Exploring the medieval town of Tallinn

After spending a few days in Finland, my friend and I took the ferry and crossed the Baltic Sea to the south. We were heading to Estonia! We have long wanted to discover this small country that seemed far from the traditional tourist circuits. And as we approached the capital, I begin to saw the outlines of the multiple towers and turrets of the old city and I knew that I was going to fall in love with Tallinn.

Our apartment was located at a ten-minute walk from the old medieval town, towards which we headed as soon as we arrived. And there, as I walked through Viru Gate, I had a little shock: yes, the old town is beautiful, but it was also invaded by tourists! There were people everywhere, from the big square in front of the town hall to the little alleys linking the lower town to the upper town. I can’t believe I was expecting a quiet little town…

Tallinn Town Hall
Tallinn Town Hall

It’s because Tallinn is a popular destination for cruises on the Baltic Sea. And as the old town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe, it is definitely worth a stop!


Given its strategic location on the Baltic Sea, Tallinn has long been a major commercial city in Northern Europe. Its old town reflects how wealthy it used to be. It was a Hanseatic city and belonged to the Danes, the Germans, the Swedes and the Russians (not to mention the Soviet period after the Second World War until the 1990s). In short, it is a city with diverse influences, which gives the old town a particular look and a unique atmosphere.

Tallinn Old Town

I will not describe all the historical buildings that can be visited in the old city. However, I recommend a stop at the Estonian History Museum (located in the building that once housed Tallinn’s Great Guild) to get a good overview of the complex history of this small country. If time permits it, you must also climb to the top of the bell tower of St. Olaf Church. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the church was considered the tallest building in the world. From a height of 125 meters, the bell tower offers an incomparable view of the entire city.

Tallinn Old Town
Tallinn old town, and St. Olaf Church in the middle

Last recommendation… Especially on a beautiful summer day, if you want to enjoy the old town, go visit it very early in the morning or in the evening. Wait until the majority of tourists have returned to their cruise ship. The small paved alleys of Tallinn’s old town are even more charming when they are deserted…


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: