Are you looking for the best things to do in Tallinn as a first-time visitor? This guide has you covered!
Aram and I have been to Tallinn ten times or more collectively and have explored the city during every season of the year.
These are some essential Tallinn attractions, tours, and places to visit if you’re making that inaugural trip to Estonia’s capital city!
If you have a favorite landmark in Tallinn that we left off this guide, let us know in the comments! Thanks!
In this post...
Best Things to Do in Tallinn
1. Wander Around the Balti Jaam Market
Just a short walk from the Old Town, you will find Balti Jaama Turg, or Baltic Station Market, a universal market in Tallinn where you can find over 300 counters with all kinds of goods.
In 1993, the building opened its doors, and in 2017, it was transformed with a fresh concept of modern amenities, all while still emphasizing the style of a limestone warehouse.
There are three levels in Balti Jaama Turg. The underground floor is occupied by a supermarket and a gym. The first floor has a large fish and meat hall and a food court with 20 dining options.
The second floor presents Estonian handicrafts, clothes, and antiques.
There is also a small brewery on the top floor with a terrace to enjoy your food and beer before leaving the market.
Address: Kopli 1, 10412 Tallinn
2. Visit Tallinn’s Old Town
Immerse yourself in the rich history of Tallinn Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site brimming with well-preserved medieval architecture, charming cobblestone streets, and picturesque squares.
Unlike other European cities, Tallinn has managed to maintain the original medieval charm of all its buildings, from the colorful merchants’ houses to the grand Gothic Town Hall.
Explore the historic center, divided into the upper and lower towns.
Take a stroll to Toompea (the upper town) to marvel at the castle and cathedral, while the lower town will offer you a glimpse into medieval urban life with its public buildings, craftsmen guilds, and more.
Discover Europe’s oldest continuously-running pharmacy, tucked away in an opposite corner of Town Hall Square, and explore the remedies that have been sold since the 15th century.
Capture the perfect Instagrammable shot at St. Catherine’s Passage, a charming lane lined with craft workshops, a bustling knit market, and cafes.
Indulge in the local pastries at Rukis, a cozy dessert cafe and bakery on Viru Street.
3. Check out the Estonian Maritime Museum
Set sail on a journey through Estonia’s rich maritime history in the Estonian Maritime Museum, in the Seaplane Harbour, presenting the most extensive collection of exhibits and interactive displays.
The museum showcases the impact of the sea on Estonian culture and society and is a perfect place to visit if you’re looking for what to do in Tallinn on a rainy (or snowy!) day.
You’ll be transported back in time as you learn about the development of different types of ships and boats, as well as the technologies and techniques used to build and navigate them.
But it’s not all history at the museum. You’ll also have the chance to see over 200 artifacts, including ship models, a submarine called Lembit, Suur Tõll icebreaker, maps, navigational instruments, and the Short 184 seaplane, the oldest ship found in Estonia.
Address: Vesilennuki 1, 10415 Tallinn
4. Go on an Estonian Food, Drinks, and History Tour
Experience the best of Tallinn’s food, drinks, and history on a guided tour of the city’s most iconic landmarks and hidden gems.
Start your culinary journey at the historic Old Town, where you’ll sample traditional Estonian dishes and drinks while exploring the UNESCO-listed cobblestone streets and medieval architecture.
Savor the flavors of Estonia’s authentic cuisine, including black bread, smoked fish, and hearty stews: all washed down with a shot of local spirits.
As you wander through the narrow alleys and charming squares, your guide will provide insights into the city’s rich history, from the Hanseatic League to the Soviet occupation.
You will have a stop at the most popular restaurants to take 3 local drinks, 3 dishes with dessert, and 3 snacks.
5. Enjoy the Views at Kohtuotsa
Kohtuotsa is a popular viewing platform in Tallinn, offering the city’s best panoramic views.
The platform is located on top of Toompea Hill, the highest point in Tallinn’s Old Town, and provides a perfect spot to take in the city’s rich history and beauty.
A large pink wall beside the landscape bears the quote, “The Times We Had.”
