With a charming Old Town and fascinating history, Tallinn is a great city for a short getaway. We had a chance to discover the magic of Tallinn in winter when the orange roofs were covered in snow and the pavement painted white. Find out about the best Tallinn sightseeing opportunities and cool things to do during winter (and spring).
It seems that the turn of winter and spring is an interesting time to visit Tallinn – you can get two seasons at once!
It happened to us when we were visiting Tallinn during Easter break this year. Our trip covered two of the Baltic countries – we started in Riga in Latvia and finished it off in Estonia. Full of amazing food, local beverages (Vanna Tallinn), and interesting sights, this short Baltic excursion was a great one.
Here are our best Tallinn sightseeing picks and things to do in Tallinn if you visit it at a similar time.
Note: During Easter Holidays the opening times for museums and other sights in Tallinn can vary. Monday is also a common day for museums to be closed in Europe, so if you have a chance, try to extend your stay either to Saturday before Easter Sunday or to Tuesday after the holidays.
The best Tallinn sightseeing – things to do in Tallinn during winter and spring
Tallinn Old Town
Part of the UNESCO heritage list, picture-perfect Tallinn Old Town is not to be missed. You can walk on the cobbled streets and feel like you stepped back in time to the medieval age. Orange roofs and colorful buildings with a snow cover look even prettier. It feels so peaceful to just wander around and stop in all the cozy cafes on the way. Take this Tallinn walking tour with a local to get to know the city and its history even better.
Here are some of our favourite Tallinn sights in the Old Town:
Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats)
The historic Town Hall Square is located at the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town, surrounded by traditional Estonian restaurants and cafés. On the east side of the square, you can find the best preserved Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. The square can get quite busy at times, and it has been the city’s hub for eight centuries. In the summer it’s filled with café tables, however, in winter, you can enjoy the more spacious feel of the square.
Tallinn Town Wall
The whole Tallinn Old Town is surrounded by the 13th-century walls, that were supposed to protect the city from the invaders. Nowadays, 19 km of the wall is still well preserved, which makes Tallinn one of Europe’s best kept Medieval fortifications. You can go inside the part of the Tallinn Town Walls, that are connecting the Nunna, Sauna, and Kuldjala Towers and feel like one of the guards protecting the city in the past.
2-6.01 Mon-Sun 11-17;
1.04-31.05 Fri-Wed 11-17;
1.06-31.08 Mon-Sun 11-19;
1.09-31.10 Fri-Wed 11-17;
1.11-31.03 Fri-Tue 11-16
Free with Tallinn Card
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral that brings a Russian feel into the very Medieval-looking Old Town. It was built as a symbol of Russian dominance over Tallinn, however, nowadays it’s just a part of the city and a beautiful architectural gem. I really like Orthodox churches for their colors and amazing mosaics and icons. No photos are allowed inside, so you need to go and check it out yourself.
Kiek in the Kök
This 38-meters high cannon tower is located next to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and turned into a museum. We were unlucky and the museum, together with the Bastion Passages and Carved Stone Museum were closed for our whole stay in Tallinn. If you have a chance of visiting the 15th-century tower and its hidden tunnels – please, do and let me know how it was later, as I’m sure it must be very interesting.
1.11-28.02 Tue-Sun 10-17.30
1.03-31.10 Tue-Sun 10.30-18.00
Free with Tallinn Card.
Read more: What to do in Helsinki – a perfect weekend trip to Finland
St. Olav’s church
St.Olav’s church is a 13th-century Gothic church, an iconic Tallinn landmark, that can easily be spotted from any place in the Old Town thanks to its 124 meters-high tower. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, it was even used to be the tallest building in the world. From the 1st of April (provided it’s not Easter Sunday…), it’s possible to climb up the tower for the amazing views of the old town. Don’t miss it on your Tallinn sightseeing list.
01.04-30.06; 01.09-31.10 Mon-Sun 10-18
01.07-31.08 Mon-Sun 10-20
Free entry to the church.
Ticket to the tower 3€
Free with Tallinn Card.
