|Overview||Read Travel Advice||Give Travel Advice||Add to My Map|
Tallinn , the capital of Estonia, is truly one of the gems of Northern Europe. The city lies on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, only 70 km (43 mi) south of Helsinki. At the historical heart of the city is the hill of Toompea, covered in cobbled streets and filled with medieval houses and alleyways. The lower town spreads out from the foot of the hill, still protected by the remnants of a city wall. Around the city wall is a series of well-maintained green parks, great for strolling.
While the old town has been astonishingly well preserved and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, it is now in better shape than ever, with the bigger roads converted into fashionable shopping streets reminiscent of Zürich or Geneva, the new town sprawling all around is largely built in typical concrete Soviet style. The new center of town is Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square) at the edge of the old town, and nearby is the giant matchbox of Hotel Viru, the former Intourist flagship and notorious den of Cold War intrigue (every room was tapped and monitored by the KGB!). Recently, Tallinn has received a boom in tourism, especially by daytrippers which visit it from its sister city across the Baltic Sea, Helsinki.
Tallinn then became a pawn in the geopolitical games of its big neighbors, passing into Swedish hands in 1561 and then to Russia under Peter the Great in 1710. By World War I and the ensuing brief Estonian independence (starting 1918) Tallinn's population had reached 150,000.
Estonia was eventually annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, only to be conquered by Nazi Germany (1941-44) and then retaken by the Soviets. In World War II, the city was quite extensively bombed, even though luckily the medieval town remains. The Soviet Union undertook a program of massive Slavic migration, and just over 40% of Tallinn's current inhabitants are Slavic (compared to an average of 28% for the entire country). On Aug 20, 1991, Estonia declared independence and Tallinn became its capital once again.
Today, Tallinn is a bustling, gleaming metropolis of 400,000 people, undoubtedly the most modern city in the Baltics. However, among the tall glassy buildings and corporate headquarters, Tallinn retains an inner charm seldom found anywhere else. Estonia considers itself a Northern European country (i.e. nearly Scandinavian), and visiting Tallinn you will find a mix of at least three architectures in this very visual city -- old Europe (the city walls and rustic buildings), Soviet brutalist (crumbling apartment blocks), and modern Europe (including McDonald's next to the city walls!).
 Get in
 By catamaran or ferry
As in other parts of Baltic Europe and Scandinavia, sea is the easiest and most common way of reaching Tallinn.
The most common ferry shuttle route is the short journey from Helsinki in Finland to Tallinn. The basic choice is between fast hydrofoil or catamaran, which complete the trip in 1.5 hours but cost more (€20-50 one way) and are susceptible to poor weather, and slow ferries, which plod for 3.5 hours in rain or shine for half the price (starting at €20). Exact pricing depends on operator, season (summer costs more), day of week (Fri and Sat cost more) and even time of departure (to Tallinn in the morning and back in the evening is popular and hence more expensive). Tallink and Viking Line now also have large fast ropax ferries, which take about 2-2.5 hours to complete the journey. Ticket prices start from about €16.
As of June 2008, the list of operators is:
Note that large catamarans and all ferries can also carry cars. There are also several ferry options to Stockholm.
All ferries except Linda Line dock at Reisisadam port, to the north of the center. From here, there is a direct bus (No. 2) to both the city center and the airport. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely 15 minute walk, first east to Mere pst and then down to Viru Square. The journey from the port to the city center is not all that impressive but don't be shocked - this isn't the real Tallinn!
 By plane
Tallinn Airport (or "Ülemiste Airport") (Template:IATA) (Template:ICAO), about 5 km from the city center, Tallinn Airport is increasingly becoming an airport hub of the Baltics. Estonian Air provides good quality services to a series of European cities, including London, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Riga, Vilnius, Kiev and Moscow. If you live in or near these cities, air travel is the best way to get to Tallinn. Fares are also fairly cheap. Amsterdam to Tallinn is from €67. In a code-share agreement with SAS Scandinavian Airlines, there are now a whopping 18 flights per week to Copenhagen and Stockholm. Another Estonian carrier, Finnair-owned Aero Airlines, operates right aircraft and offers 48 flights a week (seven a day on weekdays) to Helsinki. From there they have very good and flexible connections to 36 destinations all over Europe and to 10 destinations in Asia. Between Tallinn and Warsaw flights are provided through the years by LOT Airlines. Since 2004 the newest major air carrier EasyJet offers connections to London and Berlin at low prices.