One of the highlights of visiting Kohtuotsa is the opportunity to embrace the stunning sunset over the city. As the sun sets, the sky transforms into a beautiful array of colors, and the city lights up, creating a magical atmosphere.
During the summer, there is an outdoor cafe with regular events not to miss.
It’s easy to reach Kohtuotsa, as it is a short walk from the Old Town and accessible by foot.
Address: Kohtu 12, 10130 Tallinn
6. Take a Day Trip to Helsinki
A day trip from Tallinn to Helsinki is a great way to experience the beautiful city in one day.
The two capital cities are located just a two-hour ferry ride apart, with stunning views of the Baltic Sea. Once you arrive in Helsinki, you will have a full day to explore the city.
There are many things to see and do in Helsinki, including visiting the iconic Senate Square, home to the Helsinki Cathedral and the Presidential Palace.
But first of all, Helsinki is about experiences and not sights, so enjoy Finnish food at Savotta and sweets in the Cafe Engel, and visit a Finnish sauna at Löyly, a cool and hip place not to miss.
Next, ride the Helsinki trams, one of the world’s oldest public transportation systems.
Take lines 2 or 4 to easily navigate through the main sites.
Take your time exploring the market square with numerous booths selling traditional foods and treats, souvenirs, and handicrafts. If you want to stay overnight, don’t worry – there are plenty of Helsinki accommodation options (for any budget!).
7. Photograph the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a stunning architectural masterpiece that is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.
Built in the late 19th century, the cathedral is a striking example of Russian Orthodox architecture, with its characteristic domes and intricate mosaics.
The cathedral is named after the 13th-century Russian prince Alexander Nevsky, revered as a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. As you approach the cathedral, you’ll be struck by its grandeur and beauty.
Inside, the cathedral is just as impressive, with its ornate iconostasis, painted frescoes, and glittering chandeliers.
The mosaics, in particular, are a standout feature, depicting scenes from the lives of Jesus and other saints.
The cathedral features a powerful ensemble of bells: 11 bells, with the largest one weighing 15 tons. Every time there is a service, you can hear the carillon ensemble.
Address: Lossi plats 10, 10130 Tallinn
8. Indulge in Delicious Estonian Pancakes
Estonian pancakes, both sweet and savory, are best enjoyed in the morning, noon, and evening with coffee or tea. The truth is, they are really delicious and can be best enjoyed in Tallinn.
Traditional pancakes are a blend of the classy fluffy pancakes you’ve had and the Russian thin blini.
They are not too thin or too thick—just perfect to be stuffed and rolled.
There are dozens of fillings: smoked salmon, spring onion with sour cream, spinach, mixed berry jam, chocolate, vanilla, and fruit sauces.
After so many mouth-watering details, it’s time to taste Estonian pancakes. They are served almost in every cafe, but some places are best known for their pancakes.
Make sure to visit Kompressor, a pancake restaurant in the heart of the Old Town that serves over 30 pancake variations.
Also, visit Kooker on the Tallinn Town Hall Square, which makes pancakes from organic ingredients. Visitors call their pancakes “dangerously delicious.”
9. Climb to the Top of the Tallinn TV Tower
Imagine yourself standing at the base of a towering skyscraper, reaching high into the sky.
This is the Tallinn TV Tower, the city’s tallest building, standing at an impressive 314 meters tall and offering a truly fantastic view of the city from the top.
As you step into the elevator, you feel a rush of excitement as you begin your ascent to the observation deck.
The elevator doors open on the 21st floor, and you step out onto the open terrace, where you are greeted with a panoramic view of the city below.
Dare to walk on the glass floor of the platform to get another perspective of the city or take an adrenaline-filled walk along the edge of the viewing deck.
Also, visit the Cinema Hall to learn about the history of Estonia and its independence. If you’re feeling hungry, you can even enjoy a delicious meal at the revolving restaurant located at the top of the tower.
Address: Kloostrimetsa tee 58a, 11913 Tallinn
10. Enjoy Dinner at One of Tallinn’s Best Restaurants
Tallinn’s restaurant selection and quality are quite impressive.
