If you are looking for a travel spot that is far from ordinary, Tallinn is an excellent choice. The capital city of Estonia, Tallinn is situated along the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki and east of Stockholm. Whether you’re visiting Tallinn on a cruise you found through Global Vacation Network or by air or ferry, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to discover a culture shaped by history and tradition. Here are a few of the things you’ll want to experience during your visit:
Toompea Hill – This is the founding point of Tallinn. Estonian legend holds that the hill was built on the gravesite of Estonian king Kalev. More accurately, it is the location of the Danish castle that established the city’s foundation in the 11th century. You can still see the gate tower and massive stone walls constructed around this area of the city in the late 12th century, and the hill itself provides spectacular views of modern Tallinn. Be sure to check out a few of the merevaik, or amber shops, near the cruise port.
Medieval Old Town – This area of Tallinn was built between the 15th and 17th centuries, and has been painstakingly preserved. Here, you can wander along cobblestone streets and experience Tallinn as it was hundreds of years ago. You can also hire a tour guide to take you through the Old Town and tell you the stories of Tallinn’s turbulent history. While you’re here, take a walk past the ex-KGB building, a remnant of Estonia’s former Soviet occupation, and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, created with onion-domed towers reminiscent of Russian architecture.
Patarei Prison – For another glimpse into Soviet-era Tallinn, take a tour of Patarei Prison. The building, originally commissioned by Tsar Nicholas I as a shoreline fortress, was seized and converted into a prison by the KGB in 1920. Guided tours of the prison are available. If you’re up for it, you can upgrade to a “new prisoner” experience, an enhancement that includes a “last meal” complete with schnapps.
KUMU Art Museum – Few things are more telling of a city than the art it produces and preserves. If you want to gain in-depth insights into the life of Estonian residents, take an afternoon to browse the collection at KUMU art museum, which covers more than 500,000 square feet of exhibition space. Of course, the museum’s permanent collection focuses primarily on Estonian art from the 11th century to the present. A portion of the collection, marked by distinct Socialist themes, represents art production during Estonia’s Soviet occupation. KUMU also hosts a variety of traveling exhibits that lean heavily toward modern painting and sculpture.
Beaches – Tallinn’s position along the Gulf of Finland makes it an excellent city for beach walking. Along the city’s beaches, you can enjoy stunning sunrises or simply relax after a day of sightseeing. Keep in mind that not all areas are safe for swimming – Tallinn uses a flag (green, yellow, red) to indicate relative safety. Also, if you are visiting Harku Lake in West Tallinn, watch out for poisonous snakes near the shore!
Global Vacation Network can help you plan and enjoy your perfect vacation in Tallinn – when you return, you’ll have stories that are much more interesting than those of your less-adventurous friends.