Detailed information is available from Tallinn Airport timetable.
A taxi to the city center should cost between 100 and 150 EEK (ca. 16 EEK = 1 €). The initial fee for taxis varies from 25-75 EEK and you shouldn´t necessarily get into the first taxi in the row.
Bus line 2 comes in front of the airport and goes to the city center in just a few minutes. The bus stop (A. Laikmaa) is located between Hotel Tallink and the Viru Center shopping mall/Bus terminal. The bus does not stop in the Bus Terminal itself. Be careful, because line no. 2 buses also go to the Mõigu area from the same stop, but today almost all buses have electronic displays. To get to the city centre, take the bus on route "2 Reisisadam". You can buy tickets at the R-Kiosks all round the city, in the Bus terminal or in the Bus itself.
 By helicopter
Copterline's hourly helicopter service from Helsinki was suspended following an accident in 2006. They resumed operations on April 9, 2008. The Copterline heliport is almost exactly where the Linda Line Express port is, at Linnahall.
 By train
Train travel in the Baltics has considerably decreased in recent years and, today, Estonian rail is a cocktail of private companies and subcontractors boh who make it fairly difficult to get around by train. There are limited train services to Latvia, Lithuania and Russia (Moscow by Go Rail). Therefore, train is not a good option to get into Estonia. If you're visiting from Russia, take the plane; if you're in Latvia or Lithuania, consider the bus; if you're in Poland, fly to a European hub and transfer to Tallinn, or catch a bus. A good opportunity is flying to Helsinki and then taking the ferry to Tallinn.
 By bus
There are a series of fairly frequent bus routes that radiate out from Tallinn and serve other countries. These particularly go to Riga in Latvia, Vilnius in Lithuania, and Saint Petersburg in the Russian Federation (about €20 for an eight hour ride) as well as other parts of Estonia. Even though not always the best of comfort, they are usually much better than the train if you live in one of Estonia's neighboring countries. Increasingly, the buses are also servicing Russia, Germany and Poland.
Approximate over-land distances to other cities:
 Get around
The Old City is best navigated on foot, not that you have much choice. A network of buses, trams and trolleybuses covers the rest of the city. There is an abundance of relatively cheap taxis.
 Public transport
Buses, trolleys and trams operate regularly between 6AM and 12AM. Make sure that you have a valid ticket when riding on public transportation. You can buy tickets from newsstands or from drivers.
Timetables in English can be found here.
Map: http://kaart.tallinn.ee:8080/Tallinn/Show?REQUEST=Main (pick Ühistransport)
One-day ticket (24h)- 40 EEK; Three-day ticket (72h) - 70 EEK; 10-day card - 125 EEK
The bus network covers the whole city from southeast to northwest. You can buy a one-time ticket from a newsstand for 13 EEK (buying from a driver is 20 EEK). Discount tickets are respectively 6 and 12 EEK and you must have your ticket punched after entering.
The tram network covers the city centre. There are 4 lines and they all meet at Viru Center, at stop Hobujaama. About 15 vehicles have a lowered middle-section, which makes trams wheelchair-accessible. These vehicles are marked in the schedules with yellow background behind the departure time. Usually these vehicles serve the lines 1 and 4. Tickets also 13 or 20 EEK.
All trolley lines have a direction to south or west. There are eight lines, 1-7 and 9. Trolley no. 8 was closed in 2000 and replaced with bus no. 22. The fleet is relatively new, though there are some old Škoda-s. Tickets 13 or 20 EEK.
Taxi tickets have a base price of €3 and have an additional €.50 a km (€.80 a mile), although this depends on the particular taxi company. All licensed taxis will have a list of fares in the window.
