Earlier this year my sister and I spent a weekend in the Estonian capital, hoping for beautiful snowy views and warm drinks in cosy cafes. We were not disappointed and its romantic, medieval charm made us wish we could stay for longer.
Two days in Tallinn is enough time to get a feel for the city, whether you plan on seeing Tallinn as part of an extended trip around Europe or just as a weekend away. It’s a city in which you can make of it what you wish: there are plenty of museums to visit, as well as parks and cool urban districts – we decided to ditch the map and just explore at our own pace, wandering the Old Town and Telliskivi districts at leisure. We also found some great vegan cafes and restaurants which I wrote about in this post!
Here are highlights from to spend two days in Tallinn in Winter.
We arrived in Tallinn at around lunchtime on our first day in Tallinn and spent the afternoon exploring the main attraction of the city: the fairytale like Old Town!
This area of the city is by far the most romantic, and luckily for us the Christmas Tree was still standing tall in the Square. This is the best place to leave the map behind and simply stroll around, stumbling upon hidden gems. The buildings in this area are beautiful, with spires and wonky roofs jutting out here, there and everywhere.
Spend at least half a day exploring the little streets, stopping to browse in the shops or for a bite to eat in one of the many cafes or restaurants. Be sure to come back in the evening as when the lights are on this area of the city seems simply wonderful!
The centre of the action is the square, in which the most beautiful Christmas Tree was stood on our visit! A Christmas market takes place over the festive period (unfortunately by mid-January we had missed it). The Square is also home to the Old Town Hall, which has stood tall in the Square for over 600 years.
An impressive structure built in 1900, this Russian Orthodox Church is simply mesmerising to look at and sits atop Toompea Hill proudly. The inside is home to impressive mosaics and 11 church bells, the largest weighing 15 tonnes.
This church is the city’s biggest medieval structure and lightening has been known to strike it ten times – it’s burnt to the ground on three occasions! There are impressive views from the tower apparently – however the viewing platform was closed for Winter when we visited so we weren’t able to go up.
Tallinn’s defensive walls date back to the 1200s, when they were erected to protect the city from invaders. There are towers at various sections of the wall, two of which are at the Viru Square (pictured above) and many of which are still in near perfect condition today. In fact, this is one of Europe’s best-preserved fortifications. Parts of the Wall are open to the public.
I’m a sucker for a skyline photo when I visit a new city, so my sister and I made it a priority to try to find the best views in Tallinn while we were there.
Unfortunately, due to visiting in Winter, many of the city’s towers were closed to the public for safety reasons – with the snow and high winds, there’s a chance of injury if you’re walking up uncovered, rickety staircases outdoors. However, we managed to find beautiful views at the places listed below, all of which can be found easily on Google Maps.
This square offers a beautiful view of the Old Town featuring the Old Wall and St Olaf’s Church.
Passing the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, you reach this viewing platform offers a beautiful vista of the Old Town, with its many church spires and rooftops jutting out into the sky.
Atop this museum you can see views of the more industrial side of the city. The objects inside the museum are worth a look too!
Great cocktails and a stunning view of the city’s skyline – that’s where the cover photo for this blog post was taken! I recommend visiting at sunset.
Before visiting Tallinn, we had no knowledge of this place but visited because the friendly receptionist at Hotel Bern recommended it to us!
Telliskivi is an urban district close to the train station which is like a miniature city in itself. The buildings are clad in wood and look like something from the Wild West! It’s a pleasant neighbourhood to wander simply to take photos.
The Creative City is a must on your visit to Tallinn. It’s an initiative where if you can think it, you can do it: there’s a graffiti wall by the train tracks, street art covering the buildings and cafés, and restaurants and small businesses are built into shipping containers and even an old plane!
It was a shame that some of the businesses were closed due to the time of year; I imagine Telliskivi’s Creative City is hugely popular in the summer months. Still, it was a cool place to spend a morning in Tallinn and I would recommend it in Winter too – if only for the street art!
My sister and I stayed at Hotel Bern for our two days in Tallinn. It was a the perfect retreat from the cold, being located in the city centre. Read my review of it in this post, and you can book through booking.com here. Otherwise, browse the options in the widget below, or why not try AirBnB?
With only two days in Tallinn (which was actually only really 1.5 days as it was split over a weekend), we struggled to pack loads into our visit. However, Tallinn is an easily walkable city so you can cover a lot of ground in a short time. If you’re in Tallinn for longer, consider visiting the Toompea Castle, one of the many museums in the city, or why not take a day trip to Helsinki?
Thanks for reading and happy travels!
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