etc) but with a little modern twist. There is a pretty decent food area as well. And also, you can find there one of our favourite burger places in Tallinn- Uulits Tänavagurmee.
Where to eat?
There are many really good restaurants and bars in Tallinn. But over time, we have developed some of our favourite places where we like to go back again and again. Since we prefer places that are not overly fancy and are a bit more rustic, you can’t find here any white table cloth restaurants.
Kochi Aidad is a cosy moderately priced tavern in the harbour area. They offer traditional Estonian pub food, good beer and on weekends there is live music. Entrance is free. Since it is located at the harbour, there are a lot of Finnish tourists but you can still find lots of locals there as well. If you want to taste some traditional Estonian food, you should try “mulgipuder” (potato and barley porridge), braised moose or pork knuckle with stewed sauerkraut.
Chicago 1933 is 1930-s American style pub with live music. There is live music every weekend and most of the time also during the whole week. But this place is quite popular, so you will need to make a reservation ahead. The food there is good, but it is not the cheapest pub in Tallinn. Nevertheless, we, and lot’s of other locals, still enjoy visiting this time to time.
Vana Villem, Dubliner, Karja Kelder
Vana Villem, Dubliner and Karja Kelder are all one chain pubs. And the are all equally good. They are more Irish than Estonian pubs, but locals are loving them. They offer good food at a really good price. And they have a quite wide selection of beers also. Dubliner and Karja Kelder are located in the old town, Vana Villem is located in the city centre at Tartu street.
We promise that this is the last pub in our list 😀 Saku Gastropub is a little bit fancier than the previous pubs. It is located in the renovated Rotermanni quarter. They have quite an interesting interior – they have used lot’s of beer caps in decorating. Saku Gastropub is also offering tasty food and a wide selection of local brewery, Saku Õlletehas, beers.
TOA- Taste of Asia
Usually, when we are travelling, we try to eat local cuisine as much as possible. But if you are already tired of black sausage and sauerkraut, good Asian food is a good change. TOA has a cosy atmosphere, tasty food and great cocktails. They offer both- very good alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. All details are carefully selected in TOA. Even their dishes are specially made for them.
Uulits Tänavagurmee burger restaurant
As we already mentioned, Uulits offers one of the best burgers in Tallinn. So if you are craving about a burger, you should set your steps to Uulits. They have 3 burger restaurants in Tallinn- one in Mustamäe, one in Kalamaja, and one in Balti Jaam’s market.
Finally, one real restaurant made to our list too 🙂 Restaurant Farm is decorated as a wealthy Estonian farm in the medieval heart of Tallinn. They use local Estonian products with a modern twist. The food there is really delicious. But if you will prefer to visit a cafe instead of the restaurant, the Farm’s little sister cafe Rukis is close by. Rukis offers light meals and really good cakes at a reasonable price. And they are both located in the old town.
That’s all for now
Hopefully, we were able to make your visit to Tallinn a little bit easier and you were able to find some places to visit. And hopefully, you will enjoy them as much as we do. We will review this list time-to-time and will update it if it will become necessary. Feel free to subscribe to our updates via e-mail to learn more about Tallinn and Estonia.0