Both national restaurants with authentic food and modern venues with contemporary cuisine capture a lot of attention, and it may even be frustrating to choose a place to dine.
Here are the top three best-rated restaurants in town for a memorable dinner.
Formerly known as Lieb Restaurant, this is one of the best restaurants in the Old Town, with a large courtyard.
The cuisine presents a unique mixture of traditions with a modern touch. Taste their signature Pähkla trout with potatoes and black bread.
Address: Uus 31, 10111 Tallinn
It is another fantastic restaurant in the heart of Old Town, with 15th-century recipes served in a medieval-style hall.
The restaurant’s clothing and interior design recreate Tallinn’s golden age. Order the Master Cook’s Feast—17 miniature dishes—to taste the best of the Olde Hansa.
Address: Vana turg 1, 10146 Tallinn
Finally, find a fantastic mixture of Russian traditions, French tastes, and Estonian ingredients. The venue is highly-popular, so if you want to get a table, book in advance.
Address: Vene 9, 10123 Tallinn
11. Discover the Tallinn Tower Hall
Last year, Tallinn’s Tower Hall celebrated its 700th anniversary.
This glorious building is a unique and iconic destination in the historic Old Town with panoramic views of Tallinn’s picturesque streets and landmarks.
The tower itself dates back to the 14th century and has been used for different purposes over the centuries, including as a defensive fortification, a prison, and a storage facility.
Today, it serves as a ceremonial building for the city government and a popular tourist attraction, allowing visitors to take in the stunning views from the top.
Climbing to the top of the tower is an experience in itself, as you’ll pass through several floors of exhibits that detail the tower’s history and significance.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking city views. On a clear day, you can see as far as the nearby islands and the Gulf of Finland.
12. Catch the Views at the Skywheel of Tallinn
Tallinn’s second-highest viewpoint and one-of-a-kind attraction in Europe, the Skywheel of Tallinn offers you some of the city’s most spectacular views from a bird’s eye view.
The observation wheel has 42 gondolas, each of which can hold up to six people. Those cabins feature glass floors, giving you a unique perspective of the city below.
And as the sun sets, the wheel comes alive with mesmerizing LED lights, making for a truly magical experience.
You’ll see Lake Ülemiste and the city’s iconic Old Town, with its charming cobblestone streets and picturesque buildings, as you make your way to the top.
The Skywheel is the perfect spot to snap some Instagram-worthy photos of Tallinn’s historic beauty.
Skywheel of Tallinn is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Address: Peterburi tee 2, 11415 Tallinn
13. Go on a Day Trip to Jägala Waterfall
A day trip to Jägala Waterfall is an excellent way to explore Estonia’s natural beauty off the beaten path. The Jägala Waterfall is located in the northern part of the country, in a nature reserve, so there is a small entrance fee to enter.
Once inside, you can take a short hike to the waterfall, which takes about 15 minutes. The waterfall is 8 meters high, and you can see it from a viewing platform.
During the summer months, the waterfall is a popular spot for swimming and picnicking. You can also rent a boat and take a guided tour of the Jägala River.
It’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes and bring water and snacks, as well as to check the weather forecast before your trip and dress accordingly.
Your tour will also include stops in the surrounding area, which is rich in unique historical treasures such as the Rebala with its Bronze Age graves and Estonia’s oldest medieval chapel.
14. Explore the Toompea Castle
Toompea Castle is a must-see destination for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. The 13th-century castle with a Baroque facade sits atop a limestone hill and offers stunning views of the city below.
One of the highlights of a visit to Toompea Castle is the chance to see the Estonian parliament in session from the public gallery.
The castle now houses the Riigikogu, the country’s legislative body, and visitors can observe the proceedings from the public gallery.
Every year, the parliament organizes Open House Day to celebrate the anniversary of the Constituent Assembly.
The castle also hosts art exhibitions on the first floor that change every six weeks, showcasing different artists from the Estonian Artists’ Association.