Masters Courtyard + and a sweet cafe
A site dedicated to the city’s craftsmen, the Masters Courtyard, is probably one of the cutest courtyards, I’ve seen. We arrived there in the day when the winter decided to come back to Tallinn, so everything was covered in snow, giving it a fairytale feel. Take a break from the intensive Tallinn sightseeing and visit Pierre Chocolaterie Cafe located just in the courtyard for a cup of delicious hot chocolate. We tried the Estonian chocolate with chilli – I still dream about this thick silky heaven in a cup ♥
St. Catherine’s Passage (Katariina käik)
If you like handicrafts and local workshops, you will love this small lane. St. Catherina’s Passage is a narrow street filled with workshops, where artists work on their new pieces, selling ceramics, jewelry, hand-painted silk, and much more. You can also watch them during their work!
KGB Prison Cells
The cellar of the building at Pagari street was used as KGB prison in 1941 by the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. The suspected enemies of the state were kept there and tortured before they were killed or sent to Siberia. A symbol of Soviet oppression in Estonia, the cells tell a sad story of the interrogations and inhumane actions. It’s a very important part of Estonian history and shouldn’t be skipped!
01.05-30.09 Mon-Sun 10-18
01.10-30.04 Mon-Sun 11-18
Free with Tallinn Card.
Museum of Orders of Knighthood
The museum of Orders of Kinghthood holds a unique collection of orders of knighthood from all over the world and is one of the largest of this type in Europe. You can find the beautiful jeweller’s art masterpieces of various orders, including the ones from Estonia, Malta, UK, and even Poland.
Free with Tallinn Card.
The best free-of-charge and open 24 hours places to admire the orange rooftops of the Old Town and panoramic views of the city are the viewing platform. The ones located on the Kohtu street and Patkuli viewing platform are the best ones. Both offer great views and are worth a visit!
There is more!
Tallinn Old Town is quite small and easily walkable, but the city has more to offer.
Located just outside Tallinn Old Town, the Freedom Square has been a place of national pride. Estonian flags blow in the wind and the big cross dominating the west side of the square is a Monument to the Waf of Independence. On the opposite side, next to the church, there are two Polish signs – a “Solidarność” stone given to Estonia by Poland and the Chopin bench.
Seaplane Harbour Museum (Lennusadam)
The unique Seaplane Harbour hangars are the home to the very interesting Sea and Maritime Museum. With over 200 exhibits, you can learn about Estonia’s maritime and military history, explore the inside of the life-size submarine, fly a plane or admire the old ships in the outdoor area.
01.05-30.09 Mon-Sun 10-19
01.10-30.04 Tue-Sun 10-18
Free with Tallinn Card.
Read more: Tips for traveling light – ultimate packing guide and a list
This little colorful neighborhood, located just outside Tallinn’s Old Town is a nice stop during your Tallinn sightseeing trip. It’s a great place for architecture and history lovers, however, the brightly colored wooden houses will bring everyone’s attention (and maybe some Instagram inspiration?).
Estonian Open Air Museum
Want to travel back in time? Explore rural Estonia from the 18-20th century with traditional village life. In the Estonian Open Air Museum, just 30 minutes away from Tallinn City center, you will find 74 buildings from the past centuries including thatched farms, a wooden chapel, a windmill, a school, a firehouse, and more. They are all located in the middle of the extensive forest, where you can take a nice stroll. I really felt like I stepped into a different century when exploring houses or climbing a windmill.
If you are visiting Tallinn at Easter, as we did, the Open Air Museum holds Easter celebrations with traditional dance performances, delicious food, and games, that are worth a visit.
29.09-22.04 Mon-Sun 10-17
23.04-28.09 Mon-Sun 10-20
Ticket 7€ (23.04-28.09 9€)
Free with Tallinn Card.
Tallinn TV Tower
At 314 meters Tallinn TV Tower is the tallest structure in the country, providing wide views to the city and the surroundings. You can also try “Walking on the Edge”, which allows you to walk outside on the top of the tower – an activity for those more adventurous! We were supposed to try it, but unfortunately, it was cancelled because of the sudden snowfall and dangerous conditions. I would definitely go and check it out the next time. Here, you can get fast-lane tickets to visit the tower.
