old town Tallinn walk

titletallinnBack in April, during the Easter holidays, my friend Isa and me decided to tour the Baltic countries capitals, and after Vilnius and Riga we arrived in Tallinn. Of the three cities it was the one I was looking forward the most and it didn’t disappoint.

We only had one afternoon and one morning to explore the city before heading to Helsinki, but it was enough to see the old town which is rather small. We had booked a room in a hotel right inside the old town’s walls and I’m glad we did as it allowed us to walk everywhere. Tallinn was by far the most touristy city of the three capitals, but as it was only April and still very cold, the town wasn’t too overcrowded. Again, instead of simply listing the sights that I enjoyed the most, I decided to include them in a walk that will give you the chance to discover one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. Enjoy!

This walk starts at the Fat Margaret’s tower (1), not too far away from Tallinn’s harbour. Next to the tower is one of the gates that takes you inside the medieval part of the city that you will explore on this walk. If you want you can visit the Maritim Museum inside the tower, I haven’t seen it but I read that it’s nice.Go straight on and you will come across The Three Sisters (2), three beautiful gothic houses painted in pastel colours. They now house a hotel, but they used to be warehouses.

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Next you can visit St. Olaf’s church with its tower that was once the highest building of the world (about five centuries ago). In summer you can climb the tower for an amazing view on the city. Walk along Lai street and then descend back onto Pikk street. I think both streets were lovely and if you have enough time you should walk both of them for the whole length. Back on Pikk you will walk past the House of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads (4) and its colourful door. Continue on Pikk and take a break to have a coffee and maybe some pastries at Maiasmokk (5), the oldest café in Tallinn.

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Then continue to the next church, the Holy Spirit Church (6) with a wonderful clock on the facade. Enter the church for an impressive interior decor. Go back on Pikk and head towards the Town Hall Square (7), the most well known square in Tallinn. If you didn’t stop at Maiasmokk Café, you may want to have a rest here and look at all the tourists crossing the square in all directions. If you want to, you can climb the Town Hall tower but I read that the steps are steep and the viewing platform a bit scary.

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Your next destination is St. Catherine’s Passage (8), one of the oldest streets in Europe. A very photogenic walkway with some nice artisan shops where you may find a few souvenirs to take home.

tallin-10 tallin-9After St. Catherine’s passage turn right and walk along the old city walls until you reach Viru Gate, another beautiful photo opportunity.

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Then it’s time to walk up again, follow the shops on Viru street and at the Peppersack restaurant turn right to reach the Town Hall again. Especially outside this restaurant and the Olde Hansa restaurant you will see a lot of people dressed up in old peasant clothes, selling medieval trinkets.
Go past the Niguliste Museum and eventually climb the stairs next to more artisan shops to reach St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral (11) on top of Toompea Hill. Unfortunately we couldn’t visit this beautiful Russian orthodox cathedral because it was closed for a private service, but I heard it’s stunning.
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On the hill you will find different viewing platforms where you can see Tallinn from above. There is also another cathedral and some restaurants in case you’re hungry.

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Go downhill following Pikk street (12) and continue on Nunne street. Then follwo the old city walls (13) for a while and breathe in the special medieval atmosphere. The walls are well preserved and very pretty, you can climb on some of the towers and walk on top of part of the wall if you want. Whenever there’s a gate or a break in the wall, step outside for a moment to marvel at the towers and the wall from the outer side too. The walk finishes back the Fat Margaret Tower.

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You can download the map and description of the walk on a pdf file here.

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