Tallinn: Europe’s Greatest Capital You Have Never Heard Of

Tallinn

Some destinations are overlooked because of geographical isolation, others for a lack of modern-day comforts or even political instability. Estonia, with its beamingly exuberant capital of Tallinn, suffers from none of these and remains one of Europe’s most exciting and interesting cities despite being repeatedly overlooked by travelers.

While the fall of the Iron curtain has afforded certain Eastern European countries a boost in tourism (Czech Republic, Croatia etc.), hidden gems such as Estonia somehow remain shrouded in obscurity. This is unfortunate because Estonia, as well as its Baltic neighbors, should be on the radar of any traveler and is truly a budget traveler’s dream.

Tallinn

Estonia’s ultra-modern capital of Tallinn boasts an exquisitely preserved, fairy tale-esque old town dating back to the 1050, making it the oldest capital city in all of Northern Europe and UNESCO world heritage site. A walk through old Tallinn’s narrow, coble-stoned alleyways evokes a decidedly medieval atmosphere that is un-adultered by any and all modern day distractions. St Olafs church, the tallest building in the world from 1549 until 1625, dominates the skyline and the old-town hall square even boasts the site of world’s first Christmas tree dating back over 500 years! (though, Riga, Latvia disputes this claim vehemently).

Anything the backpacker could possibly want or imagine presents itself, with a distinct Estonian twist. Tallinn, along with the rest of Estonia, is extremely safe with its citizens even hitch-hiking regularly without the sort of paranoid weariness that seems to plague most of the Western Europe and the US. Hostels of a comparable if not higher quality to those found elsewhere in Europe can be found for as little as 10$ a night, right in the center of the old town.

Tallinn

Although Estonians trace a similar heritage to their Finnish neighbors, they seem to lack the reserved tendencies of their Northern contemporaries. Every Tallinn resident I met during my stay spoke impeccable English and was helpful beyond belief, a true blessing considering Estonian is widely considered the most difficult language on earth to learn and understand.  Ask a local about their country’s folklore and you could find yourself listening to tales of giants, wizardry and a whole mess of crazy Lord of The Rings style stories for hours.

Must-try local delicacies are the ubiquitous Pierogi, reminiscent of a Russian style pot-sticker that can be filled with pork or anything really. Other staples are Ale Coq beer (you can visit the brewery in Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city), which Estonians like to drink as if it is in limited supply, as well as spirits infused with local berries and herbs.

Tallinn

Today, Tallinn is a tech powerhouse and often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of the Baltics”.  Skype originated in this tiny country of small wonders, which is the first in the world to declare Internet access a constitutional right.  Even trekking deep into the countryside one will find a government-sanctioned blanket of Wi-Fi.

Though the weather is at its best in the summer, this is also peak season for vacationers from Finland, along with men throwing stag parties, to visit. Visiting in the spring will afford you solitude, while the fall boasts magnificent displays of colorful foliage change along with traditional harvest festivals.

Visit Tallinn now while tourism is still in a stage of relative infancy and I can guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Tallinn

Tallinn

Tallinn

24 Comments

  1. Traveling Ted on September 22, 2012 at 11:46 am

    The fact that this city is so beautiful coupled with outwardly friendly people will I am sure lead to a loss of hidden gem status somewhere in the near future. In the meantime, it looks like a great place to check out.

  2. Traveling Ted on September 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    The fact that this city is so beautiful coupled with outwardly friendly people will I am sure lead to a loss of hidden gem status somewhere in the near future. In the meantime, it looks like a great place to check out.

  3. CamelsAndChocolate on September 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I went to visit a friend (a native Estonian) in Tallinn in 2009 for 10 days and could not have loved it more. GREAT city.

  4. CamelsAndChocolate on September 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I went to visit a friend (a native Estonian) in Tallinn in 2009 for 10 days and could not have loved it more. GREAT city.

  5. David on September 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Why would start an article assuming that Tallinn has never been heard of?  Strange choice. Who are you writing for?  

