Once home to wealthy merchants, Tallinn today boasts its medieval church spires, cobblestone streets and numerous sights: The medieval marketplace itself, Northern Europe's best-preserved Gothic-style town hall, and Europe's oldest council pharmacy, which still welcomes clientele today. It's not just architectural continuity, Old Town Tallinn has retained its traditional flair as a lively city with cozy street cafes and quaint, hidden courtyards serving cocktails and music to suit all tastes.
Join us for a walking tour and immerse yourself in the Middle Ages. Tallinn's main attraction is undoubtedly the Old Town, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with its medieval charm and exceptionally complete preserved network of paths and city walls. Divided into Upper Town with Cathedral Hill and Lower Town, the Town Hall Square forms the heart of the Old Town, framed by a two and a half kilometer long city wall. If you approach the city from the east, you can see the clay gate from afar. The gate system was more pronounced in this place until the end of the 19th century. All that remains are the two picturesque towers of the Clay Gate with the adjacent city wall. The historical remains from the 15th century still give an impression of what Tallinn must have looked like in the past. Before you head towards the Market Square, I recommend you to turn into Müürivahe. As the name of the street suggests, there are parts of the city walls here. In Tallinn, "parts of the city wall" are not just a few meters; almost the entire Old Town is surrounded by historic city walls. As soon as you start, you will come across the Hellemann Tower. For little money you can have a first look at Tallinn from above and walk a bit along the city wall path.
By the way, the city wall of Tallinn has a total length of two kilometers. It is one of the best preserved city fortifications in Estonia. There are even more city walls at the southern entrance of the city. There you can find the Kiek in de Kök watchtower with two museums and a bastion. If you plan to visit the city walls, I recommend this place. From here you have a beautiful view of the old town and the Domberg.
Back in the Müürivahe, not far away is the St. Catherine's Passage, a small picturesque alley with stone arches, where you can look over the shoulder of several artists at work: Here traditional handicrafts are made of glass, ceramics or colorful gemstones. From here it is not far to the large town hall square, around which colorful historic houses are lined up, separated only by quaint alleys that lead you to other corners of the old town. The town hall, built in Gothic style, was first mentioned in 1320; it is still used for receptions and concerts throughout the year. In the summer months it is also open to tourists for a tour. So you can see the magnificent and colorfully decorated halls and temporary exhibitions in the basement. Tallinn can also be viewed from a bird's eye view: From the 64-meter-high Town Hall Tower in the middle of the Old Town, the view goes in all four directions over the roofs of Tallinn to the Baltic Sea.
You're probably starting to get hungry, too. I recommend you not to visit a restaurant directly at the market place. Even though the view of the Town Hall, Cathedral Hill and the Market Square is extremely tempting, the view is reflected in the price. It is better to go a few meters further and stop at Olde Hansa Restoran, for example. The room decorations, the ambience and also the clothing of the staff make the place a coherent medieval restaurant. The menu offers all kinds of dishes and drinks that promise some tasty surprises. For example, try the wild boar and elk sausage plate, accompanied by a dark herbal beer.
After the small refreshment it is worth a visit to the Old Pharmacy, which has been open since 1422 and to this day and is looking forward to customers! In the back there is a small exhibition on medicine, pharmacy utensils and the history of the pharmacy. Maybe you still need something for your travel pharmacy? In addition to the usual medicines, there is also Raeapteek's Claret, a herbal schnapps distilled from red wine and spices according to a recipe from 1467. A fitting souvenir for loved ones back home.
Another highlight on the way to Cathedral Hill is the 13th-century Olai Church, which dominates Tallinn's city skyline due to the height of its steeple. In the past, it not only served as a place of worship, but also emitted light signals for shipping. With its 124 meters height, the tower is one of the tallest structures in Estonia. In the Middle Ages, it was even the tallest building in the world.
A must is the ascent of Cathedral Hill, which is a full 48 meters above the lower town.
The Tallinn Cathedral, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the best viewpoint over the city are especially worth seeing here.
The cathedral, the city's landmark, has been repeatedly expanded and renovated, thus uniting architectural styles from different eras. The Russian influence on the city and Estonia can be seen in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It is also enthroned on Cathedral Hill high above the city and its onion domes are reminiscent of the Orthodox churches in neighboring Russia. The golden crosses on the domes gleam in the sunlight. The interior of the cathedral is also worth a visit. It is decorated with lots of gold and magnificent mosaics.
The best view over the entire city - and free of charge, by the way - is offered on one of the numerous viewing platforms. How about a selfie for a change?
If you love markets, I recommend the Balti Jaam Market, a culinary temple located not far from the old town in the Telliskivi district. The modern market hall offers the usual vegetable, fruit, fish and meat counters as well as numerous stalls with special food offerings. A few steps away, a visit to Telliskivi Creative City, a former industrial site where an alternative neighborhood has developed and there is much to discover, such as an enormous abundance of street art. These works of art alone are worth a walk through the neighborhood - and the whole thing is free.
There is also a lively cultural scene with events, exhibitions and art and an exciting gastronomic scene of bars, cafes, restaurants and street food, where an evening in Tallinn can end well.