A trip to Tallinn is ideal for budget travellers. Whether you do a day trip or stay in the Estonian capital longer, the city has plenty of free and low-cost attractions and activities to offer, making it one of the cheapest capitals in Europe. Even eating out and staying in hotels can be done on with a shoestring budget here, leaving room for historical attractions, lush parks and modern art to enjoy.
A free walking tour is the best way to get to know the city better and learn about its most popular sights and hidden gems. EstAdventures is a local tour company whose knowledgeable guides will be happy to tell you all about Tallinn on the ‘Tallinn in a Nutshell Free Walking Tour’, taking you on a journey through Tallinn’s fascinating history from the middle ages through the Soviet Period and to its modern days.
This tour is all about uncovering the Estonian capital’s history and learning more about the impressive castles, wall towers and churches here. You’ll also learn plenty about Estonian culture and its people. At the end of the tour, you can decide for yourself how much you liked the tour by tipping your guide.
Tallinn’s historic centre is one the important attractions in the city and has definitely earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built between the 13th to the 16th century, it still reminds us of the city’s glorious Hanse and trade days with its quaint cobblestone streets, Hanseatic architecture, many churches and gabled houses, making it one of the best preserved medieval city centres in all of Europe.
The heart piece of Tallinn’s Old Town is the Town Hall Square, Europe’s oldest city hall in all of Northern Europe. The Town Hall itself is gothic building from 1404 with a tall spire that dominates the aesthetics of the square.
Depending on the season you’re visiting in, the square is a venue for a multitude of activities and festivals, such as open-air concerts, medieval markets and fairs. You discover the representational building and former centre of power from head to toe for a small fee in July and August.
This richly decorated and grandest church is Estonia’s primary Russian Orthodox church, perching atop Toompea Hill. Constructed in 1900, the most striking attribute of the church are its onion-shaped roofs. The insides of the cathedral are decorated with exquisite icons, mosaics and windows made from stained glass, making it a must-see on your trip to Tallinn. The church's towers are home to the city’s most powerful church bells, consisting of 11 bells that you can hear play before each service.
Toompea Hill is the other area of major importance next to the Old Town. From here, you can catch a truly magnificent view of Tallinn and discover the city’s centre of power. Toompea Castle dates back as early as the 13th century, when German Knights of the Sword built a stone fortress here.
Due to several reconstructions and designs the castle can look quite different in some parts. From the front, the castle looks like a pink, Baroque palace dating to the time of Catherine the Great. From the back, at the base of the hill, the castle shows its medieval side.
The Toompea Castle and the Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, can be visited with a free tour in Estonian, English and Russian. The tour introduces visitors to the work of Riigikogu, how it functions as the representative body of the nation and how it’s 101 members are elected. Additionally, the tour invites you on a journey through the Toompea Castle and its history. If you’re lucky, you can even watch parliamentary sessions from the public gallery during your visit!
Telliskivi Loomelinnak is Tallinn’s creative hotspot. Formerly an old industrial area, it is now buzzing with creativity and filled with unique shops and cafés, local designs and graffiti, small galleries, craft beer breweries and it is a popular spot for festivals and cultural events. Here, you can shop for unique chocolates, eat at award-winning restaurants and shop for Estonian design on the Sunday flea market.
The district is not only very community-oriented and supports new projects and thoughts with discounted rents and help in order to get them on their feet, but also famous for its street art.
You can stroll through the district and discover the many colourful graffiti that were created by artists from 12 different countries such as New Zealand and Chile. Discover art pieces like ‘First Flight’ from the New Zealandian artist Cinzah or ‘Keep white wishes in your black box’ by Izak, each and every one of them telling a deeper story.
One of Tallinn’s most famous attractions is the Kadriorg Palace that is surrounded by the city’s most stunning park, the Kadriorg Park. Created during the 18th century, this is the best place to go for a relaxing walk close to the city while marvelling at the baroque palace as well. Today, the palace is home to the Kadriorg Art Museum that can be visited for a small fee, featuring hundreds of paintings from Western and Russian artists from the 16th to 20th century.
The park itself is part formal gardens, partly preserved natural landscapes. The meadows and forest groves are beautiful no matter the season and are the ideal spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and unwind from a day of sightseeing. In case you want to save on travel costs, there are also plenty of museums nearby, including the Mikkeli Museum, the KUMU Art Museum as well as the Miiamilla Children’s Museum.