Toompea is open to the public. You can take a self-guided tour or book a guided tour to learn about the castle’s history and modern-day Parliament life.
Address: Lossi plats 1a, 10137 Tallinn
15. Visit the Kumu Art Museum
The Kumu Art Museum (KUnstiMUuseum) is the largest in Estonia and one of the largest in Northern Europe. It boasts an impressive collection of contemporary and classical art from Estonia and the region.
The museum’s modern, state-of-the-art building is itself a work of art, designed by architect Pekka Vapaavuori.
The building’s unique architecture, with its curved lines and large windows, provides an impressive backdrop for the art on display.
Inside, you can explore a wide range of art, including paintings, sculptures, and installations.
The museum’s permanent collection features works by some of Estonia’s most important artists, as well as a selection of international art.
After exploring the territory, you can enjoy coffee or tea with snacks in the cafe or restaurant, stroll in the library, or enjoy the silence on the terrace.
Address: A. Weizenbergi 34, 10127 Tallinn
16. Grab a Coffee at Tallinn’s Coffee Shops
Tallinn is slowly becoming an exciting hub of specialty coffee shops.
The Tallinn Coffee Festival has pushed the culture even further so that you can now enjoy numerous venues serving fantastic coffee. Here are the top three coffee shops not to miss:
Surfcafe in Balti Jaam
Referred to as one of the best coffee shops in Tallinn, Surfcafe serves truly amazing flat whites, cold brew, and espresso. Also, try their special lemon coconut cake and macaroons.
Address: Kopli 1, 10149, 10149 Tallinn
Røst in Nisuveski
Røst is a small bakery serving exceptionally fresh pastries, the tastiest bread, and excellent coffee with Scandinavian vibes.
The beans for coffee are delivered from the best micro-roasteries across Estonia and Europe.
Address: Rotermanni 14, 10111 Tallinn
The Brick Coffee Roastery in Telliskivi
The modern district with multiple hubs also hosts one of the popular coffee shops that make quality coffee at affordable prices. Make sure to order V60 or Chemex.
Address: Telliskivi 60M, 10412 Tallinn
17. Check out Telliskivi Creative City
Telliskivi Creative City, also known as Telliskivi Loomelinnak, is a vibrant and trendy neighborhood that was once a neglected industrial area.
It is now transformed into a hub for creative and cultural activities, including art galleries, design shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Telliskivi Creative City has unique architecture, with many of the buildings being repurposed and restored from their industrial past.
Some of the notable places are Telliskivi Creative Hub, a co-working and event space for the creative community, Fotografiska Tallinn, a photography museum and gallery, and a variety of design and fashion shops, bars, and cafes.
It hosts over 800 cultural events throughout the year, and there are chances you will visit one of them.
Visiting Telliskivi Creative City is a great way to experience the alternative side of Tallinn and discover the city’s vibrant creative culture. It is easily accessible by public transportation and is a short walk from the city center.
18. Visit the Wooden Houses of Kalamaja
The Wooden Houses of Kalamaja, also known as the “Fish Houses,” are a unique feature of Tallinn.
These colorful, wooden houses were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the city’s fish workers, who needed affordable housing close to their workplaces.
Located in the historic Kalamaja district, the Wooden Houses of Kalamaja are a fascinating blend of traditional and modern architecture. It is now a neighborhood of young, creative communities.
Most houses have been beautifully restored, retaining their original wooden exteriors and steeply pitched roofs, and transformed into cultural centers, shops, museums, and restaurants.
Walking through the streets of Kalamaja, visitors can admire the vibrant colors and intricate details of these charming houses, as well as the community gardens and green spaces that have been created by the residents.
The area is also home to the famous Telliskivi Creative City, Fotografiska Tallinn, and the Seaplane Harbour.
19. Try Local Craft Beers
For beer lovers, Tallinn will be a pleasant surprise with its extensive brewing history. Take a stroll through the city’s charming streets and discover the best bottle shops and local craft breweries.
One must-visit spot is SIP Tallinn, a wine and beer store in Kalamaja that boasts an impressive selection of craft beers, ciders, wines, and snacks. The venue also regularly organizes beverage and cheese training, blind tastings, and other events.