Free with Tallinn Card (priority admission)
Walk on the edge 25€
Helsinki and Tallinn are connected by the frequent ferry service, that allows for day trips to each of the cities. Helsinki is a great city for a one or two-day stop, and there is a lot to do in Helsinki in winter, including famous Finnish saunas and ice swimming. Check out a day ferry trip from Tallinn to Helsinki here.
Tip for a smoother Tallinn sightseeing – Tallinn Card
If you want to make the most of your stay in Tallinn and save some money on the sights, a good idea is to get a Tallinn Card. It allows you free entry to most of the local museums and attractions, providing discounts to restaurants, shops, and activities and free public transport. It’s very convenient and can help you save some money. You can choose between 24h, 48h or 72h Tallin Card or Tallinn Card PLUS. For more information visit Tallinn tourist office website.
Where to stay in Tallinn:
Usually, there are some good hotels in Tallinn at reasonable prices. Note, that accommodation in the Old Town is typically more expensive than in other areas. Whereas, it’s cool to stay “close to the action”, you can find cheaper places to stay even just outside of the Old Town walls, which is still a walkable distance.
I picked for you some of the best hotels in Tallinn based on the guest reviews:
The Monk’s Bunk Party Hostel – if you are looking for a cheap bed and a place to meet new travelers, you just found it. Beds from €7 and superb location.
Weizenberg Apartment – the whole apartment, fitting 4 people, with a cosy design and nice terrace. Very good price if you split the costs.
Cozy City Apartments – stylish, comfortable, and warm accommodation in the heart of the city.
The Three Sisters Boutique Hotel – located directly in the Old Town, it offers luxury accommodation in the historic, 14th-century building.
What you might need before your trip to Tallinn:
- A good guidebook to help you with Tallinn sightseeing – Lonely Planet Tallinn
- Comfortable shoes – you will be walking a lot checking out all the best things to do in Tallinn
- Fashionable warm shawl – just in case (wink wink)
- Smile and a good attitude (even if the weather changes).
For more travel tips and resources have a look at my Travel Resources page.
Tallinn sightseeing map – best things to do in Tallinn
Disclaimer: This post was created as a collaboration with Visit Tallinn. This post might contain affiliate links – if you buy something through them I will receive a tiny commission at no additional cost to you. More details here.
Published: 2018, Updated: 2022
Can you add anything else to my Tallinn sightseeing guide? Would you like to visit Tallinn in winter? Do you like cities with the historical feel? Let me know in the comments!
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11 thoughts on “Best Tallinn Sightseeing – things to do in Tallinn, Estonia”
Thank you for sharing such an in-depth guide on Tallinn! I’ve never read of the about the city before, great to know of another UNESCO site outside of Western Europe!
Thanks, Mia! Tallinn is really beautiful, you should visit if you have a chance 🙂
My best friend visited Tallinn recently and she was amazed. Recommended it to me as well! Will definitely come back to this post when I plan a visit there. Thanks for writing it!
Thanks, Baia 🙂 Tallinn is definitely worth a visit!
Tallinn looks very beautiful when it’s covered in snow. I went here a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it, but it was summer and the town looks even more charming in winter / spring when it’s snowy.
Out of all the things you have listed, I only managed to see a few. It gives me a reason to go back (and get something nice at the chocolaterie) and maybe I should consider a trip in winter, too.
Ilona, yeah, I find that places look so much different in different seasons, so it is good to come back at other time of the year to experience it from another side 🙂 and chocolate – definitely, yum!
Great list of post.Thank you so much for sharing it.
I’m glad you like it!
Hi Aga, I’ll be in Tallinn mid-September. Do they have Christmas ornaments celebrating the first public Christmas Tree available. I collect ornaments as I travel. I don’t see anything commemorating this either. Is there a plaque or something? Thanks!
Hi Elista, I haven’t really noticed it when I was there, but there might be something. Your best bet would be to visit the Tourist information center and they should help you with that 🙂 have a good stay!