If possible, order a taxi by phone and avoid using the taxis standing at the Tallinn Port taxi stop. These taxis are called "the sleeve-taxis", because usually they have exorbitant prices and the taximeters seem to go a bit faster than normal. Always remember to ask for a written receipt, as they detail the distance and time travelled. If the taxi cannot provide a receipt you have the legal right not to pay. Also, if you find "jootraha" on the receipt, keep it. "Jootraha" means tip in Estonian. If they've added a tip, keep the receipt and report it. Legal taxi companies operating in Tallinn can be found at http://www.ttl.ee/taksod.php
The dodgy taxi situation in Tallinn is improving rapidly due to a crackdown from the government, and these days legit ones clearly marked with the company logos are abundant. Remember to always ask for a receipt as when the cab driver can't provide one, you aren't required to pay.
 By car
Like other large cities, Tallinn has its fair share of traffic jams and therefore is not for the faint-hearted. The road rules and driving style can be confusing to tourists. The one and two way roads change frequently and some signposts are not . That being said, traffic jams in Tallinn clear very quickly and if you are from a large city, they will seem like speed-humps rather than traffic jams.
Speed limit in Tallinn is 50 km/h, except some bigger streets like Laagna tee, Pärnu mnt., Paldiski mnt., Peterburi tee etc., which have the speed limit of 70 km/h.
There is an abundance of parking, but you have to pay for it. Ticket machines, and other methods for paying for parking, aren't always However, you might notice a lack of ticket machines, or other obvious methods for paying. The ticket machines are not posted clearly. Here are a few helpful tips to avoid being fined:
 On foot
The Old Town of Tallinn is very comfortably covered on foot.
Take the Tallinn Chill Out Walking Tour. This tour is an off beat alternative to regular walking tours in the old town with musicians for guides and interesting commentary. It takes about two hours and visits places not normally frequented by tourists. It also covers the usual sights in the Old Town. The tour is usually conducted in English and starts at the Tallinn Traveler Information Tent (located on the square in front of the official Tallinn Tourist Information Center). The tour also includes a snack at the end.
If you have a mobile phone, mobile tours in English have recently become available []. Audio guides in several languages are available at no charge at the tourist centers. Bus tours (look for the red-colored buses) are also available at designated stops in the Old Town.
 The Old City
Tallinn's prime attraction is the excellently preserved Old City, built in the 15-17th centuries. This compact area is best explored on foot.
 Outside the Old City
Estonia has become a hive of activity in IT. CV Online - Töö has a lot of advertisements for speakers of Estonian or English in this field. Jobs for non Estonian speakers are less common in other fields.
English language teachers are also in demand, and if you have a TEFL certificate or equivalent you ought to be able to find a job.
The main shopping hub is on the Viru väljak. There are big department stores like Viru Keskus, Foorum, Kaubamaja and Melon. For heavy-duty shopping check out the Kaubamaja  and Stockmann  department stores, off Vabaduse väljak. The big shopping centre on the Viru väljak is Viru Keskus. The area around the port has also sprouted an ever-increasing array of mini markets, supermarkets and hypermarkets catering to the tax-free alcohol brigade. The biggest shopping centre in Tallinn near Zoo is Rocca al Mare kaubanduskeskus in the Õismäe. Take trolley 6 or 7 or bus 21 or 22 to get there. There is also big Ülemiste kaubanduskeskus near the airport. Take bus 2 or 15 to get there.
For boutiques and souvenirs, your best choice is Viru street in the Old City and its side streets. There are many stalls selling traditional items like woolen pullovers and crystal. Prepare to bargain.
The Old City is packed with restaurants claiming to offer authentic Estonian food, particularly on and around Raekoja plats. Prices are steep by Estonian standards, but still much cheaper than neighboring Helsinki, which explains why on weekends they're always packed with day tripping Finns.
Tallinn's nightlife is extensive enough to be notorious. Exercise some caution in choosing your venue, as some strip clubs and regular clubs make their money by fleecing tourists who come in for a drink. Drinking is still cheap in Tallinn, you can get a beer in a bar for 2€.
 Stay safe
Overall, Tallinn is a safe town if you don't go out of your way to court trouble. Look out for pickpockets in crowded areas.
 Get out