Please find below general information valuable when sightseeing in Tallinn and details on some of the main sights and attractions that you may wish to visit during your stay in Tallinn.
Buses, trolleybuses, trams and minibuses operate regularly from 6.00 to 24.00. Tickets are available from newsstands for 10 EEK or from the driver for 15 EEK. You can also by a 10 drive - card for 70 EEK. Punch the ticket while entering the vehicle.
Tallinn Card holders may use public transport for free.
Minibuses cost 12 EEK; pay the driver as you get in.
Bus information in Tallinn ph. 6509 530.
Taxis can be hailed on the street or ordered by phone. Taxi ranks are located at major intersections and in front of the bigger hotels. Starting fare 12-15 EEK, price for 1 km appr. 7 EEK, minimum fare 35 EEK.
Parking is charged in the city centre and Old Town area. A valid parking ticket must be displayed in your windshield from 7.00 - 18.00 on weekdays and 8.00 - 15.00 on Saturdays in the city centre. In Old Town parking is for pay 24 hours. Tickets are sold by special guards and are 3 EEK for 15 minutes in the city centre and 12 EEK for 15 minutes in Old Town. Guarded and indoor parking lots are also available.
For entry into Estonia You need a valid health insurance policy, no vaccinations or health certificates are required.
In case of accident or illness call 112.
Pharmacies are usually open from 10.00 - 19.00, but some remain open all night. Ordinary medications are available in all pharmacies.
Most visitors head first to Tallinn's old city, and rightly so. It’s one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved old cities, and considered one of the main jewels in the Estonian crown.
Soviet rule was a sort of blessing in disguise for Tallinn’s old city. Yes, there was the small matter of the Soviet air force bombing and strafing Tallinn on one day in 1944—an attack which flattened 11 percent of the old quarter (See remnants of the attack on Harju street). And during Soviet rule there was gross neglect of historic structures. On the other hand, economic stagnation then meant development was kept to a minimum. So, unlike Helsinki—scarred by decades of development projects—Tallinn’s old city has remained much the same. In ways, it’s changed more in the past five years than it did in the previous 100. It now has many things city merchants in days of yore certainly did not: like a McDonald’s. Other changes, like cheesy neon signs and a few new modern buildings, must have some Tallinn founding fathers spinning in their graves. But, all in all, the old city has kept its charm. Some better-known sights:
The Upper Old City—or Toompea Hill (I-1)
Is the oldest part of Tallinn, inhabited since pre-history. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the 19th century it was the main residence of the aristocracy and clergy, who were immune from the dictates of Tallinn city law. In addition to having Tallinn’s oldest buildings, it has good viewing platforms; the best one is at the end of Kohtu street
is one of Estonia’s most treasured landmarks, built by Danes and Germans after they defeated the Estonians in the early 1200s. The nation’s oldest church—Toomkirik (Dome Church)—is also on Toompea built in 1223, it’s a burial site of German and Swedish noblemen. Aleksandr Nevsky Cathedral is an Orthodox church built in 1900; some say the Czar purposely built the church on the grave of epic Estonian hero Kalev and regard the cathedral as a symbol of efforts to russify Estonia.
The defensive wall
Ringing the old city is the town’s most striking feature. While Riga and Vilnius’s walls were destroyed, 80 percent of the original 2.35-kilometer-long wall around Tallinn in the 1500s is still intact today; out of 27 towers, 18 have survived assorted sieges and bombardments. The wall served the city well in the days of the crossbow, but became obsolete as firepower increased in the 1600s.
Neitsitorn (Virgin’s Tower)
Watch Tower that in medieval times was a prison for prostitutes; it’s now a café.
Town Hall Square
is the hub of the Lower Old City. It was a gathering place for traders even in pre-history and has been a city focal point for 800 years. It was also the place for public executions; on one day in 1806, 72 people were executed following a peasant revolt.
The Town Hall Built in the 1200s, was the seat of the Town Council, a sovereign power within the city walls. Except for the spire (which you can climb), the building’s changed little in 500 years. The weather vane on the spire has become a Tallinn mascot; this figure of a 16th century guard is named Old Toomas in honor of an actual guard much loved by children in the city. In the northeast corner of the square is one of the longest continuously-functioning drug stores in the world, the Town Council Pharmacy, or Raeapteek; it first opened its doors in 1422, 70 years before Columbus discovered America. It once sold powder made—allegedly—from unicorn horns and a range of herbs. On the square, look for the L-shaped stones where a priest was beheaded in 1694. He axed a waitress to death after she served him an omelette he didn’t like. Said one account: “She served him an omelette as hard as a shoe.” The old city jail is also on the square, at Raekoja plats 4/6; it’s now a gallery.
Oleviste Church (St. Olaf’s)
Built in the 1200s and rebuilt in the 1400s. An architect named Olaf fell to his death from atop the tower; legend has it that when his body hit the ground, a snake and toad crawled out of his mouth. Until 1991, the KGB used Oleviste’s spire as a radio tower.
Fat Margaret (Paks Margareeta)
The city’s quirkiest-looking guard tower. Built in the 1500s, it derived its name from a stocky cannon in the tower—but could have just as well got the name from the beefy look of the tower itself; from 1830-1917 it was a prison. At Pikk 71 are the Three Sisters—three almost identical medieval houses. At Pikk 61 is the ex-KGB headquarters; now the Interior Ministry, it had cells where prisoners were caged prior to deportation. One Soviet-era joke was that this was the world’s tallest building because, from the cellar, you could see Siberia.