Fun ways to make the most of your Tallinn Card in Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, EstoniaTallinn’s fairytale old town is a feast for the senses, casting a spell on visitors who wander through its twisting cobblestone streets, explore sun-soaked plazas dotted with cafes and clamber up hills for birds-eye views of orange-topped medieval towers. The Estonian capital is often frequented by day trippers thanks to its enviable location on the shores of the Baltic Sea, making it a popular stop on cruise itineraries and easily accessible by boat from Helsinki. On land, it’s just a few hours from cities such as Riga and St. Petersburg, making for the perfect addition to any eastern European road trip.
Tallinn, Estonia Tallinn, EstoniaSo how does one make the most of a short stay in Tallinn? Easy: pick up the Tallinn Card. Available online and at dozens of spots throughout the city including the airport, ferry terminal, train stations and hotels, the card starts at around €30 for 24 hours worth of free access or steep discounts to some of the city’s best attractions. Add to that free public transportation, a hop-on/hop-off city tour and guided excursions, and picking up the card is a no brainer. Here are some ideas for how to make the most of your Tallinn Card.
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Explore the Lower Town

Tallinn’s historic centre is divided into two parts—Toompea Hill and Lower Town—so start off your day with a jaunt through the latter. As soon as you pass through Viru Gate which serves as the unofficial entrance, you’ll feel like you just went back in time about 500 years as you follow the towers and spires to end up in the middle of Town Hall Square.Tallinn, Estonia Tallinn, EstoniaThe expansive plaza has long been considered the heart of the city, dating back to the 13th century when merchants flocked to the flourishing Hanseatic city to trade goods in the square (Raekoja plats). These days it’s the site of one of Europe’s only surviving gothic town halls, and home to lively cafes and restaurants where tables spill into the streets and music and laughter fill the air.
Tallinn, EstoniaHead past the souvenir shops and restaurants and make your way over to the old stone walls that surround the city. For a small fee (or free with the Tallinn Card), visitors can duck into a dark foyer and climb about four storeys up a winding staircase. There, a walkway allows you to see out from both sides of the wall and down into the street, just as guards would have done centuries ago.
Tallinn, EstoniaTallinn, EstoniaOther notable spots in the Old Town include Towers’ Square which has fantastic views of the fortified lookout points and the blindingly-white St. Nicholas’ Church. Don’t miss Kiek in de Kök (say it out loud and you’re in for a chuckle) and the Bastion Tunnels, where visitors can enjoy medieval exhibits and explore hidden underground tunnels.

Tallinn, Estonia

St. Nicholas’ Church

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Cycle to Pirita

Chances are your feet will already be begging for relief from all those cobblestones, so head over to City Bike in the lower Old Town to rent a bicycle—which is of course free with your Tallinn Card. Once you’re outfitted with a bike and helmet, you’ll pass St. Olav’s Church (once the world’s tallest building!), cycle along the waterfront by the cruise ships and ferries, and can also make pit stops at museums along the route such as the Energy Discovery Centre or Tallinn City Museum (again, free for card holders).

Tallinn, Estonia

City Bike

Tallinn, EstoniaEventually you’ll leave the busy streets of the city centre and find yourself in pretty Pirita. Only about a 20 minute bike ride from the Old Town, the suburb seems a world away thanks to its surf shops, bars and white sand beach which is popular with sun seekers.
Tallinn, EstoniaTallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Pirita’s harbour

Soak up some rays, then head over to Pirita klooster. Built in the early 1400s, the former convent is now essentially deserted with only the ruins of the stone building standing. It is absolutely gorgeous, and an amazing place to explore if you’re lucky enough to get the whole place to yourself. Entrance is two euros, or free with the Tallinn Card.

Tallinn, EstoniaTallinn, Estonia Tallinn, Estonia

TV Tower and Kadriorg Palace

Continue cycling another 20 minutes down the road past the lush ‘Forest Cemetery’ (Metsakalmistu) and you’ll suddenly see a major landmark rise up over the trees: the 314 metre tall TV Tower.

Cycling toward the TV Tower

Cycling toward the TV Tower

The TV Tower

The TV Tower

Originally built as a radio building, it has long been an ode to Estonia’s Soviet days and popular with both tourists and locals. It was renovated and reopened in 2012 as a tourist attraction, which now includes a restaurant, exhibits and a 170-metre high observation deck which gives 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside, Old Town and even the Gulf of Finland. Entrance is free with the Tallinn Card.

Tallinn, Estonia

The view from the TV Tower

From up above you’ll spot another place you can check out for free with the card: Kadriorg Palace. Dating back to 1725, it was built by Russian tsar Peter the Great for Catherine I. Surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens, the pink palace is opulent in the way only Russians can pull off, and now hosts a fantastic art collection.

