Things To Do In Tallinn
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1. St. Catherine’s Passage
St Catherine’s passage is a small medieval street with things on the… uh… nevermind, you’ll love it. Here you’ll find one of the most medieval looking alleys in the whole of Tallinn, complete with giant tombstones hanging on the walls. And lots of artisan shops, of course. Take a peek at various works or art and witness their birth in the open studios. The street also hosts a really good Italian restaurant.
2. Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak)
There’s probably no other place in Tallinn that resonates with the local people and their memories of recent history as much as the Song Festival Grounds. Aside from hosting the popular Song Festivals taking place every four years, it also became the site of a pivotal event in the dissolution of Soviet power in 1988.
These days there’s less need for revolutions in Estonia so the Lauluväljak is used for concerts and festivals. Metallica and Madonna have drawn large crowds to the fields (but still less than the events of 1988). During off festival times you can enjoy the great views to the bay of Tallinn on the top of the hill.
3. Balti Jaam Market
If you’re looking for a spicy experience in Tallinn but are too lazy to wander far from the Old Town then this flea market right by the central train station is for you. In the context of the bygone Soviet times, the market could be considered an entrepreneurial experiment of sorts. It’s still very alive today and frequented by locals seeking better deals on food or clothes. Pork chops, fresh apples, second-hand clothes, bullet cases or Soviet medals – you name it. What makes visiting it even more worthwhile is that you’ll be visiting something truly historical. Rumors are that the place might be demolished soon
4. Roof of Linnahall
The Soviets built Linnahall for the Olympic regatta of 1980 set to take place in Tallinn. The idea was to demonstrate to the Western powers the superior concrete pouring skills of the Soviet Union. This would’ve been a great idea, if everybody wasn’t so busy boycotting the games.
The roof of the building is a popular place among the local youth for enjoying the sunset. So grab a bottle, hide it well and head out to explore the concrete jungle on the seaside. In summer you can also head there straight from a nightclub as the sun rises at about 3.30-4am
5. Patarei Prison
Patarei is a true hell hole. Originally built as a gun battery and a fortress in 1840, it looks like it was abandoned decades ago but the last inmates left this place only in 2005, presumably after discovering that all the guards had simply wandered off.
We’re not going to give you the full and terrifying history of the Patarei prison, but inside the walls, right on the waterfront, you’ll find the prison bar with cheap beer and snacks. We must admit there’s a certain charm to lying on the sand and watching the waves crash against the rocks through a barbed wire fence. Also, we bet that you’ve never danced from dusk till noon in a prison, yep that’s what they do during the summer rave parties there.
6. Neeme Lall Gallery
Neeme Lall could well be considered the last Mohican of the 60s “flower power”. His psychedelic paintings cause some to wonder if he was on LSD while painting them, but the truth is he’s only hooked on caffeine and nicotine.
Artist Neeme Lall does say he is not really a painter but rather that he’s creating art from his sensitive sources and senses. Not sure what this means, exactly, but we have seen the way he works. His inspiration comes in an emotional explosion and his paintings are completed in minutes, some even within 30 seconds. You’ll recognise the place by the colourful SUV in front of the house.
7. Kohtu Viewplatform
The Kohtu platform is ideal if you wanna see the whole of Tallinn without having to climb the narrow stairs to a certain very tall church in the Old Town. Once you’ve reached the high ground and have actually found the platform, you’ll witness a sea of odd-looking red rooftops, grey guard towers and beautiful spires, as well as the modern Tallinn skyline in the distance.
Oh and by the way, if you can’t see the highrises, then it means you’re on the wrong platform. But keep trying, you’ll get there. Eventually.
8. Tallinn Free Tour
Coming to Tallinn for the first time can be confusing. There are grumpy, antisocial old people and loads of students running about searching for wireless hotspots, excitedly shouting something about a place called “Levikas”. Luckily there’s also this effervescent bunch who’ll happily show you around the hidden corners of the Old Town.
These young guides will take you for a walk on the centuries old streets of the Old Town as they tell you colorful tales of the city, its history and its people. Estonia’s story is a complex one, but these youth know how to lay down the wisdom without getting stuck in the dizzying world of numbers and figures. The best part is that they like to have fun while doing so.
9. Park of Kadriorg
Besides lot’s of beautiful trees, ponds and joggers, Kadriorg park also houses the top Estonian art museums. If lucky, you might even see the President of Estonia walking by and saying “Hi” to you. His palace is at Kadriorg too. The other reason why the Kadriorg park is different is because the Russian Czar, Peter came over and reckoned the local way of doing parks was totally wrong and taught the local savages – the German landlords – how to use a drawing board. In fact, we can’t think of other parks in the country that have this much symmetry to them. By the way, the park is actually named after Peter the Great’s wife Catherine the Great. Catherine. Kadri. Get it?
10. City Gallery
The name “City Gallery” sounds conservative enough, but rest assured, it has little to do with what you might term “conventional” art. Always a treat and always provocative, the gallery colours the city’s canvas with an unpredictable brush. There’s really no reason to just walk by this place. Admission is free and the gallery itself is situated on Harju street, just off the city’s main square. It doesn’t really have a unifying theme with the exhibitions varying across forms, from photography to culture.