Tallin, the jewel in Estonia's crown, is worthy of a visit in the autumn, for it's never ending magic. The incredibly beautiful buildings, silhouetted against the autumn skies can take your breath away when looking westwards from the numerous vantage points along the compact old city walls. Towers, domes, turrets all glow with the colour of the sunset skies. Eat outside around the old square, wrapped in the fleeces and sheepskins provided, under heaters, and watch the magic of the old town light up in front of your eyes, while eating a hearty stew. Stroll around the ancient streets and alleyways to cosy basement bars, fires blazing, while picking up beautifully made Estonian gifts on the way.
A building that is now home to the interior ministry.
Look out for the bricked up windows of the cellars. This was the location from where people were dispatched to Siberia or to their deaths.
A plaque outside on the wall in Estonian reads 'This building housed the headquarters of the organ of repression of the Soviet occupational power. Here began the road to suffering for thousands of Estonians'.
The nearby St Olaf's church spire was used by the KGB to send radio transmissions.
Not open to the public.
Pagari 1 on corner of Pagari & Pikk ( a stones throw away from St Olaf's church)
Google map: bit.ly/eVUK7B
A quirky pub just outside the old town in the Rotermann quarter.
As the name suggests it is a police themed bar with staff dressed as police. The toilets continue the theme, so much so that people were taking photos of the cubicles. (The toilets resembled electric chairs!)
Mere pst 6E, Tallinn. (Go down Viru, through the Viru gate and turn left on Mere pst and the pub is across the road.)
Mere pst. 6E, Tallinn
+372(0)6 535 190
Google map: bit.ly/hxFZLd
An absolute gem of a restaurant. Mekk stands for 'moodne eesti koogikunst' which means 'modern Estonian cooking art'.
Modern Estonian cuisine in the restaurant of the Savoy Boutique hotel.
Very friendly service with wonderful food. Desserts were superb.
19th century industrial quarter that has been given a makeover so that old factory buildings have been renovated to create bars, galleries and trendy shops.
Just outside old town off Mere pst.
Lovely cafe located in a cellar on the Town Hall square (Raekoja Plats). Nice coffee, cakes and beer.
Considering the ambience and location it is not surprisingly more expensive than other locations in town. (Beer about €4).
While Tallinn has no shopping streets as such, the main shopping centre is Viru Keskus (Viru Centre) just outside the old town across from the Viru gate.
Tallinn's homegrown department store Tallinna Kaubamaja is connected to Viru Centre.
The Finnish department store Stockmann is located a few streets away on Liivalaia 53.
Viru Keskus (Viru Centre) Viru valjak 4
Google map: bit.ly/fOitec
Tallinna Kaubamaja Gonsiori 2 (accessible via Viru centres)
Stockmann Liivalaia 53
A medieval themed restaurant and bar in the heart of the old town that is worth a visit for a drink such as a mead. Staff are dressed in period costume, with medieval music playing in the background.
Not cheap but authentic and enjoyable. Even the toilets continue the medieval theme.
If you wish to take a trip to Helsinki while you are in Tallinn, I would recommend using Tallink ferries.
Only takes two hours to get across and costs about €45 return.
We booked by internet but the website did not accept our card so we called the help number to complete the transaction.
Lovely cafe ('Sweet Tooth' in English), owned by the Estonian Kalev chocolate company.
A great place to relax for some incredible value cakes and coffee.
It's the city's oldest cafe and dates back to the mid-19th century.
Just across from the Russian embassy just a few minutes away from the old town square.
Pikk 16, Tallinn
+372 64 64 079
Google map: bit.ly/hTrGJR
Good cheap food and beer. While centrally located, this is popular with locals and tourists alike.
At the moment there is a series of pictures of Tallinn on the walls which clearly show how the city has changed in the last decade.
The 'In Your Pocket' series of guidebooks are well worth recommending. The guides are written by locals and expats and are updated on a regular basis.
Even better, they are free and can be downloaded as PDFs from the website.
Alternatively you can pick up free copies in some hotels.
Situated in the heart of the old town, this is a great pub with a more local clientele than the pubs around it.
Drink is great value as is the food. I got a whole joint of pork (no kidding!) with potatoes and sauerkraut for only €6.40.
I was very impressed recently by this museum in Tallinn. Great modern architecture and an impressive modern art collection for such a small country. Little wonder it won the European Museum of the Year in 2008. Thoroughly recommended! :-)
Weizenbergi 34 / Valge 1, 10127 Tallinn
+372 602 6001
You might stop in Rakvere on the way between Tallinn and Narva or between Lahemaa national park and Lake Peipsi and Tartu. If so, the first impression is that, apart from the sophistication of the Aqva spa hotel, you would be hard pushed to find a decent meal. Turuplatz - on the square of the same name - confounds that expectation. The only downside is quite loud background music which reflects its daytime and late-night bar duties. But the menu is wide and appealing and the cooking is first rate.
Superb cooking and excellent service mark this Old Town restaurant that avoids all the clichés of the nearby tourist traps. Its past as a mainly vegetarian restaurant means the choices tend to be more varied and - to some extent - more healthy.
Consistently imaginative menus and a sure hand in the kitchen are coupled with a well chosen wine list (many available by the glass) and understated decor. The bizarre twist is the presence of flat screens that show a variety of famous old masters.
10123 Tallinn, Estonia
t: 626 9088
Google map: tinyurl.com/35atfxo
Widely available from tourist offices in Tartu and the region in a number of languages including English, the 2.5 hour self-guided walking tour takes in all the main sites with just the right amount of information about each stop.
Free leaflet from Tourist Information in Tartu and elsewhere in Estonia.
Away from the more obviously tourist restaurants in and around the main square, Eduard Vilde is named after the famous Estonian writer and serves a varied menu throughout the day, with a large terrace at the rear if the weather is warm.
The food is imaginative and mainly local, with attentive service. Prices are good for the quality and it seems to be popular with Tartu's large academic population.
The building is situated between the town hall square and Vanemuisa Theatre and has a sculpture of a (fictitious) meeting between Vilde and Oscar Wilde outside.
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