Toompea hill

Once you’re done exploring the area, cycle back to the city, ditch your bike and head up to Toompea hill. One of the most popular spots in Tallinn, this is where you’ll find the iconic, onion-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, adjacent to the fuchsia-coloured Toompea Castle and a plaza with great city views.

RELATED: 25 photos that will put Tallinn, Estonia on your travel wish list
Tallinn, Estonia

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A short ways away you’ll find another one of the city’s most beautiful spots: Maiden’s Tower, which was built back in the 1300s. Over the years its served as a defence tower, dwelling, and now a cafe and museum.

Tallinn, Estonia Tallinn, EstoniaHopefully you’ve timed your visit for the end of the day, because your final stops are stunning at sunset. Head past the churches, little shops and homes that cling to the hillside, and make your way to the nearby Kohtuotsa or Patkuli viewing platforms. There’s truly no better way to end a day of sightseeing in Tallinn than to soak in the sight of the picturesque Old Town—a pastime that’s free for everyone, whether or not you have the Tallinn Card!

Tallinn, Estonia IF YOU GO:

Currency: The euro

Language: While English isn’t the native language, nearly everyone in Tallinn speaks it well.

Need to know: The old town doesn’t mess around when it comes to cobblestones and hills, as anyone who’s ever tried to ride a bike through it can attest to. If you plan on spending a day exploring the historic centre, make sure you have good footwear.

Stay connected: Tallinn is one of the world’s best spots for internet addicts: free Wi-Fi is everywhere, and boy are the connections ever fast!

Top tip: The Kohvik Dannebrog Cafe just might be one of the most memorable cafes you ever visit. Accessed by an extremely steep, narrow staircase that you have to literally climb up, you’re rewarded at the top with a fabulous view of the city and Maiden’s Tower. Sure, drinks are pricey, but it’s worth it for the vantage point.

Climbing up to

Climbing up to the Kohvik Dannebrog Cafe

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Fun activites to try in Tallinn, Estonia Globe Guide explored Tallinn in partnership with Viking Cruises and Visit Tallinn. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.

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29 Responses

  1. Anca says:

    Interesting information and really nice pictures. Thank you for sharing! It will be really useful if I decide to go to Tallinn.

  2. Carol Colborn says:

    We were in Helsinki in 2014 and chose a trip to St. Petersburg instead. It looks like we should also have gone to Estonia. Regretting is never fun!

    • Oh shoot- I’ve also been to St. Petersburg and also really enjoyed it, so no need to regret it! Just means you’ll have to head back another time to see Estonia 🙂

  3. Bryanna says:

    Sounds like the Tallinn Card is the way to go! Loved your If You Go tips too. It was the exact information I would want to know when traveling to a new location.

  4. Wow, your photos of Talinn are beautiful! Great tip to get the Talinn Card to get everything in especially during a short trip. I will have to visit Talinn with the family very soon. Thank you for all the great recommendations.

  5. Hannah Finch says:

    I’ve heard a lot about Tallinn but almost keep forgetting this beautiful place exists! Your photos definitely show the city off in it’s best form. Thanks for the guide!

  6. Julie says:

    I really enjoyed my short visit to Tallinn…I also couldn’t get over the super fast internet! Before I arrived I honestly didn’t know how much the city card would have to offer, so we skipped it, instead picking a couple tourist attractions and spending the rest of the time wandering around. It sounds like in Tallinn, it’s completely worth it! Thanks for the tips about how to get the most bang for your buck!

    • Hi Julie, Tallinn is definitely a great city to simply wander around in, but for those wanting to check out a bunch of different museums and/or tours the Tallinn Card is probably a good idea- I think we got our money’s worth just with the bike rental and TV Tower admission alone!

  7. I can’t believe how many things were included with the price of the card! It really does seem like a no-brainer. Tallinn itself looks straight out of a fairy tale. I had never heard much about it, but now it’s definitely going on my list of places to see in Eastern Europe.

  8. Megan says:

    Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know much about Tallinn and it looks like a place worth visiting. I think the cycling trip would be right up my alley. I guess I’ll have to add it to the list.

  9. Jenna says:

    Tallinn looks wonderful–I’ve always wanted to visit! I love that you can rent bikes with the pass. Such a fun way to explore, and the views from the TV tower look fantastic! Sounds like you found a lot of great things to do with the pass–we will definitely have to check it out!

  10. Veronika says:

    Hi, wow I had no idea Tallin was this beautiful! I really love your photohraphy, I guess thic city is even quite photogenic. Plus, I really love historical towns – these houses from the 13th century are quite amazing!

  11. Nisha says:

    Thanks for the most comprehensive article on Tallinn. I like the idea of cycling to see the sites and am glad to know most people speak English. Hopefully will make it there one day.

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