Northern Europe Trip Report: Tallinn

From Copenhagen, we set sail on the Disney Magic for two weeks. The first week took us to the Baltics where our first port of call was…

Tallinn, Estonia!

Mon, June 1

Our view of the town while eating breakfast on deck 10. So lovely! It was super windy as we sat outside so I figured I should go back to our stateroom and get a jacket and an umbrella just in case. So of course, as soon as we went outside, the sun started to come out and it progressively got warmer as we walked. Grrr. Oh well.

Heading into the cruise, I had limited knowledge of Tallinn outside of what I read in guide books and travel blogs so to make the most of our short time in port, we scheduled a private walking tour scheduled with Andrew of Est Adventures. I love having the freedom to customize our tours and go at our own pace (as long as the price is right, ha). We did the Essential Tallinn tour, which is 3 hours and is spent walking all around the old town — both the upper and lower portions.

Andrew picked us up right at the port and we enjoyed a leisurely walk over to the town. We passed the Linnahall, which is currently a concert & sports venue and formerly hosted Olympics events when Moscow held the 1980 Summer games as Tallinn was the capital of the Estonian SSR at the time.

The edge of Old Town starts at the Fat Margaret Tower, about a ten minute walk from the port. It’s located on Pikk, which is a main arterial through the town.

Along our walk, we saw St. Olaf’s Church

The former KGB headquarters where supposedly they found a mincing machine (!!!) when it was evacuated. The building is being turned into luxury apartments now.

We also saw a few guild halls along this street — the Brotherhood of the Blackheads had an elaborate green door (amazing) and the Great Guild, which didn’t look like much from the outside, but was the most powerful consisting of merchants and artisans.

We started to make our way towards the upper part of town which meant an incline and stairs. Combined with cobblestones, this girl was not happy! LOL.

This is the Toompea Castle, home to the Estonian parliament.

Across from the castle is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which was built by the Russians at a time when there was a surge in Estonian identity and pride. It’s an incredibly beautiful church but to me, it really doesn’t belong where it is — it sticks out like a sore thumb due to its design. It’s so obviously Russian and basically there as a reminder of Soviet rule.

We continued walking up Toompea Hill on our way to the popular viewing platforms that afford spectacular views of the Old Town and glimpses of the Tallinn shoreline.

This is the iconic view of Tallinn I was looking for!

The rock commemorating the day Estonia declared independence.

Edges of the former medieval defensive walls are still visible all over the town.

Back in the lower part of town, we took a quick break in Freedom Square where the recently built victory monument is located to remember the soldiers and civilians who fought in the Estonian War for Independence.

Our tour ended in the Old Town Square — love how multiple roads all meet here since it’s a gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

Andrew was a great tour guide and we really enjoyed our time with him. It was well worth it to us to have someone show us around and provide context to what we were seeing. Highly recommend Est Adventures!

Lunch was at Peppersack, located in the heart of the town square and features a medieval theme. It’s super touristy but we were starving at this point and it wasn’t crowded.

Rob had the Peppersack beef special and I had the Lady Margareta’s Weakness, a breaded chicken breast with creamy rice and sugar snap peas. It was really hearty and good! Service seemed a little slow but it was really nice to get off our feet. Those cobblestones are killer!

It’s an easy walk back to the port — we just retraced our steps on Pikk back to Fat Margaret Tower while browsing at souvenir shops on the way.

What we saw of Tallinn was so charming! I absolutely loved it. Definitely a hidden gem on this Baltic itinerary.

Next up: St. Petersburg, Russia!

For more pics, check our Flickr here.