Address: Telliskivi 62, 10412 Tallinn
Uba ja Humal
Another great spot is Uba ja Humal, a bar, cafe, and bottle shop owned by Tanker Brewery from Harjumaa – the first brewery in Estonia to make sour beer.
The selection is massive and impressive.
Address: Võrgu 3, 10415 Tallinn
For a truly immersive experience, take a guided tour through Tallinn’s historical places, learn about the city’s brewing heritage, and discover how and where the locals have been brewing beer for centuries.
And, of course, sample five types of beer, each one more delicious than the last.
20. Relax at a Tallinn Sauna
Estonian culture is a mixture of old and new, and public saunas are one of them.
The public sauna is one of the oldest Estonian traditions, and now it is an integral part of modern life, regardless of whether you’re there in winter or in summer.
They are found in residential houses, hotels, farms, and even breweries. Furthermore, portable saunas are becoming popular among travelers across the country.
Here are the top 3 saunas not to miss when visiting Tallinn.
Located in the heart of Kalamaja, it is one of the oldest and most popular public saunas in Tallinn and Estonia.
The sauna is gender-separated and clothes-free. There are wood stoves, steam saunas, and a large hourly sauna for groups.
Address: Vana-Kalamaja 9A, 10414 Tallinn
Also known as the Tartu Road Sauna, it still keeps the historical ambiance of its rooms with brick ceilings and chandeliers.
The halls are gender-separated and operate every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., except for Wednesdays.
Address: Tartu maantee 73, 10115 Tallinn
Belonging to the vaudeville club Heldeke, this mixed sauna is open only on Wednesdays and Sundays. By the way, the changing room is also gender-neutral.
Address: Tööstuse 13, 10413 Tallinn
21. Go on a Day Trip to Lahemaa National Park
Lahemaa National Park is a breathtaking and historical treasure trove located in Northern Estonia, boasting an array of captivating manors, charming fishing villages, and stunning natural beauty.
One of the park’s most spectacular sights is the majestic Jägala waterfall, the tallest in Estonia and sure to leave visitors in awe.
The park’s diverse landscape includes the unique Viru Bog, a raised bog teeming with plant and animal life; the grand Palmse Manor, a stunning 18th-century manor-turned-museum; the opulent Vihula Manor, now a luxurious hotel; the picturesque Käsmu Captain’s Village, complete with a maritime museum; and the stunning Juminda Peninsula, featuring breathtaking beaches, cliffs, and a lighthouse, all accessible via scenic trails.
The park is open all year, but some facilities, such as the manors, have limited hours or are closed on certain days. It’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes and bring water and snacks.
22. Explore Kadriorg Park
Kadriorg Park, the largest and most beautiful park in Tallinn, covers over 70 hectares of territory with monuments and statues dating back to the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, but the construction started earlier during the reign of Russian tsar Peter I.
The territory is decorated with flower beds along a neat promenade and around Swan Pond. But the central part of the park is the Kadriorg Palace, which was built as a summer residence for the tsar.
Today it serves as a presidential palace and also hosts the Art Museum of Estonia.
You can have a stroll about the rooms with 18th-century furniture and items. The palace’s backyard is no less impressive, with fountains and the statue of Neptune.
Besides the Art Museum, the park hosts the Kadriorg Art Museum, the Eduard Vilde Museum, and the Mikkel Museum.
Take a walk about the park to discover a traditional Japanese garden, the Russalka monument, and neat alleys.
Address: A. Weizenbergi 26, 10127 Tallinn
Where to Stay in Tallinn
I have been to Tallinn countless times over the years and here are a few of my recommended places to stay!
Did we miss any of the best things to do in Tallinn? Let us know your favorite Tallinn attractions in the comments!
More Estonia Travel Guides
- Tallinn in winter
- Estonia itinerary
- Craft beer in Tallinn
- Coffee shops in Tallinn
- Tallinn to Helsinki ferry
Pin this Tallinn Things to Do Guide
Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.