A popular port of call on Baltic cruises, Tallinn is one port that many U.S. visitors visit and exclaim: “I never knew there was a city so gorgeous here!” Most cruise passengers rightfully focus their time in the Old Town, with its cobblestone streets, jigsaw puzzle of alleyways, and a myriad of cafes and shops. Tallinn is one of the best retained medieval European towns, and included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Tallinn is also one of the fastest growing of the Baltic capital cities, and very connected (in the online sense).
Old Town is divided into the Upper Town, Toompea, and Lower Old Town, Vanalinn. As with so many European medieval towns, Old Town is surrounded by walls and towers from the Middle Ages. Nearly half of the original towers still stand at attention. The oldest building in Old Town is the former Dominican Monastery, built in 1246. The old town prison is now the Tallinn Museum of Photography. There are a variety of shops in town, including many antique stores where it’s fun to browse over the Soviet-era memorabilia, and hordes of “antique” icons. For those shopping for old Russian goods or amber jewelry, Tallinn is a good source, and prices are said to be less than in Russia.
Outside of the Old Town there’s certainly more to engage the visitor. Kadriog Palace was built by Peter the Great for his wife, Catherine I, and houses a fine art collection spanning the 16th through 20th centuries. The contemporary Kumu Art Museum is a cutting edge building featuring exhibits of Estonian art. The Estonia Open Air Museum features 207 acres and over 100 restored farm buildings.
There is far more to visit here than is possible in a day, so if Tallinn, Estonia is on your itinerary, you won’t be disappointed. And if you are lucky to extend your visit beyond a day, consider the Tallinn Card, for added value.