  6. David on September 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Why would start an article assuming that Tallinn has never been heard of?  Strange choice. Who are you writing for?  

  7. Em. on July 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I read this articel, and all I was thinking was “really? Dude, REALLY?” I’m estonian. I have lived in Estonia whole my life. I’m visiting Tallinn twice a year, sometimes three, and everytime I spend there at least 2 days, most of the time few weeks. AND I HATE THIS F. CITY…

    • Em. on July 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      But I do love Viljandi and Tartu!! 🙂

  8. Em. on July 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I read this articel, and all I was thinking was “really? Dude, REALLY?” I’m estonian. I have lived in Estonia whole my life. I’m visiting Tallinn twice a year, sometimes three, and everytime I spend there at least 2 days, most of the time few weeks. AND I HATE THIS F. CITY…

    • Em. on July 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      But I do love Viljandi and Tartu!! 🙂

  9. Kadri on February 7, 2014 at 8:17 am

    True Estonian speaking:D me as a citizen of Tallinn, can really argue. I do like Tartu, Viljandi and smaller places in Estonia, but I consider even Tallinn small, so 1-2 days in the smaller places is already enough to stay and bores me to death…As a tourist point of view, there is not much to do in the smaller places. As a local point of view, of course the smaller places feel more relaxed an homelike

  10. Savisaar on February 8, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Estonia is not in the Balkans. I think you meant “Baltics”.

    • David Decher on February 8, 2014 at 7:50 am

      Aye matey, t’is in the Balkans! For me have been there, ya! Baltics be where the Christmas tree blooms in King’s Landing. In Crowateya, me hardy!

      • Savisaar on February 8, 2014 at 7:51 am

        What are you smoking? Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania collectively are called the Baltics. Yugoslavia broke apart and became the Balkans.

        • David Decher on February 8, 2014 at 7:55 am

          Wrong you be, Yugoslavia broke and changed into a dress. A wee child, or be they children, in Crowateya, Slobodania and Maconbacononia. The capital of Tallinn is Shortoutt, formerly known as Livinonia, but that’s all dead now, so they just call it Latvia. Home of the pickled pizza. Very good at not winning chess, those people from Botany.

        • Michael on February 8, 2014 at 9:27 am

          I’m sorry. The commenter was not David (the guest author). It was a toll impersonating as him. Whoever he was has been banned from ever commenting again and his comments have been deleted.

          • Savisaar on February 9, 2014 at 3:55 am

            As mayor of Tallinn I also found it offensive. Thank you for your quick and effective action!



          • Michael on February 9, 2014 at 8:58 am

            No problem. Thanks for stopping by!



  11. Eestlane on February 8, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Don’t you think it is a bit demeaning to mock someone who clearly pointed out a mistake in your article? Also, how can you call yourself a journalist if you don’t check your facts and change them in the light of new information.

    • David Decher on February 8, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Me bes no journalist, I am Balkan!

      • Eestlane on February 8, 2014 at 8:15 am

        I will contact with Michael and ask if he endorses this kind of behaviour from guest authors on his website. So far, Art of Adventuring has held an image of being a trustworthy and nice blog, but David, you need to rethink your response to constructive criticism.

        • Michael on February 8, 2014 at 9:27 am

          I’m sorry. The commenter was not David (the guest author). It was a toll impersonating as him. Whoever he was has been banned from ever commenting again and his comments have been deleted.

          I also believe you’re taking this a bit too far. You’re directly insulting me for what was a mere small mistake by an author in 2012. I’ve corrected the article but it still had no affect on the overall credibly of the article.

          • Eestlane on February 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm

            Thank you Michael for the quick reply! Of course it was just a small mistake, but I was really offended by the troll because I had never gotten “such a reaction from a writer” before. Sorry for being too harsh on the overall user experience!



  12. Priit Kallas on February 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Figures! You’re probably from Tartu. People from there really don’t “get” things. (Oh, and they are slow, too 🙂

    You know why it takes less gas to get from Tallinn to Tartu than coming back?
    Tartu sucks!

    Just couldn’t resist 😛

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